Lion Links

Lion Links: 2/23/22



Hello, Mane Landers! We’re only a few more days away from kickoff at Exploria Stadium this Sunday with Orlando City hosting CF Montreal and I can’t wait! Let’s also wish a happy birthday to Orlando City goalkeeper Pedro Gallese. There’s plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Assessing Orlando’s Midfielders and Forwards

As the Lions prepare for Sunday’s match against Montreal, broadcaster Evan Weston shared his insights on the team’s midfielders. César Araújo is the new face among Orlando’s midfielders after joining the Lions this off-season through the U22 Initiative. The Uruguayan joins Sebas Méndez and Joey DeZart as the team’s defensive midfielders this season. Junior Urso and Andres Perea provide versatility as the team’s box-to-box midfielders and Mauricio Pereyra will serve as the team’s maestro pulling the strings on offense. Pereyra needs four more assists to pass former Lion Nani for the all-time club record.

He will have talented attacking players at his disposal this year, despite the departures of Nani, Daryl Dike, and Chris Mueller this off-season. The front office was able to bring winger Facundo Torres from Peñarol in Uruguay to Orlando as a Young Designated Player. The club also added striker Ercan Kara from Austrian club Rapid Vienna as a Designated Player to give the team some firepower up front. Alexandre Pato returns this year after missing a majority of last season due to injury and could take Orlando’s offense to the next level. Tesho Akindele, Silvester van der Water, Benji Michel, and Wilfredo Rivera are all back in purple this year and are joined by rookie Jack Lynn.

Previewing the Orlando Pride’s Upcoming Season

The Orlando Pride will look much different when they take the field in 2022 compared to last season. Veterans Alex Morgan, Ashlyn Harris, and Ali Krieger were all traded away from the team this off-season, along with other notable players such as Ali Riley, Taylor Kornieck, and Emily van Egmond. The Pride are in the midst of a rebuild, with new head coach Amanda Cromwell at the helm. Defender Megan Montefusco will bring some stability and leadership to a back line that will be without two of its starters from last season as well as Phoebe McClernon, who logged a lot of minutes before departing in the off-season.

On offense, Sydney Leroux and Marta return and are joined by young players such as Viviana Villacorta, Mikayla Cluff, and Julie Doyle. Forward Darian Jenkins could also make an impact for the Pride this year as she reunites with Cromwell after Orlando traded for her this off-season. The Pride’s first match of 2022 will be on March 9 against the Washington Spirit in their first match of the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup.

USWNT and U.S. Soccer Settle Equal Pay Lawsuit

The United States Women’s National Team and the U.S. Soccer Federation released a joint statement as both parties have reached an agreement to settle the equal pay lawsuit for $24 million.

As part of the settlement, the players will receive a lump sum payment of $22 million, with an additional $2 million paid to benefit the players in their post-career goals and charitable efforts related to girl’s and women’s soccer. The U.S. Soccer Federation has also committed to providing an equal rate of pay going forward for both the women’s and men’s national teams in all friendlies and tournaments, including the World Cup. The settlement is contingent on a new collective bargaining agreement being ratified by the USWNT players.

Americans in Action in the UEFA Champions League

United States Men’s National Team forward Christian Pulisic scored in the 63rd minute for Chelsea as the English club defeated Lille 2-0 in the UEFA Champions League. In case you missed it, here’s another look at Pulisic’s goal.

In the other Champions League match-up, Juventus got off to a strong start with Dusan Vlahovic scoring the quickest Champions League goal by a debutant starter. Dani Parejo equalized for Villarreal in the 66th minute and the game finished 1-1. Unfortunately in the 80th minute, Juventus and USMNT midfielder Weston McKennie took a hard challenge from Villarreal’s Pervis Estupinan that forced him to leave the match. The 23-year-old reportedly broke his left foot and will be sidelined for at least eight weeks.

In today’s matches, Atletico Madrid will host Manchester United while Benfica and Ajax square off in Lisbon.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando Pride midfielder Chelsee Washington scored her third goal in four games while on loan with Canberra United in Australia.
  • The first MLS power rankings of 2022 were released, with the Lions starting the season in 12th.
  • Orlando City had one of the most compelling off-seasons in MLS according to’s Tom Bogert.
  • Orlando City Development Academy goalkeeper Zackory Campagnolo was called up to the U.S. U-15 Men’s Youth National Team’s training camp this week.
  • Here are five things you need to know about Iceland ahead of the USWNT’s match tonight at 9 p.m. in the SheBelieves Cup.
  • Atlanta United officially signed former Lion Dom Dwyer to a two-year deal.

That will do it for me, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Wednesday and I’ll see you next time.


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