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Lion Links: 7/7/21

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Orlando City takes on the Chicago Fire tonight, MLS clubs impacted by the Gold Cup, Copa America final is set, and more.

SOCCER: JUL 03 MLS - New York Red Bulls at Orlando City SC Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope July is treating you well so far. I spent my weekend meeting up with friends over the holiday up here in Chicago. It was great to catch up with them after not seeing them for awhile. Before we get into today’s links, let’s wish a happy 29th birthday to Orlando City midfielder Uri Rosell!

Orlando City Faces the Chicago Fire Tonight

The Lions travel to Soldier Field for a midweek match-up against the Chicago Fire. You can watch the game on either UniMás or TUDN and kickoff is set for 8 p.m. This will be the first meeting between the two clubs since Sept. 19, 2020. That game was a 4-1 victory for the Lions at Exploria Stadium. Now, the Lions will look to bounce back after a 2-1 defeat to the New York Red Bulls this past weekend.

After a slow start to the season, Chicago’s offense has come alive in recent weeks. The Fire drew the Philadelphia Union 3-3 on June 26 and then snapped their four-match winless streak with a 3-0 win against Atlanta United this past Saturday. It will be a tough test for the Lions’ defense as Orlando will be without center back Antonio Carlos tonight. However, Rodrigo Schlegel is expected to fill in.

MLS Clubs Impacted By International Call ups

The 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup will begin on Saturday and the Tokyo Olympics will take place later this month. As a result, nearly 60 MLS players were called up to their respective national teams. Daryl Dike is the lone Lion headed to the Gold Cup, but other teams will be without multiple players over the course of July. Toronto FC will be without five players, including starters such as Ayo Akinola and former Lion Richie Laryea, when it plays Orlando on July 17. The Lions face the Philadelphia Union on June 22 and the Union may be without goalkeeper Andre Blake, forward Corey Burke, and right back Alvas Powell as they will all be playing for Jamaica in the Gold Cup.

Dike is one of 19 MLS players called up by United States Men’s National Team Head Coach Gregg Berhalter for the tournament. There are many Americans worth keeping an eye on during the Gold Cup and the USMNT’s campaign will start on Sunday against Haiti, which qualified for the tournament after a 4-1 win over Bermuda that included a hat trick from Frantzdy Pierrot.

Copa America Final Set

Argentina and Brazil will square off in the 2021 Copa America final on Saturday at 8 p.m. after winning their semifinal matches by narrow margins. Despite huge saves from Orlando goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, Peru fell 1-0 to Brazil thanks to a goal from Lucas Paqueta. In the other semifinal, Argentina and Colombia both scored once over the course of 90 minutes before a penalty shootout. Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez came up with three saves in the shootout to ensure Argentina advanced to the final. It all sets up for a great match-up between Brazil and Argentina that will pit Neymar and Lionel Messi against one another. Although Gallese and Peru were eliminated, they will still play in the third-place game this Friday against Colombia at 8 p.m.

Italy Advances to Euro Final

Italy defeated Spain in a penalty shootout to book its ticket to the 2020 Euro final this Sunday. Frederico Chiesa gave Italy the lead in the 60th minute, but Alvaro Morata equalized in the 80th. Neither team was able to break the deadlock in extra time and penalties were needed to separate the two nations. Morata’s kick was saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma and then Italy’s Jorginho scored the decisive winner past Spain’s Unai Simon. It was the latest in a series of thrilling matches between the two countries in major tournaments over the years. Italy will face the winner of today’s match between England and Denmark at 3 p.m.

Free Kicks

That will do it for me, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Wednesday, take care of yourselves, and I’ll see you next time.