Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/5/24

Orlando City academy teams fall, Orlando Pride players in action, USWNT prepares for Japan, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

Happy Friday! This week has been a bit of a whirlwind for me and I’m pretty glad it’s coming to a close. We’re nearly 100 days into 2024 and I’m still doing fairly well with my resolutions for the year, although my reading pace has taken a bit of a dive in recent weeks. But enough about that, let’s get to the links!

OCSC Academy Teams Fall in Generation Adidas Cup

Orlando City’s U-15 team’s Generation Adidas Cup run came to an end in the round of 16 after losing a penalty shootout to Valencia. The Lions battled the Spanish side to a 1-1 draw before coming up short in the shootout, losing it 4-3. It was at least a better performance from the spot than when the team failed to score a single penalty in the shootout against Arsenal in group play. The U-15 team has yet to lose a match in regulation and will play the Houston Dynamo this morning in the showcase part of the Generations Adidas Cup. The U-17 team lost 3-2 to Atlas in the round of 16 of the “premier” bracket, which is a consolation bracket of sorts. Those Lions will play against Strikers FC in the showcase this afternoon.

Pride Players in Action Abroad

The NWSL is on an international break and there are plenty of Pride players representing their countries over the next few days. Midfielder Evelina Duljan is with Sweden’s U-23 team and scored her team’s only goal in a 3-1 loss to England. Her team will play again on Monday against Norway at noon.

Today at 1 p.m., Barbra Banda and Zambia will take on Morocco in the first leg of a qualifying series for the Olympics. The two teams will then face off again on Tuesday. Ally Lemos and the U.S. U-20 team are also in action today with a friendly against Germany.

Analyzing Japan Ahead of USWNT Match

The United States Women’s National Team will kick off the SheBelieves Cup tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. when it takes on Japan in Atlanta. It will be the 40th meeting between the two nations, with the most recent match coming in the USWNT’s 1-0 win over Japan in last year’s SheBelieves Cup. Futoshi Ikeda is at the helm as Japan’s manager and has coached the team to be versatile in its attack and adaptable on defense. The Portland Thorns’ Hina Sugita is the lone NWSL player on Japan’s roster and is a part of a midfield that also includes West Ham’s Risa Shimizu and Manchester City’s Yui Hasegawa. Manchester United attacker Hinata Miyazawa, who scored five goals in last year’s World Cup to win the Golden Boot, could also feature as she works her way back from an ankle injury in December.

U.S. Moves Up in Men’s FIFA Rankings

The United States Men’s National Team is now ranked 11th in the world according to the latest FIFA rankings. The Yanks jumped up two spots from 13th after winning the Concacaf Nations League yet again. It’s interesting to think about just where the USMNT would have landed in these rankings had it lost to Jamaica in the semifinals, but that’s the past and the U.S. is currently the highest-ranked Concacaf side. Mexico is close behind in 14th, and Jamaica moved up a couple of spots to 55th. With this summer’s Copa America looming, the U.S. should have great opportunities to win against quality opponents and potentially climb into the top 10.

Free Kicks

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!


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