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Lion Links: 5/14/21

MLS player salaries revealed, Orlando City will travel to play D.C. United, Orlando Pride are set to host the Washington Spirit, 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup dates set, and more.

MLS: Atlanta United FC at Orlando City SC Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope you all are looking forward to a weekend filled to the brim with soccer. As of today, I’m fully vaccinated and will probably celebrate with a trip to my favorite local coffeeshop for some idle reading. Congratulations to any graduates out there as well since it’s that time of the year. Now, let’s jump into today’s links from around the soccer world.

Orlando City Player Salaries Revealed

The Major League Soccer Players Association released the 2021 salary information for every player in the league as of April. Orlando City is 16th in total player salary commitments and Nani is 15th among all players, with a guaranteed 2021 salary of $2,486,250. As for a few of the players who became Lions this off-season, Alexandre Pato has a guaranteed salary of $272,727, Silvester van der Water will make $325,750 this year, and loaned goalkeeper Brandon Austin is set to make $279,477 if he’s in Orlando all season.

Inter Miami, Toronto FC, the LA Galaxy, Atlanta United, and FC Cincinnati are the league’s five biggest spenders this year. I believe player spending shouldn’t be looked at too closely when trying to set expectations for a team or a player given the many variables in play such as performance bonuses or the length of a contract. That being said, here’s a fantastic visual guide that turns those numbers into something a bit more consumable.

Lions Will Face D.C. United On the Road

The Lions will take on D.C. United this Sunday for their second road game of the season. Despite multiple injuries and the absence of Daryl Dike, Orlando remains unbeaten after four games this season. Many players have stepped up to the plate, particularly in the midfield as Sebas Mendez and Junior Urso have done well on both sides of the ball. Nani leads Orlando with three goals and Antonio Carlos continues to impress in the center of defense. Evan Weston and Miguel Gallardo broke down what to watch for in Orlando’s upcoming match.

As for Orlando’s opponents, D.C. United won 1-0 over the struggling Chicago Fire last night. The last time Orlando and D.C. faced off was in June of 2019 when Wayne Rooney scored the game’s only goal in the 10th minute. Rooney can no longer torment the Lions, but Ola Kamara is still in D.C. and has a decent track record against Orlando.

Orlando Pride Start Season This Sunday

At Exploria Stadium, the Pride will host the Washington Spirit on Sunday at 6 p.m. Although this will be the first game of the National Women’s Soccer League season for both sides, the Pride won 1-0 against the Spirit in the group stage of the NWSL Challenge Cup last month. In that match, Alex Morgan connected with Sydney Leroux for the Pride’s goal while Ashlyn Harris made nine saves, including one from a penalty. Marta is excited to get the season started at home as the Pride aim for all three points against the Spirit once more.

Concacaf Gold Cup Schedule Unveiled

Exploria Stadium will host six matches for the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup this summer. The first matches in Orlando will take place on July 12 as Jamaica plays Suriname and Costa Rica takes on whichever nation advances from one of the preliminary matches. Those same teams will play again in Orlando on July 16, but July 20 will feature a clash between Costa Rica and Jamaica and then a match between Panama and Grenada.

The United States Men’s National Team will play all of its group matches in Kansas City, including a showdown with Canada on July 18. In the knockout stage, matches will take place in either Glendale, AZ or Arlington, TX and the final will be on Aug. 1 in Las Vegas.

Americans Abroad This Weekend

With seasons winding down across Europe, plenty of Americans have something to play for over the next few days. Orlando’s Dike and Barnsley FC will host Swansea City on Monday at 3:15 p.m. in the first leg of their English Football League Championship playoff matches. Elsewhere in England, Christian Pulisic and Chelsea will take on Leicester City in Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

Three teams are fighting over two Champions League spots still up for grabs in the Bundesliga, with Giovanni Reyna, John Brooks, and Timothy Chandler all in the mix. Near the bottom of the table, Werder Bremen’s Josh Sargent has an important match against FC Augsburg with relegation still a possibility for either side.

Elsewhere, Weston McKennie and Juventus will have their Champions League qualification hopes on the line against Inter Milan. Sergino Dest and FC Barcelona will need a win against Celta Vigo and other results in their favor to remain in the La Liga title hunt. Timothy Weah has featured here and there during Lille’s remarkable Ligue 1 campaign and the club can clinch the title if it beats Saint-Étienne. Whew, there really is a lot of soccer worth watching this weekend.

Free Kicks
  • Nani earned 25.9% of the MLS Goal of the Week vote to finish second behind Real Salt Lake’s Rubio Rubin’s stellar bicycle kick. It was Nani’s third consecutive nomination as he continues to find the back of the net in style.
  • In Pride defender Ali Riley’s last episode of her video series, she spoke to Ali Krieger about the team’s expectations this year and motherhood. The video also features Krieger swaddling Riley in a blanket on the locker room floor.
  • Former Lion Dennis Chin is retiring from soccer and his announcement included a compilation of moments that will definitely make you nostalgic.
  • Let’s end our links with some training footage of Mason Stajduhar taking a blow of his own.

That’s going to be it for today, folks. Remember to stay hydrated out there and take care of yourselves and others. It should be a fun weekend, so enjoy the rest of your Friday!