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Lion Links: 4/30/21

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Daryl Dike will continue Barnsley loan, Orlando City hosts Cincinnati tomorrow night, the Orlando Pride visit the North Carolina Courage, and more.

Huddersfield Town v Barnsley - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

How’s it going, Mane Landers? It’s the last day of April as we look ahead to a May filled with soccer and holidays. This weekend is a great time to get a jump on any Mother’s Day shopping you’ve been putting off because that’s right around the corner. There’s plenty to look forward to this weekend as both Orlando City and the Orlando Pride play tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. But for now, enjoy today’s links!

Daryl Dike Will Stay on Loan with Barnsley FC

After negotiations between Orlando City and Barnsley, an agreement was reached for Dike not to be recalled until after the English Football League Championship playoffs in exchange for an undisclosed fee. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Orlando City CEO Alex Leitão stated that Dike will return to the Lions after the Championship playoffs and the 20-year-old’s future will be explored in the summer transfer window. The Lions also reportedly aren’t planning to accept an offer under $20 million for Dike when the time comes. Dike’s next match for Barnsley is tomorrow at 10 a.m. against Preston North End FC.

Orlando Hosts FC Cincinnati Tomorrow Night

The Lions will welcome FC Cincinnati to Exploria Stadium, where the Lions have only lost one MLS regular season game with Head Coach Oscar Pareja at the helm. They are still on the hunt for their first win of the season and will have a good opportunity against a Cincinnati side that was blown out 5-0 by New York City FC last week.

Orlando City also announced the broadcast team for this year’s MLS season, with new sideline reporter Gabrielle Amado joining familiar faces Miguel Gallardo and Evan Weston for television coverage. On radio, Sergio Ruiz Torres and Israel Heredia will call games in Spanish, while Scott Harris and Paul Shaw will handle the English coverage. Gallardo and Weston have proven to be a solid duo and they broke down what to watch for in tomorrow night’s game.

Sebas Mendez Brings Stability to the Midfield

The Lions had to start the season without Mauricio Pereyra or Uri Rosell, two key parts of the team’s midfield. However, Ecuadorian midfielder Sebas Mendez has stepped up to the plate for the Lions, delivering strong performances in the team’s two draws. Consistent both offensively and defensively, Mendez has become a pillar for the Lions. Pareja weighed in on the midfielder’s efforts after a 2020 season where Mendez struggled to find stability in Pareja’s system due to international call-ups during the pandemic.

“This year we have found the Sebas that we all want,” Pareja said. “He is carrying the team and he is holding the responsibility to be the one who is moving the team in the middle.”

As for the team’s absences, Pereyra is expected to return after serving his two-game suspension. Silvester van der Water, who didn’t travel with the team to Kansas last week, will be available after dealing with some hamstring tightness. Rosell and forward Alexandre Pato are both still recovering, but left back João Moutinho is nearing his return and should be available on the bench again tomorrow.

The Orlando Pride Head to North Carolina

In their final group game of the NWSL Challenge Cup, the Pride are on the road for a tough match against the North Carolina Courage. Both teams have plenty to play for in this one as they can potentially overtake NJ/NY Gotham FC for the top spot in the group. Although Crystal Dunn and Abby Dahlkemper departed during the off-season, the Courage still have plenty of talented players like Debinha and Lynn Williams to make life difficult for the Pride tomorrow. If Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris maintains her superb form while forward Alex Morgan continues to make an impact on offense, the Pride will certainly have a shot to bring all three points back to Orlando.

Europa League Semifinals Get Started

Playing at Old Trafford, Manchester United ended the first half of its Europa League match-up with AS Roma trailing 2-1. I’m not sure what Ole Gunnar Solskjær told his players during the break, but United scored five goals in the second half to win 6-2. Edinson Cavani scored in the 48th minute and then the team was off to the races, with Cavani scoring another in the 64th minute to earn a brace. Bruno Fernandes converted a penalty in the second half to notch a brace as well.

In the other semifinal, Villareal CF won 2-1 over Arsenal thanks to a pair of goals in the first half from Manu Trigueros and Raul Albiol. Arsenal midfielder Dani Ceballos picked up a second yellow card in the 57th minute and Arsenal wasn’t able to mount a comeback, although Nicolas Pepe scored from the spot to give the team an important away goal.

Free Kicks

That’s going to be it for today, Mane Landers. I hope you all enjoy your Friday and rest of your weekend. Go Orlando!