Lion Links

Lion Links: 7/21/23

Orlando City faces the Houston Dynamo tonight, Kyle Smith fields questions, USWNT plays Vietnam tonight, and much more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Not only is today Friday, but it’s also an Orlando City game day! The United States Women’s National Team is also in action tonight, setting up for a fun evening filled with soccer. Having something to look forward to may make the day go by a bit slower, but at least that gives you plenty of time to figure out how you’ll be enjoying tonight’s games. But for now, let’s get to the links!

Orlando City Hosts the Houston Dynamo Tonight

The Lions will kick off their 2023 Leagues Cup campaign tonight at 8 p.m. against the Houston Dynamo at Exploria Stadium. These two sides last squared off in June of last year, with Mauricio Pereyra providing assists on both of Ercan Kara’s goals in a 2-1 victory. Pereyra also assisted twice in Orlando’s recent 2-1 win over Atlanta United, so hopefully he can make an impact in this tournament. Goalkeeper Pedro Gallese was crucial in that road win and could be a difference maker in a tournament that features penalty shootouts following draws for an extra point. Gallese’s next clean sheet will be his 30th across all competitions and he’s just six saves away from 300 as a Lion. Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi and Assistant Coach Josema Bazan spoke on the challenge awaiting the Lions tonight against the Dynamo.

Getting to Know Kyle Smith

As part of Orlando City’s video series to learn more about the club’s players, defender Kyle Smith shared some insight on himself and his passion for soccer. The 31-year-old spoke about how his mother was a soccer fan and brought him to a practice at the age of 3, kicking off a soccer journey that wound up with him joining the Lions in late 2018. Off the pitch, Smith likes to golf and bowl, which is fairly normal. However, he’s the first person I’ve ever heard list real estate as a hobby. Smith is also afraid of heights and didn’t find out until doing a tightrope obstacle course during a preseason activity.

USWNT Begins World Cup Title Defense Tonight

The Women’s World Cup is underway and the United States Women’s National Team will take on Vietnam tonight at 9 p.m. in its first game of the group stage. Tonight’s match will take place at Eden Park, the same venue where the U.S. beat New Zealand 5-0 in a friendly earlier this year. The USWNT has won the past two World Cups, and this tournament’s roster includes nine players who won it all in France in 2019. There is a mix of young and veteran talent on the team this year, and it will be interesting to see what lineup Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski wants to start this World Cup with. Megan Rapinoe, who announced that she is retiring at the end of this year, would make her 200th USWNT appearance if she features in tonight’s match.

New Zealand and Australia Kick Off World Cup With Wins

New Zealand kicked off this year’s World Cup in historic fashion, beating Norway 1-0 in Auckland for its very first World Cup victory. Hannah Wilkinson gave the Ferns the lead in the 48th minute and the defense held off a Norwegian offense that included Ada Hegerberg and Caroline Graham Hansen. Former Orlando Pride defender and New Zealand captain Ali Riley spoke on the importance of this win.

The other host country, Australia, also won its opening game. Former Pride player Steph Catley scored the game’s only goal from the penalty spot, as the Matildas beat Ireland 1-0 in Sydney. Catley served as the team’s captain in place of Sam Kerr, who missed the opener due to a calf injury sustained in training. Kerr will also miss the club’s match on Thursday against Nigeria.

Free Kicks

  •’s Joseph Lowery handed out grades to each MLS team heading into the Leagues Cup. Orlando City received a B, as the team is doing well while still capable of getting more out of its Designated Players.
  • The Columbus Crew are reportedly working on adding winger Julian Gressel from the Vancouver Whitecaps. If he could continue to stay out of the Eastern Conference, that would be great.

That’s all I have for you today. No matter how you plan on watching tonight’s games, make sure to stay hydrated out there. Have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!


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