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Lion Links: 4/11/21

Orlando Pride draw Louisville in Challenge Cup opener, Amanda Duffy’s pledge to Pride fans, Dike keeps scoring, and more.

Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

Happy Sunday, everyone. I am one day away from getting my second vaccination shot and while I’m apprehensive at what that might do to my body, because people I know have reacted about every way imaginable, I’m excited to get it over with.

We’ve officially moved into the Orlando Pride’s competitive soccer season and the first game week of Orlando City’s 2021 MLS campaign. Look for season previews and roundtables and all kinds of cool content this week as we get ready for the Lions’ match-up with Atlanta United next weekend.

But for now, let’s get to the news of the day.

Orlando Pride Drop Two Points in Stoppage Time

The Orlando Pride kicked off their NWSL Challenge Cup Saturday night in Kentucky against expansion Racing Louisville. It appeared the Pride would get run off the pitch as the NWSL noobs threaded ball after ball through the defense and created chances in the first 15 minutes. But the Pride settled in, equalized before the break on a Taylor Kornieck goal, then took a late lead through an absolute screamer by Abi Kim. You have to see this even if you don’t click the link below to read the recap (but honestly, you should read it):

Just when Orlando seemed poised to get its first come-from-behind win since 2018, Ali Krieger conceded a free kick, the Pride failed to win the aerial ball on the service, and absolutely no one marked Brooke Hendrix. So, obviously Hendrix got to the loose ball first and slotted home in stoppage time to cap the scoring in a 2-2 draw.

It was a disappointing end to an entertaining game, but if the order of the final two goals was reversed, it would feel a lot better. It was probably a fair result but now Marc Skinner knows where he needs to make improvements. Meggie Dougherty Howard assisted on both goals.

The Pride will be back in action at home on Wednesday when Gotham FC visits Exploria Stadium at 7 p.m.

Daryl Dike Can. Not. Stop. Scoring.

Orlando City striker Daryl Dike continued his scorching form in the Championship on Saturday, scoring his eighth goal of the season in 14 appearances (nine starts) since joining Barnsley FC on loan. Dike’s header gave Barnsley some insurance late in an eventual 2-0 win over Middlesbrough. The Reds have won 11 games, drawn two, and lost only one since the big man arrived in South Yorkshire. Dike scored eight goals for Orlando City in 17 appearances in 2020, so the only logical conclusions one can draw is that he got even better since arriving in England or the Championship is easier than MLS and Orlando City pretty much would have won the league over there. There can be no other conclusion. I have spoken.

Pride EVP Amanda Duffy Outlines Club’s Commitment

In an open letter to Orlando Pride fans, Executive Vice President Amanda Duffy spelled out the club’s commitment and intentions.

Our commitment locally is to bring Orlando Pride into every business, community, and home that we can reach. Our intention is to elevate and strengthen the Orlando Pride brand and business while driving awareness, visibility, relevance, and value to our fans and to Central Florida at large. We will do this because we understand that athletes, our athletes, can impact the lives of those in our community. We will do this because we understand that through sports, we can inspire and unite.

Duffy asked fans to show up at the stadium and be part of the club’s revival and to show support for the club’s athletes and leadership and made a promise to Pride fans.

Our commitment to all, each day, is for the Orlando Pride to inspire you.

2021 should be a year unlike any other for Orlando Pride. The promise this statement represents is our promise to be more thoughtful, to show progress, and always strive to be the best versions of ourselves – as individuals, as a team, as a business, and as a community.

USWNT Needs Late Penalty to Draw Sweden, 1-1

Look, it’s not an indictment of the U.S. that it required a late Megan Rapinoe penalty to secure a 1-1 draw on the road at Sweden on Saturday. After all, the Swedes are one of the world’s best teams — currently sitting fifth in the FIFA world rankings. Sweden played an excellent defensive game, forcing the USWNT to be sharp to break them down. The Yanks, however, were not sharp. Credit some of that to Sweden but there were far too many bad decisions, poorly weighted — or just plain errant — passes, misses, and shots right at the goalkeeper from the talented U.S. forwards.

Sweden also should have been better, blowing two outstanding chances to put the game away. The hosts’ lone goal came off a corner kick when no one bothered to even stand near striker Lina Hurtig, who sent her free header off the back post and in. Some thought the foul that led to the tying penalty was outside the box, and it was close, but I think the ref got it right. Kelley O’Hara, who also didn’t have a great game, had her run cut off while just inside the line and was knocked outside the box. I watched that play frame by frame about 30 times and O’Hara’s left foot was well inside the box when contact was made and her right foot was in the air. The contact came from inside. Penalty for me, but others saw it differently.

  • Pride striker Alex Morgan entered in the second half but didn’t make too much of an impact on the match.
  • Hurtig’s goal was the first conceded by Alyssa Naeher in 10 matches.
  • The U.S. conceded for the first time since March of 2020 and trailed for the first time since October of 2019.
  • Vlatko Andonovski remains unbeaten as USWNT coach, but his side didn’t win for the first time since he took over for Jill Ellis.
  • The Yanks will face France on the road Tuesday at 3 p.m.
Free Kicks
  • ESPN singled out Orlando City’s Alexandre Pato as a player ready to leave a mark in 2021 as part of their storylines for the upcoming MLS season.
  • Orlando City draft pick Derek Dodson assisted on the game-winning goal with a heads-up quick restart in Georgetown’s 1-0 win over St. John’s on Saturday. Check it out:
  • People’s lack of awareness in the year 2021 continues to amaze me. USMNT and LA Galaxy attacker Sebastian Lletget is under investigation by MLS after directing a gay slur at teammate Julian Araujo and then posting it to Instagram. Lletget has apologized.
  • Christian Pulisic is officially in form with three goals in two matches. His brace yesterday helped lift Chelsea to a 4-1 win at Crystal Palace.
  • Those born on this date include Animal House star Peter “Boone” Riegert (1947), late Big Country guitarist and lead singer Stuart Adamson (1958), singer Lisa Stansfield (1966), Spin City’s Jennifer Esposito (1972), and England international Dele Alli (1996).

That’s all for me today. Enjoy what’s left of your weekend, prepare for next Saturday, and get vaxxed up (like me), so we can all be together in greater numbers sooner rather than later.