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Lion Links 9/15/22

Orlando City loses to Atlanta United, the NWSL playoff race stays close, Gregg Berhalter names his USMNT roster, and more.

MLS: Atlanta United FC at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

How’s it going, Mane Landers? Last night’s match was disappointing, but today is a new day as we get ready for a busy weekend. The Orlando Pride play tomorrow, then Orlando City plays on Saturday before Orlando City B finishes its season on Sunday. But for now, let’s dive right into today’s links from around the soccer world.

Orlando City Falls to Atlanta United

In their first match at Exploria Stadium since lifting the U.S. Open Cup, the Lions lost 1-0 to Atlanta United. Orlando had its chances but couldn’t finish them as it was shut out for the first time since Aug. 6. After a scoreless first half, Thiago Almada gave the visitors the lead and there weren’t any late game heroics this time around for the Lions. Head Coach Oscar Pareja’s side will have to quickly shift its focus to the team’s next match on Saturday against Toronto FC.

Orlando Pride Face a Tough Road Ahead

With only three weeks left in the NWSL regular season, every remaining game matters for the teams making a push for the playoffs. While NJ/NY Gotham FC and Racing Louisville FC have both been eliminated, no team has clinched a spot in the postseason just yet. The Orlando Pride are currently in ninth place and will need a stellar finish to their season to make the playoffs. A win against Louisville tomorrow night is critical for Orlando to gain three points and build momentum before tough matches against the North Carolina Courage, San Diego Wave, and OL Reign to close out the season. Honestly, considering the adversity the Pride have faced this year, the fact that they are in the hunt at all at this point is an accomplishment of sorts.

Gregg Berhalter Announces USMNT Roster

United States Men’s National Team Head Coach Gregg Berhalter called up 26 players for a pair of friendlies in Europe later this month. Most speculation regarding the USMNT’s roster has focused on which strikers will head to Qatar in a few months and Berhalter called up Jesus Ferreira, Josh Sargent, and Ricardo Pepi for these friendlies. Jordan Pefok and Brandon Vazquez are now on the outside looking in and Berhalter spoke about his decision.

Defenders Tim Ream, Shaq Moore, John Brooks, and James Sands were also not called up. Goalkeeper Zack Steffen was left out as well as he recovers from an injury. These friendlies will be a good opportunity for players such as Joe Scally and Malik Tillman to make an impact. The USMNT will first play Japan in Germany on Sept. 23 before heading to Spain to take on Saudi Arabia on Sept. 27.

Haaland Scores Stunner in Champions League Group Stage

Erling Haaland stole the show in the UEFA Champions League. The Norwegian scored an incredible winner against his former club in Manchester City’s 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund 2-1.

Giovanni Reyna started for Dortmund in that match and was one of many Americans to play in the Champions League on Wednesday. Sergino Dest came on in the second half for AC Milan to help the Italian club secure a 3-1 win over Dinamo Zagreb. Christian Pulisic came off the bench late in Chelsea’s match against RB Salzburg but couldn’t break the 1-1 deadlock. Weston McKennie started in Juventus’s 2-1 loss to Benfica as the Italian club still hunts for its first win of the tournament. American goalkeeper Josh Cohen came up with three saves for Maccabi Haifa in a 3-1 loss to Paris Saint-Germain that was much closer than the score indicates. It was the first time Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, and Neymar all scored in the same Champions League match.

Free Kicks

That’s all I have for you for now. You should treat yourself to something nice today, even if it’s just something small. The weekends get all of the love, have something special on a Thursday for once.