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Lion Links: 3/18/22

LA Galaxy prepare for Lions, an Orlando Pride season preview, Gregg Berhalter announces World Cup qualifying roster, and more.

SOCCER: MAY 24 MLS - LA Galaxy at Orlando City SC Photo by Joe Petro/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Happy Friday, Mane Landers! It was one helluva St. Patrick’s Day for me. I worked all day and was in bed before my kids. I hope you had at least one green beer for me. Let’s get to the links!

LA Galaxy Prepare for Orlando

Orlando City faces the LA Galaxy Saturday afternoon in a nationally televised match. Both clubs are coming off tough losses, with FC Cincinnati snapping a 14-match losing streak by beating the Lions 1-0 at Exploria Stadium and the Galaxy giving up three set piece goals to lose 3-2 to the Seattle Sounders last Saturday. Galaxy midfielder Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez described the team’s mindset entering Saturday’s contest:

“Right now our heads and everything, our hearts and emotions, our mindset is to focus on Orlando, to get back from a very difficult loss because we played pretty well,” Chicharito told reporters on Wednesday. “So yeah, that’s the only thing we have in our mind.”

LA Head Coach Greg Vanney speculated about how Orlando City will approach the game:

“I think if they can press us and have any success then they’ll try to stay high,” Vanney said. “But the second we play through them a few times, I think they’ll fall in and play us on the counter-attack. So we have to manage the game based on what the game looks like.”

Orlando Pride 2022 Season Outlook

The Equalizer’s Jeff Kassouf previewed the upcoming Orlando Pride season. His piece broke down the squad’s last two seasons, the questions surrounding the team for this season, and rebuild examples from NWSL history that might offer the Pride’s leadership some guidance. Kassouf also delivered a small dose of hope for the Pride faithful.

One saving grace for Orlando this year will be that most teams find themselves in a moment of transition, and thus there are a lot of variables league-wide. That might allow the Pride to stay competitive, although any talk of playoff or title contention right now would be wildly premature. This is going to be a multi-year project. The Pride’s goal should be getting to this point next year knowing it finally has a foundation for phase two of that.

USMNT Roster Announced for World Cup Qualifying

The U.S. Men’s National Team released Head Coach Gregg Berhalter’s 27-man roster for the team’s final three 2022 Concacaf World Cup qualifying matches on Thursday. Berhalter answered questions about the squad afterward. When asked about the severity of the injury USMNT right back Sergiño Dest suffered just hours before the broadcast, Berhalter said “it doesn’t look good,” and he will know more tomorrow about Dest’s availablity for the qualifiers.

MLS Transaction Roundup

One day after expansion side St. Louis City SC announced the signing of Swiss international goalkeeper Roman Bürki for the 2023 campaign, a Swedish outlet reported Arminia Bielefeld center back Joakim Nilsson will join the club this summer. New York City FC signed 20-year-old forward Gabriel Pereira from Brazilian Série A side Corinthians to balance the club’s attack. Pereira joins NYCFC via the league’s U22 Initiative and signed a contract through the 2026 season with an option for 2027.

UEFA Europa and Conference Leagues Action

Barcelona rebounded to beat Galatasaray 2-1 on Thursday to advance to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Europa League, after a scoreless draw in the first leg at Camp Nou last week. West Ham United beat Sevilla 2-0 in added extra time and Rangers advanced on aggregate over Red Star Belgrade to also reach the Europa League quarterfinals. Leicester City lost to Rennes 2-1 but advanced on aggregate to the UEFA Conference League round of eight.

Free Kicks

That’s it for today, Mane Landers. As you shake off any celebration cobwebs from yesterday, re-live AFC Richmond’s St. Patrick’s Day kit release from 2007. Let us know your favorite newspaper headline in the comments section below. Vamos Orlando!