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Lion Links: 2/2/23

Orlando City wins first 2023 preseason game, Orlando Pride trade Courtney Petersen, Haley Carter’s mission, and more.

NWSL: Chicago Red Stars at Orlando Pride Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope February has been treating you well so far. It’s going to be a fairly busy month for me as I prepare to attend two weddings in a few weeks. Thankfully, there is plenty of soccer in store for us this month. Before we dive into today’s links, let’s all wish happy birthdays to Orlando Pride midfielder Viviana Villacorta and Orlando City B defender Owen Van Marter!

Lions Win First Preseason Game of 2023

Orlando City played against Minnesota United in its first scrimmage of the preseason and won 2-0. All three of Orlando’s Designated Players started in this one to lead the offense. Center backs Antonio Carlos and Robin Jansson did not play and Rodrigo Schlegel anchored a patchwork defense that still secured a shutout.

Ercan Kara, who led the Lions in goals last season, scored Orlando’s first goal of the preseason with an early strike. In the second half, Orlando’s newest Lion got on the scoresheet as well. Icelandic midfielder Dagur Dan Thorhallsson came on as a substitute and scored a nice goal from range to double Orlando’s lead.

Courtney Petersen Traded to the Houston Dash

The Orlando Pride traded left back Courtney Petersen and a third-round pick to the Houston Dash in exchange for $65,000 in Allocation Money, with another $25,000 going to the Pride if certain conditions are met. Petersen had been with the Pride for the past three years, but did not receive much playing time once Head Coach Seb Hines took the reins. She was not under contract following the 2022 season and now gets a fresh start with the Dash. It’s a decent outcome for all parties and Petersen bid farewell to the City Beautiful.

Haley Carter Aims to Change the Pride and NWSL

Orlando Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter spoke on how she saw the club as a great opportunity for her to take on an active role in advancing women’s soccer.

“It immediately stood out to me and conversations with leadership of the club, ownership group, the board, Mark [Wilf], that they’re really serious about this investment,” Carter said. “For as philanthropic as the Wilf family is … this is not a philanthropic effort. This is not a charitable effort. ... I would not take a position in an organization that I didn’t truly believe means to do the right things and to make a genuine investment in not just in the club, but in the women’s game.”

Carter has spent her first week with the club getting to know the players and staff, including Head Coach Seb Hines. The two are in agreement on wanting to build a hardworking team filled with players who are both tactically sound and physically strong enough to beat opponents in the heat. Calling the club a “sleeping giant,” Carter believes that the Pride have the potential to win NWSL titles.

USWNT Roster Announced for SheBelieves Cup

USWNT Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski called up 23 players for this month’s SheBelieves Cup. If this roster looks familiar, it’s because 22 of the players were also called up for last month’s friendlies in New Zealand. Megan Rapinoe returns to the USWNT and will earn her 200th cap if she takes part in all three matches. Defender Tierna Davidson was called up for the first time since her ACL injury last March, although she will just take part in the USWNT’s training and not the tournament. The USWNT’s first match of the tournament will be against Canada on Feb. 16 at Exploria Stadium. Former Pride forward Alex Morgan will be honored before the match for earning her 200th USWNT appearance last year.

Free Kicks

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week!