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Lion Links: 6/17/21

USWNT wins again, Daryl Dike’s return to Orlando, Jim Curtin staying in Philly, and more.

Nigeria v United States - 2021 WNT Summer Series Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images

How great is it that it’s game week again? Two games in Orlando this weekend (technically Orlando City is on the “road” but it’s in the same stadium), full Major League Soccer and National Women’s Soccer League weekends, plus all the international action from around the world. It’s a busy weekend coming, but we’ve got things to discuss now.

USWNT Beats Nigeria in Final Summer Series Match

The United States Women’s National Team ended its 2021 Summer Series before the Olympics this July with a 2-0 win over Nigeria. It was a momentous occasion as it was the first match in the history of Q2 Stadium, home of MLA expansion outfit Austin FC, as well as the first match for the new secondary jersey. While the Texas side will hope to see the stadium filled with “verde” it opened as a sea of Red, White & Blue.

Before the match, the legendary Carli Lloyd was honored for hitting the 300-match milestone. Christen Press scored the first goal of the match — assisted by Lloyd — with a beautiful finish before the end of the first half. Lynn Williams made it two for the U.S. in second-half stoppage time. Orlando Pride star Alex Morgan played the last 37 minutes of the match, but didn’t find her way onto the scoresheet.

Daryl Dike Back in Orlando

We touched on it briefly yesterday, but Daryl Dike is officially back in training with Orlando City. The former Virginia Cavalier’s stock has risen meteorically since his debut with Orlando City last August, becoming one of the top young players in MLS before making his U.S. Men’s National Team debut, and further raising his profile with a highly successful loan to the English Championship.

Most media outlets seemingly have him with one foot out of the door already, with countless rumors connecting the young striker to Premier League clubs, including Watford and Everton. Despite the noise, Dike’s focus is still on Orlando City.

“In terms of all the extra things happening, that’s just something when the time comes. For me right now, it’s focusing on acclimating back to the team and seeing how I can be able to affect the games in the next couple of weeks.”

Whether Dike stays the full season or leaves in the summer, don’t expect a lack of commitment in his remaining time with Orlando City.

MLS a Tougher League than Gonzalo Higuain Expected

Inter Miami’s most famous player, Gonzalo Higuain, made headlines yesterday for all the wrong reasons for an interview where he talked about his move to Inter Miami. Like most European superstars, Higuain claimed he was going to easily dominate MLS, but that it’s a hell of a lot more difficult than he realized.

“To tell you the truth, I thought that I could have played with a cigarette here,” said Higuain. “I struggled at first because it is a difficult league. I have learned that it is similar to Italian football. In Italy, football is a battle and here it is the same thing. It is a league that you have to understand to succeed, it is new to me and it is very physical.

“All the teams that win here have a strong American core that understands the league. I struggled at first. I am starting to get to know the league better, but you will struggle if you are not physically fit.”

This is an incredibly unsurprising revelation, given the obvious lack of effort on the field in his turbulent start to MLS life, but it has been seen as an unintentional dig at his brother, Federico Higuain. Federico has spent the last 11 seasons as a star in this league, but I guess Gonzalo never talked to his very close brother about the difficulty here? Anytime a quote like this comes out it just leaves me angry, because anyone who watches MLS knows it’s a hard place to succeed, especially right away, but there always seems to be this level of arrogance from players, particularly coming from Europe.

Union’s Curtin Gets 2-Year Extension

The second-longest tenured coach in MLS will be extending that tenure a further two years after the Philadelphia Union agreed on a new extension with head coach Jim Curtin. Curtin, who won MLS Coach of the Year over Oscar Pareja last season (debatable), has been with the Union as their head coach since 2014, and is the franchise leader in wins and matches coached, as well as leading the side to its first ever trophy last year.

Free Kicks
  • We send our condolences to Rodrigo Schlegel and his entire family as they mourn the loss of Rodrigo’s father, Adrian.
  • Orlando City’s Chris Mueller is releasing a book called Bet On Yourself, “which teaches athletes how to build confidence, habits, and a stronger mentality to achieve goals.”
  • Real Madrid captain and club legend Sergio Ramos is confirmed to be leaving Los Blancos after 16 years. The 35-year-old will have a whole host of suitors, and has previously been linked with Inter Miami.

Thank you all for reading. Have a great one everybody!