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Lion Links: 7/27/22

Orlando City takes on the New York Red Bulls tonight, SAI Academy supports Orlando’s student-athletes, Erin McLeod nominated for Ally Award, and more.

MLS: Philadelphia Union at Orlando City SC Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. I’ve been busy working and catching up with friends this past weekend at a Chicago Cubs game. I’m sure you are all excited about tonight’s U.S. Open Cup semifinal match-up. Before we get to today’s links, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride midfielder Meggie Dougherty Howard!

Orlando City Takes on the New York Red Bulls Tonight

The Lions will have their U.S. Open Cup semifinal match tonight against the New York Red Bulls at Exploria Stadium. The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m., and you can watch it on ESPN+. This is the second consecutive time the Lions made it this deep into the U.S. Open Cup after also reaching the semifinals in 2019. The Lions will look to clinch a spot in the final for the first time and would get to host it if that happens. Orlando lost 1-0 this past weekend at home to the Philadelphia Union, while the Red Bulls held on to defeat Austin FC, 4-3. The Lions have had six players score during their Open Cup run, with Alexandre Pato, Júnior Urso, Ercan Kara, Andrés Perea, Facundo Torres, and Rodrigo Schlegel all finding the back of the net. The Lions have hosted all their matches in this tournament and hopefully that home-field advantage brings them an edge tonight.

OCSC’s SAI Academy Partnership Impacts Academy

Orlando City’s two-year partnership with SAI Academy continued through this past school year to help academy players gain access to NCAA eligibility consideration and prepare for college. These student-athletes averaged a 3.73 GPA, with 41% of them finishing with at least a 4.0 GPA. Orlando City Technical Director and Assistant General Manager Ricardo Moreira gave some insights on how this partnership has benefited Orlando City Academy.

“We are very grateful for this partnership with SAI Academy to ensure that our players are developing both on the field and in the classroom,” Orlando City Technical Director and Assistant GM Ricardo Moreira said. “At the club, we are focused on developing great human beings, not just great soccer players, and our partnership with SAI is instrumental in helping us achieve this.”

Erin McLeod Nominated for Ally Award

Ally, the first partner for the National Women’s Soccer League Players Association, announced the nominees for the inaugural Ally Award. This award will go to the best teammate in the league, recognizing leadership, character, and the ability to support rookies and veterans alike. Each NWSL club has a player nominated for the award and Pride goalkeeper Erin McLeod was chosen from Orlando. Former Pride defender Ali Riley will represent Angel City FC, and former Pride forward Jodie Taylor was nominated from San Diego Wave FC. There are monetary prizes for the top three finishers, with the winner taking home $10,000. The NWSLPA will vote on the winner in September before the postseason, with the winner and finalists announced ahead of the NWSL Championship match in October.

England Dominates Sweden to Advance to Final

The Lionesses overcame a slow start as they cruised past Sweden 4-0 to advance to the 2022 UEFA Women’s Euro final. Beth Mead and Lucy Bronze scored in the first half of the match. In the second half, Alessia Russo scored an amazing backheel goal that you just have to see to believe as she put England ahead 3-0. Just in case you missed it, here is the video below.

Fran Kirby added one more to put this match away as England shut out Sweden. England will now have a chance to win a major trophy on home soil at Wembley Stadium this Sunday. Today’s semifinal match will see Germany take on France at 3 p.m.

Free Kicks
  • No surprise here, but it’s official now that Orlando City’s recent signing, Nicholas Gioacchini, is eligible to make his debut in tonight’s U.S. Open Cup match.

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