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Lion Links: 10/15/21

Orlando City takes on FC Cincinnati tomorrow, Orlando Pride prepare for Racing Louisville FC, USMNT adapts to qualifying, and more.

MLS: Leagues Cup Quarterfinals-Orlando City SC vs Santos Laguna Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope you’ve enjoyed all of the international soccer this past week as players now head back to their clubs for this weekend’s action. It’s a weekend filled with milestones for Orlando City supporters as today marks four years since Kaká last played for the Lions and tomorrow will be seven years since the groundbreaking at what is now known as Exploria Stadium. But before you walk too far down memory lane, enjoy these links from around the soccer world.

Orlando City Takes On FC Cincinnati Tomorrow

The Lions are well rested as they travel to take on FC Cincinnati tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. Orlando is coming off of a dramatic 2-1 win over D.C. United on Oct. 2 and will aim to keep that momentum going against one of the weakest teams in the league. Cincinnati is on a six-game losing streak and on pace to finish last in MLS for the third consecutive year. The Lions have yet to lose to Cincy, but their last trip to TQL Stadium resulted in a 1-1 draw on Aug. 7. Miguel Gallardo and Evan Weston gave a breakdown of what to watch for in this match-up as Orlando enters the final stretch of the regular season.

Orlando Pride Must Rebound Following Loss

There’s not much turnaround for the Pride after a 1-0 loss to the Chicago Red Stars as they must now shift gears to focus on tomorrow’s road game against Racing Louisville FC at 7:30 p.m. The loss highlighted issues that have frustrated the Pride during this three-game skid as they conceded early and weren’t able to create consistent chances on offense. That may change this weekend though as Emily van Egmond will be available for the Pride after meeting the team in Louisville ahead of the match.

Ashlyn Harris’ heroics in goal should keep the Pride within striking distance during their final two games of the regular season, but the Pride’s playoff hopes are out of their hands. Even if they win out, the Pride will need multiple teams to lose in order to make the postseason.

USMNT Adapting to Concacaf Qualifying

With six Concacaf World Cup qualifiers under its belt, the USMNT sits near the top of the table with 11 points. It’s been far from smooth sailing for the USMNT, but players are becoming accustomed to the physically demanding nature of Concacaf qualifying. This is right back Sergino Dest’s first taste of World Cup qualifying after growing up in Holland and he spoke about how the team is improving.

“It was an eye-opener for us,” said Dest when asked about the lessons of the September window after Wednesday’s victory. “Because for me it was the first time, for some of the guys it was the first time. It was an eye-opener and yeah, I think this window we got one more point, so we’re making improvements, but we still have a long way to go.”

The USMNT has played every team so far except for first-place Mexico, which it will face on Nov. 12. Until then, players will continue to improve at the club level in an effort to earn selection next month. Orlando’s Daryl Dike, who has scored in the Lions’ past three games, could rejoin the conversation for a call-up if he keeps up his run of form. Ricardo Pepi, Gyasi Zardes, Josh Sargent, Jordan Pefok, Matthew Hoppe, and Nicholas Gioacchini are the other American forwards to keep an eye on between now and then.

Steve Baldwin Will Sell the Washington Spirit

Washington Spirit majority owner Steve Baldwin told investors that he will begin the process of selling the club according to an email obtained by The Washington Post. The decision comes after Spirit’s players demanded he sell to co-owner Michele Kang following the firing of head coach Richie Burke and an investigation into the club’s workplace. Baldwin did not name a specific buyer, but expects the selling process to be finished by the end of the year.

Free Kicks
  • Harris won NWSL Save of the Week for her diving stop in stoppage time against NJ/NY Gotham FC to deny Brianna Pinto and keep the Pride alive in the match.

That’s all I have for you today. Have a wonderful Friday and rest of your weekend. Go Orlando!