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Lion Links: 10/18/21

Orlando City stays near top of the pack, Orlando Pride are eliminated, Americans abroad, and much more.

Syndication: The Enquirer Phil Didion / USA TODAY NETWORK

Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers! It was a tale of two Orlando teams this weekend, but we’ll get to that shortly. First, I want to welcome “fall” to Florida. I know there will still be more hot days ahead of us, but Sunday was absolutely gorgeous and I hope you took the time to get outside and enjoy it. Personally, I took the opportunity to work in the garage without sweating profusely. It was very nice. Now, let’s get to today’s links.

Orlando City Hunts for the Playoffs

The Lions won their second match in a row by winning 1-0 against FC Cincinnati 1-0 on the road. There were some outstanding performances from the Lions, including from Orlando City goalkeeper Pedro Gallese. El Pulpo joined the club Friday night in Cincinnati by catching a direct flight from Peru after playing in World Cup qualifiers. It was a quick turnaround for the Peruvian, but he came up with crucial saves and recorded his first clean sheet for Orlando since Aug. 27.

The Lions also made an effort to take more shots from outside the box. The team hasn’t had many goals from distance in recent weeks and wanted to change things up as it makes a playoff push. Junior Urso’s goal in the 13th minute was exactly what the Lions were looking for and enough to be the game winner. Tesho Akindele appeared to have scored in the second half from about the same spot when his shot bounced off the crossbar and there wasn’t an obvious video review to see if it completely crossed the goal line. Giving the opposition something else to think about on offense is good and Orlando has five matches remaining to further diversify its attack before the postseason.

Orlando Pride Officially Eliminated

If the Orlando Pride won Saturday night, there was still no guarantee they would make the playoffs. But the Pride didn’t win, falling 3-1 to Racing Louisville FC as they were officially eliminated from playoff contention. The Pride started the season with a seven-game unbeaten run while playing some of their best soccer in years. Marc Skinner’s departure in the middle of the season brought Becky Burleigh to Orlando as the interim head coach. While the Pride did well at times with Burleigh at the helm, losing just once in her first seven matches, they have lost their last four games. If Burleigh led the Pride into the playoffs, there may have been a good argument for giving her the position in a full-time capacity. While that’s still not out of the question, the club will likely open up the search and make other changes as well during the off-season.

Elsewhere in the National Women’s Soccer League, the Washington Spirit clinched a playoff berth after winning 2-0 against OL Reign. That leaves three playoff spots for the Chicago Red Stars, NJ/NY Gotham FC, Houston Dash, and North Carolina Courage to fight over. Considering none of those four teams face each other in the remaining games, it should set up for a tense finish to the NWSL regular season.

Eastern Conference Playoff Race Stays Tight

Results across MLS went the Lions’ way for the most part this past weekend as they remain in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. CF Montréal drew 2-2 with the Philadelphia Union to keep the Lions just a point behind the Union. Nashville SC and D.C. United battled to a scoreless draw, meaning Orlando can reach the second spot in the conference if certain results happen take place this Wednesday.

Several teams are clawing their way up the table for a playoff spot, including the Columbus Crew. The defending champs haven’t had a great year, but certainly took care of business against Inter Miami CF, dispatching them by a score of 4-0. The New York Red Bulls closed the gap with rival New York City FC after a 1-0 victory. The loss doesn’t bode well for NYCFC as its attacking woes continue.

Americans Make an Impact Abroad

Antonee Robinson was one of many Americans to find the back of the net this weekend, scoring a nice goal from distance in Fulham’s 4-1 win over Queens Park Rangers. Sergino Dest played as a winger in FC Barcelona’s 3-1 victory against Valencia and had an assist. Zack Steffen earned a clean sheet in his first start of the season as Manchester City won 2-0 against Burnley. Forwards Josh Sargent, Tim Weah, and Jordan Pefok all started but didn’t contribute towards a goal. Ulysses Llanez, Christian Ramirez, Duane Holmes, and Terrence Boyd were some of the Americans who scored for their clubs.

Free Kicks
  • Bleacher Report created a Twitter thread diving into how Pablo Escobar would bring star soccer players to his prison for five-a-side games. Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja was one of many Colombian players invited to play with Escobar back then.

That will do it for today. Check back for the latest Orlando soccer news as the Lions play twice this week. Orlando hosts Montreal on Wednesday, and then welcomes the New England Revolution on Sunday.