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Lion Links: 7/16/21

Daryl Dike scores brace in USMNT win, Orlando City and Orlando Pride make road trips, Americans heading abroad, and more.

Martinique v United States: Group B - 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images

How’s it going, Mane Landers? Thank gosh it’s Friday so we can start shifting gears from the work week to the weekend. I personally don’t have much planned this weekend, but it will be nice to relax and enjoy Orlando City and the Orlando Pride in action. The Olympics are also only a week away now, although the United States Women’s National Team will play before the opening ceremony as its first game is against Sweden on July 21. But for now, enjoy today’s links from around the soccer world.

Daryl Dike Scores Brace in U.S. Win Against Martinique

Orlando forward Daryl Dike scored twice in the United States Men’s National Team’s 5-1 win over Martinique in the Concacaf Gold Cup. In the 14th minute, Matthew Hoppe delivered a nice cross from the left side and Dike headed it in to give the U.S. an early lead.

Later, in the 23rd minute, Hoppe pounced on a loose ball in the box and made a nice backheel pass to a wide open Gianluca Busio, whose shot hit the crossbar. Dike got to the rebound first with his head and Martinique defender Samuel Camille couldn’t keep it out. There was some debate on if Dike would be credited with the goal, but it was ultimately decided to be an own goal. Regardless, Dike ended up getting his brace anyway in the 59th minute after a give-and-go with Cristian Roldan. While powering past defenders, Dike made three perfect touches on the ball to become the second-youngest USMNT player to score two goals in a Gold Cup game.

Center back Miles Robinson, forward Gyasi Zardes, and Nicholas Gioacchini scored the USMNT’s other three goals. Hoppe, Eryk Williamson, Roldan, and Gianluca Busio all earned their first assists with the USMNT as well. However, midfielder Kellyn Acosta conceded a penalty, which Martinique converted, and although the U.S. leveled Canada in goal difference, the Canadians still own the goals scored tiebreaker. The U.S. can only win the group with a win on Sunday but is through to the quarterfinals regardless.

Speaking of Canada, it secured its spot in the next round after winning 4-1 against Haiti. Former Lion Cyle Larin scored a brace and leads the tournament with three goals so far. I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to see a showdown between Dike and Larin.

In the quarterfinals, the U.S. and Canada will take on the top two teams from Group C. You can see those nations in action tonight at Exploria Stadium as Jamaica plays Guadeloupe at 6:30 p.m. and Costa Rica takes on Suriname at 8:30 p.m. The Mane Land will be out there providing coverage.

Orlando City Faces Toronto FC Tomorrow Night

For the first time since 2019, the Lions are headed to Canada for a game against Toronto FC tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. This is the third time the two sides meet this season, with Orlando winning both of the previous matches played at Exploria Stadium. Although the two teams are on opposite ends of the Eastern Conference standings, the Lions are on a two-game losing streak while Toronto is coming off of a big 3-2 win against the New England Revolution. Toronto is missing five players due to the Gold Cup, including forward Ayo Akinola and former Lion Richie Laryea. But the Canadian club will still have Designated Players Alejandro Pozuelo, Yeferson Soteldo, and Jozy Altidore available for tomorrow’s match.

Those players will certainly test an Orlando defense that has conceded five goals in its past two matches. The defense is focused on returning to the strong defensive play that Orlando started the season with.

“We need to work on it and try to just get back to the winning feeling,” center back Robin Jansson said. “It’s going back to the base of our way to play and keeping the team together and just starting from the ground and doing the basic stuff.”

Orlando will also benefit from the returns of defensive midfielder Sebas Mendez and goalkeeper Pedro Gallese and fullbacks Joao Moutinho and Ruan could see some minutes tomorrow as well.

Orlando Pride Face the Portland Thorns This Sunday

The Lions aren’t the only ones taking a long-distance trip this weekend. The Pride will head west for a match-up against the Portland Thorns at 10:30 p.m. this Sunday night. Both teams are tied with the North Carolina Courage for first place in the NWSL standings so there is plenty to play for. The Pride came out on top in the most recent meeting between the two, winning 2-1 at Exploria Stadium. After starting the season with seven straight games without a loss, the Pride are winless in their last three and face a Thorns defense that has shut out its last two opponents. Like the Pride, the Thorns are without some of the better players due to the Olympics, as Crystal Dunn, Christine Sinclair, Lindsey Horan, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Adrianna Franch are all in Tokyo.

With Alex Morgan at the Olympics, the Pride’s other forwards will need to step up to take some of the load off of Sydney Leroux. Forward Jodie Taylor was signed by the Pride last week and discussed how she is settling in with the team.

Americans Are Becoming the Popular Kids

FC Dallas Homegrown Player Tanner Tessmann was signed by Serie A club Venezia FC. The 19-year-old midfielder is the latest young American player to head abroad as more European clubs look to the U.S. for potential talent. The Colorado Rapids are in the final stages of an agreement with Belgian club Royal Antwerp for left back Sam Vines, who is currently with the USMNT for the Gold Cup. D.C. United Homegrown Players Kevin Paredes and Moses Nyeman are reportedly generating some interest from Europe as well. In Orlando, Dike and Chris Mueller have both attracted attention from overseas this year. Gregg Berhalter weighed in on how a spotlight is starting to fall on young Americans in MLS.

“It seems like, from my experience in Europe, my experience in MLS,” said USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter in a Wednesday night media availability, “we’ve gotten to a point where there is critical mass. And what I mean by that is, we’ve had enough American players that have been successful overseas in Europe that now clubs are looking at the United States as a market.”

Free Kicks
  • Check out some footage of recently acquired left back Emmanuel Mas training with the squad.

That’s going to be all I have for you today. Make sure to stay safe and hydrated out there during this hot summer. Enjoy all of the soccer this weekend!