Lion Links

Lion Links: 7/15/18



Happy World Cup final Sunday, Mane Landers! Cherish these hours, because we won’t have the opportunity to experience the greatest sporting final on the globe for another 1,460 days; that’s 35,040 hours, 2,102,400 minutes, or 126,144,000 seconds respectively. If that isn’t a bit deflating, I don’t know what is.

Yesterday’s third-place match didn’t disappoint, with Belgium’s golden generation triumphing over England, 2-0. As I’ve mentioned previously, this has been the greatest World Cup I’ve ever witnessed, and I’m entirely sure that it has nothing to do with recency bias. I have a feeling that today’s final will live up to the rest of what has been a simply chaotic yet inspiring tournament.

With that said, here’s your Sunday helping of Lion Links. Eat up!

Orlando City Halts Skid with 2-0 Win vs. Toronto FC

Earl Edwards Jr. was named as the man in between the sticks for this home match against a struggling Toronto side, and he sure did give Head Coach James O’Connor something to think about in terms of who his true No. 1 will be going forward. Chris Shuler, of all players, opened the scoring on the night by heading home a deflected Dom Dwyer strike. Dwyer added another of his own just after the break off of a fine strike from just outside the box, beating Toronto FC’s and the USMNT’s young starting goalkeeper, Alex Bono. The Lions held on from there, winning 2-1 and adding much-needed points. Oh, and that godforsaken nine-match losing streak is over. Thank baby Jesus.

Check back later today for our player grades and Man of the Match from Michael Citro and a photo gallery from Deon Cooper.

Orlando Pride Fight Back to Beat Utah Royals

In the final match of the recent road stint for the Orlando Pride, it was the Utah Royals that found the back of the net first, and early, as Amy Rodriguez put the Royals up 1-0 in just the seventh minute with a nicely chipped volley from some good buildup play. Alex Morgan notched one to tie up the match just before the halftime whistle, with a spot kick. Kristen Edmonds scored from an excellent chip in the second half. From there, the Pride seized momentum and grinded out a gritty and much-needed 2-1 win — one that included seven minutes of heart-pounding stoppage time. Three points in the bag, and the women in purple (well, white yesterday) are still in the hunt for a playoff position.

Belgium’s Golden Generation Downs England for Bronze, 2-0

As I mentioned in the introduction, Belgium completed its best run in a World Cup yesterday by beating Gareth Southgate’s young England squad, 2-0, and securing the third-place honors and bronze medals. The match seemed like it could be split wide open after a fourth-minute Thomas Meunier volley from a beautiful cross by Nacer Chadli. It didn’t break wide open though, and instead turned into a standoff of playing styles. The Belgians were clearly ready to absorb England’s attacks and opted to strike on the counter attack — a tactic that proved to be the undoing of the Three Lions. An 82nd-minute strike from Belgian talisman and captain Eden Hazard (more on him later) sealed the deal, and England, despite controlling possession for the majority of the match and impressing during this exciting tournament, go home empty-handed.

Timothy Chandler Wants to Play for His Country Again

Tabbed as one of former USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s dual-national recruits, right back Timothy Chandler, who plays for Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga, is prepared to don the Stars & Stripes again in the future should the opportunity arise. Chandler hasn’t been called up since Klinsmann’s firing, and age 28, he knows his World Cup opportunities are slowly dwindling.

“When they call me up for the national team, I’m there,” he said. “Of course I miss it. … I see all the players go to their national teams, and I want to fly to the States and play for my country. But the coach decides who plays, and I just wait for him to call me.”

Chandler has enjoyed a spectacular season with Frankfurt, which won the German Cup — the club’s first lifting of major silverware in 20 years. He’s also encouraged by the influx of American talent within the ranks of Bundesliga clubs, and views the moves as valuable experience for these young, developing players.

“It’s good for them to come over to Germany, to Europe, to try something different than the States,” he said. “When you go there, you have to live there for some months and get everything better [adjusting off the field], but it’s good to go there, play there, have some time in Europe, learn a lot, and then maybe they can come back to America and finish their careers.”

Free Kicks

  • Congratulations to Orlando Pride defender Ali Krieger for making it to 100 NWLS appearances!
  • It’s a small world, folks.
  • Former Orlando Pride No. 10 Lianne Sanderson has made her move to Juventus official. Congratulations, Lianne!
  • Ever wonder why some clubs use race car seats as their bench? Here’s why.
  • I have no words for this one. Actually, I do. This seems wrong. This seems like a way to get one of your players intentionally injured. That said, I once played on a Sunday League team that won a match 15-0, and we stopped trying to score after the second goal (you can only hold 99% of possession for so long before you have to do something in the final third). I don’t know how I feel about either of the two results, to be honest.

That about wraps it up for me today, folks. Enjoy what is destined to be an exhilarating World Cup final in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium between Croatia and the heavily-favored French side. I’ve been trumpeting France as the winners since our Bearded Guy wrote up The Mane Land’s World Cup predictions.

“I see France taking home the cup. They’re loaded in every single position with world-class talent, and they’ve under-performed for some time now. I think this is the summer they finally put it all together and can forget Zizou’s red card in the 2006 final. As for who I’m rooting for, that’ll be Argentina, Brazil, and Portugal. I’d like to see Neymar, Messi, or Ronaldo lift the cup, and time is running low on the latter two. Quite frankly, I just want consistent quality football.”

I’d be more than happy with a Croatian triumph though, too. If I’m right, hooray! If I’m wrong, hooray!

Have a great week, Mane Landers. And good luck managing your impending World Cup hangover.


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