Lion Links

Lion Links: 3/25/23



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Saturday, Mane Landers! For Orlando City, it is match day at Subaru Park against the Philadelphia Union. For myself, it is moving day. My wife and I are just moving a few minutes from our current place, so I’m hoping it should be quick and painless. We also have a couple friends coming to lend a hand. One is actually a Nashville SC fan, but we won’t hold that against him this time, since he too is pitching in when he could otherwise be watching soccer. But enough about my moving woes, let’s get to the links!

Lions Prepare for Philadelphia Union

When Orlando City takes on the Philadelphia Union, both teams will be missing key players. Starting goal keeper Pedro Gallese has been a shining star for the Lions this season, but it is now backup Mason Stajduhar’s time to shine and he is ready to make the most of his opportunity.

“In general, you always have to stay ready,” Stajduhar said earlier this week. “Last week versus Charlotte, Jack Lynn was a great example of it. Went from not being on the team to being on the roster and probably not playing and ends up playing. He [did] a good job at being ready and taking advantage of the opportunity. That’s an example of you always have to be ready no matter what.”

Additional missing Lions include Facundo Torres, Wilder Cartagena, Michael Halliday, Thomas Williams, Favian Loyola, and Alex Freeman, who are all on international duty. The Union are expected to miss nine players of their own. Notable absences include Daniel Gazdag, Julian Carranza, Jose Martinez, Damion Lowe, and Jack McGlynn.

Seven Orlando Pride Matches to Air Locally

The Orlando Pride will broadcast seven matches locally this season in a partnership with FOX 35 Plus sporting an all-women crew of broadcasters. These broadcast will include pregame and postgame coverage. It’s the Pride’s first local TV deal since a four-game package on Bright House (now Spectrum) back in 2016 and should help boost the club’s profile. Leah Secondo, Kacey White, Maura Sheridan, and Duda Pavão each bring a unique background and voice to the broadcast team that will call the games.

“We bring different facets as well, different generations of broadcasting, playing, and our experiences getting to this level and I think that’s important,” Secondo said, “They went out and tried to find people that not only were talented one time on the field but have the background and experience. It brings the level of play that you’re going to see on the field through the broadcasts.”

The Pride’s first local game on FOX 35 Plus will be this Sunday in an away match at Providence Park against Portland Thorns FC. Match coverage begins at 5 p.m.

USMNT Puts Grenada on Full Blast in 7-1 Win

The United States Men’s National Team had no trouble dispatching Grenada on the road Friday night, winning 7-1. Weston McKennie and Ricardo Pepi each notched a brace in the game but the real star was Christian Pulisic, who pretty much did whatever he wanted — goals, assists, you name it — and Grenada could only rack up fouls to try to keep him under wraps. Former Lion Daryl Dike got into the game in the second half but the game was already well out of reach and there wasn’t much service for the big striker. Prior to Friday night, the U.S. had never won a game by a final score of 7-1, so…Scorigami achieved! The Yanks will host El Salvador at Exploria Stadium in Orlando on Monday night, needing a draw (or better) to advance.

Folarin Balogun and the USMNT

England youth international and rising Arsenal star Folarin Balogun has been in talks with USMNT interim head coach Anthony Hudson after posting a cryptic message on social media which suggests he is frustrated with England leaving him out of the Euro 2024 qualifying squad. This season, Balogun has been on loan at Ligue 1 club Reims, where he has racked up 17 goals so far in 27 appearances.

“He’s out here having a bit of a break and then some training and we’ve had some discussions. So yeah, now it’s about him just enjoying the rest of his trip,” said Hudson, confirming that Balogun met with the USMNT at their training base outside Orlando.

“It’s been good because it’s been an opportunity for us just to share about our program and who we are and what we do. And again, that’s it. I hope we get the chance to speak to him again. So it’s been good to meet him and I know a few of the guys have spoken to him as well.”

USMNT captain Pulisic has spoken to the media to welcome Balogun should he choose to join the Yanks.

“Obviously, I’ve seen that he’s in Florida. I haven’t really spoken to him personally. But I know some of the guys that know him from previous teams or whatever have reached out to him and spoken to him. Obviously, from our side, we’d love to have him.”

Free Kicks

That is all I have for you folks. I hope you enjoy catching the road matches, as we have all three clubs back in action this weekend. For all three, I say — vamos Orlando!


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