Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/24/22



Welcome to the weekend, Mane Landers. With an international break upon us, there is not much in the way of MLS action this weekend as only one match is on the schedule today. On the women’s side of domestic soccer, our Orlando Pride will be hosting the San Diego Wave tomorrow night at 7 p.m in their final home match of the season.

And in case you missed it, The Mane Land turned eight years old yesterday. It’s such a big milestone that I think it is worth noting twice. Congrats to everyone past and present who has been part of this awesome crew. Now, on to today’s links!

Jack Lynn Earns MLS NEXT Pro Honors

MLS NEXT Pro has announced the winners of its regular-season awards for its inaugural season of play. Orlando City forward Jack Lynn has been named to the league’s Best XI, which is comprised of the top players at each position, representing eight clubs in total. All awards were voted on by the head coaches and chief soccer officers at MLS NEXT Pro Clubs, as well as league broadcast and content teams.

Lynn was prolific in front of goal for Orlando City B this season — and has since been loaned to San Antonio FC for the remainder of the 2022 USL Championship season.

Orlando Pride Pepare for Final 2022 Home Match

The Orlando Pride have only two matches left on the schedule for this season. If you have yet to make it to a match, the club wraps up its home schedule Sunday night when the San Diego Wave come to Exploria Stadium. The Wave are currently in contention for a first-round bye in the playoffs if the results go their way. San Diego Head Coach Casey Stoney is not taking anything for granted though.

“We know we’ve got a tough away trip to Orlando,” said Stoney. “They’re a good side, they’ve given us problems before, so we will need to make sure we are at our very best.”

The last time the two teams met was on Aug. 13 at Torero Stadium when Orlando walked away with a 1-0 victory thanks to a penalty kick conversion in the 23rd minute by midfielder Meggie Dougherty Howard. The Wave have since bounced back from that defeat by winning three out of the next four. Recently, the club has found success in forward Jaedyn Shaw, who the Pride will surely want to keep eyes on.

“Obviously, we are very lucky to have Jaedyn (Shaw) on our roster,” Stoney added. “Seventeen years old, extreme maturity for such a young age, never gets phased by anything, super talent. What she can do with the ball is frightening.”

USMNT Unimpressive in Japan Friendly

The USMNT left much to be desired as it fell 2-0 to Japan Friday morning. With only four shots and zero of those on target, the USMNT never looked like it would find a way back into the match. After a brutal first half in the usual 4-3-3 formation, Head Coach Gregg Berhalter stuck to a series of planned substitutions — including a quadruple change at halftime and a shift to a three-man defense with a 3-2-2-3 shape in possession after intermission.

“It was a really competitive match. I think we ended up hurting ourselves a little bit too much in the game with silly giveaways,” said Berhalter in a short interview with ESPN. “And we want a little more personality in the match. Give Japan a lot of credit: Good team, competitive team, they pressed well, but we can do better.

While the substitutions were pre-determined, they did not equate to goals or change much in the way of creating chances. The Japan back line remained largely untroubled and the United States finished the match with a mere 0.49 expected goals.

Christian Pulisic Held Out of USMNT Friendly

The USMNT was missing its captain in Christian Pulisic entering the friendly with Japan. However, Head Coach Gregg Berhalter doesn’t expect Pulisic to be out long term and is optimistic he will return for Tuesday’s final World Cup tune-up match in Spain against Saudi Arabia.

“He just took a knock in training and it’s precautionary,” Berhalter told noted pregame. “We spoke to the club, we got it checked and day-to-day. Hopefully he can take part on Tuesday.”

With Pulisic out, the USMNT started FC Dallas forward Jesus Ferreira in the No. 9 role alongside Brenden Aaronson from Leeds United and Giovanni Reyna from Borussia Dortmund in the attack. By missing one of its most key playmakers, there was clearly a void in the USMNT attacking third and link-up play — especially in the space normally occupied by Pulisic.

With the USMNT, Pulisic has 21 goals in 51 appearances since debuting back in 2016 as a 17-year-old. The captain memorably had a hat trick in a 5-1 World Cup qualifying rout of Panama last March, which secured qualification through the Concacaf Octagonal.

Free Kicks

That’s a wrap on today’s edition of Lion Links. I hope you all enjoy a restful weekend, complete your errands and chores, and can make it out to the home finale for the Orlando Pride. While this season has not been the best we have seen, the women still deserve our support. As always — Vamos Orlando!


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