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Lion Links: 6/24/22

Orlando City takes on FC Cincinnati tonight, OCB’s season so far, USWNT prepares for Colombia, and more.

MLS: Houston Dynamo FC at Orlando City SC Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Not only is it Friday, but it’s also an Orlando City game day! It should be a nice start to a weekend filled with soccer all over the country. The Lions will be in Ohio, so you’ll get to watch the game from your favorite sports bar or your favorite recliner. Let’s start this Friday off on the right foot with today’s links!

Orlando City Takes on FC Cincinnati Tonight

The Lions are back on the road tonight for a match against FC Cincinnati at 7:30 p.m. The Lions are coming off of a 2-1 win against the Houston Dynamo last weekend and Head Coach Oscar Pareja spoke about the importance of consistent results.

“After the good victory against Houston, we are getting ready to go off to Cincinnati,” said Head Coach Oscar Pareja. “A team that we have already played here at home and it was a good performance, but not a good result. This gives us the opportunity to get those points that we left in our home stadium. We recognize that Cincinnati has been improving a lot in the last two years. It will be a good match for sure, a conference match. It’s important to keep getting points and important to keep being consistent with winning. That is our responsibility and we are very aware of that.”

This is Orlando’s third visit to TQL Stadium after a 1-1 draw and a 1-0 win there last season. While injuries and suspensions have tested Orlando’s center back depth, left back Joao Moutinho has held things down defensively. The 24-year-old has started every MLS game for Orlando so far and leads the league with 34 tackles. On offense, Mauricio Pereyra’s eight assists are tied for the most in MLS and Ercan Kara has scored in five of Orlando’s past seven matches across all competitions.

Breaking Down OCB’s Season So Far

With the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season at its midpoint, we have a clearer picture of each team in the league and their strengths and weaknesses. Orlando City B currently sits near the bottom of the Eastern Conference with 11 points from 11 games. While the Young Lions have done well in penalty shootouts, they’ve been abysmal on the road with no wins in five away matches. Forward Jack Lynn has scored nine goals and has been a bright spot, but he is only one of two players to score multiple goals for OCB this season. The other player with more than one goal this season is Moises Tablante, who has scored twice and also leads the team with four assists. More Young Lions will need to contribute goals this season and the team will have a chance to make an impact on the road tomorrow when it faces FC Cincinnati 2 tomorrow at 1 p.m.

USWNT Faces Colombia Tomorrow Night

The United States Women’s National Team will play against Colombia tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. in Commerce City, CO for the first of two friendlies against the South American nation. Colombia is currently ranked 28th in the world and will host the 2022 Copa America Feminina next month. Like the Concacaf Women’s Championship, that tournament will double as CONMEBOL’s qualifying for the 2023 Women’s World Cup. Tomorrow’s match will be the first meeting between the USWNT and Colombia since a pair of friendlies in Orlando in 2021, with the U.S. winning both without conceding. The second friendly will take place on Tuesday in Sandy, UT at 10 p.m.

U.S. Soccer and the NWSL Celebrate Title IX Anniversary

On the 50th anniversary of when Title IX was signed into law, the United States Soccer Federation pledged to continue supporting women and girls so that they have equal access to participate in sports in a safe environment. The pledge also notes a commitment over the next 50 years to ensure equal media coverage for women’s sports and for at least 50% of general manager, head coach, and executive roles across all sports organizations to be held by women. The National Women’s Soccer League is joining forces with the Demand IX campaign and collaborating with other organizations to push for stronger Title IX protections and enforcement. It’s nice to see these organizations not only celebrate the impact Title IX has made over the past 50 years, but to also continue advocating for needed change.

Minnesota United Extends Adrian Heath’s Contract

Adrian Heath was signed to a contract extension by Minnesota United and will be the club’s head coach through the 2024 season. After coaching Orlando City for nearly six years in the USL and in MLS, Heath became Minnesota’s head coach for its inaugural season in 2017. He’s been the only manager for the Loons, helping them make deep runs in both the MLS playoffs and U.S. Open Cup. The Loons currently sit in 11th place in the Western Conference standings, but are just two points from a playoff position. Heath will also serve as the head coach for the MLS All-Stars when they take on the best of Liga MX in Minnesota on Aug. 10.

Free Kicks
  • If Orlando City wins on Wednesday against Nashville SC, it will host the New York Red Bulls. If the Lions reach the final, that will take place in Orlando as well, as determined by a draw.
  • Orlando City placed 10th in ESPN’s MLS “watchability” rankings. Orlando was compared to AS Roma due to its bold color scheme, fun logo, and entertainment factor. I agree on the comparison, except for how different Pareja and Jose Mourinho seem.
  • The 2023 MLS All-Star Game will be hosted by D.C. United. The week-long event has been hosted in the nation’s capital before, but this will be the first time it will take place at Audi Field.
  • Portland Thorns goalkeeper Bella Bixby won NWSL Save of the Week for her save against Meggie Dougherty Howard at point-blank range.

That’s all I have for today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a wonderful Friday and rest of your weekend.