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Lion Links: 3/4/22

Orlando City faces first road test of 2022, Charlotte FC ready for home opener, USWNT will play Uzbekistan in friendlies, and more.

MLS: CF Montreal at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

How’s it going, Mane Landers? It’s nice to have MLS action in full swing and the NWSL Challenge Cup is right around the corner as well. We may only be a few days into March but the Florida heat is not playing around so make sure to stay hydrated out there this weekend. Along with enjoying soccer, I’ve been spending most of my downtime reading and hitting up a new restaurant or bar each week. Now, let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world!

Orlando City Hits the Road

In their first away game of the season, the Lions will take on the Chicago Fire tomorrow night at 6 p.m. at Soldier Field. Orlando City is coming off of a 2-0 win at home against CF Montreal while the Fire played Inter Miami to a scoreless draw in Fort Lauderdale. The Fire’s offense is spearheaded by Polish striker Kacper Przybylko, who will receive service from Swiss midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri and other talented players on the wings. It’ll be a tough task for the Lions’ defense on the road, but Head Coach Oscar Pareja is preparing the team for what to expect tomorrow.

“We recognize Przybylko is a good striker in the league who did a good job in his years in Philadelphia,” said Pareja when asked about the Polish forward, who has six goals in five games against Orlando. “He’s a striker who needs service, wingers like [Stanislav] Ivanov and [Fabian] Herbers can provide service. Even the new signing Shaqiri is a very crafty guy. [They have] fullbacks that go [attack] too. It’s one of their strengths, but we are aware of that and we have trained to control those things Chicago brings.”

Alexandre Pato and Benji Michel both started and scored in Orlando’s season opener and will hope to keep that momentum rolling on the road. Center back Rodrigo Schlegel will likely fill in for the suspended Robin Jansson and goalkeeper Pedro Gallese is just one clean sheet away from tying Joe Bendik’s club record of 13.

Charlotte FC Ready to Break Attendance Record

A 3-0 loss to D.C United may not have been the start Charlotte FC wanted in its inaugural MLS season, but the club is prepared for a record-breaking crowd in its season opener against the LA Galaxy tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. A total of 75,000 spectators are expected to fill Bank of America Stadium to see Charlotte play its first home match. That number would exceed the previous attendance record of 73,109 set by Atlanta United in 2018. Charlotte Head Coach Miguel Angel Ramirez and the team have been working hard to give the fans something to cheer about tomorrow.

“The players are really looking forward [to the game] and are super motivated,” Ramirez said. “These aren’t just words, these are facts. We’re working a lot. A lot, a lot. Early in the morning until late evening. We were here for 12 hours yesterday. Nobody knows, but we want the people feeling proud so we’re doing our best. We’re working a lot for Saturday because we want this amount of people, not just this week but every single game.”

USWNT Will Take on Uzbekistan in Friendlies

The United States Women’s National Team will face Uzbekistan in April in a pair of friendlies. The two nations will face off for the first time ever on April 9 at Field in Columbus and it will also be the USWNT’s first time playing at that stadium. The USWNT will then play against Uzbekistan again at Subaru Park in Chester, PA on April 12. Uzbekistan is ranked 45th in the world and recently played in the Turkish Women’s Cup last month, beating Lithuania, losing to Ukraine, and drawing with Venezuela.

U.S. Women’s U-20 Team Plays Suriname Today

In the 2022 Concacaf Women’s Under-20 Championship, the U.S. will take on Suriname today at 4 p.m. in the Round of 16. The U.S. won all three of its group matches without conceding a goal. The last time these two teams squared off in the tournament was in 2002 when the U.S. won 15-0. There is plenty on the line during the tournament as the two teams that reach the tournament final and the third-place finisher will all qualify for the 2022 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup held in Costa Rica in August.

Free Kicks
  • Here are a few highlights from the Orlando Pride’s preseason draw against the Kansas City Current.

That’s all for today, I hope you all have a wonderful Friday and rest of your weekend. Go Orlando!