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Lion Links: 6/17/20

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Orlando City continues preparation, NWSL releases full Challenge Cup schedule, Ali Krieger is confident, and more.

SOCCER: OCT 12 NWSL - Reign FC at Orlando Pride Photo by Joe Petro/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope everyone is doing well now that we’re halfway to the weekend. I’ve been keeping myself busy at work and catching up on school projects. I did make some time yesterday to get some exercise and catch up with friends, but I’m excited to see the Premier League’s return as we get closer to Major League Soccer coming back. Now, on to the links.

Orlando City Continues Preparation

The Lions continued their training yesterday as Nani and co get ready to return. We are now three weeks away from Orlando City SC facing Inter Miami CF on July 8 in the MLS is Back Tournament.

Oscar Pareja also shared his thoughts on training, saying, “I’m very excited that the players are able to train in normal form.” Oscar also mentioned that having the full team training will help simulate real game conditions and he has no doubt that the boys will be ready.

NWSL Releases Challenge Cup Schedule

The National Women’s Soccer League released details for the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup schedule to be played in Utah later this month. The Orlando Pride will play three 10 p.m. games and one weekday match at 12:30 p.m. Here is the Pride’s upcoming schedule for the Challenge Cup.

  • Sat. June 27, 10 p.m. - vs. Chicago Red Stars (CBS All Access)
  • Wed. July 1, 12:30 p.m. - vs. Portland Thorns (CBS All Access)
  • Sun. July 5, 10 p.m. - vs. North Carolina Courage (CBS All Access)
  • Thurs. July 9, 10 p.m. - vs. Sky Blue FC (CBS All Access)

The Pride’s tournament slate includes last year’s NWSL runners-up Chicago, back-to-back NWSL champions North Carolina Courage, the Portland Thorns — who won the NWSL title in 2017 — and a much-improved Sky Blue FC squad. The first game to kickoff the Challenge Cup will be between North Carolina Courage and the Portland Thorns and will be broadcast on CBS and CBS All Access.

Ali Krieger Confident Pride will Improve

Despite the Orlando Pride getting the toughest draw in the NWSL Challenge Cup, Ali Krieger isn’t concerned and feels the Pride can beat the best teams in the tournament.

“In order to be the best, you have to beat every team, so I’m willing to play the best teams there because we want to be the champions and we want to compete,” Krieger said. “Any team on any given day can win in this league and that’s what so exciting about this league and what’s so attractive about the league — is that the games are always really close and that’s something that we can look forward to. “We have a new focus and a new mentality this year and we’re ready to win. And it doesn’t matter who is going to be in our way, we’re going to take one game at a time, one opponent at a time and focus on each day just individually and hopefully be successful.”

Krieger said the club has improved dramatically since the team struggled through much of last season and finished at the bottom of the league standings. With video conference calls during the quarantine, she said the players have bought in during training and that working on the small details will make a difference for the Pride this time around.

Eric Lichaj on the Market

Former United States Men’s National Team defender Eric Lichaj will be looking for a new club after Hull City announced that the team will not be extending its captain’s contract after the end of this month. The 31-year-old will not play in the club’s remaining nine games in the EFL Championship this season and would be eligible to play in the MLS is Back Tournament if a club decides to sign him. Lichaj was with the Chicago Fire FC youth and PDL team before leaving to sign with Aston Villa in 2007. He’s had other stints in Europe as well, with Leyton Orient, Lincoln City, Leeds United, Nottingham Forest, and Hull City. Which club do you think would be the best fit for Lichaj in MLS?

Canadian Championship Update

While the U.S. Soccer Federation’s U.S. Open Cup tournament remains on hold, Canada Soccer announced the Canadian Championship will be played this year. The tournament will consist of 11 teams with the three Canadian MLS teams (Montreal Impact, Vancouver Whitecaps, and Toronto FC) and all eight Canadian Premier League Clubs. The two amateur clubs that did qualify, AS Blainville and Toronto Master’s FA, will not participate this year and will instead play in the 2021 Canadian Championship. Canada Soccer has not announced the new dates or the tournament format yet. The 2020 Canadian Championship was originally set to begin on June 16, but Canada Soccer postponed the tournament in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Free Kicks
  • Orlando City SC congratulated Santiago Patino on social media for becoming a United States citizen.
  • Former MLS speedster Alphonso Davies broke a Bundesliga record for fastest sprint, as he reached 22.7 mph. Although Davies was later sent off with a red card, FC Bayern Munich defeated Werder Bremen 1-0 and clinched their eighth Bundesliga title.
  • There were rumors that Miguel Herrera could be coaching in MLS someday but Club America announced that he has signed a contract extension to remain with the Mexican side. He went on to express interest in a potential move to Europe but would not likely take a job in MLS.
  • The Premier League will allow walk-on music for substitutes coming onto the pitch and somebody thinks this would be a good idea in MLS. What do you think? What would be your walk-on song?

That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Stay healthy, be safe, and I’ll see you next time.