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Lion Links: 10/1/21

Orlando City’s draw shows fight, Orlando Pride prepare for the Chicago Red Stars, Paul Riley fired amid sexual coercion allegations, and more.

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Racing Louisville FC v Orlando Pride Photo by Jeremy Reper/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Welcome to October, Mane Landers. September certainly had its ups and downs in terms of Orlando soccer, but hopefully the month itself wasn’t too hard on you. October is filled with plenty of soccer to look forward to and both Orlando City and the Orlando Pride are in action tomorrow. For now, let’s get this month started with links from around the soccer world.

Lions Find Their Footing in Draw

Orlando City showed plenty of fight in a 2-2 draw on the road against Nashville SC. There were plenty of encouraging signs from the match as the Lions snapped a four-game losing streak. Orlando Head Coach Oscar Pareja made adjustments in the second half to get Daryl Dike more involved, which led to the forward drawing a penalty and converting it himself.

“I tried to use Daryl more in his battling one-on-one,” Pareja said. “He’s so strong. In the second half, the plan was trying to get him close to their center backs and using the power that he has. I think he did a great job.”

On Orlando’s equalizing goal in stoppage time, Nani delivered a corner kick that ended up as an own goal thanks to hard work from Benji Michel in the box. It was a great game from Dike and Nani and similar performances will be needed from the two for the Lions to claw their way back up the standings. However, Orlando’s defense allowed multiple goals for the sixth consecutive game. There is good news on the horizon though as all four starting members of Orlando’s back line should be available in tomorrow’s match against D.C. United at 7:30 p.m. in Exploria Stadium. (Although key backup Rodrigo Schlegel won’t be.) D.C. United is coming off an impressive win over Minnesota United, but has struggled on the road this season, with eight losses, while Orlando has only lost twice at home.

Orlando Pride Regroup Ahead of Important Match

With only four games left in their season, the Orlando Pride will travel to take on the Chicago Red Stars tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. It is the second meeting between the two sides this season as the Pride won 2-0 in Chicago on Aug. 8. Interim head coach Becky Burleigh is keeping a close eye on the fitness levels of each player to make sure they’re both rested and ready after a trip across the country last weekend that resulted in a 3-0 loss to OL Reign. It was a tough loss, but Burleigh is focused on having the team finish the season strongly.

“You can’t really change what you did yesterday and you can’t really affect tomorrow, but you can work on what you have right in front of you,” Burleigh said. “Right in front of us is a good day to get some training in. We’re trying to balance that with some recovery because it’s a really short turnaround.”

Courage Fire Paul Riley Amid Sexual Coercion Allegations

The North Carolina Courage have fired Paul Riley as their head coach and the United States Soccer Federation suspended his coaching license after The Athletic reported on accusations of sexual coercion over the span of the last decade. You will need a subscription to get past the paywall to view the full details of The Athletic’s investigation into Riley. Former National Women’s Soccer League players Sinead Farrelly and Meleana “Mana” Shim both went on the record to describe how Riley used his positions of power across multiple leagues and teams to coerce players into sex and also belittle them with inappropriate comments about their body and their sexual orientation.

Farrelly and Shim also detailed their efforts to report this behavior at the time, including confiding in former Portland Thorns teammate Alex Morgan for assistance. Morgan helped Shim report the misconduct in 2015 to the Portland Thorns and also helped organize a policy earlier this year to ensure a safe workplace for players in the league. NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird released a statement regarding the allegations, stating she was “shocked and disgusted” to read them and that a new anonymous reporting process will be implemented for players. Morgan responded to Baird’s statement and included emails between Farrelly and Baird about Riley’s behavior this past spring.

The NWSL Players Association is demanding disclosure from the league on how Riley was re-hired following his departure from the Thorns and for an independent investigation to be initiated. The Orlando Pride released a statement regarding the allegations as well and Pride General Manager Ian Fleming discussed the importance for those in positions of power in women’s soccer to protect players and staff.

Raphael Wicky Out as Chicago Fire Head Coach

The Chicago Fire officially parted ways with Raphael Wicky as head coach of the club, with assistant coach Frank Klopas stepping in as interim head coach. Wicky ends his tenure as head coach with a 12-25-14 record as the Fire missed the playoffs by one point last season and are well out of the playoff race this year. Reports of Wicky’s dismissal surfaced late Wednesday night following the Fire’s 2-0 win at home over New York City FC.

Chicago Fire Sporting Director Georg Heitz discussed the decision to part ways with Wicky at this time, with Wicky’s family’s medical situation taken into account. Both Heitz and Wicky joined the club after its 2019 campaign and the team’s three Designated Players have been underwhelming over the past two seasons as well. Wicky’s departure marks the seventh coaching change in MLS this season and the Fire will begin their search for his replacement.

Free Kicks
  • Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris claimed another NWSL Save of the Week for her diving save to deny Rose Lavelle.
  • In Europa League action, West Ham United, Olympique Lyonnais, and Lazio all won while Napoli and Leicester City both lost. Marseille and Galatasaray battled to a scoreless draw in France but it was far from a quiet match as opposing fans fired flares at one another in the crowd.
  • The Europa Conference League also continued this week as AS Roma went on the road and won 3-0 over Zorya Luhansk and Harry Kane had a hat trick in Tottenham Hotspur’s 5-1 win against NŠ Mura.
  • FC Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman’s fate is all but sealed as Barcelona reportedly sorts out the financial side of sacking him while finding a replacement. Belgium manager Roberto Martinez is a candidate for the job alongside Andrea Pirlo, Xavi Hernandez, and River Plate’s Marcelo Gallardo.

That’s going to be it from me today. Have a great Friday and rest of your weekend!