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Lion Links: 8/21/20

Orlando City linked with Brazilian forward Matheus Aias, Orlando Pride defenders loaned, Oscar Pareja’s expectations, and more.

SOCCER: JUL 20 NWSL - Sky Blue FC at Orlando Pride Photo by Joe Petro/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope the work week hasn’t been too hard on you as we look ahead to the weekend. We have both Orlando City and Orlando City B soccer to look forward to this weekend, so it will be a good time to kick back and relax. But for now, let’s get these Friday links rolling.

Brazilian Forward Reportedly Joining Orlando

According to reports out of Spain, Brazilian striker Matheus Aias is set to join Orlando City. In 2018, Matheus was loaned from Watford to CD Mirandés and helped the club earn promotion to Spain’s second division. His loan was renewed for a second year and the 23-year-old made a splash in this year’s Copa Del Rey, scoring a brace to upset Sevilla FC and five goals total in the club’s tournament run to the semifinals. Given his age and striking ability, he’s an exciting addition to the team if the move does go through.

Lions Return Tomorrow

The Lions face off against Inter Miami on the road tomorrow night in their first match since the MLS is Back Tournament. It will be the second match in the “Tropic Thunder” series between the two sides after Orlando beat Miami in the tournament’s group stage. Head Coach Oscar Pareja wants the Lions to approach this game with the same initiative it did in the tournament, becoming the “protagonist” of the match against their rivals.

More Orlando Pride Players Loaned Out

Orlando Pride defenders Alanna Kennedy, Shelina Zadorsky, and Carson Pickett are the latest players loaned out from the club to play in Europe. Kennedy and Zadorsky will join Tottenham Hotspur Women FC in the FA Women’s Super League through the rest of 2020. Pickett will head to Cyprus to play for Apollon Ladies FC through Nov. 20. It is uncertain if the center back pairing of Kennedy and Zadorsky will return for the Pride next year, as Kennedy’s contract ends this season and Zadorsky is an allocated player and posted a farewell on social media that sounded kind of final.

Orlando Will Continue 2026 World Cup Preparations

Despite the massive loss in revenue due to the pandemic, renovations aren’t stopping for Camping World Stadium as Orlando bolsters its chances to host games or training for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. The city hosted games back in the 1994 World Cup and could do so again thanks to an expanded field of teams and a commitment to improving the stadium, along with a great infrastructure for hosting large events.

USMNT Getting Set for World Cup

The 2022 FIFA World Cup may be two years away, but United States Men’s National Team Head Coach Gregg Berhalter is making plans. The USMNT learned its road map for World Cup qualifying next year, although decisions still need to be made on where the U.S. will host its opponents.

As far as who will be with the team during qualifying, Berhalter weighed in on American players challenging themselves and playing in tougher leagues to prepare. Midfielder Weston McKennie is reportedly leaving Schalke for Southampton in the English Premier League. USMNT left back Antonee Robinson will play in the EPL as well, joining fellow American Tim Ream at Fulham. Philadelphia Union Homegrown duo Mark McKenzie and Brenden Aaronson could also join bigger teams as young Americans continue to get opportunities abroad.

European Leagues Get Ready For New Seasons

Speaking of the EPL, the schedule for the upcoming season was released. After a 16-year absence, Leeds United will take on champion Liverpool on Sept. 12 at Anfield for opening weekend. With the bigger clubs having tough schedules in the first few games of the season, the door could open for the rest of the field to build momentum.

Elsewhere, eight players tested positive for the coronavirus in Italy’s Serie A. Four teams confirmed cases and all eight players are asymptomatic as the league gets set for the new season on Sept. 19. Meanwhile in France, four confirmed cases postponed the Ligue 1 opener between Marseille and Saint-Etienne but now the season starts today with Bordeaux hosting FC Nantes.

Free Kicks
  • MLSsoccer.com’s Andrew Wiebe determined who is under the most pressure for each MLS team. He settled on Nani for Orlando City, although it was mostly praise that Nani could become the league MVP if he keeps excelling in Pareja’s system. The 33-year-old seems excited about the rest of this season, sharing a cool compilation from his career.

That’s going to be it from me, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a great Friday and a wonderful weekend filled with Orlando soccer.