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Lion Links: 5/27/21

Pride get big win over Portland, Europa League final goes deep into penalties, USWNT adds sendoff matches, and more.

Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

Good morning, everyone. It’s Thursday and we’ve got things to discuss, so let’s get to our news of the day from the world of soccer.

Orlando Pride Get Big Home Win Against Portland Thorns

In a midweek showdown with 2021 Challenge Cup winners the Portland Thorns, the Orlando Pride continued their hot start to the season, getting a 2-1 win in Exploria Stadium. It wasn’t the most dominant performance, as Portland out-shot Orlando 21-12 (8-3 on target) and had more of the ball, but the Pride got the job done and moved to top of the NWSL table. It’s also Orlando’s best three-game start to an NWSL season (2-0-1).

Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux both scored again, as they did on Saturday in North Carolina. Morgan has scored in all three of the Pride’s regular-season games and is leading the way for the golden boot.

Nani and Antonio Carlos Honorable Mentions in Early MVP Race

The crew over at MLSSoccer.com released their MVP Power Rankings after six weeks of play. Orlando had two players in the “receiving votes” section — Nani and Antonio Carlos. The captain has been Orlando’s most dynamic player so far with three excellent goals, while Antonio Carlos has dominated at center back for the Lions’ league-best defense and is arguably the early frontrunner for defensive player of the year.

Golden boot leader Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez was ranked first after his seven-goal start to the year, followed by Seattle’s talisman Raul Ruidiaz and New England maestro Carles Gil.

U.S. Women’s National Team Announces Send-Off Series Fixtures

The USWNT will be playing two friendlies against Mexico in its Send-Off Series leading up to this summer’s Olympic tournament. The two Concacaf rivals will play July 1 and 5 before heading to Japan. Yesterday the USWNT named the training camp roster for the Summer Series, which featured Orlando’s Alex Morgan, who will surely be with the national team most of this summer.

Villarreal Defeat Manchester United in Epic Penalty Shootout

Europe’s second biggest club competition, the UEFA Europa League, played its final yesterday with Spanish side Villarreal toppling Premier League runner-up Manchester United. It wasn’t the most action-packed affair, with three shots on target in the whole 120 minutes of game action, before heading to a penalty shootout.

It was a perfect shootout, with all 10 outfield players for each team converting their penalties before Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea had his penalty saved. The win marked Villarreal’s first major trophy in their 98-year history. It also gave a Champions League berth to the Yellow Submarine, who finished seventh in La Liga, outside the European qualification spots.

Free Kicks
  • Pride goalkeeper Erin McLeod won the NWSL’s Save of the Week, becoming the second Pride stopper to win the award in three weeks.
  • Daryl Dike and former Lion Cyle Larin were named in MLSSoccer.com’s Top 5 MLS Exports in Europe for this season.
  • Congratulations to Orlando City Homegrown Player Michael Halliday, who graduated from high school.

That’s all I have for today. Thank you all for reading. Have a good one everybody.