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Lion Links: 8/23/19

Orlando City hosts Atlanta, Orlando Pride’s defense steps up, Morgan talks equal pay, and more.

SOCCER: AUG 06 US Open Cup Semifinals - Atlanta United FC at Orlando City SC Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope you’re all ready for an intense night of soccer with Atlanta United in town for a second showdown this month. No matter what result the night holds, it’s nice having the team in the thick of the playoff race with plenty worth playing for this time of year. On top of that, we have the Orlando Pride and Orlando City B in action tomorrow night. Now, let’s get to the links!

Orlando City Faces “Rivals”

It can be debated whether or not Orlando City and Atlanta United are truly rivals considering the Lions have never beaten Atlanta in eight meetings, with the most recent being a U.S. Open Cup semifinal match on Aug. 6. But one thing not up for discussion is the genuine dislike supporters have for the opposing side. Between stolen banners, rented billboards, and suspended fans, the intensity between the two sides often goes beyond that of normal teams. Orlando is bound to win against Atlanta at some point and tonight seems like the perfect time for it to do so and cement the two clubs as rivals.

Playoff Implications During Rivalry Week

For Orlando City’s home match against Atlanta, there is a lot more at stake than the aforementioned bragging rights. The eighth-place Lions are right in the mix for the playoffs with the season winding down and every match becoming more important than the last. While Orlando’s heartbreaking draw last weekend was disappointing, it was softened by other teams struggling as well.

That won’t be the case this week however, with the sixth-place New England Revolution hosting the 10th-place Chicago Fire, while the seventh-place Montreal Impact visit ninth-place Toronto FC. It’s a tricky situation on what to root for as a fan, with draws across the board keeping teams in the Lions’ range but also putting them at the back of the pack. All that being said, it matters less how other teams perform if the Lions can take care of business tonight.

Pride Defense Coming Together

With 35 goals conceded, the most in the National Women’s Soccer League, it was a pleasant surprise that the Orlando Pride were able to keep Sam Kerr and the Chicago Red Stars quiet for a majority of the match. Using a relatively unorthodox back line, the Pride relied on raw speed and versatility to cover their mistakes on defense and make sure the Pride left with all three points. Head Coach Marc Skinner had high praise for the defense and particularly defender Ali Krieger, who played the role of center back in the 2-1 win.

“The speed of Ali, the aggressiveness, the ability to recover, the ability to jump, the power — she genuinely amazes me that she’s 35 and not 25,” Skinner said. “She has an effervescence. She’s a world class player and we’re very lucky to have her on this team.”

The Pride look to keep that momentum rolling tomorrow night against the Washington Spirit at Audi Field in a game that may sell out as the popularity of the women’s game rises.

Alex Morgan Comments on Upcoming Trial and More

While women’s soccer is perhaps more popular than it ever has been thanks to the Women’s World Cup, Pride star Alex Morgan and the rest of the United States Women’s National Team continue the fight for equal pay. Mediation broke down between the USWNT and the United States Soccer Federation and a trial date for May 2020 was decided. In an interview with NPR, Morgan discussed how the trial wouldn’t be a distraction before the Olympics a few weeks later. She also weighed in on if the two sides will be able to reconcile, how long she intends on playing, and how the fight for equal pay is about the next generation of female soccer players.

Free Kicks
  • Start practicing, because the Orlando City Foundation’s annual footgolf tournament is coming.
  • Orlando City Senior Vice President of Gameday Operations Alex Wolf, who has been with Orlando before the club even came to Orlando, is moving on to bigger things. Congrats on the new job!
  • In case you needed evidence of the Pride’s defense in action, Erin Greening’s clean tackle was recognized by the league.
  • We end our links with this great photo of goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer sightseeing. Shelina Zadorsky totally got the angles right when she took this one.
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Nailed it . : @shelinaz

A post shared by Haley Kopmeyer (@hkopmeyer) on

That’s going to be it from me, folks. I hope you all have a wonderful day and night and remember to celebrate responsibly tonight. If the Lions win I’m sure it’s going to be insane so stay safe. SKOPURP!