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Lion Links: 11/4/21

Ashlyn Harris honored, midweek MLS, Champions League, NWSL announces draft dates, and more.

MLS: Houston Dynamo at CF Montreal Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

We are at the end of the line in our soccer season. The Pride’s season is already wrapped up and Orlando City is down to the wire for a playoff spot. It’s a mad dash to the end of the season and there’s plenty to dive into this morning.

Orlando City Playoff Spot Down to Decision Day after Midweek Results

Wednesday night’s MLS action did Orlando City no favors in terms of the playoff race. With a Montreal loss or draw against the Houston Dynamo, the Lions would’ve clinched with a game to spare. Unfortunately for Orlando, the struggling Dynamo couldn’t hold on, giving up two second-half goals in quick succession, eventually ending in a 2-0 Montreal win. Atlanta United and the New York Red Bulls, two more playoff contenders, drew 0-0, keeping both alive in the playoff hunt as well, with Atlanta level with Orlando on points, and New York one point behind. Orlando City can clinch a playoff spot on Decision Day with a result against Montreal or a New York loss to Nashville SC. Tense times are looming.

There were two other MLS league matches Wednesday night. Austin FC throttled Sporting Kansas City 3-1, including the club’s fastest ever goal, and the Timbers won 3-1 over Real Salt Lake.

Ashlyn Harris Named to Just Women’s Sports Best XI

Just Women’s Sports released its list of awards for the NWSL regular season, and only one member of the Orlando Pride was honored — goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, who was named to the website’s Best XI.

Ashlyn Harris has had a banner season, surpassing the NWSL career saves record of 468 to become the league’s all-time saves leader. Casey Murphy had a strong run for the Courage, but Harris’ three saves from the spot for Orlando puts her over the top.

Among the other awards were Washington’s Ashley Hatch and Trinity Rodman being named MVP and Rookie of the Year, respectively.

NWSL Drafts Set for mid-December

We have official dates for the upcoming NWSL Expansion Draft and NWSL Draft. The expansion draft is set for Dec. 16 and the draft is set for Dec. 18. Both drafts will be held in Los Angeles. The drafts will be covered across CBS’s platforms, including streaming network Paramount+. Specific platforms, times and coverage details will be announced at a later date.

The Orlando Pride will have a top five pick in the draft and will look to keep its key pieces together from expansion sides Angel City FC and the currently unnamed San Diego team.

UEFA Champions League Roundup

It’s midweek, which means it’s Champions League group stage time, and yesterday was a big day in Europe’s top competition. Liverpool and Ajax punched their tickets to the Round of 16 with big wins over Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, respectively. Jesse Marsch’s RB Leipzig earned a big 2-2 draw against Paris Saint-Germain, and Inter Milan throttled Cinderella Moldovan champions FC Sheriff.

Free Kicks

That’s all from me this Thursday morning. Thanks for joining me. Have a great one.