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Lion Links: 3/4/21

Orlando City releases 2021 preseason schedule, Daryl Dike scores again for Barnsley, Orlando Pride lose first preseason match and more.

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Arsenal Women v Birmingham City Women - FA WSL Continental Tyres Cup Quarter-Final

Good evening, morning, or afternoon, Mane Landers. I hope everyone is doing well this Thursday. It’s been an insanely hectic week for me with mid-terms and all that fun stuff at school, so I hope you readers have had a more laid back one than I. It has been far from a chill week as Orlando soccer is concerned too. An abundance of newsworthy happenings are taking place, so let’s get right into the links.

Orlando City Releases Preseason Schedule

Orlando City announced its preseason schedule for the forthcoming campaign. All matches will unsurprisingly be played behind closed doors. All opponents have been announced apart from one on March 27. As it stands, the Lions will face five MLS sides — the Philadelphia Union, New York City FC, FC Cincinnati, the Chicago Fire, and Minnesota United. Oscar Pareja’s men will also take on one USL Championship side on April 6 with that of Miami FC between the matches to Chicago and Minnesota. The side began its season preparations on Monday, and will start the exhibition match-ups March 15 against the Union in Bradenton.

Dike Scores Again for Barnsley, Oscar Pareja says a Return is Likely

Orlando City striker Daryl Dike scored once again for Barnsley. This time, the finish came against Queens Park Rangers away from home. The 20-year-old scored the first of the match at the 23-minute mark, and helped see the Championship side on to the win by a margin of 3-1. The American put in a solid shift for 56 minutes before being subbed off in a triple change.

After a goal against Stoke City a couple of weeks ago, Dike has since been awarded two starts in a row. The Lion on loan looks as if he is loving life in England thus far. Barnsley currently sits seventh, just one point away from a playoff spot.

In light of the incredible performances from Dike, Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja was asked about the future of the player. The manager stated it would take something “exceptional” for him not to return to Orlando.

“If something exceptional happens, if some door gets opened for him, then we’ll have to just accept it and put that as a good path for others,” Pareja said, “especially youngsters here in the club.”

Orlando Pride Drop Preseason Opener to Kansas City

The Orlando Pride started their preseason yesterday. The team took on NWSL expansion side Kansas City (essentially just the old Utah Royals), and suffered disappointing a 1-0 loss at Sylvan Lake Park. Raisa Strom-Okimoto scored the game’s only goal in the 58th minute.

Despite Marta, Alex Morgan, and Sydney Leroux all taking part, Marc Skinner’s side was still unable to score. The result is sure to be a frustrating one for the Pride, and the group will surely hope to improve in its next match against Florida State University on March 13.

Juventus Exercises Weston McKennie Option

Juventus has exercised the option to sign Weston McKennie. The 22-year-old has had a solid time with I Bianconeri thus far, and because of that, last year’s Italian Champions seemed keen to tie the American down permanently, doing so before the season even finished. The club released a statement alluding to McKennie’s solid numbers.

“Wes has proven to be a very important resource for Coach Pirlo, having already put his signature on important performances and goals. It’s impossible not to think about his goal against Barcelona at the Camp Nou, or the one in the Derby della Mole - his first in the black and white jersey.

It’s also important to note that he is also the youngest midfielder in this league with at least four goals, as well as the best American scorer in Serie A history. In six of the goals he has actively participated in (four goals and two assists), Juventus have always won.

It’s because of this, that as of today, he has become an outright Juventus player, with the Club having made the move permanent from Schalke 04.”

Free Kicks

That’s all for this Thursday’s set of links. Have a good second half of the week.