How’s it going, Mane Landers? Not only is today Friday, but it’s also an Orlando City game day as the Lions take on Atlanta United. The Orlando Pride are in action tomorrow at Exploria Stadium so it should be an exciting weekend. There are plenty of links to get to today, but first, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Orlando midfielder David Loera!
David Loera Loaned to Phoenix Rising FC
While we’re at it, let’s also wish safe travels to Loera. The Homegrown Player was loaned to the USL Championship’s Phoenix Rising FC. The loan lasts through the end of the 2021 season and Orlando can terminate the loan early if needed. Loera has only made one appearance this season and his opportunities for playing time will dwindle as more midfielders return from injury. The 23-year-old should get more minutes in Phoenix compared to in Orlando, which will help him develop into a better player for the Lions moving forward.
Orlando City Faces Atlanta United Tonight
After a 3-2 win at home over the Columbus Crew, the Lions head to Atlanta for a match against the Five Stripes tonight at 7 p.m. Despite a number of injuries and absences throughout August, the Lions are riding a seven-game unbeaten streak that started with a 3-2 win against Atlanta on July 30. Adam Grinwis is expected to start in goal considering Pedro Gallese played for Peru last night and Mason Stajduhar is injured. Meanwhile, a number of Atlanta players will likely be absent due to international duty, including Venezuelan forward Josef Martinez. Former Lion Miguel Gallardo and Evan Weston broke down what to watch for in this clash between rivals.
Take a seat at the Roundtable with @EvanLWeston and @migallardo01 to wrap up our three game home stand and get ready for tomorrow night's match against Atlanta @Ford | #VamosOrlando pic.twitter.com/ktSQ8hJr42— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) September 9, 2021
Daryl Dike Weighs in on Wild Year
Although Orlando City forward Daryl Dike is in just his second year as a Lion, he’s built up plenty of experience over the course of the past 14 months. After helping Orlando reach the playoffs, Dike was loaned to Barnsley FC in England, and then featured for the United States Men’s National Team during the Concacaf Gold Cup. Dike picked up an injury during the Gold Cup, which ended up giving him a needed break to rest and fully recover before returning to the field for the Lions.
“Mentally it was great for me to reset,” Dike said. “I really needed that. I’m happy the staff and everybody were able to give me that time. I basically just tried to go back to my roots, go back to things I went away from. Hung out with some friends, went back to playing video games, watching sports. Doing things that freed up my brain instead of always thinking soccer, training, [asking myself] how can I improve. Just taking a step back was good for me.”
Dike now spearheads Orlando’s offense at a crucial time with tough Eastern Conference opponents ahead. The 21-year-old went on to discuss the many transfer rumors swirling around him, his role with the USMNT, and Orlando’s chances to lift the MLS Cup this December.
Ashlyn Harris Wins Save of the Week Again
Orlando Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris won NWSL Save of the Week yet again. While Harris’ win each week has felt like a foregone conclusion, let’s not take her heroics for granted. Harris has had an extraordinary season for the Pride, coming up with huge saves to keep the Pride alive in matches. Her save this time around is from stopping Kristie Mewis from range. The highlight doesn’t include the great back-to-back saves seconds earlier on a corner kick.
Harris will lead the Pride again this weekend when they take on Racing Louisville FC tomorrow night at 7 p.m.
Alex Morgan Called Up for USWNT Friendlies
Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan will join the United States Women’s National Team training camp in preparation for friendlies against Paraguay on Sept. 16 and 21. Morgan hasn’t played for the Pride since picking up an injury in the Olympics, but she wasn’t one of the four players who opted out of the camp due to injuries. Megan Rapinoe, Julie Ertz, Samantha Mewis, and Alyssa Naeher will all be absent, along with Christen Press, who is taking time off from the USWNT to focus on her mental health. It will be a good opportunity for the USWNT’s younger players to make a splash, with Catarina Macario and Sophia Smith available.
- Gallese had a rough time in Peru’s 2-0 loss against Brazil while Sebas Mendez didn’t make the lineup in Ecuador’s 1-0 loss to Uruguay. The night belonged to Lionel Messi, who scored a hat trick in Argentina’s 3-0 win over Bolivia to break Pele’s record of 77 career goals in international play. His first goal was a curler after a bit of fancy footwork to tie the record.
- The format for the MLS Cup playoffs was set in stone, with the MLS Cup final taking place on Dec. 11. Here’s a great breakdown on the schedule (there will be playoff soccer on Thanksgiving), bracket, and tiebreakers.
- FIFA will make its first visits to possible 2026 World Cup host cities on Sept. 15. Orlando will be one of the first nine venues visited, along with other southern competition in Miami and Atlanta.
- New York Red Bulls center back and former Lion Amro Tarek is headed to El Gouna FC in Egypt’s first division.
- Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez is expected to make his return for the LA Galaxy this Saturday when they take on the Colorado Rapids.
- Former Lion Hadji Barry was named USL Championship Player of the Month after scoring six goals in six games during August. Barry has been lighting it up for the Colorado Springs Switchbacks this season, leading the league with an incredible 21 goals scored.
That’s going to be it for today, folks. I hope you all have a great Friday and rest of your weekend. Go Orlando!