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Lion Links: 9/27/19

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Orlando City focused on Cincy, Leroux could return Sunday, OCB on the road, and more.

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New York City FC v Orlando City SC - 2019 MLS Photo by Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images

How’s it going, Mane Landers? Only one day separates us from a weekend filled with Orlando soccer action and we only have a few games left until the season’s end. So let’s all try to enjoy the little soccer we have left, no matter how disappointing the results may be as Orlando’s teams close out their years. But for now, let’s get this Friday started with some links!

Orlando City Still Alive and Focused

With only two games left for all MLS teams in 2019, the Lions are still in the playoff hunt as the New England Revolution continue to leave the door open for the last spot. For Head Coach James O’Connor and his squad, all attention is on the game with FC Cincinnati this Sunday. The Lions can only control the games they play and will need to do what they haven’t all year long: win consecutive games.

The game will also be Orlando City’s first trip to Cincinnati and if you will be making your first trip there too then make sure to check out the road trip guide.

Designated Players Stepping Up

In Orlando’s past three games, five of the team’s six goals came from Nani and Dom Dwyer. The pair and fellow Designated Player Mauricio Pereyra have combined for five goals and three assists in September and the offense suddenly looks potent. Pereyra’s arrival seemed to unlock the offense and Dwyer’s recent form is giving fans a true look to what the Lions are capable of.

“He finally got that monkey off his back,” forward Chris Mueller said of Dwyer. “He knows that those kind of things occur in football. You might go through a drought but you can’t lose faith of who you are or what you’re doing as a player. He constantly reminds me of that.”

DPs are crucial to a team’s success in MLS and Orlando’s may be hitting their stride as the season nears its end. With Pereyra supposedly healthy enough to go 90 minutes, these final two games will feature Orlando’s best available offensive weapons in crucial matches. Even if the Lions don’t win, they will be worth watching.

Sydney Leroux Could Return Sunday and Other Pride News

Orlando Pride forward Sydney Leroux could make her return to the field this Sunday against Sky Blue FC. It would be her first game of the season as Leroux gave birth to her daughter this July and Head Coach Marc Skinner plans to play her before the season ends. With three games left, the Pride have a chance to get out of last place in the standings and Leroux would be a needed addition for a team that has barely scored more than 20 goals this season.

On the defensive end of the team, Pride defender Shelina Zadorsky was called up to the Canadian Women’s National Team for a friendly with Japan on Oct. 6 as the nation prepares for Olympic qualification. This means the Pride will be without both Zadorsky and Alanna Kennedy, who was called up for Australia, for the match against the Washington Spirit on Oct. 5 so the defense make look a little rough that day.

In other Pride news, Emily van Egmond will join Melbourne City in the W-League after inking a one-year deal, moving on from the Newcastle Jets. The 26-year-old suffered a season-ending ankle injury earlier this year with the Pride but is excited to take the field for Melbourne for the upcoming W-League season.

Orlando City B Still On the Road

OCB doesn’t have much to play for as the Young Lions will finish the season in last in the USL League One. But the season rolls on with a meeting tonight against Greenville Triumph SC, which recently clinched a spot in the playoffs. OCB will be playing for pride as its end of season road trip continues and the team searches for any points at all. The team has put together a string of decent performances lately, but none have been good enough to give the Young Lions any points.

Free Kicks
  • Nani featured in the latest episode of Deep Cuts, where he got a haircut by barber Manny Le Barbier while chatting about why he chose to play for Orlando and his role with the team.
  • After training today, Pride players spoke to supporters group Black Swans Drinking Club about the rough season and it’s worth listening in.
  • In case you didn’t know, today is National Scarf Day so make sure to take advantage.

That’s going to be it from me, folks. Please drink responsibly this weekend if you choose to do so and always make smart decisions. I hope each and every one of you has an amazing Friday!