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Lion Links: 5/12/22

Pride’s Viviana Villacorta tells comeback story, USMNT’s Ricardo Pepi toils in Germany, Open Cup continues, and more.

NWSL: Orlando Pride at NJ/NY Gotham FC Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Thursday, Mane Landers! Are you still riding high after Orlando City’s 2-1 win over Philadelphia on Tuesday to advance to the U.S. Open Cup’s Round of 16? I am. I can’t wait to watch tonight’s draw to find out who the Lions will face next in the competition. Let’s check out today’s links.

Pride’s Villacorta Shares Comeback Story

Orlando Pride midfielder Viviana Villacorta recounted her comeback from an anterior cruciate ligament tear she suffered in her senior year at UCLA to make her NWSL debut as a substitute in the Pride’s 3-0 loss to NJ/NY Gotham FC on May 1. A first-round draft pick of the Pride in 2021, Villacorta shared that she visited a therapist to help her with the mental aspect of recovery and she found support from family, teammates, and coaches. She also disclosed her goal of wanting to win the Rookie of the Year award this season.

“I was definitely a bundle of nerves,” she said (of her debut). “When they called me to go in, I probably was just looking at the ground, trying not to freak out, but it all happened so fast that I didn’t really have time to think about it. It was definitely more excitement and just thinking back about the last 15 months, how hard it’s been and how much I’ve been through to finally get to that point. And [to] play and step on the field at Exploria was just amazing.”

USMNT’s Pepi Toils in Germany

Since Ricardo Pepi joined German Bundesliga side FC Augsburg on a $20 million transfer from FC Dallas in January, the U.S. Men’s National Team striker hasn’t scored a goal or recorded an assist in 475 minutes played for his new club over 11 matches. Struggling to earn minutes in his club’s relegation scrap and regain his scoring form, Bundesliga insiders suggest the 19-year-old will be better prepared for the next Bundesliga season now that Augsburg knows it will remain in the German first division.

“It is a very hard, but tremendous school,” (broadcaster Derek) Rae said of the education Pepi is receiving at the WWK Arena. “He’ll benefit from it in the long run, even though it may not appear that way to some now. Everyone, especially U.S. fans, simply have to be patient. He made this move for a reason.”

U.S. Open Cup Round of 32 Concludes

Eight MLS sides competed in the U.S. Open Cup’s Round of 32 last night. Charlotte FC romped 5-1 over USL League One side Richmond Kickers. Carles Gil netted a hat trick and Adam Buksa bagged a brace as New England trounced FC Cincinnati 5-1. New York City FC bested Rochester New York FC 3-1. Nashville came from behind to oust Atlanta and the rest of the results came in late.

Inter Milan Wins Coppa Italia

Inter Milan defeated Juventus 4-2 in extra time Wednesday to capture the Coppa Italia, just five months after beating Juventus to take home the Italian Super Cup and end an 11-year cup drought. Juventus overcame a 1-0 halftime deficit with two goals early in the second half. Inter Milan responded with three unanswered goals — a controversial penalty in the 80th minute from Hakan Çalhanoğlu and two Ivan Perišić goals, including another penalty, in added extra time. With the loss, Juventus clinched its first season without a trophy since 2010-11, while Inter eyes the possibility of winning a double if it can overcome its two-point deficit behind AC Milan to win the Serie A crown.

Free Kicks
  • The Pride are wondering why this Erin McLeod save isn’t an NWSL Save of the Week contender.

Enjoy today’s North London Derby! And, as always, Vamos Orlando.