Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/7/22



Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all of you are doing well and are excited for tonight’s U.S. Open Cup final against Sacramento Republic FC. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Lions Host Sacramento in U.S. Open Cup Final

Orlando City SC will take on Sacramento tonight at a sold-out Exploria Stadium in the 2022 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final. The Lions will aim for its first major trophy since the club moved to MLS in 2015, while the Republic will try to become the first lower-division side to win the cup since the Rochester Rhinos won it back in 1999. Tonight’s match kicks off at 8 p.m., and you can watch the match on ESPN+. What’s also at stake tonight is a spot in the 2023 Concacaf Champions League, which would be a first trip for either team. The road for the Sacramento Republic to get to the final was impressive, defeating three straight MLS opponents, including a dramatic penalty kick shootout win against Sporting Kansas City in the semifinals. The Lions’ path included back-to-back penalty shootout wins against Inter Miami and Nashville SC before a 5-1 win in their semifinal against the New York Red Bulls.

There is some unfortunate news surrounding the final though, as the United States Soccer Federation is looking into an Orlando City staffer allegedly spying on Sacramento’s training and refusing to leave for 30 minutes. ESPN’s Taylor Twellman first reported the news and The Athletic ($) reported on the matter as well.

Sacramento, which plays in the second-division USL Championship, was training in a public park in the Orlando area and spotted an Orlando City employee watching the practice session, sources with knowledge of the incident who were not authorized to speak publicly due to the ongoing investigation told The Athletic. Sacramento staff asked the Orlando City employee to leave and that employee refused to do so for 30-45 minutes, sources said.

Facundo Torres Recognized as a Top Young Player

Orlando City midfielder Facundo Torres was mentioned as one of the top young performers during Weeks 28 and 29 in league play. The Uruguayan winger put on a stellar performance for the Lions last week. Torres came on at halftime in the second half and engineered a comeback for the Lions after they were down 2-0 to the Seattle Sounders at halftime. Torres scored his sixth goal of the season and added an assist on Kyle Smith’s winner to help Orlando take all three points.

USWNT Gets Another Win Against Nigeria

The United States Women’s National Team won 2-1 against Nigeria for its 13th straight victory, although its nine-match shutout streak came to an end. The USWNT got an own goal early in the first half to lead 1-0 going into halftime. In the second half, Uchenna Kanu scored the equalizer for Nigeria to tie the match at 1-1 in the 50th minute. Rose Lavelle got the last word in, scoring the game-winning goal after a nice cross from Megan Rapinoe to seal the win for the USWNT in this second friendly against Nigeria. The victory also extended the USWNT’s unbeaten streak on American soil to 71 matches. The next match-up for the USWNT will be on Oct. 7 when it takes on England.

UEFA Champions League Returns

The UEFA Champions League kicked off yesterday, and there was plenty of drama in Europe’s top club competition. The marquee match-up was between Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus, with Kylian Mbappe scoring two goals for PSG in the first half. American midfielder Weston McKennie added one in the second half for Juve, but it wasn’t enough, as PSG won 2-1 at home. Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk went on the road and won 4-1 against RB Leipzig. In Croatia, Chelsea started its campaign with a 1-0 defeat on the road, with Mislav Orsic scoring the lone goal for Dinamo Zagreb. American midfielder Giovanni Reyna added two assists for Borussia Dortmund as the German club cruised to a 3-0 victory against FC Copenhagen. Elsewhere in Europe, RB Salzburg and AC Milan split the points in a 1-1 draw, while Manchester City and Real Madrid had shutout wins against Sevilla and Celtic, respectively. Today’s notable match-ups will see Inter Milan host Bayern Munich, Tottenham face off against Marseille, and Napoli take on Liverpool.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City and the Sacramento Republic joined forces to set up gardens in the community.
  • Looks like we have a bet on our hands between the mayors of Sacramento and Orlando for tonight’s match.
  • Former Lion and current Indy Eleven player Stefano Pinho was named USL Championship Player of the week and made the Team of the Week after his brace this past weekend. Former Lion Cam Lindley also made the team of the week for the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC.
  • Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson was arrested in Cobb County this past Saturday on a charge of misdemeanor theft.
  • Liverpool supporters in Naples for today’s UEFA Champions League match have been warned to stay in their hotel rooms and not to wear team colors when traveling to avoid being targeted.
  • Mbappe has reportedly said that French president Emmanuel Macron told him to stay with PSG rather than join Real Madrid this past summer.
  • French midfielder Paul Pogba could miss out on the World Cup in Qatar as he’ll need knee surgery after damaging his meniscus in training.
  • La Liga announced a deal to increase engagement with fans and help compete with the English Premier League by increasing its presence in the Middle East, North Africa, and India.

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


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