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Lion Links: 6/27/20

Orlando City settles in, NWSL Challenge Cup preview, Orlando Pride players discuss World Cups, and more.

Cameroon v New Zealand: Group E - 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup France Photo by Naomi Baker - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope everyone is staying cool out there as we enter a warm weekend. I’ve been very busy this week catching up on school work, working at Disney Springs, and going out to celebrate my roommate’s birthday. Now, let’s get to the links.

Orlando City Trains for MLS is Back Tournament

Joao Moutinho showed Orlando City SC fans his new crib at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, where the team is staying during the MLS is Back Tournament.

The Lions arrived at the resort on Thursday and just completed their first training session.

The San Jose Earthquakes are the other club currently in Orlando. Despite the rise of coronavirus cases in the Central Florida area, many players are optimistic as they arrive in Orlando. Orlando City midfielder Chris Mueller shared his thoughts on the safety measures in place.

“I feel as safe as I could possibly be, to be honest,” said Orlando midfielder Chris Mueller. “The professionalism that the league has taken to make us all feel safe and to follow as strict a protocol as possible has been really outstanding. I feel almost safer here than I was at home during the time because we’re here, everything’s controlled.”

Challenge Cup Preview

I know we were looking forward to watching the Orlando Pride this weekend but we still have some exciting games to watch today during the NWSL Challenge Cup. At 12:30 p.m., the Portland Thorns will take on the two-time defending champion North Carolina Courage. With Tobin Heath opting out, the Thorns will have to rely on Christine Sinclair to carry the offense, while new addition Becky Sauerbrunn anchors the defense. Starting goalkeeper Adrianna Franch, meanwhile, is out with a knee injury. The North Carolina Courage return with most of their squad from last season with Crystal Dunn, Samantha Mewis, and Denise O’Sullivan all back.

The other match later tonight will feature the Chicago Red Stars and the Washington Spirit. Sam Kerr is gone, so it will be interesting to see who will step up for Chicago in her place. The club still has Julie Ertz, Alyssa Naeher, and Morgan Brian, as well as former Pride player Rachel Hill on the team. The Spirit aim to improve on their fifth-place finish last season with Rose Lavelle and Aubrey Bledsoe leading the team.

After withdrawing from the tournament, the Orlando Pride changed their profile picture and name and then asked fans who the club should root for in each Challenge Cup match.

Pride Players Discuss Women’s Soccer

A pair of Pride players were featured on a video where active players talked about their experiences at the World Cup and the future of the women’s game. Pride defender and New Zealand captain Ali Riley has 135 appearances for her country and played in four World Cups. In the next Women’s World Cup in 2023, Riley will get to play on home soil after New Zealand and Australia were announced as hosts earlier this week. Pride and Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod was also in the video so make sure to check it out.

NWSL Adds Google as Sponsor

The National Women’s Soccer League announced Google as one of its national corporate sponsors. As a sponsor for the Challenge Cup, Google will help players capture their experiences at the tournament and share them through social media channels. Fans will also be able to keep up with all of the tournament action and NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird said she’s excited about the partnership.

“I’m thrilled to welcome Google back to the NWSL family and to partner with them to bring the transformative and inspiring stories of our league, players, and fans to people all over the world,” said NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird. “Google is an industry leader, synonymous with technology and innovation and they’re going to bring both to our partnership as we look for new ways to connect with fans during the upcoming NWSL Challenge Cup.”

Free Kicks
  • Pride defender Ali Krieger took to Instagram to address her positive, and then negative, coronavirus test results.
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Swipe for some thoughts.

A post shared by Ali Krieger (@alikrieger) on

  • If you need a refresher on the MLS is Back schedule, Miguel Gallardo and Evan Weston have you covered with the latest update.
  • Orlando City’s esports player FIFA Abe won three straight matches in the eMLS Last Chance Qualifier to advance to the finals before losing. Still, it was a nice run and you can check out one of his better goals from the tournament below.
  • Former Orlando City Youth Soccer player Kai Koreniuk just signed a professional contract with the LA Galaxy.

That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Stay healthy, be safe, and enjoy your Saturday.