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Lion Links: 8/3/21

Two Lions honored, Papi provides injury update, selecting venues for World Cup qualifying, and more.

SOCCER: JUL 30 MLS - Atlanta United FC at Orlando City SC Photo by Joe Petro/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Happy Tuesday, everyone. It was a pretty good weekend for Orlando soccer, as the men and women in purple took four points from an available six. As usual, there’s lots to go over this morning, so let’s jump to it.

Lions Honored for Play in Win Over Atlanta

Following their key performances in Orlando’s comeback win over Atlanta United on Friday, both Nani and Silvester van der Water were recognized for their contributions. Nani made the starting XI of the latest edition of the MLS Team of the Week, while van der Water was named as a substitute. Each player had a goal and an assist in the effort, with Nani providing the cross for Kyle Smith’s goal from a corner and scoring the winner, while vdW scored Orlando’s second goal and assisted on the winner. Nani was also nominated for and won the MLS Player of the Week award. Congratulations guys, and keep it up!

Updates on Gallese & Pato

Oscar Pareja took the time to speak to media yesterday and provided some injury updates on Pedro Gallese and Alexandre Pato. Gallese was injured in the loss to New York City FC, and Papi said that his recovery is progressing well, with a decision about tomorrow’s match to be made after today’s training session. For Pato, he still isn’t ready to go yet, although the gaffer said he believes that once he returns he’ll produce. The absences of both players is slightly mitigated by the addition of Adam Grinwis and the impending return of Daryl Dike from Gold Cup duty. With that being said, the sooner that the Duck and the Octopus can get back on the field, the better.

McBride Talks Selection of Qualifying Venues

USMNT General Manger Brian McBride gave some insight into the venues that were picked for the first four matches in the final stage of World Cup qualifying and why they were picked. Choosing a World Cup qualifying venue can have a massive impact on the type of atmosphere that a team is playing in, and is therefore very important. If you pick wisely, as in the case of the raucous home support the USMNT received at Exploria Stadium when it took on Panama in 2017, then it can provide a major boost. On the flip side, if you choose poorly, as in the manner of the ill-fated Costa Rica game at Red Bull Arena during September of 2017, it can make the job that much tougher. I was actually at the Costa Rica game, and while the large numbers of Costa Rican fans was not the only factor in the USMNT losing, it definitely did not help matters.

Gold Cup Final Takeaways

Not only did the USMNT win the Gold Cup in impressive fashion over Mexico, there were some important things to be learned from the experience. For one thing, a young U.S squad was able to win several ugly games. While some people might not have loved how close the knockout games were, it’s important to be able to win close games and that’s exactly what the team did in all but one of its Gold Cup games. It’s hugely important to have rotation players in the pool who have experience in high-pressure competitive games, and this tournament certainly provided that. All in all, it could scarcely have worked out better for Gregg Berhalter and the boys in red, white and blue.

Free Kicks

That does it for me today. Y’all stay safe out there.