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Lion Links: 3/2/23

Orlando Pride sign Messiah Bright, Lions fall in MLS power rankings, Grimsby Town reaches FA Cup quarterfinals, and more.

Image courtesy of Orlando Pride/Mark Thor

How’s it going, Mane Landers? Be sure to check out The Mane Land’s status update, if you haven’t already. Personally, it’s been an absolute pleasure to be part of this community for over six years and I’m looking forward to the next stage of its growth. Now, let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world!

Orlando Pride Sign Messiah Bright

The Orlando Pride have signed forward Messiah Bright to a three-year contract after selecting her in the second round of the 2023 NWSL Draft. The TCU product has done well for the Pride this preseason, assisting on Julie Doyle’s early goal in the team’s 2-0 win against the Kansas City Current at Exploria Stadium. Bright possesses both speed and power, allowing her to hold up play when needed and quickly get past defenders. I’m excited to see how she benefits from an offense that will also include Marta, Haley Bugeja, and Adriana.

MLS Power Rankings Unveiled

The latest MLS power rankings were released following a first round of matches that included no draws. Orlando City fell one spot to seventh after winning 1-0 at home against the New York Red Bulls. With so much change this off-season, it was always going to take some time for the Lions to jell with one another and the Red Bulls’ press is tough to deal with. We’ll see how Orlando does this Saturday against FC Cincinnati, which stayed in fourth in the rankings. The New England Revolution, Inter Miami, and St. Louis City all rose in the rankings. The Philadelphia Union remained at the top, while the Chicago Fire fell to the bottom despite not playing.

Lions Highlighted After Showing Their Skills

Orlando’s offense may not have been on fire in the season opener, but there were still some promising moments of skill from the Lions. Forwards Facundo Torres and Ramiro Enrique were both included in a compilation of fancy footwork from this past weekend. Both did well beating defenders and getting the supporters on their feet at Exploria Stadium. Enrique putting John Tolkin on skates is worth watching over and over again.

Orlando goalkeeper Pedro Gallese’s great save in the 85th minute to deny Cristian Casseres Jr. was recognized as one of the top saves of the matchday. El Pulpo was a major reason why the Lions won and he’s proven himself as one of the top goalkeepers in the league.

FA Cup Quarterfinals Are Set

English Football League Two side Grimsby Town secured a spot in the FA Cup quarterfinals for the first time since 1939 after beating Southampton 2-1 on the road. Gavan Holohan scored from the penalty spot twice and the defense held on for the upset. This is just the 13th time a team from the fourth division or lower has made the quarterfinals since 1959. The top two teams in the EFL Championship also advanced, as Sheffield United beat Tottenham 1-0 and Burnley scored a late winner to sink Fleetwood Town. Manchester United mounted a comeback at home against West Ham to win 3-1, with 18-year-old winger Alejandro Garnacho giving United the lead with a nice goal in the 90th minute.

In the quarterfinals, Grimsby Town will travel to face Brighton & Hove Albion and Sheffield will take on Blackburn Rovers. A Manchester derby was avoided as United will host Fulham while City plays against Vincent Kompany’s Burnley side. All matches will take place on March 18 at 11 a.m.

Free Kicks

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