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Lion Links: 8/16/19

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Tesho Akindele’s renaissance, Emily van Egmond’s season ends, Orlando named a top soccer city, and more.

SOCCER: AUG 11 NWSL - Portland Thorns at Orlando Pride Photo by Joe Petro/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

What’s up, Mane Landers? I’m still riding high from Orlando City’s big win at home earlier this week and hopefully you all are in good spirits as well. We have even more soccer this weekend with Orlando City B set to play tonight and the Lions and Orlando Pride in action tomorrow. It’s setting up to be a fun couple of days and let’s start them off right with some links!

Orlando is One of the Best American Soccer Cities

Orlando was named the second-best city in which to enjoy soccer in the United States in WalletHub’s annual ranking. It’s a high honor for the city, which finished in the top five for both MLS and NWSL rankings, and only Los Angeles finished with a higher score. WalletHub used over 50 metrics for its scoring and Orlando finished first in the most engaged fans in both MLS and the NWSL. Go ahead, give yourself a pat on the back.

Akindele Thriving as a Lion

After proving to be the difference-maker with his goal against Sporting Kansas City, 27-year-old forward Tesho Akindele became the team’s leading scorer for 2019 with nine goals. It’s been the Canadian’s best year in MLS since being drafted by FC Dallas in 2014 and he has found a home in Orlando City Head Coach James O’Connor’s system as not just a target man but a versatile attacker.

“He’s also got tremendous quality,” O’Connor continued. ”I think his finishing is underrated. I think he’s someone that is very capable of scoring goals whether he plays left of the front three, whether he plays central of the front three, I think he has an ability to score goals. I’m delighted for him because he’s a great young man. Credit to his family the way he handles himself and how hard he works.”

He will be important to Orlando’s playoff hopes as a tough stretch of games approaches and his teamwork with Dom Dwyer, who drew defenders to open up space for Akindele’s goal, should only get better over time.

Orlando City in the Thick of the Playoff Race

This is normally the time of year where Orlando City can comfortably be written off from making the playoffs after an abysmal summer. That isn’t the case this season, with the Lions earning more points in August than ever before and sitting right on the bubble in eighth place. The next five games, all against current playoff position teams, are going to make or break the team’s chances.

Emily Van Egmond’s Season Ends

After trying to fight through the pain for the past few weeks, Orlando Pride midfielder Emily van Egmond will undergo season-ending surgery for an ankle injury suffered during the World Cup. The Australian international lacked the usual bite to her aggressive play style when she returned to the Pride and it was the better move for all parties for her to get the surgery done rather than her playing with the injury until the season ended. She will return to Australia for the surgery and the Pride will have to look elsewhere on the roster to fill her absence in the midfield with nine games left this season.

Free Kicks
  • Former Pride player Lianne Sanderson had high praise for the Orlando Pride and the Orlando soccer community, saying her one regret in her career was leaving the organization.
  • It looks like Orlando is line in to host the United States Men’s National Team in the Concacaf Nations League when it takes on Canada this November.
  • Let’s follow one incredible goal with another. Let’s all try to take on the day with as much confidence as Anderson Diaz had when he scored this solo goal.
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Okayyyy these are absolute

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That’ll be all from me, folks. We’ve got an exciting weekend ahead of us but first we just have to get through the final day of the work week. Have a great day!