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Lion Links: 6/22/22

Orlando Pride midfielder Angharad James called up for Wales, USMNT will face Japan and Saudi Arabia, U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals kick off, and more.

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

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. I’ve been staying busy up here in Chicago while having fun catching up with friends from my time working at Walt Disney World. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Angharad James Called Up for Wales

Orlando Pride midfielder Angharad James has been called up to the Wales Women’s National Team. James has played in six matches for the Pride this season in the NWSL, including their last match against the Portland Thorns this past Sunday.

Wales will play an international friendly on June 28 against New Zealand as it prepares for its 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying matches in September against Greece and Slovenia.

Former Pride Players Discuss the Growth of Women’s Sports

This week marks the 50th anniversary of Title IX and many women are sharing their stories about the growth of sports among women and girls at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. Former Orlando Pride and San Diego Wave player Alex Morgan shared some insight about her experience when she felt the sport was being ignored by newspapers, magazines, and television and how she found a way around the lack of coverage by using social media.

“I don’t have the salary of a Ronaldo or Messi,” says Morgan, now with San Diego Wave of the NWSL. “I think females have been able to use their platforms to gain more financial viability.”

Another former Pride player, Ali Krieger, also shared how she tracks engagement on social media and how talking to fans has helped her identify posts that resonate the most by connecting with her personal life. Despite fears of pushback, social media has given women the opportunity to build their brand, get sponsorships, and create new ways to connect with their followers. The article is a good read that I highly recommend you check out.

Sacramento Republic FC Stuns the LA Galaxy

Orlando City SC will have to wait a week for its U.S. Open Cup match-up against Nashville SC, but the quarterfinals kicked off last night on the west coast. The LA Galaxy and Sacramento Republic FC squared off, with Sacramento scoring within the first few minutes for an early lead. An own goal from former Lion Conor Donovan leveled things in the first half, but Luis Felipe scored the winner from distance to “cupset” the Galaxy and launch Sacramento into the semifinals.

Today, we have two more Open Cup quarterfinal match-ups. The Hudson River derby will take place at 7 p.m. as the New York Red Bulls host New York City FC and then Sporting Kansas City will take on Union Omaha at 7:30 p.m. You can watch all the action on ESPN+.

USMNT’s Opponents for September Friendlies Revealed

The United States Men’s National Team announced which teams it will play in its last international friendlies before the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar begins in November. The USMNT will face fellow World Cup participants Japan and Saudi Arabia in Europe in September. The Americans will play Japan on Sept. 23, with the location for that match still to be determined. The last time the U.S. played Japan in an international friendly was back on Feb. 10, 2006 in San Francisco when the Yanks won 3-2. On Sept. 27, the USMNT will play Saudi Arabia at the Estadio Nueva Condomina in Murcia, Spain. This will be the seventh meeting between these two sides. USMNT Head Coach Greg Berhalter gave his perspective on these upcoming friendlies with the World Cup less than five months away.

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to measure ourselves against fellow World Cup participants,” USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter said. “Together with the two games in June against Morocco and Uruguay, we will have experienced a great diversity of styles and quality opponents to help us prepare for what lies ahead at the World Cup in November.”

Free Kicks

That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Wednesday and I’ll see you next time.