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Lion Links: 9/24/21

Orlando City prepares for the New England Revolution, Orlando Pride head west, NWSL’s investigation into the Washington Spirit grows, and more.

Racing Louisville FC v Orlando Pride Photo by Jeremy Reper/ISI Photos/Getty Images

How’s it going, Mane Landers? It may officially be fall, but the heat and rain sure don’t make it feel like it. I’ve been spending most of the week indoors and am excited to go out for brunch this weekend. It should be a fun next few days considering the amount of soccer going on. But for now, let’s get this Friday started with some links from around the soccer world.

Orlando City Prepares for the New England Revolution

The Lions are on a three-game losing streak and have a tough road match tomorrow against the league-leading New England Revolution. It will be the first meeting between the two clubs this season, with another match on Oct. 24 in Exploria Stadium. The Revolution became the first team to clinch a spot in the playoffs after winning 3-2 this past Wednesday against the Chicago Fire. Nani and Andres Perea will return from suspension, but center back Antonio Carlos won’t be available after his red card in Orlando’s 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Union. The team may also see the return of midfielder Sebas Mendez, who has not played for the Lions since July 17 due to injury.

Orlando Pride Get Ready for OL Reign

The Orlando Pride are out west to take on OL Reign this Sunday at 7 p.m. It will be the Pride’s first match since a 3-1 win against Racing Louisville FC on Sept. 11 due to the international break and the team has been making the most of its extended period of training. Interim head coach Becky Burleigh and defender Phoebe McClernon weighed in on the benefits of the break as the Pride focus on their remaining five games this regular season.

Sunday’s match will also feature the league’s top two scorers as the Pride’s Sydney Leroux and the Reign’s Bethany Balcer both have eight goals this season. The other Reign players to keep an eye out for on offense are Jess Fishlock, Eugénie Le Sommer, and Tziarra King. If the Pride win this Sunday, they will close the gap to just one point between themselves and the second-place Reign.

Keeping Up With Americans Abroad

There’s a bit more pressure for United States Men’s National Team players to do well with their clubs this season as they compete for call-ups for World Cup qualifying. FC Dallas forward Ricardo Pepi burst onto the scene and scored in his USMNT debut against Honduras, impressing Head Coach Gregg Berhalter and joining the discussion of players who could possibly go to Qatar next year. Solid performances at the club level could help other American attackers make their case for a call-up as well. A few Americans were in action this week as Matthew Hoppe had an assist in his first appearance with Mallorca in La Liga, while Tim Weah made his return from injury by starting for Lille OSC. Jordan Pefok is also emerging as an option up top for the USMNT and scored in Young Boys’ win over Lausanne. Orlando forward Daryl Dike has been relatively quiet during the Lions’ losing streak, but a strong run of form over the next few weeks could land him back in the USMNT conversation.

NWSL Widens Investigation of the Washington Spirit

The National Women’s Soccer League has reportedly grown its investigation into the Washington Spirit to also include allegations of a toxic work environment for female employees. Investigators were told about a misogynistic work culture by employees while looking into allegations of verbal abuse from former head coach Richie Burke, who left the team in August.

Spirit Squadron, a Washington Spirit fan group, released a statement regarding the concerns for players and called for team owner Steve Baldwin to step down and sell the team.

Free Kicks

That’s going to be all for now. Make sure to stay hydrated out there and have a wonderful Friday!