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Lion Links: 10/31/20

Orlando City players near their returns, Orlando Pride make roster decisions, Alex Morgan awaits her debut, and more.

Tottenham Hotspur Women v Manchester United Women - Barclays FA Women’s Super League Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Happy Halloween, Mane Landers. I hope everyone had a great week as it starts to get cooler this weekend. I’ve been busy working on homework and creating video projects for my internship. We have a lot of news to get to today, so let’s get to the links.

Orlando City Focusing on a Strong Finish

The scoring returned for the Lions in their 4-1 win over Atlanta United as they enter the final stretch of the season. The offense looked different than in past games, with both Daryl Dike and Tesho Akindele up top to give Head Coach Oscar Pareja yet another dynamic for the team. Orlando takes on the Montreal Impact tomorrow night in a match that could feature the returns of Mauricio Pereyra and Uri Rosell after they both participated in full-team training this week. But while some Lions return to action, Pedro Gallese was called up to the Peruvian National Team yet again. He likely won’t miss any regular season games, but could be absent in the playoffs depending on the schedule.

Dike’s USMNT Chances

Dike’s form has been stellar as of late and he may deserve a shot with the United States Men’s National Team. The rookie was the man of the match in the Lions’ game against Atlanta United, scoring a goal and getting an assist. Dike now has six goals and four assists this season after being a sub for most of the Lions’ run during the MLS is Back Tournament this summer. Pareja has slowly built Dike up in a calculated way to keep him grounded and primed for success at this level, and it seems to be working.

However, Dike does have dual eligibility and has been on Nigeria’s radar for some time as his two older siblings played for the Super Eagles. With the coronavirus pandemic affecting the USMNT’s upcoming fixtures for Olympic qualifiers, the Concacaf Gold Cup, and 2022 World Cup qualifying, Dike can be a valuable option for Gregg Berhalter to bring into camp soon.

Orlando Pride Announce Roster Changes

After finishing a challenging 2020 season, the Orlando Pride announced roster decisions and will retain the rights to 23 players. The club extended new contract offers to Kristen Edmonds, Alanna Kennedy, Sydney Leroux, Claire Emslie, Camila, Toni Pressley, Marissa Viggiano, and Emily van Egmond. An additional six players had their options exercised, including Marta, Jade Moore, and Ali Riley. Four players are already under contract for the 2021 season and the club automatically retained five federation players in Ashlyn Harris, Ali Krieger, Alex Morgan, Emily Sonnett, and Shelina Zadorsky.

The announcement comes after the Pride waived three players on Thursday and the roster may be affected by the 2020 Expansion Draft on Nov. 12.

Morgan Still Awaiting Her Debut

Pride forward Alex Morgan has been with Tottenham Hotspur for about a month, but has yet to make her debut with the Women’s Super League club. Morgan joined the club in September on loan until the end of the year, with an option to stay until the season ends in May. Although she hasn’t played yet, she has the opportunity for playing time before the Olympics next summer in Tokyo. Morgan shared her thoughts below on what the process has been like for the past month in England.

“There’s times definitely where I think stress builds up or I kind of get a little too anxious. But I think that I’ve handled it quite well. Hopefully in the next two weeks I’ll get on the field with team because we’ve had quite a tough run, especially in the month of October. So, I really want to help the team.

Morgan was on the bench for Tottenham’s FA Cup quarterfinal match against Arsenal, but has not been included on the roster since and had a setback due to her knee. She also spoke about how playing abroad has affected her family and how that could impact how long she decides to stay in England before returning to the Pride.

Positive COVID-19 Tests Affect Weekend Action

In MLS, LAFC announced that two players on its squad tested positive for the coronavirus after the club’s 2-1 win over the Houston Dynamo. All other players and members of the club have returned consecutive negative test results and do not have any symptoms. For precautionary reasons, LAFC suspended all in-person activities at its training center until further notice.

Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Rowdies announced that Head Coach Neill Collins and two additional members of the team tested positive and all three will miss the USL Championship final tomorrow against Phoenix Rising FC at 8:30 p.m.

Free Kicks

That will do it for me, Mande Landers. Have a safe and happy Halloween and I’ll see you next time.