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Lion Links: 8/19/21

Lions draw 1-1 with Nashville, midweek MLS results, USWNT announces games, and more.

MLS: Orlando City SC at Nashville SC Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, everyone! The dog days of summer are approaching their end as we inch closer to fall. Wednesdays are typically busy in the Major League Soccer sphere and yesterday was no exception, so let’s jump right in.

Orlando City Earns Gutsy 1-1 Draw in Nashville

Orlando City played its first MLS game following a disappointing effort in Leagues Cup, traveling north to face an in-form Nashville SC side. The Lions started the game horribly, with sloppy touches and slow play. Nashville’s opportunistic press gave Orlando headaches all first half, eventually leading to a CJ Sapong goal off a breakaway. Nashville had opportunities but couldn’t extend the advantage, while Tesho Akindele nearly equalized right at the halftime whistle.

Orlando played a more direct style in the second half, doing a better job of limiting space for Nashville and trying to play over the press rather than through it. Nashville created a few more opportunities, but the hosts routinely squandered their chances. In the 58th minute, Orlando found an equalizer off a set piece, with a Mauricio Pereyra free kick finding the head of Antonio Carlos who headed it past Joe Willis. The Lions had multiple chances to take the lead, coming closest on an Akindele header off the crossbar, ultimately holding on to a good point on the road with the 1-1 draw. It might be the team’s third consecutive 1-1 draw in the league, but coming back without several key starters against a good team on the road is a strong result. Orlando City plays again Saturday at home against the Chicago Fire.

Midweek MLS Results

We’re firmly in the busiest part of the MLS schedule, with a full run of games every Wednesday. Outside of the Orlando City match, we had 10 other games around the league. In the Eastern Conference, Atlanta United made it three wins on the bounce with a 1-0 victory over Toronto FC, the New England Revolution continued their fantastic run of form with a big 3-2 win against D.C. United, Inter Miami came from behind late to steal all three points from the Chicago Fire, New York City FC lost its first game in a while after a 1-0 defeat to the Philadelphia Union, the Red Bulls beat the Columbus Crew 1-0, and Cincinnati played Montreal to a 0-0 draw.

In the Western Conference, Seattle got all three points against FC Dallas, Portland and Kansas City drew 1-1, the Whitecaps beat Austin in Austin 2-1, and Real Salt Lake got a nice 2-1 win over Houston.

USWNT Announces Fall Fixtures Against Paraguay and Korea Republic

Following a disappointing Olympic showing, the United States Women’s National Team announced its next set of fixtures. First up are a pair of games against Paraguay in Ohio, at Cleveland’s FirstEnergy Stadium on Sept. 16 and at Cincinnati’s TQL Stadium on Sept. 21. After that run of games against Paraguay, the USWNT heads to the heart of the midwest for two matches against Korea Republic, first on Oct. 21 at Children Mercy Park in Kansas City, and again in St. Paul, Minnesota at Allianz Field on Oct. 26. These matches will also be a sendoff for USWNT legend Carli Lloyd, who announced that she will be retiring from the national team after the game in Minnesota.

African Cup of Nations Group Draw

This was a summer filled with international tournaments, but another confederation is getting into the action this winter. The African Cup of Nations, like the Euros and Copa America before it, was originally scheduled for last year, but the tournament, set to be held in Cameroon, was pushed forward a year to account for COVID-19. The tournament had its group stage draw yesterday before the competition starts on Jan. 9.

Reigning champion Algeria was drawn into Group E alongside the Ivory Coast and first-timer Sierra Leone, which features longtime MLS veteran Kei Kamara. The most interesting group is probably Group D, which includes Nigeria which is led by Leicester City stars Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho, and also Mohammed Salah’s Egypt.

Free Kicks
  • Ashlyn Harris won NWSL Save of the Week yet again for the Orlando Pride.

That’s all for this Thursday morning. Thank you all for joining me and have a great day!