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Lion Links: 5/26/21

Orlando City prepares to face the New York Red Bulls, the Orlando Pride host the Portland Thorns tonight, Alex Morgan called up, and more.

Ornaldo Pride v North Carolina Courage Photo by Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope everyone’s week is off to a good start as we are halfway towards Memorial Day weekend. I’ve been getting myself settled in at my new apartment in the Chicago area and am looking forward to starting my new job next week. We have plenty to cover today, so let’s get right to the links.

Orlando City Prepares to Face the New York Red Bulls

The Lions sit just two points behind the New England Revolution for the top spot in Eastern Conference. They will look to stay undefeated when they travel to take on the Red Bulls this Saturday at 1 p.m. The Red Bulls are currently on a two-game losing streak, although both of those losses were on the road against the Philadelphia Union and the Revolution. Aaron Long is out for the season and Andrés Reyes is suspended after receiving a red card, so the Red Bulls are currently vulnerable in central defense. Those absences could mean former Lion Amro Tarek may step up to face his former team. Last season, the Lions were able to get a win and a draw against the Red Bulls, making it the first time Orlando didn’t lose against the Red Bulls in a season.

The two clubs are trending in different directions in the MLS power rankings as the Lions moved up a spot to fourth while the Red Bulls fell to 22nd. They are in those same positions in Bleacher Report’s power rankings as well, although the Lions jumped up two spots there.

The Orlando Pride Host the Portland Thorns Tonight

Tonight’s match at Exploria Stadium will be the first meeting between the Pride and Thorns since July 14, 2019 when the Pride lost 4-3 at Providence Park. Although the Thorns are visiting Orlando after a 2-1 loss at home to OL Reign, they still boast a strong offense led by Christine Sinclair that is sure to test the Pride’s defense. Both Sinclair and Sophia Smith have two goals so far this season as the Thorns lead the league in goals scored with six.

As for the Pride, they are coming off a big win after going on the road to defeat the North Carolina Courage, 2-1. They will hope to keep that momentum going as they head into the second of three games within nine days. The Pride have a chance to take sole possession of the top spot in the standings if they can get a result tonight. Given this tough stretch of games, Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner has been rotating the squad to make sure the team is also in good form for Sunday’s match against Kansas City.

Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris didn’t make the trip to North Carolina as part of Skinner’s efforts to give players rest, but Erin McLeod stepped up in her absence with a four-save performance that also earned her a nomination for NWSL Save of the Week.

Alex Morgan Named to USWNT Roster

United States Women’s National Team Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski named the 23 players who will participate in the training camp for the 2021 WNT Summer Series. Pride forward Alex Morgan was called up and she will be one of seven players on the roster with over 100 caps. With the Olympics less than two months away, these matches in Texas will help mirror the scheduling of the group stage matches in Tokyo. In Houston on June 10, the USWNT will play against Portugal and then play again on June 13 against Jamaica. Then the team will take on Nigeria at Austin FC’s Q2 Stadium on June 16. These will be the final matches before Andonovski chooses the 18-player roster he plans to take to Japan.

Brian Rowe Announces Retirement

Former Lion Brian Rowe announced his retirement from professional soccer after a nine-year career. Rowe played in 109 regular season and postseason games with the LA Galaxy, Vancouver Whitecaps, and Orlando City. Rowe was also part of the LA Galaxy’s run to winning the MLS Cup trophy in 2014. Rowe expressed his gratitude to the people who provided support over the years.

“Thank you to all the coaches that took a chance on me, the fans for your unrelenting support and most importantly, thank you to all of the technical staff, equipment managers, admins, interns, front office and stadium staff that tirelessly worked behind the scenes to keep us healthy and our lives running seamlessly,” Rowe wrote in an Instagram post. “Without you, none of this would have been possible.”

Free Kicks
  • Former Pride player Alanna Kennedy’s short time with Tottenham Hotspur has concluded.

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