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Lion Links: 4/7/21

Orlando City season preview, Orlando Pride prepare for Racing Louisville FC, Concacaf Champions League begins, and more.

Orlando City SC v FC Dallas Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope everyone is doing well as we’re halfway to the weekend. It won’t be much longer until Orlando City and the Orlando Pride are back in action and I can’t wait. The Lions’ scrimmage against Miami FC yesterday was canceled, but they still have a final preseason match on Friday against Minnesota United. There is plenty to get to today, so let’s jump right to the links.

Orlando City SC Season Preview

The Lions certainly won’t be under the radar in their second year under Head Coach Oscar Pareja. After a strong 2020 season, Orlando’s 2021 campaign will start in Exploria Stadium on April 17 against Atlanta United. The roster is filled with talented players, including new additions like Silvester van der Water and Alexandre Pato to help add firepower on offense.

Who knows what the future holds for Daryl Dike right now, but I hope he comes back to Orlando. Mauricio Pereyra, Nani, and Junior Urso are all capable of creating opportunities on offense and we will see if Chris Mueller can have another stellar season. You should also keep an eye on Andrés Perea as the 20-year-old could have a breakout season this year. The Lions’ depth will surely be tested this summer with many international tournaments set to take place. Expectations are high for the Lions as they aim for silverware and another run in the playoffs this season.

Preparing for the Orlando Pride’s Opener

The Orlando Pride’s first game of the NWSL Challenge Cup is this Saturday at 7 p.m. as they take on Racing Louisville FC in Lynn Family Stadium. It will be the first meeting between the two sides as this is Louisville’s inaugural NWSL season. Forwards Savannah McCaskill and Yuki Nagasato headline Louisville’s offense, while 2015 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year Michelle Betos will serve as its last line of defense.

Alex Morgan will be with the United States Women’s National Team for a friendly against Sweden earlier that day, but the Pride’s roster will nearly be at full strength with Marta, Ashlyn Harris, and Ali Krieger leading the charge. The match will also be the Pride’s first in front of fans since Oct. 12, 2019.

Concacaf Champions League Begins

The Concacaf Champions League kicked off with a couple of MLS teams in action. The Portland Timbers got off to a good start in Honduras against CD Marathón with a goal from Felipe Mora and an own goal forced by a Diego Valeri free kick to lead 2-1 early in the second half. However, Marathón’s Marlon Ramirez scored an equalizer in the 68th minute and the first leg finished as a 2-2 draw. In the other match, Atlanta United faced off against Alajuelense in Costa Rica and goalkeeper Brad Guzan was sent off with a red card in the 43rd minute. Atlanta United still managed to take the lead after a penalty kick by Ezequiel Barco and the Five Stripes held on for a 1-0 win in the first leg.

Tonight’s action will see the Philadelphia Union travel to Costa Rica to take on Deportivo Saprissa at 6 p.m. while Toronto FC heads to Mexico for a match against Club León at 8 p.m.

First Legs Start in UEFA Champions League Quarterfinals

The quarterfinals are underway in the UEFA Champions League. In England, Manchester City needed a late goal from Phil Foden to win 2-1 over Borussia Dortmund in the first leg. Kevin De Bruyne scored City’s first goal while Dortmund’s Marco Reus scored in the 84th minute for a crucial away goal before the second leg in Germany next week. Liverpool was dominated in Spain against Real Madrid as Vinicius Junior had a brace in the 3-1 win.

Today, there will be a rematch of last year’s UEFA Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain. Christian Pulisic is fit after concerns with his hamstring as Chelsea travels to face FC Porto.

Free Kicks

That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Wednesday, stay safe, and I’ll see you next time.