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Lion Links: 9/3/22

OCB loses at New England, USWNT to face Nigeria, a former Pride player joins the Central Florida Crusaders, and more.

NWSL: OL Reign at Orlando Pride Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Saturday, Mane Landers! It is a quiet weekend on the Orlando front as both Orlando City and Orlando Pride are off. The Young Lions of OCB battled last night (more on that below). Before we get to the news of the day, let’s wish Orlando Pride defender Megan Montefusco a happy 30th birthday! Now scroll on down and check out today’s links.

OCB Eliminated From Playoff Contention with New England Loss

Orlando City B needed at least two points Friday night to stay alive for a spot in the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs. Unfortunately, the Young Lions fell 2-0 to New England Revolution II. Malcolm Fry and Italo scored the goals for the hosts on either side of halftime. Orlando City B still has two matches remaining and while they will not be playing for playoff contention, it still leaves an opportunity for the club to garner minutes for the up and coming players.

While the season did not go as they hoped, there were some shining moments from players like Jack Lynn and Favian Loyola. We look forward to the future they hold with the club.

USWNT vs. Nigeria Friendly Series Preview

Following a successful qualifying campaign for both the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2024 Summer Olympics at the 2022 Concacaf W Championship this summer in Monterrey, Mexico, the USWNT returns to the field today against Nigeria. The match is set to be played at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City at 1:30 p.m. After the conclusion of the first leg, the two teams will move to Washington, D.C. and Audi Field for a second meeting on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

This will be the seventh match-up between the nations and the second meeting in two years. The most recent time the two sides met was on June 16, 2021, in Austin, TX, as the teams played in the first-ever soccer match at Austin’s FC’s spectacular Q2 Stadium. The USWNT has a perfect record against African opposition, defeating Nigeria six times in six meetings and South Africa twice in two games. The USWNT has kept clean sheets in each of its last six games against CAF foes.

Tension Builds Around USMNT World Cup Striker Choice

As the USMNT nears closer to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, no debate rings louder than who will be joining the team from the striker pool. Head Coach Gregg Berhalter has acknowledged there will be some “very disappointed” strikers once their September camp roster is announced.

Of the six potential strikers highlighted in the conversation, Brandon Vazquez is the only player without any previous senior international experience. Vazquez, however, is showing great form for FC Cincinnati with 16 goals and four assists this season, as he makes a name for himself and a case for a call-up. Ricardo Pepi and Jesus Ferreira were both crucial during Concacaf qualifying, as were Jordan Pefok and Josh Sargent to varying degrees. Hadji Wright made a late push following his form in Turkey’s Super Lig.

Berhalter has not yet given a clear answer as to which striker is in prime position to lead the attack at the World Cup. We should have our answer soon enough though as he made it clear all six will not be joining the camp in September.

Bridget Callahan Joins Central Florida Crusaders

The Central Florida Crusaders have announced the signing of former Orlando Pride and UCF Women’s Soccer player Bridgett Callahan. She becomes the second women’s player signed to the team for its inaugural campaign in the NISL.

“Bridget is an energetic and passionate player,” GM and Head Coach Tom Traxler said, “She’s very technical, skillful and her personality matches her playing style. She has an infectious personality that is sure to resonate throughout the team.”

The Florida native from Hollywood was a four-year starter for the UCF women’s soccer program from 2014-2018. Callahan played 75 matches for the Knights, netting nine goals and assisting on an additional two. In 2018, she joined the Orlando Pride and appeared in nine matches over the course of a season and a half.

Free Kicks

That’s all I have for you for, Mane Landers. I hope you take the weekend off to relax and grab some new swag to sport for the U.S. Open Cup final. I can’t wait to jump alongside you all next Wednesday and keep the stadium rocking. Vamos Orlando!