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Lion Links: 2/6/23

The Orlando Pride are off and running, the Central Florida Crusaders season begins, Americans abroad, and more.

NWSL: Orlando Pride at Racing Louisville FC EM Dash-USA TODAY Sports

Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers. Here we are in February, getting ever so closer to the season starting, and the winds of change here at The Mane Land are blowing. With new teams in town and preseasons underway, things are finally happening. I hope you enjoyed the weekend, because there will be more soccer as the week begins. Let’s get to the links.

The Pride Get Up to Speed

The Orlando Pride preseason is well underway and Head Coach Seb Hines has his players running — a lot. Hines wants to ensure that his players will have the cardio necessary to outlast opponents in the hot Florida weather. If you are familiar with the beep test, you’ll know that they are not messing around with the conditioning. The team did some drills with the ball as well. Getting the players at the right fitness level is important with a long NWSL season ahead of the Pride.

Toni Pressley’s Memorable Moments in Orlando

Defender Toni Pressley won’t be playing for the Pride this season and the club took a trip down memory lane with a look at her time with the team. The last player from the team’s inaugural season in 2016, Pressley has spent the past seven seasons with the Pride. Most of her contributions over the years have been on the defensive side of the ball, making important tackles and blocks to deny her opponents. While her curling strike against Kansas City in 2017 is worth watching over and over again, her most memorable moment with the Pride was her return to the field after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019.

Crusaders Kick Off Their Season

The Central Florida Crusaders kicked off their inaugural National Indoor Soccer League season on Sunday. In the women’s match, Yvonne Hayes scored the first goal in Crusaders history to give her team the lead over the Memphis Americans. However, the Crusaders conceded three goals in the third quarter and fell 9-6 to the defending champs. Before the game, the Pride’s Marta and Carrie Lawrence were there for the first kick.

The men’s side mounted a comeback and defeated Memphis 9-8 thanks to a golden goal from Raphael Tobias in overtime. Tobias had three goals and two assists, with Maycon Franca also scoring a hat trick.

Keeping Up With Americans Abroad

I’m not certain if he is simply trying to prove something following the World Cup, but Giovanni Reyna can’t seem to stop scoring when he comes on as a substitute for Borussia Dortmund. His latest goal came in Dortmund’s 5-1 win over SC Freiburg. He’s scored in his past three league appearances and Dortmund is now third in the Bundesliga.

In less good news, Alejandro Zendejas was carted off in Club America’s 2-2 draw with Santos Laguna due to an apparent hamstring injury. The USMNT forward has had a good run of form with Club America, but that will now be put on hold.

Weston McKennie made his English Premier League debut for Leeds United, coming off the bench in a losing effort to Nottingham Forest. Keylor Navas also made his Premier League debut, making big saves for Nottingham in the 1-0 victory. The 36-year-old kept a clean sheet and was recognized for his efforts.

Results Across the English Premier League

Manchester United was able to hold on for a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace. Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford scored for Manchester United, but Casemiro received a red card in the 70th minute. Palace drew one back on a 76th minute goal from Jeffrey Schlupp, but was unable to close the gap.

In what had to be the strangest result of the weekend, Everton defeated Arsenal 1-0. James Tarkowski scored the lone goal of the game in the second half and Everton held on for the win. The Toffees may have gotten a new manager boost as it was the team’s first match under Sean Dyche.

Finally, Harry Kane scored his 200th Premier League goal in Tottenham Hotspur’s 1-0 win over Manchester City. The goal was also his 267th for Tottenham, taking him past club legend Jimmy Greaves.

Free Kicks
  • Former Lion Cyle Larin scored another game-winning goal for Valladolid in La Liga. The Canadian came off the bench and scored the game’s only goal to beat Real Sociedad 1-0.
  • In case you missed it, the Seattle Sounders fell 1-0 to Egyptian club Al Ahly in the Club World Cup. Al Ahly will take on Real Madrid on Wednesday in the semifinals.
  • According to OL Reign Head Coach Laura Harvey, USWNT forward Megan Rapinoe is training without any restrictions following her recovery from an ankle injury. That means she will make the SheBelieves Cup later this month, with the U.S. taking on Canada at Exploria Stadium on Feb. 16.
  • Manchester City is reportedly interested in the USMNT’s Antonee Robinson, but Fulham’s price tag for the left back may be too high for the Sky Blues.

Have a great week. Vamos Orlando!