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Lion Links: 5/14/22

Kansas City visits Pride, Lions take on the Reds, Josh Wolff gets contract extension, and much more.

MLS: US Open Cup-Philadelphia Union at Orlando City FC Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Double Match Day, Mane Landers! Like last week, we will yet again be watching the Lions from our couch confines rather than jumping in The Wall. Orlando City takes on Toronto FC at 3 p.m. at BMO Field; however, the Orlando Pride are at home tonight at 6:30 p.m. You should have plenty of time between games to head to Exploria Stadium to support the Pride. Let’s be sure to get out and be loud for the ladies! But first, enjoy your links from around the soccer globe.

Orlando City and Toronto FC

Orlando City will be playing at BMO Field this afternoon where Toronto FC will try to end a four-game losing streak. The Reds have amassed only three wins in 11 matches this season. TFC Head Coach Bob Bradley has been without quite a few key pieces this season due to injury. Today, Jonathon Osorio, Noble Okello, Kadin Chung, Jakheele Marshall-Rutty, and Chris Mavinga will all be unavailable. On the other hand, Toronto will have Ralph Priso, Carlos Salcedo, and Ifunanyachi Achara all back following a suspension and clearance of Health & Safety Protocols. Salcedo returning should give Bradley a familiar back line with former Lion Shane O’Neill and Salcedo pairing up once again.

The Lions have picked up at least one point in each of the last four match-ups against Toronto, including seven of nine points in their three fixtures last season. Toronto’s last win against the Lions came back in 2019, where the club recorded a 2-0 victory in Orlando.

Kansas City Current to Visit Orlando

The Kansas City Current begin a three game road trip today as they travel to Exploria Stadium. Kansas City might be dealing with some heavy legs as they have played a full schedule lately. The club had an NWSL match, followed by the Challenge Cup semifinal and another league match — all within nine days. The Current head into the third week of the regular season following those three straight losses. The team’s last win was in the group stage of the Challenge Cup April 24 against the Chicago Red Stars.

The Orlando Pride played Kansas City twice in the 2021 regular season. Orlando won the first match 1-0 at home and won 3-1 on the road three weeks later.

Austin FC Extends Josh Wolff’s Contract

Austin FC inked Head Coach Josh Wolff to a three-year contract extension through the end of the 2025 MLS season. The 45-year-old joined Austin as the inaugural head coach in November 2019 after serving as USMNT assistant under Gregg Berhalter. Before that, Wolff gained MLS experience as Berhalter’s assistant for five seasons with the Columbus Crew after his first year as an assistant with D.C. United.

The new deal comes as an early reward. Austin is currently second overall in the Western Conference and Supporters Shield standings. This is a strong turnaround from finishing fourth-from-last during the team’s expansion 2021 campaign.

“Josh is a young and very talented coach who we trust to lead this club on the field moving forward,” Austin FC sporting director Claudio Reyna said in a release. “The style of play and work ethic he has implemented, and his mentorship of our players has created a really strong culture around our club and led to an incredible amount of growth in a short period of time. We’re thrilled to see what he’s capable of in the coming years. Our future is bright.”

NWSL Enacts New COVID Contingency

NWSL has added a new policy allowing teams to sign emergency replacement players in the event that a team cannot field a sufficient roster due to COVID protocols. The policy will be in effect for the next 60 days, followed by a re-evaluation from both the NWSL and NWSL Players Association. The main change allows teams to sign COVID replacement players to reach the non-COVID minimum of 18 players. Currently, protocol allows for teams to compete with as few as 14 players who are both eligible and capable of playing in a match.

In signing COVID replacement players, teams will follow the same policies as they do with National Team Replacement Players.

Free Kicks

It’s starting to get hot out there. So whether you’re watching the games from home, the brewery, or at Exploria Stadium — be sure to stay hydrated! I’m looking forward to a day full of Orlando soccer. Vamos Orlando!