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Lion Links: 7/19/21

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The Orlando Pride fall on the road, USMNT defeats Canada, the Olympics are nearly here, and much more.

United States v Canada: Group B - 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers! There is so much soccer right now that I’m not even sure when I’ll get any sleep. To be clear, I’m not complaining, as my motto is that more soccer is always a good thing. In other good news, I’ll be at Orlando City’s next match on Thursday, so come join me. Before we get started with today’s links, let’s also all wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride forward Abi Kim!

Orlando Pride Fall in Portland

The Pride headed all the way across the country to try to keep pace in the NWSL standings, but fell 2-1 to the Portland Thorns. The Pride were evidently suffering from travel sickness as they were very sloppy when passing and defending. The Thorns should have scored several goals in the first half, but Ashlyn Harris made some key saves, including yet another penalty kick save. Harris’ heroics were not enough as Sophia Smith scored in the 26th minute and then Marissa Everett doubled Portland’s later in the 58th. Marisa Viggiano scored a consolation goal in stoppage time for the Pride. Orlando will aim to snap its four-game winless streak when it hosts OL Reign this Saturday at 7 p.m. in Exploria Stadium.

Orlando City Continues to Adjust During the Summer

Orlando City’s 1-1 draw at Toronto FC stopped the team’s two-game losing skid, though it didn’t come easily. The Lions still have issues, but as players come back from injuries, the depth of the roster should help the club deal with any hiccups. Sebas Mendez’ injury will be one to keep an eye on, although Andres Perea did a good job playing a similar role in the midfield against Toronto. The fullback position has been of particular concern this season. Left back João Moutinho returned for the last match, but right back Ruan is still out with a dreaded lower body injury. As a result, Kyle Smith has played every minute of every match this season. Smith definitely put the work in against Toronto FC’s Yeferson Soteldo. As you can see, hard work pays off.

U.S. Defeats Canada to Win Group B

It only took 20 seconds for the United States Men’s National Team to score against Canada in its final Concacaf Gold Cup group match. Shaq Moore gave the USMNT an early lead after a great assist from Sebastian Lletget. It was a good thing the Yanks held on defensively since they were unable to find a second goal in the match. Orlando’s Daryl Dike started up top with Gyasi Zardes, but neither striker was able to find the back of the net. Dike also appeared to injure his shoulder late in the match, although the severity isn’t known yet. The 1-0 victory means the USMNT finished at the top of its group and will play either Jamaica or Costa Rica to start the knockout stage.

Mexico managed to win 1-0 against El Salvador and win its group, meaning the USMNT and Mexico can only face off in the Gold Cup final.

The Olympics Get Started This Week

Olympic soccer finally begins this week. It might be a year late, but you’re going to have to get up really early if you want to watch the United States Women’s National Team play Sweden this Wednesday at 4:30 a.m. EST. The two nations are very familiar with each other given this will be the ninth meeting between the two in world championship matches. The Pride’s Alex Morgan will be in Japan, and the striker says she has come back stronger and fitter following her pregnancy. I think her performances with the Pride have proven that to be true. Hopefully Morgan continues her good form in the Olympics. Matches will be available on NBC Sports, NBCOlympics.com, and the Peacock streaming service.

Free Kicks
  • Things aren’t going well over in Atlanta. Gabriel Heinze is out as head coach just days after he revealed Atlanta star Josef Martinez was training away from the team despite being fit to play. Atlanta hasn’t won in its last eight games, including a 1-0 loss at home to the New England Revolution this weekend.
  • Liga MX released its roster for next month’s MLS All-Star Game. The match will be played at LAFC’s Banc of California Stadium on Aug. 25 and will pit the best players in MLS against the best Liga MX has to offer.
  • Yet another young American is heading to Europe. Sporting Kansas City and USMNT midfielder Gianluca Busio is likely headed to Venezia FC in Serie A.

That’s all for today’s links. Vamos Orlando! Go USA!