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Lion Links: 5/28/21

Orlando City prepares for the New York Red Bulls, the Orlando Pride’s offense is soaring, Erin McLeod called up, and more.

MLS: FC Cincinnati at Orlando City SC Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports

How’s it going, Mane Landers? We’re headed into a Memorial Day weekend filled with plenty of soccer to look forward to. Orlando City’s match tomorrow night against the New York Red Bulls will be the club’s 200th MLS regular season game, which is pretty crazy to think about. It feels like it was only yesterday when Kaká scored from a free kick to equalize against New York City FC in Orlando’s first MLS match. So much has changed since then, both on and off the field. But that’s enough reminiscing, let’s jump into today’s links from around the soccer world!

The Lions Prepare for New York’s Pressure

Orlando will head to New York for its third away game this season. Although the Lions are undefeated this season, playing on the road in MLS is never easy and the Red Bulls have won two of their three home games so far. Head Coach Oscar Pareja and the Lions will also have to find a way to neutralize the Red Bulls’ high press. The Lions faced a similar style on the road against D.C. United and Pareja weighed in on how his team will try dealing with that kind of pressure again.

“There may be similar moments in the game, especially when you go away and teams are throwing a lot of numbers at you, they may get exposed at the back. We’ll try to do our job well and see if we can expose the Red Bulls’ weaknesses and get the points.”

In that game against D.C., the Lions scored just seven minutes into the match and then held on for the 1-0 win. Scoring early has been a trend for the Lions this year as four of their seven goals came within the first 20 minutes of a match. Regardless, there is still room to improve on offense as the Lions have only scored multiple goals in a match once this year. The team is awaiting the returns of Daryl Dike and Alexandre Pato, so it’s only a matter of time before Orlando starts finding the back of the net more often.

Meanwhile, Orlando’s defense has been one of the league’s best, only allowing one goal in open play through six games. With Ruan and João Moutinho both dealing with injuries, Kyle Smith has done well filling in at both right back and left back and he is second in the league in tackles with 16. Red Bulls midfielder Cristian Casseres Jr. leads the league with 17 tackles, so that will be a fun duel to keep an eye on in the match, even if the two players won’t interact too much on the field.

The Orlando Pride’s Offense is On Fire

Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux have headlined the Pride’s ascent to the top of the National Women’s Soccer League standings. Injuries, international duty, and pregnancies have kept the pair apart on the field for the Pride in the past, but now they are together and tearing it up with all of the Pride’s five goals coming from the duo. The two are certainly firing on all cylinders, but fellow forward Taylor Kornieck is also doing well with two assists this season.

Orlando’s success on offense goes beyond the front line though, as Head Coach Marc Skinner has encouraged a pressing and relentless midfield that turns lost chances into new opportunities to score. The Pride are certainly on the rise and placed first in CBS Sports’ power rankings as well. Their next match will come on Sunday at Exploria Stadium as they host a winless Kansas City team.

Erin McLeod Called Up

Pride goalkeeper Erin McLeod was called up by the Canadian Women’s National Team for a pair of friendlies next month in Spain. Canada will take on the Czech Republic on June 11 and then Brazil on June 14 in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics later this summer. Former Pride players Shelina Zadorsky and Jordyn Listro were also called up. McLeod did well in her only start this season for the Pride and a good showing with the national team could earn her a spot on Canada’s Olympic roster. If both she and Ashlyn Harris head to Tokyo in late July, Brittany Wilson would fill in as goalkeeper for the Pride.

USMNT Gets Ready for Friendly With Switzerland

This Sunday at 2 p.m., the United States Men’s National Team will play in a friendly against Switzerland as both sides prepare for upcoming tournaments. Orlando forward Daryl Dike is with the USMNT and could feature, even if he wasn’t named to the team’s roster for the Nations League next week. Americans had strong seasons for their clubs across Europe and goalkeeper Zack Steffen is determined to parlay that success into silverware at the international level.

As for Switzerland, Sunday’s friendly will get the nation ready for the Euro 2020 tournament set to begin on June 11. Led by Liverpool’s Xherdan Shaqiri and Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka, Switzerland has done well in recent years and is currently 13th in FIFA’s world rankings. The U.S. and Switzerland have faced each other eight times, although only one of those games wasn’t a friendly. That match was in Michigan during the 1994 World Cup as the two fought to a 1-1 draw. The USMNT has only beaten Switzerland once and that was back in 2007 in Basel.

Free Kicks
  • Pride defender Phoebe McClernon will be fielding questions on the club’s Instagram later today.

That’s going to be it for today, folks. I hope you all have a great Friday and rest of your weekend!