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Lion Links: 6/26/20

Orlando City enters the bubble, Orlando Pride players now test negative, USL League One reaches agreement, and more.

FFA & Australian Bid Team Members Watch The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup Host Announcement Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images

How’s it going, Mane Landers? June is almost over, which also means that the first half of this grueling 2020 is nearly over and done with. Hopefully you all are hanging in there and more soccer will be here in the coming weeks, which is always a plus. We can only take things one day at a time, so let’s start this one with some links from around the soccer world.

Orlando City Enters the MLS is Back Tournament Bubble

With only two weeks remaining until Orlando City soccer returns, the club made the trip to the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort yesterday to be ready for the MLS is Back Tournament. Although concerns regarding the coronavirus pandemic are growing in Florida and the Orlando Pride had to withdraw from the NWSL Challenge Cup, Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja spoke about his confidence in the safety measures for the tournament.

“I’m very strong on our position to play and keep going,” Pareja said. “It’s not a perfect moment for the world, but we need to find positive news and positive things. At this moment in Florida, it’s not easy, but I think we will make sure that we follow the protocols and it will be a good experience for people to see by TV their teams playing. We can bring joy to them.”

Pareja also discussed how far the league has come since he joined the league as a player in 1998. This season was supposed to commemorate 25 years of existence, but the party has been spoiled by the pandemic. However, these trying times just go to show how resilient the league has become over the years according to Pareja.

“This is a good opportunity to show what the league has shown during these 25 years,” Pareja said. “It passed through the difficult moments and became the league that it is, which is a very strong league. It has been a good example for all of us.”

Pride Players Now Testing Negative

The Orlando Pride withdrew from the NWSL Challenge Cup earlier this week due to six players and four staff members testing positive for the coronavirus, but now five of those players tested negative according to The Equalizer. Another round of testing will be needed to determine if the initial results were indeed false positives.

The Challenge Cup begins tomorrow in Utah and it is very unlikely the Pride can partake considering the risks involved, inconclusive testing, and how the league’s already restructured the schedule. More details are sure to come in the next few days, but hopefully the results truly were false positives and the players remain safe and healthy.

Mueller a Super Sub to Watch For in MLS is Back Tournament

While most discussion regarding the tournament has been on player safety, scheduling, and tournament formatting, let’s not forget that there is still soccer to be played. Greg Seltzer at MLSSoccer.com says fan favorite Chris Mueller is also worth keeping an eye on in the tournament, especially when coming off the bench for Orlando. Known for his high energy and relentless playing style, Mueller shines brightest in the later parts of matches with nearly half of his MLS goals coming as a substitute.

USL League One, USL Players Association Reach Agreement

USL League One will officially return on July 18 after the league and USL Players Association agreed to terms for the 2020 season to get started. You can check out the list of safety measures and protocols teams must follow to participate, including changes in transportation, training, and testing. Orlando City B’s schedule should be revealed in the coming weeks as the team now prepares for its second season in the league.

Australia/New Zealand Will Host World Cup

The 2023 Women’s World Cup will be hosted by both Australia and New Zealand after their joint bid beat out Colombia in a 22-13 vote by the FIFA Council. This is the first time either country will host a World Cup and the region has become a hot spot for the women’s game in recent years. Orlando Pride and Australian defender Alanna Kennedy showed her excitement after the announcement in probably one of the greatest pictures I’ve seen this year.

Pride and New Zealand defender Ali Riley also shared her reaction to the big news on Twitter. Both she and former Pride and current New Zealand Head Coach Tom Sermanni will have a spot secured for the smaller nation with the world watching.

Free Kicks
  • Check out the Lions before they headed out on the bus for the tournament, sporting some face masks and backpacks.
  • Pride defender Ali Krieger joined Meg Linehan on her podcast, talking about her role in the community.

That’s going to do it for me, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a great Friday and a wonderful weekend.