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Lion Links: 7/23/21

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Orlando City wins at home, Marc Skinner reportedly agrees to terms with Manchester United, Chris Mueller will join Hibernian, and more.

MLS: Philadelphia Union at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Friday, Mane Landers! Today is the day we’ve all been waiting for as Ted Lasso is back in our living rooms for another season. On top of that, the opening ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics is today and will be followed by plenty of events. Make sure to get as much rest as you can to reduce the strain on your eyes because the rest of July is going to spent watching plenty of sports. Now, let’s get this fantastic Friday started with some links from around the soccer world.

Orlando City Beats the Philadelphia Union

The Lions returned to their winning ways after a huge 2-1 win against the Union at Exploria Stadium. Benji Michel got the scoring started early in the 10th minute with an assist from Mauricio Pereyra. In the 59th minute, Nani found Andres Perea’s head to double Orlando’s lead. But the game dramatically shifted after Union forward Kacper Przyblko scored in the 68th minute, with Orlando spending the rest of the match trying to hold on. Late defensive heroics, including a heart-stopping, goal-line save from Kyle Smith’s face, secured all three points and a return to second in the Eastern Conference.

Check back later today for your player grades and Man of the Match from Topher Adams and my five takeaways from the match.

Marc Skinner Edges Closer to Joining Manchester United

Orlando Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner and Manchester United have reportedly agreed to terms for him to take over as manager. Skinner is under contract with the Pride through 2021 so the two clubs will need to reach an agreement of their own before anything becomes official. The Women’s Super League begins on Sept. 3, so the clock is already ticking for United to get Skinner there as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the Pride may need to rely on an interim manager unless they can find someone quickly. After a hot start to the season, the Pride haven’t won in their past four games as they hunt for a spot in the NWSL postseason.

Chris Mueller Will Join Hibernian FC

Scottish Premiership’s Hibernian announced that Orlando winger Chris Mueller will join the club starting in January. It’s a surprising move for Mueller, who will surely get playing time with Hibernian but it’s not exactly the high-profile move we were expecting. The Scottish Premiership is dominated by Celtic and Rangers, although Hibernian placed third on the table last season. Celtic had one of its worst seasons in recent history and still finished 14 points above Hibs and Rangers finished nearly 40 points ahead. Hibernian is currently in the qualifying stages for the new Europa Conference League, so Mueller may have a chance to make a splash during that tournament. If Mueller manages to manufacture enough goals to lift Hibernian over Celtic or Rangers for one of the coveted Champions League qualifying spots, then the rest of Europe will take notice. But that’s a tall task to say the least.

Former Lion Earns Praise From Atlanta United Players

After the firing of Gabriel Heinze, Atlanta United appointed Rob Valentino as interim head coach. Valentino was an assistant coach for Orlando City B in 2015 and played for Orlando City during its USL days, captaining the squad after an inaugural 2011 season in which he was named USL Defender of the Year. Since joining Atlanta in 2019, he’s survived two head coach firings and received praise from his players after his first game at the helm, a 1-1 draw at home against FC Cincinnati.

“He is a guy we really want to fight for,” said goalkeeper Alec Kann. “He is a good guy that has a lot of relationships with the guys in the locker room that are preexisting for a of couple years. He is a guy that we respect, and we know how he works, how hard he works, how much he cares about us.

“That is the kind of manager you want to go to war for.”

Valentino and the Five Stripes will face off against the Lions when they come to Exploria Stadium on July 30.

Free Kicks
  • In the Olympics, the Orlando Pride’s Alex Morgan and the United States Women’s National Team will play Ali Riley and New Zealand tomorrow morning at 7:30 a.m. It’s a crucial game for both sides after they lost their opening matches.
  • Daryl Dike and the United States Men’s National Team will take on Jamaica in the Concacaf Gold Cup quarterfinals this Sunday at 9:30 p.m. Here’s a great breakdown of that match, as well a look at the other knockout stage match-ups in the tournament.
  • Speaking of the USMNT and Jamaica, the World Cup qualifying match between the two on Oct. 7 will be played at Q2 Stadium in Austin.
  • El Salvador’s request to play World Cup qualifying matches in the U.S. was denied by FIFA.

That’s going to be it for today. There’s plenty of soccer to look forward to this weekend so make sure to stay hydrated and all that jazz. Have a great Friday!