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Lion Links: 2/20/23

Orlando City loses to the New England Revolution, the Orlando Pride defeat NJ/NY Gotham FC, USWNT beats Japan, Neymar injures ankle, and more.

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2023 SheBelieves Cup - Japan v United States Photo by Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers! The wait is over, and the first match week of the season is upon us. We also have another Pride preseason match, and some SheBelieves Cup games this week. This Saturday will be an opportunity to fill Exploria Stadium for Orlando City’s season to begin. Are you going to make the season opener? Until then, let’s get to the links.

Preseason Results for the Lions and the Pride

Orlando City played its final preseason match Saturday night against the New England Revolution at Exploria Stadium. Unfortunately, the Lions lost the match 2-1, giving up two second-half goals to the visitors. Ivan Angulo was Orlando City’s goal scorer, putting in the rebound off of Michael Halliday’s initial shot. The Lions created more chances than their opponents (22-12), but were unable to convert on more of their 10 shots on target. The Lions also wore “The Wall Kit,” which pays homage to the fans, especially those in the safe-standing area of Exploria Stadium. Orlando City’s next match is the season opener against the New York Red Bulls this Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

The Orlando Pride played their first preseason match on Saturday at IMG Academy in Bradenton. The Pride defeated NJ/NY Gotham FC 2-0 on goals from Erika Tymrak and Julie Doyle. Unlike the Lions, the Pride were able to hold onto their lead and secure the shutout. The Pride’s next preseason match is open to the public this Thursday against the Kansas City Current at 6:30 p.m. at Exploria Stadium.

MLS Previews Each Club’s 2023 Season

The contributors at compiled season previews for every club and there are some differing predictions on where Orlando City will finish in the Eastern Conference. Former Lion Sacha Kljestan believes the Lions will finish second, while others think Orlando will miss the playoffs entirely. There has been plenty of change in the roster from 2022, which could explain the wide range of predictions. The roster changes are generally agreed to be a positive for the club, but only time will tell if that translates to wins this season.

USWNT Defeats Japan in Nashville

The USWNT won its second match in the SheBelieves Cup, beating Japan 1-0 at Geodis Park in Nashville. Japan is a well-organized opponent that pressed well, which proved to be a challenge for the Yanks. Fortunately, Mallory Swanson kept up her torrid scoring pace, giving the U.S. the lead right before halftime. A few saves by North Carolina Courage goalkeeper Casey Murphy and some desperate defending helped the U.S. win its second game of the tournament. The U.S. will close out the tournament on Wednesday against Brazil, which fell 2-0 to Canada. The U.S. will win the tournament title with a draw or better.

Neymar Injures Ankle in Paris Saint-Germain’s Win

Paris Saint-Germain won 4-3 over Lille OSC, but the French club was dealt a big blow in the match when Neymar was stretchered off the pitch with an ankle injury. He scored PSG’s second goal of the match, but landed awkwardly after contact with Lille’s Benjamin Andre later in the match. The Brazilian forward underwent an MRI scan, which showed he suffered a sprain and not a fracture. This is the same ankle that sidelined him for part of the 2022 World Cup and he will undergo more tests. PSG has tough matches ahead of it, including a league game with Marseille on Sunday and a Champions League match against Bayern Munich on March 8.

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That will do it for today. Have a great week, and vamos Orlando!