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Lion Links: 9/27/21

Orlando Pride fall on the road, learning from Orlando City’s loss, Phoebe McClernon’s strong first NWSL season, and more.

OL Reign v Orlando Pride Photo by Jeremy Reper/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Welcome to Monday, everyone. It was a rough weekend for Orlando soccer fans. Orlando City and the Orlando Pride both lost road games, but are still in playoff positions with their seasons starting to wind down. The only way out is though, so let’s plow forward with today’s links.

The Pride Fall to OL Reign

The Orlando Pride’s three-game unbeaten run came to an end with a 3-0 loss on the road to OL Reign. The Reign scored three goals in the first half, with Eugenie Le Sommer scoring twice during a brutal four-minute stretch, and the Pride were never able to recover. On the whole, it simply wasn’t the Pride’s night and they will need to shake off the sting and refocus with only four games left in their season. Orlando is currently fifth in the NWSL standings and would make the playoffs if the season ended today. However, only three points separate the Pride from eighth place and all the teams below them in the standings have at least one game in hand. The Pride’s next game is on the road against the Chicago Red Stars on Saturday.

Learning from the Lions’ Loss to New England

Orlando City also went on the road this weekend and lost 2-1 to the New England Revolution. While it was a frustrating defeat for the Lions as they didn’t convert a penalty, there were still a few bright spots. Midfielder Sebas Mendez returned to the team after dealing with an injury and should give the team needed stability moving forward. Another encouraging thing was Mauricio Pereyra recording his 10th assist of the year, with Daryl Dike scoring from his nice pass into the box as the two improve their connection. Orlando is finally getting healthier as more players return, but it will be without center back Robin Jansson due to yellow card accumulation when it plays Nashville SC on Wednesday.

Phoebe McClernon’s Importance for the Pride

The Pride might have suffered a tough loss over the weekend, but Phoebe McClernon has done a great job on defense over the course of the season. The first-year center back started off strong before suffering a setback due to injury. But the arrival of interim head coach Becky Burleigh has increased her role with the team as she’s been deployed in the center of a back three at times. This might be her first year in the league but McClernon has already proved herself very valuable to Burleigh and the Pride.

“Phoebe takes her defensive matchups very personally,” interim coach Becky Burleigh said. “She takes a lot of pride in her defending. She’s a very, very competent attacking player as well, but she will put everything on the line to defend. That’s something you can trust always with her.”

Americans Find Their Form Abroad

It was an eventful weekend for Americans playing overseas. Jordan Pefok’s hot streak continued as he scored yet again in a win for Young Boys. Ian Harkes, Emmanuel Sabbi, and Ulysses Llanez also found the back of the net to help their sides. Tim Weah provided an assist and drew the penalty kick that resulted in the winning goal for Lille, while Sergino Dest and Chris Richards also provided assists in wins for Barcelona and Hoffenheim, respectively. Unfortunately, Tyler Adams did not dress due to a muscle issue in Red Bull Leipzig’s 6-0 victory over Hertha Berlin. Christian Pulisic and Giovanni Reyna were also out injured for their team’s matches.

Free Kicks

That does it for me this morning. Stay safe out there.