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Lion Links: 3/19/21

Alexandre Pato scores in Orlando City’s preseason loss, Benji Michel starts in U-23 U.S. win, Young Lions join United Premier Soccer League, and more.

SOCCER: SEP 07 MLS - LAFC at Orlando City SC Photo by Joe Petro/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

How’s it going, Mane Landers? Spring officially starts tomorrow, but I’m already sick of all this pollen in the air. Although this time of year is one of my favorites overall due to soccer and March Madness, spring is definitely my least favorite of the four seasons.

That may just be because I’ve never experienced a winter outside of Florida though. I’m sure single-digit temperatures would make me reconsider my seasonal rankings. But even though I’m not a fan of spring, I’m really looking forward to these next few months filled with Orlando soccer.

Alexandre Pato Scores in Preseason Game

In its second preseason game, Orlando City lost 3-2 against New York City FC in Osceola County Stadium. The good news from the game was that Orlando forward Alexandre Pato found the back of the net in his first game as a Lion. Drawing conclusions from preseason games can be tough, but it’s great seeing Pato score considering he arrived in Orlando last week.

NYCFC’s Andres Jasson drew two penalties in the first half, which were both converted to give the visitors an early lead. Orlando defender Robin Jansson scored and Pato equalized, but Valentin Castellanos completed a brace to give NYCFC the win.

Lions Feature in U.S. Olympic Qualifying Win

The U-23 United States Men’s National Team won 1-0 over Costa Rica in the Concacaf Olympic qualifying tournament in Mexico. Orlando Homegrown Player Benji Michel started at right wing while midfielder Andres Perea came on in the second half. FC Dallas forward Jose Ferreira scored the game’s only goal in the 35th minute and goalkeeper David Ochoa came up with massive saves to give the U.S. an important win. With three points in hand, the U.S. is in a good position to advance past the group stage and will take on the Dominican Republic on Sunday.

Brittany Wilson Ready to Step Up

Orlando Pride goalkeeper Brittany Wilson will likely fill in when Ashlyn Harris and Erin McLeod are away on international duty this season, which could be crucial considering the Olympics in Tokyo this year. The 2021 campaign will be Wilson’s first full season after she joined the Pride as an undrafted preseason invitee in 2020. Although there will be big shoes for Wilson to fill when the time comes throughout this year, Harris praised her professionalism as she improves with the team.

“She works so hard. She listens. She wants to get better every single day,” Harris said. “She’s an absolute pro. She’s always taking care of her body. She’s always in early. She’s doing all of the rehab and all of the things and asking all the right questions.”

Young Lions Will Play in the United Premier Soccer League

Orlando City SC will form a U-23 team to compete in the United Premier Soccer League for a 10-game season. The Young Lions will play in the Premier Division starting as soon as March 24 when they host Deportivo Lake Mary at Osceola Heritage Park and the season comes to a close on June 2. Orlando City B withdrew from USL League One last October and this team could feature many of the same faces such as OCB Head Coach Marcelo Neveleff. The roster and coaching staff are not yet revealed but we will find out soon enough with the season right around the corner.

Tottenham Hotspur Bounced From Europa League

Mislav Orsic scored a hat trick to give Dinamo Zagreb a 3-0 win in Croatia and eliminated Tottenham from the Europa League. It was a shocking result to say the least as Tottenham entered the match after a 2-0 win in the first leg.

Elsewhere in the tournament, Manchester United went on the road to win 1-0 over AC Milan thanks to a goal from Paul Pogba. Arsenal, AS Roma, and Villareal all cruised to the quarterfinals and are joined by Granada and Slavia Prague. The draw for the next rounds of both the Europa League and Champions League will take place later today.

Free Kicks
  • The Orlando Pride’s Ali Krieger and Chelsee Washington spoke about how training is going leading up to the NWSL Challenge Cup.

That’s all for now, Mane Landers. Have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!