Lion Links: 4/1/22 – The Land of the Mane

Welcome to April, Mane Landers. It’s April Fool’s Day, so be sure to take any outrageous news you see today with a grain of salt. Of course, you don’t have to worry about that here at The land of manes as we prepare for a football-filled weekend in Orlando. Let’s start this month with some links from the world of football!

Key players return ahead of Orlando home game

Goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, winger Facundo Torres and midfielder Sebas Mendez are all back with Orlando City ahead of their game tomorrow night against LAFC at Exploria Stadium. The trio spent the past week in South America for World Cup qualifying and should give a boost to an Orlando side who are coming off a 1-1 draw against the Portland Timbers. Torres scored and Gallese had a clean sheet in Orlando’s 1-0 win over LA Galaxy on March 19, so hopefully that momentum continues after the international break.

In Orlando’s draw at Portland, Alexandre Pato registered his first assist of the season by delivering a superb ball to Junior Urso, who netted his second goal of the year. Although the Lions haven’t scored multiple goals in a game since Game 1, they’ve only been shut out (controversially, no less) just once in their five games and the offense seems to be finding its place.

Orlando City Academy adds U-12 age group

Orlando City have announced their academy will have a squad in the U-12 age group as they continue to develop players for the first team. The fully-funded U-12 team will play in the next season, with a schedule to be released in May. The team will train at Osceola Heritage Park alongside Orlando City’s first team, OCB, and U-15 and U-17 squads.

“We are very excited to add the U-12 age group to Orlando City Academy,” said Orlando City Academy Principal Marcelo Neveleff. “We strongly believe this addition will improve the way we develop our players by being able to identify talent at a much younger age. This is a big milestone for our club and we look forward to welcoming a number of new Lions to our family.

FIFA World Cup draw takes place today

The 2022 FIFA World Cup draw takes place at midday today as the qualifying nations learn in which groups they will play. The FIFA rankings were used to place teams in pots, with the winners of the Intercontinental qualifiers and the remaining UEFA qualifiers. in the fourth pot. Teams cannot be drawn with others in their pot or with others from their confederation, excluding UEFA, as this is unavoidable.

The United States is ranked 15th in the world and was placed in pot two alongside Mexico, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Uruguay, Switzerland and Croatia. Despite finishing atop the Octagon, Canada were placed in pot four alongside others with strong qualifying campaigns but low rankings, such as Cameroon and Ecuador. That fourth pot may also include 18th-placed Wales and 22nd-placed Peru, depending on how the remaining playoffs play out. We may not know which group will end up as the ‘group of death’ until those playoffs in June, but the draw should tell us which matches to expect in November.

Daryl Dike suffers another leg injury

Former Lion Daryl Dike will not play for West Bromwich Albion this weekend after picking up another injury to the same leg that has sidelined him since January. Manager Steve Bruce has spoken about Dike’s setback in training and is cautious about Dike’s return to action as a result. The 21-year-old joined West Brom from Orlando during the winter transfer window but only made two appearances for the Championship side. The injury also prevented Dike from playing in the United States’ final World Cup qualifying window. Hopefully this is just a small setback for the American and he can come back strong.

Women’s Champions League semi-finals set

After a 2-1 loss to Juventus in the first leg, Olympique Lyonnais won 3-1 in the second leg to qualify for the Champions League semi-finals. Norway striker Ada Hegerberg scored Lyon’s first goal in the 33rd minute and USWNT midfielder Lindsey Horan gave Melvine Malard a superb cross to score minutes later. USA midfielder Catarina Macario then used a spinning motion in the box to score Lyon’s third goal and the defense held on to win on aggregate.

Lyon will face fellow Frenchmen Paris Saint-Germain in the semi-finals. The other semi-final will pit Barcelona against VfL Wolfsburg, who won 2-0 at home to Arsenal.

Free kicks
  • Orlando Pride players Sydney Leroux and Erika Tymrak set milestones in the team’s game against NJ/NY Gotham FC.
  • Before the end of sports training month, Orlando City and the Pride paid tribute to their sports coaches.
  • There are plenty of players USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter could consider taking to the World Cup. Although there are players who will definitely be on the plane for Qatar, the striker position remains mostly up for grabs.
  • Here’s a great video that outlines former Lion Kaká’s career and how his style of play differs from other global superstars.


I hope you enjoyed today’s links! I’m excited to see all three Orlando football teams in action later this weekend. Have a fantastic Friday and stay hydrated.

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