Lion Links

Lion Links: 7/16/22



Good morning, Mane Landers. I always find it to feel like a lazy Saturday morning when there is no Orlando soccer to be had. However, we have a jam packed Sunday this weekend. Orlando City will be traveling to Atlanta to try to stop a potent Josef Martinez-led offense at 3 p.m. Later, the Pride will head to Audi Field to take on the Washington Spirit at 5 p.m. Finally, the Young Lions will make their way to the Windy City to face off against Chicago II at 7 p.m.

If that is not enough purple soccer for you in one day, I don’t know what is. So, get all your errands done today, because tomorrow it will be time to kick back and relax and cheer on our clubs. Now, I present to you today’s link!

Orlando City at Atlanta United

In what was once a rivalry fueled mainly by MLS marketing, the matches between Orlando and Atlanta United have since found their own spark as both teams have won their fair share. Early on, Atlanta ruled the rivalry for three years — at one point winning six straight against Orlando City in all competitions. However, the Oscar Pareja era has brought a positive change. Orlando is 3-1-3 against Atlanta under Pareja, only losing its unbeaten mark in the teams’ last match-up, a 3-0 Atlanta win at the Benz on Sept. 10, 2021.

Atlanta’s captain, Martínez, recently took to the media to voice his dissatisfaction with both his teammates and front office following a 3-0 defeat at home to Austin FC. His squad responded with a 2-1 victory over Real Salt Lake on Wednesday night, when he came on from the bench in the 77th minute. It is curious whether Atlanta manager Gonzalo Pineda opted for Ronaldo Cisneros over Martínez to make a statement or just to rest tired legs. Regardless, Orlando should be aware of both now that Cisneros has proven himself as well with a midweek brace .

Orlando will hope that forward Facundo Torres can continue to contribute. Wednesday night, Torres scored his fourth goal of the year, which gives him 10 total goal contributions in MLS play this year when added to his six assists. Among MLS newcomers, only D.C. United’s Taxi Fountas and Toronto FC’s Jesús Jiménez have more goal contributions than Torres.

Pride Set for D.C. Visit

Orlando Pride Interim Head Coach Seb Hines said he was elated with his team’s last performance.

“[Last match is] something to build on. We played really well against Houston, it would have been nice to get a couple more goals. The three points was important for us. We have to build momentum. Get a draw against Louisville and get three points against Houston and then now we are looking to get the three points against Washington.”

This is the second match-up between the two sides during the regular season. You might remember the previous meeting for its stoppage time heroics. The teams played to a 2-2 draw at Exploria Stadium back on May 22 where Mikayla Cluff and Darian Jenkins scored to bring the Pride back and share the points. The equalizer from Jenkins at 97:53 served as the latest NWSL regular-season goal ever recorded.

Pride’s Pressley to be Inducted Into FSU Athletics Hall of Fame

Orlando Pride defender Toni Pressley is set to be inducted into Florida State University’s Athletics Hall of Fame as one of 11 new members on Aug. 26.

Pressley helped anchor a Seminole defense that allowed just 85 goals in 96 games during her four-year career. She also led a back line that recorded 48 shutouts and allowed an average of less than a goal per game over her four-year career. She helped lead FSU to three straight NCAA Elite Eight appearances (2008-10) and capped her career with a trip to the College Cup in 2011.

The former Seminole was named All-ACC twice and was a first-team Soccer America All-American pick in 2010 during her collegiate career. Congratulations to the only remaining original member of the Orlando Pride on this tremendous honor.

USWNT Finds New Style

The upcoming Concacaf W Championship final features the USWNT taking on Canada. It will be a rematch of last year’s Olympic semifinal, in which the Canadians went on to take a gold medal and forced the United States to settle for bronze. Canada will definitely be the toughest and deepest opponent the USWNT has faced all tournament.

Going into this match, many questions have come up regarding Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski’s approach towards attack and pressure. Forward Mallory Pugh brought her point of view following the last match.

“I think pressing is a great opportunity to transition and attack. So, I think if you look at it that way, like defense is offense, I think that’s just part of our identity. We want to create these attacking transition moments to be able to create ad just keep going. We want teams just to feel that pressure, so I think it’s just part of our identity.”

Since Andonovski’s first game in charge in November 2019, the United States press has been more varied than the previous iteration under Jill Ellis which was relentless and high-energy. It demanded significant defensive efforts from its forward line as well as a midfield which was asked to cover large swaths of ground in wide areas. For Andonovski, he wants to pick and choose when to expend energy and effort and win key battles and moments.

“It comes down to reading the moments and when we want to press and when we want to drop off a little bit and allow them to connect a few passes,” Andonovski said about managing the heat.

Hopefully, Andonovski and the USWNT choose the right moments in this match. The USWNT will look to win an unprecedented third straight title and clinch a place in the 2024 Olympics when it takes on Canada Monday night at 10 p.m.

Free Kicks

I hope you get some things checked off on your to-do list today. It would be a shame to not be able to catch at least a game or two or three tomorrow. I am stoked for it. Vamos Orlando!


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