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Lion Links: 7/21/21

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USWNT loses Olympic opener to Sweden, Manchester United wants Marc Skinner, Gold Cup bracket set, and more.

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China v Brazil: Women’s Football - Olympics: Day -2 Photo by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope you all are doing well down in Florida. It’s been busy up here for me in Chicago and I haven’t had much time to check out much Gold Cup action beyond watching the U.S. win against Canada on Sunday. Let’s all wish a happy birthday to Anthony Pulis, the former head coach of Orlando City B and a player for Orlando City during the team’s USL days. Now, let’s get to the links.

USWNT Stunned in Olympic Opener

The United States Women’s National Team had a nightmare start to its Olympic campaign, falling 3-0 to Sweden. Sweden’s first goal came in the 25th minute after a header from Stina Blackstenius, who wreaked havoc on the USWNT defense all game long. The Orlando Pride’s Alex Morgan started for the USWNT, but was subbed off at halftime. USWNT Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski’s changes at halftime didn’t change the flow of the game much though as Blackstenius scored again in the 54th minute. Lina Hurtig put the nail in the coffin in the 72nd minute as the USWNT was beaten for the first time since January of 2019. With the USWNT’s 44-match unbeaten streak over, Andonovski’s squad will need to rebound when it plays New Zealand on Saturday at 7:30 a.m.

Brazil had a much better start in Tokyo. Marta became the first player to score in five consecutive Olympic Games, netting a brace in Brazil’s 5-0 win over China. Her first goal got the scoring started in the ninth minute after she pounced on a loose ball in the box. Marta earned her brace in the 74th minute, chasing down a poor clearance to then swivel while shooting and bury the ball in the back of the net.

The Pride’s Ali Riley is also in action today for New Zealand in a tough match-up against Australia.

Manchester United Reportedly Targeting Marc Skinner

Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner and the front office are reportedly in talks with Manchester United regarding the English club’s vacant manager position. The Women’s Super League season begins on Sept. 3 while the National Women’s Soccer League regular season won’t end until the end of October. If Skinner were to leave the Pride for United before the WSL season starts, the Pride would have to finish the season with an interim coach while making their playoff push. Last September, the Pride exercised Skinner’s contract through 2021 after two seasons filled with struggles due to injuries, international absences, and the pandemic. This year, the Pride started the season with a seven-game unbeaten run, but have since cooled off, with three losses and a draw from the past four games.

Concacaf Gold Cup Group Stage Wraps Up

After a lengthy weather delay at Exploria Stadium, Costa Rica and Jamaica battled for the top spot in the Gold Cup’s Group C. After a scoreless first half that included many chances from Jamaica, it was Costa Rica that broke through with a header from Bryan Ruiz in the 53rd minute. Despite a red card to goalkeeper Leonel Moreira in the 72nd minute, Costa Rica held on to win 1-0. The result means the United States Men’s National Team will play Jamaica this Sunday at 9:30 p.m. in Arlington. On the other side of the bracket, Costa Rica will take on Canada. In the other Group C match, Suriname ended its tournament run with its first Gold Cup victory after winning 2-1 against Guadeloupe.

Qatar won 2-0 against Honduras to claim the top spot in Group D and will now take on El Salvador in the knockout stage while Honduras will face Mexico. In the later match at Exploria Stadium, Panama cruised to a 3-1 win over Grenada for third in the group.

Arsenal Pulls Out of Florida Cup

Arsenal canceled its preseason tour to the United States due to a rise of COVID-19 cases within the club. Arsenal was expected to play in the Florida Cup in Orlando this weekend alongside Everton, Inter Milan and Millonarios. Inter Milan and Arsenal were supposed to get the tournament started on July 25, with Everton and Millonarios playing later that night. It has not been determined yet if Arsenal will be replaced with another team on such short notice.

U.S. Open Cup is Officially Canceled for Second Straight Year

The U.S. Soccer Federation officially canceled the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup after originally postponing the tournament back in April. A 24-team 2021 Open Cup was considered, but the USSF is instead turning its attention to planning the tournament’s return in 2022. Next year’s edition will feature more teams than ever before and some MLS clubs will start playing as soon as the third round. U.S. Open Cup Commissioner Paul Marstaller expressed his thoughts on improvements for the tournament in 2022.

“After calling off the 2021 edition of the Open Cup due to the remnant effects of COVID-19, we’re excited that we can put next year’s match dates on everyone’s calendar so early,” said Open Cup Commissioner Paul Marstaller. “The 2022 tournament will be the first in memory when all the top players will be available for selection for every round as none of the games involving Division I Major League Soccer or Division II USL Championship clubs will be played during an international call-up period, a necessary feature for building a credible national championship.”

It has not yet been decided how the 2022 Concacaf Champions League berth that would have been awarded to the 2021 Open Cup winner will be distributed. That is expected to be addressed in the coming weeks by U.S. Soccer’s Board of Directors.

Free Kicks
  • The Pride have done well to increase their social media growth during 2021.
  • Check out this video from U.S. Soccer to learn more about Daryl Dike and Reggie Cannon through some interesting debate topics.

That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Wednesday, stay safe, and I’ll see you next time.