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Lion Links: 10/19/21

Pato ready to hit the pitch, Urso makes Team of the Week, Marla Messing is NWSL interim CEO, and more.

MLS: Atlanta United FC at Orlando City SC Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Tuesday, everyone. It was another mixed weekend for Orlando soccer fans, with Orlando City winning its second game in a row, but the Orlando Pride’s loss eliminating the team from playoff contention. Before we dive into the news of the day, please join me in wishing Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris a very happy 36th birthday!

As always, there’s lots to discuss this morning, so let’s get right into it.

Pato Nearing Return

While he didn’t make an appearance over the weekend, Alexandre Pato did make the game day roster for the first time since opening day and is close to making his return for Orlando City. Oscar Pareja said that the striker is getting nearer to making his return from a long injury layoff, and that the Brazilian was brought on the trip to help re-integrate him into the first team after months of isolated rehab and training while recovering from injuries. Pato was back in full contact training last week. With the Lions set to play five games in a 15 day span, his return can’t come at a better time.

Junior Urso Named to MLS Team of the Week

Following a match-winning performance in Orlando City’s 1-0 win over FC Cincinnati, Junior Urso was named to the latest edition of the MLS Team of the Week. Urso scored the lone goal with an excellent, bending, first-time shot from about 23 yards out. Goal aside, he also took three shots, completed 83% of his passes, and had three clearances, three tackles, and nine ball recoveries. In general, it was a great performance, and it earned him the Man of the Match award from our own Topher Adams. It also gave him a worthy spot in the starting XI of the Team of the Week. Here’s hoping the Bear maintains that level of form as the season comes to a close.

Messing is NWSL Interim CEO

Marla Messing has been named the interim CEO of the National Women’s Soccer League. Messing was the president and CEO of the 1999 Women’s World Cup, and replaces former commissioner Lisa Baird after she resigned from her post due to fallout over how she handled the Paul Riley scandal. Orlando Pride Executive Vice President Amanda Duffy is a member of the NWSL executive committee and gave her support to the appointment, highlighting the experience and passion that she will bring to the job. Messing will have quite a job on her hands following the events that led Baird to exiting, and here’s hoping she’s up to the task.

Donovan Reportedly Withdraws from RSL Coaching Search

Landon Donovan has reportedly withdrawn his name from consideration for the Real Salt Lake coaching position. Donovan is currently the head coach the United Soccer League’s San Diego Loyal, and was reportedly one of a number of names being considered to take the top job at Real Salt Lake following Freddy Juarez decamping for the Seattle Sounders to take an assistant coaching job. However, he now seems to have exited the process, and it’s starting to look more likely that interim coach Pablo Mastroeni will at least finish out the season in his current position. With RSL currently sitting fifth in the West, leadership is cautious of doing anything to derail the good work that Mastroeni has done to put the team in the thick of the playoff places.

England Given Stadium Ban

England has been given a two-game stadium ban and a fine of $116,000 following the widespread crowd trouble that plagued the Euro 2020 final against Italy at Wembley Stadium. Numerous supporters clashed with gate stewards and police and forced their way into the stadium after capacity at Wembley was reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, England will play its next two home UEFA matches behind closed doors. With World Cup qualifiers falling under FIFA’s supervision, that means England will play an as-yet undetermined Nations League game behind closed door next June. With that being said, it’s possible that England will appeal the decision and have it reversed, so don’t count your supporter-less matches before they’re hatched.

Free Kicks
  • Orlando Pride stars Alex Morgan and Ali Riley are part of a new group that will focus on growing and advancing women’s soccer.

That does it for me today. Y’all stay safe out there.