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Lion Links: 8/26/22

Orlando Pride host OL Reign tonight, Orlando City takes on New York City FC on Sunday, NWSL free agency begins, and more.

NWSL: Angel City FC at Orlando Pride Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope you all are ready for a busy weekend filled with plenty of soccer to enjoy. I’ve been holed up indoors due to all of this rain and it doesn’t look like much sunshine is on the horizon. Regardless, it should be nice watching soccer and catching up on some reading. Speaking of reading, enjoy these links from around the soccer world.

Orlando Pride Play Tonight at Home

After two consecutive wins on the road, the Orlando Pride return to Exploria Stadium for a match tonight at 7 p.m. against OL Reign. The Pride are on a seven-game unbeaten streak, and a win tonight would put them in a playoff position. Ally Watt scored in her Pride debut last week and Orlando put up a season-high 17 shots in a 2-1 win against NJ/NY Gotham FC. Pride goalkeeper Erin McLeod came up with six saves in that match and is second in the league with 58 saves this season. OL Reign will be a tough test for the Pride, but a win could turn Orlando into a true dark horse with postseason aspirations.

Orlando City Prepares for New York City FC

The Lions are also returning to Exploria Stadium after a pair of road wins and will take on NYCFC this Sunday at 7:30 p.m. It will be the 21st meeting between the two 2015 expansion clubs and they are even in those past 20 matches, with each side claiming six victories. Since Valentin Castellanos left, NYCFC has only won once in its past five games. However, that win came in its recent road game against the Chicago Fire and snapped a three-game losing streak. Meanwhile, Orlando hasn’t won a league game at home since a late own goal gifted the the Lions a 1-0 result against Inter Miami on July 9. Exploria Stadium will have to become a fortress for the Lions over the next couple of weeks, with the Seattle Sounders coming to town next Wednesday and the U.S. Open Cup final on Sept. 7.

Erika Tymrak Discusses the Pride’s Rebuild

Despite a year that included many departing players, a winless NWSL Challenge Cup campaign, and Head Coach Amanda Cromwell being placed on administrative leave, the Orlando Pride are poised for a playoff push. Forward Erika Tymrak spoke about how Interim Head Coach Seb Hines has created a winning atmosphere despite the adversity.

“He’s been really direct about how he wants us to play, what his expectations are, what his standards are, what our standards should be as players,” Tymrak said of Hines. “As an athlete, I think it’s sometimes tough to live in that gray area where you’re not really sure. The more black and white you can make it, the easier it is to understand, especially for younger players and rookies. Having that clarity and directness and confidence in us and how he wants us to play has been huge.”

NWSL Free Agency Begins

There will be a free agency period in the NWSL and eligible players will be able to start negotiating their 2023 Standard Player Agreements today. Marta is one of the Orlando Pride’s four such eligible players, along with Tymrak, Meggie Dougherty Howard, and Toni Pressley. This free agency was agreed upon during collective bargaining negotiations between the NWSL and the NWSLPA and is an important milestone for the league.

“This is a historic moment for our league and a moment that was ten years in the making,” said NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman. “The NWSL and NWSLPA agreed to introduce free agency earlier this year through collective bargaining. This is a moment to reflect on how far the league has come and to acknowledge the incredible service of our players, investments from our owners, sponsors and broadcast partners, and critically, support from our fans.”

Reunions Headline Champions League Group Stage Draw

The 32 teams taking part in this year’s Champions League learned their opponents for the group stage and there are some intriguing match-ups. FC Barcelona forward Robert Lewandowski will face his former club, Bayern Munich, in a group that also includes Inter Milan and Viktoria Plzen. Borussia Dortmund will have to contend with a familiar face as well, as the German club was grouped up with Erling Haaland’s Manchester City.

There are many Americans to keep an eye out for in this tournament as well. Christian Pulisic and Chelsea were drawn against AC Milan, FC Salzburg, and Dinamo Zagreb in Group E. Weston McKennie’s Juventus is in Group H along with Paris Saint-Germain, Benfica, and American goalkeeper Josh Cohen’s Maccabi Haifa. Malik Tillman and James Sands helped Rangers reach the group stage and they have a tough path ahead in Group A against Liverpool, Ajax, and Napoli.

Free Kicks
  • The United States Men’s National Team roster will be announced on Nov. 9, just 12 days before its opening match against Wales.
  • Italian left back Domenico Criscito won MLS Goal of the Week for his equalizer in Toronto FC’s 2-2 draw with the New England Revolution.

That’s all I have for you for now. Have a wonderful Friday and rest of your weekend!