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Lion Links: 7/2/21

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Orlando City transfer rumor, Daryl Dike called up, Orlando Pride players make NWSL Team of the Month, Young Lions win, and more.

Mexico v United States Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope you all are staying dry after a pretty rainy week. It’s definitely a great time to be a sports fan with so many events going on and with even more slated for later this month. Before we jump into today’s links, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan and Orlando City SuperDraft pick Brandon Hackenberg!

Orlando City Linked With Argentinian Left Back

Reports surfaced that the Lions are on the hunt for River Plate left back Nahuel Gallardo, although The Mane Land’s sources don’t indicate any truth to the rumors. The 23-year-old hasn’t played for River Plate since 2019 and his loan with Defensa y Justicia ended on June 30. The Lions could certainly use another left back on the roster, considering injury issues with Joao Moutinho. Kyle Smith has done well filling in at both fullback positions, but it will be interesting to see how the Lions address the needed depth in the future.

Daryl Dike Called Up for Gold Cup

United States Men’s National Team Head Coach Gregg Berhalter named his 23-man roster for the Concacaf Gold Cup this month and Orlando forward Daryl Dike was selected. Dike’s inclusion doesn’t come as much of a shock and the tournament will give him a great opportunity to make his case for the starting spot during World Cup qualifying later this year. The other center forwards on the roster include Gyasi Zardes, Matthew Hoppe, and Nicholas Gioacchini.

Of the 23 players, 19 are from MLS clubs as Berhalter will use the Gold Cup to get a better look at players other than the usual starters on the first team. Orlando’s Andres Perea and Chris Mueller were both named to the preliminary roster, but neither made the cut. Atlanta United and the Colorado Rapids both have three players on the roster, while New York City FC and D.C. United have two each. Notable names to keep an eye on apart from Dike include Sporting Kansas City’s Gianluca Busio, NYCFC’s James Sands, and the New England Revolution’s Matt Turner.

Orlando Pride Players Named to NWSL Team of the Month

Marta and Courtney Petersen were both selected for the NWSL’s Team of the Month after their impressive performances throughout June. Marta had three assists in the Pride’s four matches in June and now leads the league in assists, alongside former Pride player Carson Pickett. She also scored a stunning goal from range in the Pride’s 3-1 road win against Kansas City. Petersen also scored for the Pride last month, doing so in dramatic fashion late against NJ/NY Gotham FC to salvage a point in a 1-1 draw. While the Pride didn’t have any clean sheets in June, Petersen anchored the defense during a tough month that included three road games.

Sydney Leroux scored twice in the Pride’s win over Kansas City, but was beaten out by the Washington Spirit’s Trinity Rodman and the North Carolina Courage’s Lynn Williams. With four goals and an assist in June, Williams was also named NWSL Player of the Month.

Young Lions Advance to MLS NEXT Cup Final

Orlando’s U-17 squad won 2-1 against Sacramento Republic FC to book its place in the MLS NEXT Cup final. Ethan Subachan scored Orlando’s first goal in the 23rd minute and then assisted on Gonzalo Agustoni-Chagas’ goal in the 29th. Sacramento scored in the 38th minute to close the gap but the Lions held on for the win even though Orlando City Homegrown Player Thomas Williams was sent off in the 75th minute for a soft second yellow card. Williams won’t be available for the final tomorrow night at 6:05 p.m. against Players Development Academy and fellow center back Quembol Gaudalupe limped through the final stages of the match, so we will see if he can play.

USWNT Wins Over Mexico in Send-Off Series

The United States Women’s National Team won 4-0 against Mexico in the first of two matches as part of a Send-Off Series before the Olympics. In the 21st minute, Kristie Mewis found her sister Sam Mewis in front of goal, with the latter then burying the ball into the bottom right corner to get the scoring started. Christen Press then scored in the 39th minute with an assist from Megan Rapinoe to double the USWNT’s lead.

In the 74th minute, Morgan made a great assist after pouncing on a loose ball and Tobin Heath delivered a pinpoint strike from distance to score her first goal of 2021.

Morgan was subbed off in the 78th minute and Press scored again in the 85th to complete her brace. The two teams will play again on Monday night in the USWNT’s final match before heading to Tokyo.

Free Kicks
  • The Philadelphia Union’s Quinn Sullivan won MLS Goal of the Week for his great bicycle kick against the Chicago Fire. The 17-year-old received 42.8% of the vote, narrowly surpassing Nani’s 38.7% of the vote after his game-winning goal against Inter Miami.
  • In a puzzling decision, Carles Gil was named MLS Player of the Month for June after logging five assists in three matches. While Gil is certainly a great player, it’s bizarre that he received the distinction when Nani had three goals and three assists in June. One could argue that the Revolution faced tougher opponents in wins over NYCFC and the New York Red Bulls, but they also lost to FC Dallas while Orlando won all three of its games.
  • The Copa America quarterfinals start today with Orlando goalkeeper Pedro Gallese and Peru squaring off against Paraguay at 5 p.m., before Brazil plays Chile at 8 p.m. Tomorrow, Uruguay and Colombia will play at 6 p.m. and then Orlando’s Sebas Mendez and Ecuador will take on Lionel Messi and Argentina at 9 p.m.
  • Canada also named its Gold Cup roster, with 13 MLS players chosen. Former Lions Richie Laryea, Kamal Miller, and Cyle Larin are all on the roster. It’s worth noting that Toronto FC will be without Laryea, Ayo Akinola, and Jonathan Osorio when it plays Orlando on July 17.
  • The 2020 Euros continue today, with Switzerland taking on Spain at noon before a heavyweight match-up between Belgium and Italy at 3 p.m.
  • The NWSL is working on a rebrand to its visual identity that will be revealed later this year. The rebrand is being led by Soulsight, an agency based in Chicago with clients that include the Tennessee Titans, the NBA, and Gatorade.

That’s going to be it for today. I hope you all have a wonderful Friday and rest of your weekend. Make sure to get plenty of rest and to hydrate when you can. Go Orlando!