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Lion Links: 10/1/22

Orlando Pride end their season tonight, Lions hunt for home playoff game, MLS players locked in for World Cup, and more.

NWSL: San Diego Wave FC at Orlando Pride Russell Lansford-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Spooky Season, Mane Landers! If you are anything like me, you were counting down the days until FIFA 23 released yesterday. Luckily, I had the day off from work and was able to spend it relaxing and playing the latest edition. For this year, I decided to take on the Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney challenge of putting Wrexham AFC into English Football League Two and attempting to continue winning leagues and promotions until I finally lift the Premier League trophy. Don’t fear though as I have not fully abandoned Orlando City! For my Ultimate Team online mode side hustle, I am working towards acquiring all the purple cosmetic items, club jerseys and badge, and of course making Ted Lasso Orlando City’s newest manager. But enough of my FIFA goals, enjoy these links from around the soccer world.

Orlando Pride Close Season Tonight

The Orlando Pride end their 2022 campaign tonight with a match at Lumen Field at 10 p.m. In the first match-up with OL Reign, the Pride dropped points by giving away a 92nd-minute goal to fall 2-1.

“It’ll be a competitive game. We know what to expect with the way that the Reign play, we experienced it not long ago at our own stadium,” Interim Head Coach Seb Hines said. “It’ll be a tough game, another challenge for us and something that we can build from from our last game with San Diego. We want to continue to play the way that we want to play and there’s no better way to do it than at Seattle.”

The loss to OL Reign also snapped a seven-match unbeaten streak, which finished tied for the second longest in club history. The Pride have found themselves in a poor run of form since the loss but were able to at least halt their losing streak Sunday against the San Diego Wave with a draw. While tonight’s game will conclude the 2022 season for the Pride, the Reign will surely be firing on all cylinders to secure all three points with the potential for the NWSL Shield still within reach.

Orlando City Hunts For Home Playoff Game

The Lions of Orlando City travel to Red Bull Arena to take on New York City FC Sunday at 1 p.m. While both teams are playing away from “home,” NYCFC will still feel as if it has the home field advantage, being local and not needing to travel far despite statistics begging to differ.

The silver lining for the Lions, however, will be a full-sized pitch compared to that of Yankee Stadium, where the Pigeons usually play matches. With a win, Orlando City threatens to knock NYCFC out of the top four in the Eastern Conference and make a run at hosting a home playoff match. FC Cincinnati is also only three points behind NYCFC at the time of this writing and banging on the door. Sunday’s stakes are high, as an NYCFC win solidifies a first-round playoff bye for New York side, while Orlando City could either greatly strengthen or jeopardize its postseason position.

MLS Players Locked in for Qatar

The United States Men’s National Team just wrapped up the final tune-up camp before the 2022 FIFA World Cup. With the final stretch run of the MLS season soon coming to a close, many domestic players are wondering if they will get a ticket to be on the plane to Qatar. ESPNFC’s Jeff Carlisle gives his take on which MLS-based USMNT players will be guaranteed to make the trip.

Nashville SC’s Walker Zimmerman has done well to claim a place on the back line. FC Dallas forward Jesús Ferreira continues to make his case to be Head Coach Gregg Berhalter’s No. 9 in the attack. Midfielder Kellyn Acosta of LAFC has show his own versatility as a depth player and can fill in as a holding midfielder or at one of the No. 8 spots. The real question marks at this point are for NYCFC’s Sean Johnson as a third-string goalkeeper, FC Dallas winger Paul Arriola, and Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan.

With matches still to be played in the MLS season and playoffs to come, many factors are still in play. A player could take a knock, fall out of form, find incredible form, or even work his way out of his club’s good graces. It still might be too far to know for sure, but let us know in the comments which MLS players you think are locked in for the World Cup.

Jesse Marsch Loves Leeds United

Leeds United Head Coach Jesse Marsch is an American soccer legend currently leading his club in the Premier League. Prior to his coaching days, Marsch played 14 seasons as a midfielder in MLS with D.C. United, the Chicago Fire, and Chivas USA, while collecting three league titles and four U.S. Open Cup trophies along the way. Since then, he has written quite the resume as a coach and USMNT fans have taken notice.

In 2010, Marsch retired from his playing career and became an assistant coach for the USMNT under Bob Bradley, reaching the Round of 16 in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. He then became the inaugural head coach of the Montreal Impact upon their entry to MLS in 2012. And in 2015, Marsch was hired as head coach of the New York Red Bulls and stayed in the role through the first half of the 2018 MLS season. In his first year coaching the Red Bulls, the club won the Supporters Shield and he was named MLS Coach of the Year.

Despite his success at the club level, Marsch claims he would not leave Leeds now if he was offered a position at the helm of the USMNT for the 2026 World Cup cycle.

“I don’t want to leave. If I got an offer to go anywhere in the world right now to coach football I wouldn’t leave this spot,” Marsch, who coaches USMNT stars Brenden Aaronson and Tyler Adams at Leeds, said on Friday.

“I’m more happy in my career than I’ve ever been and I’m very thankful to be here, and my total focus and our total focus is just trying to maximize what we’re achieving every day.”

If Berhalter does not get out of the group stage at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, there will be plenty of vocal fans calling for his dismissal. Jesse Marsch is sure to be on the short list of coaches to take over the position. Let us know in the comments who you think should be Berhalter’s successor. Or, do you think Berhalter should be the coach all the way through the 2026 cycle?

Free Kicks
  • Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja updated player injuries and storm experiences in his Friday press conference.

That’s all I have for you today. After that opening paragraph, I’m sure you know where to find me this weekend. I will be kicked back and couch-coaching my virtual teams to victory. Of course, I will take a break to catch the Lions and Pride play, though. Vamos Orlando!