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Lion Links: 10/29/21

Orlando Pride host the Chicago Red Stars tonight, Orlando City prepares for Nashville SC, MLS award voting begins today, and more.

NJ/NY Gotham City FC v Orlando Pride Photo by Roy K. Miller/ISI Photos/Getty Images

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope the work week has been easy on you as we head into this Halloween weekend. I don’t have any plans beyond working and watching some soccer, but it should still be a nice time. I’m definitely looking forward to cooler temperatures over the next few weeks, but for now enjoy these links from around the soccer world.

Orlando Pride Play Season Finale Tonight

The Orlando Pride will play their final game of the 2021 season as they host the Chicago Red Stars tonight at 7 p.m. The Pride are out of playoff contention and are entering the match on a four-game losing streak. The game will also be interim head coach Becky Burleigh’s final game with the Pride after leading the team following Marc Skinner’s departure in July. Tonight’s match will be the third meeting between the two sides this year and the first at Exploria Stadium. The Red Stars will clinch a spot in the playoffs with a result against the Pride tonight while the Pride don’t have much to play for beyond ending the season on a high note.

Orlando City Prepares to Host Nashville SC

The Lions will welcome Nashville to Exploria Stadium this Sunday in a pivotal match-up between Eastern Conference opponents. Both teams are coming off of trips to Ohio as Nashville clinched its spot in the postseason by coming back to win 6-3 on the road against FC Cincinnati, while Orlando fell 3-2 against the Columbus Crew. The Lions’ loss puts much more pressure on their shoulders ahead of this Halloween meeting as they look to secure a spot in the playoffs. With only two points to show from their past three matches, the Lions will need a strong showing against one of the best teams in the league. It will be Chris Mueller’s final regular-season game at Exploria Stadium and may also be the last time fans see some players in person before the off-season.

MLS Announces End of Year Award Nominees

Voting for the 2021 MLS End of the Year Awards will begin today at noon as the league announced the nominees for this season. Orlando’s Nani and Mauricio Pereyra were both nominated for MLS MVP while Antonio Carlos and Robin Jansson were nominated for Defender of the Year. Silvester van der Water, Pedro Gallese, Ruan, Daryl Dike, Andres Perea, and Oscar Pareja were also nominated across the various categories. Carlos is likely Orlando’s best candidate to win an award thanks to a strong year that gives him a case for Defender of the Year. The list of finalists will be announced by MLS before the playoffs begin.

Keeping Up With the USMNT

The United States Men’s National Team will play in an empty stadium when it travels to play Jamaica on Nov. 16 for a World Cup qualifier. The decision for the match to be played behind closed doors was made due to local government restrictions. It’s a slight boost for the USMNT’s qualifying campaign, but the biggest match of the upcoming window will be at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati as the U.S. hosts Mexico on Nov. 12.

Christian Pulisic may be available for the USMNT for those matches as he returned to full training with Chelsea. The midfielder hasn’t played since picking up an ankle injury on Sept. 8 in Honduras. Other Americans did well playing for their clubs this week, with Weston McKennie and Cameron Carter-Vickers scoring while Brenden Aaronson had an assist. Forward Christian Ramirez has also quietly scored in each of Aberdeen’s past three games in the Scottish Premiership. This weekend will feature plenty of Americans playing abroad and Lille forward Timothy Weah can make a splash in a game against Paris Saint-Germain today at 3 p.m.

Free Kicks
  • The Crew’s Lucas Zelarayan’s strike from distance against Orlando was nominated for MLS Goal of the Week, but it faces stiff competition from Portland forward Dairon Asprilla’s long-range bicycle kick. Both are certainly candidates for the best goal of the year, so it will be interesting to see which comes out on top.

That’s going to be all for today. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend. This may be the last time Orlando teams play in the City Beautiful until 2022, which is pretty sad to think about. But it’s also a great opportunity to make the most out of these home games. Have fun and go Orlando!