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Lion Links: 3/12/22

Orlando set to host Cincinnati, Torres criticized for not instantly setting MLS on fire, the Orlando Pride youth movement, and more.

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SOCCER: MAY 19 MLS - FC Cincinnati at Orlando City SC Photo by Joe Petro/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

While the weather is traditionally hot and humid at this point of the season, it looks like it will be a windy and chilly match by Orlando standards tonight at home. We can likely expect temperatures in the low 50s and a brisk breeze at kickoff. Trust me though, there is no place I would rather be than Exploria Stadium tonight. If you are second-guessing attending the match in person, I hope you head downtown and cheer on the Lions on my behalf.

Orlando Ready to Defend Exploria

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. today as the Lions host FC Cincinnati at Exploria Stadium. Head Coach Oscar Pareja has noted that the players have been focused and determined to keep building on the return trip from Chicago.

“The preparation during the week has been first class from the players. They came from Chicago very optimistic, at the same time with the adversity that we had there, but we have overcome it and we are preparing for this next game.

Orlando City has yet to be defeated by Cincinnati. In previous meetings, Orlando has won three and tied two. In matches at home, Orlando has outscored Cincinnati 8-1. With Pedro Gallese having yet to concede in 2022, Orlando expects to extend its all-time scoring margin against the club.

Pressure for Torres?

Twice in the same week, MLSsoccer.com has taken to calling out Designated Player Facundo Torres for “under performing.” Joseph Lowery listed Torres in his column on five of MLS’s biggest player surprises/letdowns so far in 2022. Meanwhile, Andrew Wiebe doubled-down in his own “pressure mounting” piece. It is interesting that both point out Torres is Orlando’s main attack and logs more touches per game than any other Lion. A stat like that would usually point praise towards the goals and chances created by the team so far this season. While Torres has turned the ball over 27 times, the club is by far stronger when he is leading the charge. As we head into the third match, let us not forget that Orlando’s newest Young Designated Player is only 21 years old and still adjusting to a new country, league, and team. It is only a matter of time before things start clicking for him.

Orlando Pride’s Youth Movement

The 2022 Orlando Pride rebuild has taken the club from being one of the oldest rosters in the league to the youngest. The trio of veteran USWNT players — Alex Morgan, Ashlyn Harris, and Ali Krieger — have all moved on from the club. Players like Erin McLeod (though not one of the youngsters herself) are determined to show they are worthy replacements.

“What’s really cool is to have these young people come in with such a different mindset and mentality and a different perspective. We’re all able to grow and benefit from one another,” keeper, Erin McLeod said.

The Pride’s new head coach, Amanda Cromwell, is confident the young players will step up and surprise the league.

“The willingness is there and getting a team to work for each other is there. Those are key components to success.”

If you are trying to be one of the first fans to see the Orlando Pride in 2022, single-game tickets are now on sale for the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup matches at Exploria Stadium. Tickets can be purchased online through Ticketmaster.

Free Kicks

Nothing says it’s match day like an in-stadium practice video. Enjoy the match. Arrive early. Drink some water. Vamos Orlando!