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Lion Links: 6/17/22

Orlando Pride focus on improving, FIFA chooses World Cup host cities, Tobin Heath returns to the NWSL, and more.

NWSL: Orlando Pride at Chicago Red Stars Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

Not only is it Friday, but it is also National Flip Flop day! I’m not saying you should test the limits of your workplace’s casual Friday etiquette by wearing a pair, but it should be a nice weekend to hit the beach and relax. Just make sure to stock up on water, sunscreen, and maybe a canopy to beat this summer heat. Here are today’s links from around the soccer world for you.

Orlando Pride Focus On Bouncing Back

After a 1-0 loss on the road to the Chicago Red Stars this past weekend, the Orlando Pride head west for a match against the Portland Thorns this Sunday at Providence Park. The Thorns are on a four-game unbeaten run, scoring a whopping 11 goals during that stretch. Interim Pride Head Coach Seb Hines spoke about how the team did well applying pressure against Chicago and that Orlando is working on converting transition moments into scoring opportunities. Forward Abi Kim will be an important player for the Pride in that regard and she talked about how valuable a win on the road in Portland would be this Sunday.

FIFA Decides 2026 World Cup Host Cities

Orlando was not one of the 11 U.S. cities chosen to host the 2026 World Cup. At least there will still be World Cup soccer in Florida as Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium was picked. With Camping World Stadium and the Rose Bowl (FIFA instead chose SoFi Stadium to represent Los Angeles) both out of the running, there will be no games in stadiums that hosted the 1994 World Cup. 60 games will be played in the U.S., including all games once the quarterfinals start. Atlanta, Seattle, and Kansas City are a few of the other U.S. cities chosen. Toronto and Vancouver will represent Canada while Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey will host matches in Mexico.

OL Reign Trade for Tobin Heath

American forward Tobin Heath is officially back in the National Women’s Soccer League after stints in England. She joins OL Reign, which traded away $50,000 in allocation money and a pair of 2023 draft picks to Racing Louisville FC for her NWSL playing rights. Heath played seven seasons with the Portland Thorns, winning titles in 2013 and 2017, before joining Manchester United and Arsenal in the Women’s Super League. With only six goals from eight matches, the Reign could certainly use the boost Heath brings to an offense that includes Rose Lavelle and Megan Rapinoe. The Pride will face Heath and the Reign on Aug. 26 at Exploria Stadium, so make sure to circle that date on your calendar to see some of the USWNT’s stars in action.

English Premier League Schedule Released

The English Premier League season will start on Aug. 5 when Arsenal takes on Crystal Palace. It’s the first match of an exciting opening weekend that also includes West Ham hosting Manchester City on Aug. 7. City has a fairly easy start to the season, which could allow forward Erling Haaland to find his footing sooner rather than later with his new team. Speaking of fresh faces in the league, Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag will have a handful of tough tests before his side faces City on Oct. 1. Other notable matches this year include Chelsea and Tottenham facing off on Aug. 13, a Boxing Day match-up between Liverpool and Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa, and a showdown between City and Chelsea late in the season on May 20.

Free Kicks
  • Sports analytics company Pro Football Focus gave a shoutout to Orlando’s Mauricio Pereyra for his accuracy.

That’s all for today, Mane Landers. Have a wonderful Friday and rest of your weekend!