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Lion Links: 4/3/22

Lions fall to LAFC, Pride visit Spirit, so many MLS goals, and more.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Orlando City SC Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Mane Landers! I’m not sure about you, but I know it is harder for me to get out of bed after Orlando City fails to get a result. The weekend isn’t over yet though for Orlando sports fans as the Pride take on Washington Spirit today at 4 p.m. and OCB hosts New York City FC II at 6 p.m. It would help lessen the blow for fans if they can finally add to the win column.

Before we head on to the links, let’s take a moment to wish our very own center back and fourth string goalkeeper Rodrigo Schlegel a happy birthday!

Lions Fall 4-2 to LAFC

It was a very rainy and wet night in Orlando as the Lions hosted LAFC. City lost its second straight home game 4-2, but it was not for a lack of effort. With 13 shots and 62% of possession, it seemed to be Orlando in control for most of the night. Unfortunately, LAFC was able to score on all four of the shots it put on target. We will have to wait and see about the severity of a first-half injury to Antonio Carlos, as he was carried off on a stretcher clutching his left hamstring. We’ll have more coverage of the match today with our five takeaways and player grades.

Pride Visit Spirit Today

The Pride opened the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup with a scoreless match against the Washington Spirit. The Spirit have been trading goals with opponents since that first match though. Their second game was 1-1 and their third finished 2-2. From the Spirit fan’s perspective, the club played their worst half of soccer under manager Kris Ward on Wednesday against the North Carolina Courage.

It’s also worth noting that the solution wasn’t a fire and brimstone halftime speech by a coach, but rather the players taking it upon themselves to increase their intensity levels and get on the same page as a team. “By the time I got in there at halftime,” manager Kris Ward said, “the players said they’d already had a conversation.”

When the Pride kick off this afternoon, they have to be ready to match the intensity of a team that is going to come out firing and attempt to right the ship from its last performance.

Goals, Goals, and More MLS Goals

If you’re a fan of end-to-end action, yesterday was your day. Aside from the high-scoring Orlando and LAFC game, FC Cincinnati and CF Montreal finished the first half of their match with five goals and later added two more in the second half as Montreal beat Cincinnati 4-3.

NYCFC fell 2-1 at BMO Field against Toronto FC but went down swinging in stoppage time with a powerful Heber header to keep Alex Bono from what would have been a well-deserved shutout.

The crosses kept coming all day as Nashville SC also scored early against Columbus Crew with a quality Alex Muyl header.

Other scores from around the league include: San Jose and Austin drawing 2-2. Atlanta United defeated D.C. United with a 94th-minute goal. The New York Red Bulls defeated the New England Revolution 1-0. Charlotte ended its win streak by falling 2-0 to the Philadelphia Union. The Seattle Sounders conceded a late penalty to Minnesota but still held on for a 2-1 victory. Sporting Kansas City was unable to find the back of the net as Vancouver won 1-0. For full highlights and results around the league, head over to MLSsoccer.com.

USMNT Already Eyeing World Cup Match-ups

It might be many months away, but Walker Zimmerman already knows who he is ready to square off against — Harry Kane.

“He’s a player who’s been in top form for years now and has kind of evolved into that leader of that team. He’s certainly a talent that scores a lot of goals, provides a lot of different ways that he can hurt you, whether it’s with his final pass, his production in the box, his size, physicality. Obviously he’s an excellent finisher, so that’s someone that we’ll be aware of in the back and I’m looking forward to that challenge.”

Zimmerman also mentioned the group chat is already active and starting to scout and work towards the match. He credits the fact that the USMNT having players in the EPL and UEFA Champions League has the team feeling comfortable at this early time.

“Having guys that have played against them multiple times, played in the same league as them, it’s going to be beneficial for us and I know that everyone will be helping each other out as much as possible in terms of scouting and preparation and habits and mentality.”

While there still might be more than 235 days until the match and the roster is yet to be set in stone, one thing is certain — Walker Zimmerman is going to do whatever it takes to ensure he and Miles Robinson continue their partnership through the World Cup.

“And now speaking with him the challenge is: Hey, it doesn’t matter what we’ve done, we have to continue our form, play well at the club level if we want to get a shot at this.”

Free Kicks

Saturday’s game might not have been the result we were looking for, but the Lions continue to show they have what it takes to find the back of the net. For today, we hope the Pride can do the same. Go Pride! Let’s get that W.