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Lion Links: 4/12/21

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Orlando Pride players did well in their debuts, Marta’s shift in focus due to the pandemic, USWNT prepares for France, and more.

SOCCER: AUG 25 NWSL - Chicago Red Stars at Orlando Pride Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers! We were able to enjoy some soccer over the weekend due to a pair of draws from the Orlando Pride and the United States Women’s National Team. Not only that, but there’s more soccer this week with the USWNT taking on France tomorrow, the Pride hosting NJ/NY Gotham FC on Wednesday, and Orlando City hosting Atlanta United Saturday afternoon. But for now, let’s get to the links!

Orlando Pride Players Shine in Their Debuts

The youngsters have already started contributing in Orlando, with the Pride’s two goals against Racing Louisville FC coming from Taylor Kornieck and Abi Kim. Kornieck impressed with her size and used it to perfection on her goal, scoring with a header. Kim had a rocket of a shot that gave Orlando a temporary lead. Of course, giving up the late equalizer brings up bad memories for both players and supporters alike. Ali Riley and Meggie Dougherty Howard were key parts of the Pride’s game plan, with Dougherty Howard assisting on both goals.

The Pandemic’s Effect on Marta

There are very few athletes who still compete at the highest level in their 22nd professional year, but Marta is not just any athlete. Before starting in, the six-time FIFA Player of the Year had her longest break between matches since the start of her career. Although she didn’t show any symptoms, Marta tested positive for COVID-19 in November. The time off forced her to take a break and she used the time to refocus on how she wants to spend her time off the field in the future.

Preparing for the USWNT’s Friendly with France

Here’s a good primer for the USWNT’s friendly against France tomorrow at 3:15 p.m. This will be the 25th meeting between the two sides. The last time the two nations met was in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup when Megan Rapinoe scored a brace in a 2-1 win. In that match, Wendie Renard scored France’s lone goal but she won’t be available for France tomorrow after a COVID-19 breakout at Olympique Lyonnais. It should be a good match between the USWNT and France as they are two of the top teams in the world.

Another Big Weekend for Americans Abroad

As we shared in yesterday’s Lion Links, Daryl Dike just keeps scoring and Christian Pulisic scored two goals for Chelsea. Those two aren’t the only Americans to score a goal abroad though as Weston McKennie got his fifth goal in Serie A.

Giovanni Reyna also registered an assist in Borussia Dortmund’s 3-2 win over VfB Stuttgart. Bryan Reynolds became the youngest American to start in Serie A after making his debut with AS Roma at the age of 19.

New Week, Same Problems in Soccer and Social Media

A week ago in Lion Links, I spoke about how enraged I get every time racism is involved in the sport that I love. It’s been a week since then, and here we are again. Son Heung-min scored a goal for Tottenham in the club’s 3-1 loss to Manchester United. Almost as important, he was involved in a Manchester United goal being disallowed after Scott McTominay was judged to have fouled Son in the buildup to the goal. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was critical of the decision, though Manchester United was still able to win the match. Following the match, some on social media used blatantly racist slurs when referring to Son. Tottenham and the English Premier League are investigating the matter.

Meanwhile, Sebastian Lletget spoke about his use of a homophobic slur when referring to a teammate in a video on Instagram. While it seemed to be in jest, it still crosses a line, and Major League Soccer is looking into the incident. Both of these incidents are exactly the type of thing that needs to be done away with in both soccer and society as a whole. We need to be better.

Free Kicks
  • Orlando City draft pick Andrew Pannenberg signed with Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC in the USL Championship. Pannenberg was drafted in the second round by the Lions in the MLS SuperDraft and they retain his MLS rights.
  • Remember when Ali Riley had her “foot stepped on” during the Pride’s match against Louisville? It seems that might have been a euphemism.
  • New York City FC signed Thiago Andrade from Brazilian side EC Bahia. The forward recently made his debut with the Bahia senior team. The 20-year-old will join the Pigeons once he receives his P-1 Visa.
  • What do you do if you are Nani and have a day off? You hit the water.

That’s going to be it for today, Mane Landers. Have a great Monday and stay safe out there.