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Lion Links: 4/6/21



Happy Tuesday, everybody! We’re a few days away from the Orlando Pride’s first game of 2021, and Orlando City will be hot on their heels, so life is good. There’s plenty to discuss today so let’s jump right in.

Lions Make Raul Aguilera Club’s 10th Homegrown Signing

Orlando City announced the signing of Raul Aguilera as a Homegrown Player on Monday. The 21 year-old becomes Orlando’s 10th Homegrown signing, and the second this year, after Wilfredo Rivera signed his deal a couple of weeks ago. Aguilera signed a one-year deal with options for the 2022-2024 seasons. The youngster played his collegiate soccer at the University of North Carolina, and appeared for Orlando City B in USL League One play last year. Rivera likely won’t log too many minutes this year, but he’ll have an opportunity to learn from the best, and its always good to see local youngsters be brought into the senior team.

Leroux Reveals Her Families Recent COVID Struggles

Sydney Leroux shared that her children had, and have subsequently recovered from contracting COVID-19.

Leroux said she woke up several weeks ago to the sound of Cassius screaming from his room. When she held him, she said her son felt like he was “burning from the inside out.”

Cassius tested positive for COVID-19 the following morning. Roux tested positive three days later. Leroux said both of their symptoms were severe — a high fever, vomiting, exhaustion and “an awful cough.”

Leroux took several weeks off training with the Pride to care for both children alongside her husband, former Orlando City striker Dom Dwyer. She returned to training Monday and will be back with the team this week ahead of the Pride’s first match of the Challenge Cup against Louisville on Monday.

Leroux, who said on Instagram that she stayed healthy throughout the recent ordeal, urged people to continue to take the pandemic seriously and to get vaccinated.

Pride Announce Roster for NWSL Challenge Cup

The Orlando Pride have announced the team’s updated roster ahead of beginning play in the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup. With the team playing its first game of the year in the tournament on Saturday at Racing Louisville, the time was ripe to finalize who will be able to take part. Truthfully there aren’t really any surprises on the roster, with all of the usual suspects present and accounted for. A notable addition is that the team has signed goalkeeper Gabby English as a National Team Replacement player. A Winter Park native who played collegiately at Mississippi State, English had been training with the Pride the last several weeks. Her presence was deemed necessary when Erin McLeod was called up for national team duty with Canada. Other than that, the roster contains who you would expect, with Marta, Alex Morgan, Sydney Leroux, Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris being the names that jump off the page.

MLS, NWSL, USL Implement Concussion Subs

The U.S. Soccer Federation announced Monday that all professional leagues in the United States will take part in FIFA’s pilot program for concussion substitutes during the 2021 season. The National Women’s Soccer League, Major League Soccer, and the United Soccer Leagues all announced they will take part in the program. The initiative allows up to two substitutions per match to replace players either diagnosed with, or suspected of having suffered, a concussion — no matter how many substitutes have already been used. MLS will continue to allow the use five “normal substitutions” to be made no more than three times during a match, with up to two additional “concussion substitutions” not counting against those numbers. I cannot stress enough how big of a deal this is, and how wonderful it is to see head injuries being taken seriously within the context of the laws of the game.

Dike Continues Hot Streak

Daryl Dike continued his absolutely torrid run of form, scoring both goals in Barnsley FC’s 2-1 victory over Luton Town yesterday. His first tally displayed all of the big youngster’s best qualities — hard running, physical play, and a knack for finishing.

His second was a much more predatory “fox-in-the-box” type finish as he got on the end of a rebound and put it into the back of the net. Dike actually had a chance to complete his hat trick from the penalty spot late in the game, but his shot wasn’t the best and was saved. Regardless, it was another strong showing from the Lion-on-loan and he now has seven goals in 13 games while leading Barnsley on a charge for the playoff promotion places.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando Pride and Orlando City players received their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. This would put them in line for a second shot early in a week with no midweek games, minimizing the impact that some have experienced after getting their second dose.
  • Chris Mueller made a good point about what seems to happen whenever Benji Michel scores.
  • I assume most, if not all of you reading this are Orlando City fans, which makes this flowchart useless, but I found it amusing regardless.
  • UNC has the highest number of alumni on NWSL rosters.

That’ll do it for me today. Y’all stay safe out there.


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