Lion Links

Lion Links: 7/29/23

Lions set for final group stage match, a must-win game for the Pride, OCB looks for separation in Eastern Conference, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B / Mark Thor

There are two big purple fixtures on the calendar today, Mane Landers! The Lions are back in action for a Leagues Cup group match while the Orlando Pride have another East Division NWSL Challenge Cup tie to play. After playing 18 holes with the boys on what was one of the hottest days of the year here in Kentucky — hovering above 100 degrees — I’m now looking forward to spending the weekend indoors, staying cool, and rehydrating, while watching a whole lot of soccer. Speaking of soccer, let’s get to the latest news down in today’s links!

Orlando City’s Road to the Knockouts

The Lions will be playing the final match of the South 2 group tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Exploria Stadium against Liga MX side Santos Laguna. With all other group matches played, Orlando City now knows exactly the path forward. The winner of tonight’s meeting will advance to the knockout round of the tournament, with the loser set to go home. However, if the score is still level at the final whistle, the Lions can still move forward by grabbing the extra point in the penalty shootout, setting them on a trajectory for a visit to Inter Miami next week. A loss in penalty kicks and the regulation score being anything less than a 3-3 draw would end Orlando City’s campaign in the 2023 Leagues Cup tournament. The Lions have played and lost to Santos Laguna once before in the 2021 quarterfinals of the former version of the Leagues Cup.

“It’s a great opportunity to compete against a good rival like Santos Laguna. Obviously, it’s going to increase this rivalry between the leagues of Mexico and the United States,” Lions coach Oscar Pareja said. “[Our] mission is to continue [in Leagues Cup]  and advance to the next round. The players are good, we are optimistic and we are looking forward to a good game.”

Orlando Pride Need Tournament Win

The Orlando Pride are set to take on the North Carolina Courage tonight at 7 p.m. The Courage are flying high following a 6-0 result in their previous match against the Washington Spirit last weekend, with all six goals coming in the second half among six different goal scorers. Orlando enters the match with just one point in the competition through three group stage matches and could be eliminated without a positive result. The club’s only tournament point came at Exploria Stadium in April against the Courage after Denise O’Sullivan leveled the score in the ninth minute of stoppage time.

Orlando City B Ready for Monday Night

The Young Lions of OCB are tied at 33 points with New York Red Bulls II in the Eastern Conference of MLS NEXT Pro. The two teams are set to clash at 7 p.m. in MSU Soccer Park on Monday night. The two sides last squared off on May 29 at Osceola County Stadium in what served as the first-ever fixture between the two clubs in MLS NEXT Pro action. In the match, forwards Jack Lynn and Shak Mohammed each found the back of the net. Lynn has been in red-hot form lately, leading the Golden Boot race with 12 goals this season.

U.S. Soccer Joins Forces with State Department

United States Soccer Federation President Cindy Parlow Cone and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a new partnership dedicated to elevating soccer as a valued diplomatic tool both at home and abroad. Through this formalized partnership, the USSF and State Department aim to use sport to boost shared peace and prosperity worldwide, with a focus on increasing educational access, economic equity, and social opportunity and inclusion for underserved groups, including youth, women, and people with physical and intellectual disabilities, in support of broader United States foreign policy goals. This initiative is set to enhance the State Department’s ongoing sports diplomacy programming, such as the Sports Envoy Program that sends elite American athletes overseas to engage underserved youth.

“We are really excited to work with the State Department on this partnership. I am the person I am today, the leader I am today due to what sports gave me,” said U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone. “Wherever I travel around the world, whether I speak the language or not, everyone in the world speaks the language of soccer. It’s a uniting force and brings people together, and we’re looking forward to doing important work with the State Department and making an impact in places all over the world.”

Free Kicks

Here’s to hoping both our clubs can grab some points in their respective tournaments. Vamos Orlando!


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