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Lion Links: 2/4/22

Orlando City loses preseason game to Minnesota United, Facundo Torres arrives in Orlando, USWNT SheBelieves Cup roster announced, and more.

SOCCER: AUG 04 MLS - Inter Miami CF at Orlando City SC Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

How’s it going, Mane Landers? It’s been a pretty rough work week for me, so I’m looking forward to putting my feet up this weekend. I don’t have many plans beyond getting some reading done and watching some of the Winter Olympics. Let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world.

Orlando City Falls in First Preseason Match

The Lions lost 5-4 against Minnesota United in their first preseason game of 2022. Benji Michel scored just 30 seconds into the match, with new Designated Player Ercan Kara assisting on the goal. Orlando had two penalties in the game, with Minnesota goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair saving Kara’s attempt while Tesho Akindele converted his. 2022 MLS SuperDraft pick Jack Lynn and Orlando City academy product Alex Freeman both scored from corner kicks and you can check out their goals below.

The Loons scored five goals in the match, including one near midfield from Emanuel Reynoso after pouncing on a turnover. It may have just been a preseason game, but conceding five goals is never a great way to start the year. Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja noted the performance from the club’s younger players as a high note following the game.

Facundo Torres Lands in Orlando

You’ll need Google Translate to view the details as Orlando City Young Designated Player Facundo Torres spoke at a press conference before boarding his flight for Orlando yesterday. The 21-year-old remarked on his time playing for Peñarol as he takes this next step in his career by heading to the United States. Although it can be daunting for a young player to head to a new country, Torres has been in contact with fellow Uruguayan and Orlando teammate César Araújo since signing. While Araújo is already in Orlando and played in the team’s preseason match, Torres is just now joining the Lions after being with Uruguay for World Cup qualifiers. Orlando supporters welcomed Torres to the city after he landed.

USWNT Announces SheBelieves Cup Roster

United States Women’s National Team Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski named the 23 players called up for the 2022 SheBelieves Cup later this month. Most of the players on the roster were with the USWNT for its training camp in Austin this past month, with midfielder Catarina Macario joining the team from Olympique Lyonnais in France. 2021 U.S. Soccer Young Player of the Year Trinity Rodman isn’t on the final roster but will train with the team leading up to the tournament. The roster doesn’t include notable veterans such as Alex Morgan, Christen Press, Megan Rapinoe, or Tobin Heath as Andonovski opted for a younger roster than the one that featured in the Olympics.

“All these players are very good players — we know that they’ve done so much for this team,” Andonovski told ESPN of the veterans. “But right now I want to give a chance to players like Sophia Smith and Mal Pugh and Catarina Macario, Ashley Hatch, players that have earned their spot on the national team or earn their spot back. I want to give them maximum minutes or whatever minutes they earn so we can evaluate every aspect of their game, in the training environment or game setting.”

Looking Ahead to the USMNT’s March Qualifiers

The United States Men’s National Team remained in second place in the Concacaf World Cup qualifying standings after a window that included a road loss to Canada and home wins over Honduras and El Salvador. Only three matches remain with six teams still in contention after Honduras and Jamaica were eliminated. While the USMNT could qualify with a win over Mexico in the Azteca on March 24 if other results fall its way, a victory in Exploria Stadium on March 27 against Panama would likely seal the deal. The USMNT’s final match of its qualifying campaign will be a tough road game against Costa Rica on March 30.

Left back Antonee Robinson and midfielder Luca de la Torre had decent outings during this past window while the forwards struggled. Midfielder Giovanni Reyna and center back Aaron Long may also be available for the March qualifiers as they recover from injuries. Only time will tell what changes, if any, Head Coach Gregg Berhalter will make ahead of the final qualifiers.

Free Kicks
  • Orlando Pride Head Coach Amanda Cromwell was mic’d up for the team’s training.
  • Araújo bid farewell on Twitter to his old club, Montevideo Wanderers.

That’s going to be all I have for you today. I hope you all have a wonderful Friday and rest of your weekend!