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Lion Links: 4/19/20

Breaking down Benji, Skinner pushing Pride leadership, USMNT names in the news, and more.

MLS: Orlando City SC at Colorado Rapids Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Sunday, everyone. Sorry for the later-than-usual start. For me, motivation seems to be at an all-time low and just keeps getting worse the longer I feel trapped. I was able to get outside for about a 40-minute walk yesterday, so that was a nice pick-me-up after rain wiped out much of my ability to get outside during non-work hours this week.

It honestly feels like we’re living in the first few lines of “Band on the Run.”

Stuck inside these four walls,
Sent inside forever,
Never seeing no one
Nice again like you

It’s day 32,341 of our stay-at-home mandate, or at least it feels like it. I haven’t quite bought the entire internet yet, but I have been doing way more online shopping than is healthy since this all started and I’ve even been contemplating buying a turntable over the past few days. Since I’m a person who couldn’t wait to get rid of vinyl because of the pops, cracks, and skips that come along with that format, this illustrates a real problem and maybe I should seek some virtual counseling.

It’s been about a month and a half since Orlando City played at Colorado and since the shutdown we’ve missed the beginning of the OCB season and today was the day the Orlando Pride were supposed to start their 2020 NWSL campaign against Sky Blue FC. I remain hopeful of a 2020 season but not especially optimistic given the lack of a vaccine. We’ve done a decent job of flattening the curve with our social distancing efforts but to abandon those efforts now would be a bit like abandoning a parachute after it has done a decent job of slowing our descent toward the ground. Let’s keep doing what we’re doing for now and hope the rest sorts itself out soon.

In the meantime, here is the news of the day.

Miggy on Benji

Orlando City broadcaster, former goalkeeper, and friend of the PawedCast Miguel Gallardo took some time to break down the explosive attacking movement of Homegrown forward Benji Michel in his latest analysis video. Nobody looked as dangerous in the attack at the end of last season as Benji did and, if he can continue to develop, Michel could end up being an outstanding pro for the Lions for years to come. I’m excited at the prospect of seeing him on the pitch when this whole mess is over to see if he can continue to build on the form with which he finished 2019, when he scored three goals and added an assist in his final three matches of the year.

Skinner Pushing Pride Leadership

Without the ability to get together with his players, Orlando Pride gaffer Marc Skinner is leaning on veterans Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger for leadership. The two USWNT veterans hold regular Zoom meetings with their teammates — which include several new faces in 2020 — to get to know them and bond a bit. The Pride coaching staff checks in on players regularly and uses survey feedback to tweak training programs. But so much of maintaining proper fitness and nutrition is up to the players themselves at this time and leadership is critical during this pandemic.

“Ash and Ali are absolutely looking at the leadership style that they want to implement as captains,” Skinner said. “They’ve been touching base and talking about professionalism. They’re looking to themselves and their teammates to be accountable for each other and part of what Ash wanted to do is take control of that.”


“The part that we can’t give them at the minute is the feeling of them being part of something bigger than themselves,” Skinner said. “When we get back into it, that’s what the aim will be.”

Separated from his family during this shutdown, Skinner has had to resort to Facetime to stay in contact. This thing has been hard on everyone, but I couldn’t imagine how much more difficult it would be if I were isolated from my wife and daughter.

USMNT Names in the News

As we continue on without soccer games to watch, a couple of young USMNT players are able get healthier and hopefully will be ready to help the Yanks with their World Cup qualifying efforts — whatever those end up looking like — when all this is over. Midfielder Tyler Adams was just getting back onto the field for Red Bull Leipzig. Now the young midfielder is trying to catch up to his teammates fitness-wise and is treating this like it’s a brand new preseason.

“For me, being injured in the beginning of the season and not really being able to participate in preseason, I’m almost having a preseason right now,” Adams said in a Bundesliga conference call on Friday. “For me, this is varied to other players where I’m building up to my full capability now, and getting that full length of fitness, the four weeks of what everyone else had at the beginning of the season, and then a run of games, I’m getting it now.”

Meanwhile, over in England, Christian Pulisic and his Chelsea teammates are in talks with their club about taking pay cuts during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to numerous reports Chelsea’s players are discussing a 10 per cent pay cut along with other measures to help with the Blues’ response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia is in talks with captain Cesar Azpilicueta over the issue. Despite a suggestion of a league-wide 30 percent pay cut, there is no general directive from the Premier League who are letting all 20 clubs deal with pay cuts or wage deferrals on their own.

Former USWNT Star Discusses Living with Autoimmune Illness During COVID-19

Shannon Box, a World Cup and Olympic star with the United States Women’s National Team, has not one, but two autoimmune illnesses — lupus and Sjogren’s Syndrome. Both diseases individually could put her at greater risk if she were to be infected by COVID-19. The former USWNT start discussed how she’s been dealing with her health during this pandemic and about the drug hydroxychloroquine — used by lupus sufferers to manage joint and muscle pain, but which is suddenly in short supply after President Trump recommended Americans take it for COVID-19.

In my case, it has always been a medication that I use in combination with another medication. It’s pretty much, as far as I know, the main medication that is given to a lot of lupus patients and RA — rheumatoid arthritis — patients, because it doesn’t have a lot of side effects and it works really well for patients.

There are definitely times that I have missed going back and refilling, and I’ve been off my medication for a couple of days, or I thought I had refills and I didn’t and I had to go to the doctor and it took a couple days. It just sets off an immediate flare. And so it has made me realize that it is controlling my flares a lot more. And even when I do have a flare, it’s making it more minimal.

I encourage you to give this piece a read. Boxx was a pivotal player for the USWNT and it’s sad to think of her barely being able to walk a mile just a few years after retiring as a player.

Free Kicks
  • An MLS guide to soccer analytics.
  • The NWSL season’s delay has cost the league some of its momentum.
  • Those born on this date include Jayne Mansfield (1933), Dudley Moore (1935), Tim Curry (1946), racing’s Al Unser, Jr. (1962), Ashley Judd (1968), James Franco (1978), Kate Hudson (1979), Hayden Christensen (1981), football’s Troy Polamalu (1981), basketball’s Candace Parker (1986), goalkeeper Joe Hart (1987), and tennis star Maria Sharapova (1987).

That’s all I’ve got for you today, folks. Don’t forget, Nani and Abe Valbuena will be taking on Atlanta United today in FIFA 20 in a televised match. (Edit: Sorry, that’s not happening until May 10, apparently, as they drag this out.) It could be interesting if you’re into that sort of thing. Me? Personally, I can’t get into watching other people play video games.