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Lion Links: 8/20/21

Orlando City hosts the Chicago Fire tomorrow, Adam Grinwis’ return to Orlando, Pride prepare for road match, and more.

SOCCER: JUL 13 MLS - Columbus Crew SC at Orlando City SC Photo by Joe Petro/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

How’s it going, Mane Landers? There’s plenty of soccer to look forward to this weekend, with Orlando City and the Orlando Pride both in action. Before we get into those upcoming games and more links from around the soccer world, let’s all wish a happy 22nd birthday to rookie center back Rio Hope-Gund!

Orlando City Prepares for the Chicago Fire

The Lions are on a four-game unbeaten streak in MLS play after a 1-1 draw on the road against Nashville SC. The Lions will take on the Chicago Fire tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. in the first of three consecutive home games at Exploria Stadium. The Fire sit 11th in the Eastern Conference have lost six of their seven road games this season, including a 3-2 loss against Inter Miami earlier this week. However, the match is far from a walk in the park for Orlando as the Fire beat the Lions 3-1 on July 7 at Soldier Field. Luka Stojanovic is a Chicago player worth keeping an eye on as the Serbian midfielder has four goals and an assist in the Fire’s last three games. Injuries still ravage Orlando’s roster, although goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar has done well to mitigate Pedro Gallese’s absence. Nani, Andres Perea, Sebas Mendez, Gallese, Uri Rosell, Daryl Dike, and Alexandre Pato all missed out on Orlando’s draw in Nashville, so it will be interesting to see if any play tomorrow night.

Adam Grinwis Discusses His Return to Orlando

Orlando City goalkeeper Adam Grinwis is best known for his saves in the 2019 U.S. Open Cup penalty shootout against New York City FC. His performance in that tournament impressed not only fans, but also USL Championship club Sacramento Republic FC. Grinwis headed to Sacramento after the 2019 season and did well until an ACL tear ended his season. Out of contract not too long after his injury and still in the midst of recovery while living back home in Michigan, Grinwis was offered a chance to return to Orlando to finish his rehab. Although this Orlando team is different compared to the one he left, with Head Coach Oscar Pareja at the helm, Grinwis made an impression and was signed after Tottenham recalled Brandon Austin. Now, Grinwis is happy to be back in Orlando and focused on improving himself in training.

“I feel as sharp as I’ve ever felt,” Grinwis said. “It’s now just proving that to everybody that watches me play every single day. It’s hard to make it to MLS and I know also it’s even harder to stay. My goal right now is to prove myself every single day, to work as hard as I can in order to ideally get an opportunity, because I want to play.”

Orlando Pride Prepare for Washington Spirit

The Orlando Pride have a road match against the Washington Spirit this Sunday at 4 p.m. It will be a match-up between two of the National Women’s Soccer League’s top scorers as the Pride’s Sydney Leroux has seven goals this season while the Spirit’s Ashley Hatch has six. Interim Head Coach Becky Burleigh is undefeated across three matches for the Pride and the team won its last road match, a 2-0 victory over the Chicago Red Stars. Sunday’s match is the third and final meeting between the two sides this season after a pair of 1-1 draws. The Pride have benefitted from the return of Olympic players Marta and Ali Riley, who have both started in Orlando’s past two games. Marta detailed how it’s been to play in Burleigh’s system since returning to the team from Tokyo.

Olivia Moultrie Helps Portland Thorns Reach Cup Final

In the Women’s International Champions Cup, the Portland Thorns and Houston Dash played to a 2-2 draw that ended with the Thorns advancing in a penalty shootout. The night belonged to 15-year-old Portland midfielder Olivia Moultrie, who had a goal, an assist, and converted her penalty in the shootout. It was Moultrie’s first professional goal and tied the match for the Thorns after entering the second half down 2-0.

The Thorns will now take on Olympique Lyonnais, which defeated Barcelona 3-2 in the other semifinal. The WICC final between the two will take place on Saturday at 10 p.m.

Free Kicks

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a wonderful Friday and rest of your weekend. Go Orlando!