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Lion Links: 6/29/21

Nani named to Team of the Week, Orlando climbs power rankings, a wild day at the Euros, and more.

Orlando City SC v Sporting Kansas City Photo by Fernando Leon/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Good morning, everyone. It’s been one hell of a week for Orlando soccer, with Orlando City ripping off three straight victories. Even though the Orlando Pride lost their first game of the season the team is still sitting pretty at the top of the NWSL standings and both teams will play in the friendly confines of Exploria Stadium this weekend. We have a lot to discuss today, so lets get to it.

Nani Again Named to MLS Team of the Week

Nani has received recognition for his virtuoso showing in helping Orlando overcome a second-half deficit down in Fort Lauderdale. The captain was included in the starting XI of the latest edition of the MLS Team of the Week courtesy of his goal and assist performance. It’s his second straight such honor. He was also a Player of the Week candidate but that honor went to Chicharito.

In addition, Nani was nominated for the Goal of the Week, and rightfully so. Not only was the angle from which he scored impressive, but it’s even more worth admiring when you look at how little windup he used compared to the amount of power he was able to generate on the strike. He does face some pretty stiff competition but his game-winner is a worthy nominee. Here’s hoping he maintains his absolutely scorching run of form.

Orlando Climbs Power Rankings

Orlando City won three games in a seven-day span, and that mini-tear has been reflected in ESPN’s MLS power rankings. The Lions are up to number two trailing only the Seattle Sounders after the New England Revolution dropped into fourth courtesy of a loss to FC Dallas. Minnesota United made a big jump into 11th after previously being ranked 18th on the back of a six-game unbeaten streak. Two of the biggest droppers were Atlanta United, who went from 14th to 20th, and Austin FC, dropping from 15th to 21st.

Bello Drawing European Interest

George Bello seems to be drawing more and more interest from teams across the pond. Turkish giants Galatasaray are reportedly interested in signing the young defender, and there are also said to be teams from England and Belgium that want to acquire his services. The fullback is only 19 years old and is seen as having a whole boatload of upside and Galatasaray wouldn’t necessarily be a bad choice for him. The team has never been relegated from the Turkish top flight, has won the most league titles, and is almost always playing in the UEFA Champions League. Only time will tell if that’s where he ends up or if someone else comes calling.

Wild Day at the Euros

Yesterday was an absolutely bonkers day at the European championships, continuing the trend of very entertaining round-of-16 games. To begin with, Spain was forced to dig itself out of an early hole following an absolutely horrendous error from Unai Simon, when the goalkeeper failed to corral a back pass that ended up in his own net. After recovering and taking a 3-1 lead, the Spanish then conceded twice in the final 10 minutes as Croatia forced extra time. They held their nerve though, bagging two goals in extra time to make it through to the quarterfinals.

The late game almost perfectly mirrored the early one, as France dug out of a first-half hole to take a 3-1 lead, only for Switzerland to score twice in the final 10 minutes to send it to extra time. Ultimately, it took penalties to separate the two teams though, with Jan Sommer saving Kylian Mbappe’s effort as the fifth taker to send the Swiss through to the next round.

Free Kicks

That’ll be all for me today. Y’all stay safe out there.