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Lion Links: 9/22/22

Orlando Pride lose to North Carolina, Facundo Torres named USOC Player of the Round, Young Lions impress in Europe, and more.

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

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope you all are doing well as we make our way through the work week. My parents are paying me a visit this weekend, so I’m looking forward to relaxing a bit and enjoying their company. For now, let’s get this Thursday started with some links from around the soccer world.

Orlando Pride Lose Fourth Consecutive Match

The Orlando Pride suffered a 3-0 loss at home to the North Carolina Courage in their penultimate home match of 2022. It was a tough night for the Pride as they conceded early and then again right before halftime. A third goal from the Courage put the nail in the coffin as the Pride were unable to mount a comeback. They had their chances, but the Pride couldn’t find the back of the net and were shut out for the third straight game. A bright spot though was that Maltese forward Haley Bugeja made her Pride debut, coming on as a substitute in the second half. The Pride’s next match will be this Sunday at 7 p.m. against San Diego Wave FC in the final home game of the season.

Facundo Torres Named U.S. Open Cup Player of the Round

With the U.S. Open Cup done and dusted, Orlando City winger Facundo Torres was voted Player of the Round for his performance in the final. Torres scored twice and also assisted on Orlando’s third goal in a 3-0 win over Sacramento Republic FC. That win capped off a stellar tournament by the young Uruguayan. Torres scored the equalizer in extra time against Inter Miami in the round of 16, and then contributed a goal and an assist in the 5-1 semifinal win over the New York Red Bulls. The 22-year-old was brought to Orlando to put trophies in the club’s coffer and has done that. He’ll have an opportunity to add more if the Lions can clinch a spot in the MLS playoffs and in next year’s Concacaf Champions League.

Young Lions Making an International Impact

Orlando City B’s Favian Loyola and Alex Freeman provided a spark off the bench in the U.S. U-19 Men’s National Team’s 5-0 win over Malta in the Slovenia Nations Cup. Both players had assists in the second half before combining on the team’s final goal, with Freeman scoring off of an assist from Loyola. Orlando defender Thomas Williams started in the match as well, helping the team earn a shutout. The team is back in action tomorrow at 1 p.m. against Croatia.

Meanwhile, the U-20 team won 3-1 over Peru in the Revelations Cup in Mexico. It was the team’s first match since winning the Concacaf U-20 Championship earlier this summer. The U.S. will look to keep that winning momentum rolling when it faces Mexico this Saturday.

Tesho Akindele Uses Platform to Address Housing Issues

Orlando City forward Tesho Akindele aims to help Orlando both on and off the field. The Canadian is using his platform as a professional athlete to bring awareness to the affordable housing crisis in the community. Utilizing social media and his connection with Orlando City supporters, Akindele is able to heighten the voices of local advocates who wish to end exclusionary zoning to better provide safe and affordable places to live.

USMNT Plays Japan Tomorrow Morning

The United States Men’s National Team will take on Japan at 8:26 a.m. tomorrow in Germany in a friendly. It is only the third meeting between the two nations and should help them prepare for the World Cup later this year. Of the 30 players Hajime Moriyasu called up for these friendlies, 22 currently play in Europe. Arsenal center back Takehiro Tomiyasu anchors a defense that also includes veteran players Maya Yoshido and Yuto Nagatomo. In the midfield, Takefusa Kubo is in good form with Real Sociedad and could make an impact today. Monaco winger Takumi Minamino does well applying pressure and will be an attacking player to watch, along with Cercle Brugge striker Ayasa Ueda. All in all, Japan should be a tough test for the USMNT. The Americans will be back in action on Tuesday to play Saudi Arabia in Spain.

Central Florida Crusaders Add Another Familiar Face

The signings continue to pour in for the Central Florida Crusaders as they added midfielder Duda Pavão to the team. While you may recognize Pavão for her work as the Orlando Pride’s social media manager, she was also a forward for Stetson University and coaches a youth team, FC Highland. She was Stetson’s captain during her senior year and played over 50 matches for the Hatters during her time there. The National Indoor Soccer League will have both a men’s and women’s division and it should be a fun way to catch some soccer and see some familiar faces during the MLS and NWSL off-seasons.

Free Kicks
  • Mexico Head Coach Tata Martino confirmed that LAFC’s Carlos Vela and the LA Galaxy’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez will not be headed to Qatar for the World Cup.
  • Speaking of the World Cup, take a look at how the other teams in the USMNT’s group are spending the international break. England and Wales both have touch matches in the UEFA Nations League today. Iran will take on Uruguay tomorrow and then Senegal on Tuesday.
  • Here are a few things to keep an eye out for in today’s Nations League action.
  • Eight of the European nations headed to the World Cup requested that FIFA allow their team captains to wear “One Love” armbands, which have a rainbow heart design as a stand against discrimination.
  • The English Premier League agreed to ban supporters for a minimum of a year if they invade the pitch or use smoke bombs or pyrotechnics.
  • We’ll end our links with some pretty cool news. AFC Richmond, the fictional team from Ted Lasso, will be playable in FIFA 23. I haven’t played in a while, but seeing Ted and Coach Beard on the sidelines was pretty great.

That’s all I have for you today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday!