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Lion Links: 11/28/20

Oscar Pareja has faith in Brian Rowe, Orlando City prepares for the New England Revolution, Alex Morgan returns in USWNT win, and more.

MLS: New York City FC at Orlando City SC Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope everyone is having a safe Thanksgiving holiday weekend so far. I was able to have a small get-together with some friends and didn’t do much Black Friday shopping this time around. Work was very busy at Disney Springs, but all I can think about right now is Orlando City soccer.

I know the Lions have been on a great run and I hope they can build on that momentum tomorrow. Let’s get to the links.

Oscar Pareja Has Faith in Brian Rowe

Tomorrow, all eyes will be on 32-year-old backup goalkeeper Brian Rowe, as he will fill in between the pipes for Pedro Gallese against the New England Revolution. For Rowe, this won’t be unfamiliar territory. He started three playoff games for the LA Galaxy during their playoff run back in 2016. He was also the Lions’ starting goalkeeper last season, with seven clean sheets through 32 matches. Head Coach Oscar Pareja said he has faith in his goalkeeper.

“Brian is a very professional player, I really want to remark that,” Pareja told the media in a virtual press conference on Friday. ”It just tells you how much he prepared every single day and even knowing that Pedro is going to start on the next game, he’s always working in the first level so don’t have any doubt that the game is rewarding him. At this point, just to participate in this one game and we all feel very bad about what happened with Pedro, but we moved on and now, Brian is there. We have plenty of confidence in him.”

Meanwhile, the MLS Disciplinary Committee ruled that Gallese failed to leave the field in a timely manner after receiving his second yellow card during the penalty shootout and he was fined an undisclosed amount.

Orlando City Prepares for New England

The Lions’ next challenger in the 2020 MLS playoffs will be the New England Revolution when they play in Exploria Stadium tomorrow afternoon. The Revolution began their playoff run by defeating the Montreal Impact 2-1 in the Eastern Conference play-in round. They followed that performance up by shutting out the Supporters’ Shield winning Philadelphia Union 2-0. For Orlando, it advanced after its first playoff game 6-5 on penalty kicks against New York City FC.

The Lions will be without Gallese and right back Ruan after their ejections in the last match. Joao Moutinho also won’t be available tomorrow afternoon and Sebas Mendez remains in quarantine. This will be the first time Orlando and New England face each other this season and Ali Krieger identified the keys to an Orlando victory.

Alex Morgan Returns to International Duty

Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan returned to the pitch for the United States Women’s National Team for the first time in over a year since giving birth. Morgan subbed in at halftime to help the Americans get a 2-0 win over the Netherlands. It was a dominant performance from the USWNT, with the Netherlands finishing with only two shots that came late in the game. Rose Lavelle and Kristie Mewis both found the back of the net and Pride defender Emily Sonnett came on in the second half to help maintain the USWNT’s lead.

USWNT Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski’s main goal for Morgan was to help her regain some confidence and comfort on the pitch with the team. Morgan put the ball in the net in the second half, but it was called back for offside. Still, Andonovski said Morgan’s performance was a good sign as she works back up to full speed.

The Orlando Pride’s Sydney Leroux Remains Hungry to Play

In a season that was anything but normal, this year was supposed to be Sydney Leroux’s comeback year. The coronavirus pandemic cut the season short for the Pride and Leroux was limited to just three matches in the NWSL Fall Series. Even though Leroux spent those three matches regaining her footing, she was able to score her first goal in over two years. Leroux has brought that same intensity in Pride workouts. She is setting a tone of physicality on both sides of the pitch, tracking back to defend and still beating half of the opposing side in an attacking transition. Leroux shared her thoughts on her physical style of play.

“I love defending as a forward,” Leroux said. “I love getting into slide tackles, I love making things difficult for defenders. I think forwards get a bad reputation of being lazy and I don’t think that’s the case. I think there’s those forwards that work really hard and I always want to be one of those forwards.”

In her 10th professional season, Leroux also mentored her Pride teammates, focusing on their growth as players. Leroux enters this off-season with a new set of goals to lead the Pride into the playoffs.

Free Kicks
  • No matter the obstacles they face, this video reminds us to never count out these Lions.

That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your holiday weekend, take care of yourselves, and I’ll see you next time.