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Lion Links: 3/5/22

Orlando City hits Chicago, Shaqiri is the new face of the Fire, Sacha Kljestan comes full circle, and more.

MLS: CF Montreal at Orlando City SC Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

There’s nothing quite like waking up on a match day. With the Lions traveling to Chicago, I am already counting down the hours to kickoff. We might not be able to be in Exploria Stadium today, but I’ll be keeping my normal routine from the comforts of my couch: tacos, pretzels with beer cheese, and a refreshing margarita. Here is what is happening around MLS and the soccer world.

Orlando Ready for First Road Trip

Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. today as the Lions take on Chicago Fire at Soldier Field. Head Coach Oscar Pareja is looking forward to the match and looks to build on a solid home opener.

“Our expectations are always the same: trying to go and fight for those three points. Players feel the same, that we can go there and keep competing and add points at this early stage in the season.”

Chicago came up scoreless in its first match against Inter Miami, and Xherdan Shaqiri will look to open up his MLS account against the Lions. The absence of Robin Jansson will certainly be something to keep an eye on, as Rodrigo Schlegel fills in against the Designated Player.

Shaqiri Embraces Chicago

When Shaqiri signed with the Fire, his $7.5 million price tag brought the weight of a city on his shoulders. Quickly becoming the face of the club, he vows to give everything for Chicago and be a role model for those coming through the ranks.

“I came also here to help this team with my experience. We have a very young team, we have a lot of youngsters; I want to be also an idol for them, a role model, I can help them anytime they need me.

Chicago is going to need more than a role model though. The No. 10 will need to build on his first week in MLS, where he displayed five key passes and drew as many fouls. At 30 years old, only time will tell if Shaqiri can withstand the league’s demanding travel, physicality, and pressure of being a Designated Player.

Sacha Kljestan vs. Christopher Hegardt

With Charlotte FC anticipating to break 75,000 fans at Bank of America Stadium, attendees might find themselves with a post-match, feel-good moment. Former Orlando City Lion Sacha Kljestan visited a LA Children’s Hospital in 2010. When Kljestan gave one of the patients a USMNT jersey, he likely never expected to be matched up in the midfield against him one day. Charlotte FC rookie Christopher Hegardt will hopefully return the favor and pass one of his own jerseys to Sacha after the match.

U.S. U-20 Women beat Suriname 14-0

After leading only 3-0 at halftime, the U.S. U-20 Women beat Suriname 14-0 in the Round of 16 at the Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship. In a match where the U.S. averaged a shot every 82 seconds, this was never really a contest.

Seventeen-year-old Suriname goalkeeper Latifah Moedjijo stood strong for her side and her saves kept the USA from putting up an even higher score. She would face 66 shots, including 28 on goal, and make a remarkable 14 saves during the match.

Two U.S. players completed their hat tricks with Andrea Kitahata and Michelle Cooper scoring three each. Additional goals came from Emily Colton, Talia DellaPeruta, Alyssa Thompson, Lilly Reale, Avery Patterson, and Emily Mason. The U.S. will take on the winner of Haiti and Guyana on March 8 at 3 p.m.

Free Kicks
  • Cindy Parlow Cone received major backing from USWNT players for U.S. Soccer Federation president.

Orlando City has touched down in the Windy City. The match is nearly upon us. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. Vamos Orlando!