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Orlando City Coach’s Show Recap: Adrian Heath Reviews Toronto FC Loss and Looks Ahead to Friendly



Tuesday night’s Orlando City Coach’s Show with Adrian Heath featured discussion about Sunday night’s 2-0 loss against Toronto FC. It was the club’s second consecutive loss, following a 3-0 defeat at Columbus a week prior.

Toronto FC Game

Sunday night’s poor performance was surprising to Heath, who expected more out of his team. “I didn’t see the performance coming,” Heath said. He went on to say that, despite losses to D.C. United and the Vancouver Whitecaps, the Lions have controlled each home game. But he never felt that his team was in control of this match.

Overall, Heath says that Sunday's performance was the worst performance of the season. "The supporters have been incredible," Heath said of the unwavering support from the fans, and that the team wanted to bring those fans their first three home points this season.

After a good week of training, Heath felt confident coming into the game. The team spoke about how Toronto would be looking to catch them on the break but it didn't sink in. "We didn't really listen to what we spoke about before the game," Heath said.

"At the end of the day, we didn't play well." Heath says that in the middle of the park, "two or three players probably had their worst game of the season." Three games earlier, D.C. United employed the same strategy, but the team was able to overcome it by moving the ball quickly through the midfield.

Going into the game, the Lions knew Toronto would fill the middle of the field, leaving space on the wing for Tyler Turner and Brek Shea. Despite this, the Lions failed to get the ball to them in space. “We put those areas on the magnetic board” in the dressing room. Heath summarized by saying his team “played into their strength.”

Overall, Heath said of the performance, "We made poor choices all evening." Heath says the team tried to force play through the middle, playing into their strengths. Brek Shea had 25 to 30 yards to work with, but they never got the ball to him.

Heath was disappointed that they got caught on quick restarts multiple times during the game, stating that on the break they could have gotten two or three more. Despite talking about that at halftime, the team still wasn't prepared for it.

However, with that game over and several important games upcoming Heath says that "we have to put that to bed and move on and move forward."

Frustration Level

Heath says it's been frustrating losing games, but that you can't hold onto them. You have to take what's given to you and move on. "I want to look forward to what is in front of us."

Carlos Rivas

When asked about the young Colombian forward/winger Carlos Rivas, Heath said it's been a tough start as the 20-year-old has had a stop-start season thus far. Due to several injuries, his season hasn't really started yet. Heath still is happy to have the player and thinks he can still give the team an explosive impact when healthy. "The fact that we nicked him before some big clubs in Europe speaks of what we were trying to do."

Young Players

Rivas is just one of many young players in the team this season and Heath talked about the tough transition for young players adjusting to the professional game. It's a lot to take for young kids to move away from home where you don't know anyone and don't know the language. As for the club's first round draft pick Cyle Larin, "the difference between a 22-year-old college players and MLS is night and day."

Loans to Louisville

One of the options Orlando City has is to send players on loan to Louisville City FC, the club's USL affiliate. The plan was originally to send players to Louisville but injuries have nullified that option. When the show's host and Orlando City radio color commentator Tom Traxler jokingly asked Heath if they were close to putting in former Lion and current assistant coach Ian Fuller when the team had only three subs in Montreal, Heath replied "we were never that close."

Martin Paterson

A player that's been sorely missed is 27-year-old striker Martin Paterson. The Northern Ireland international was originally going to be the starter, giving the other young strikers an opportunity to grow into the position, but injuries have delayed his arrival. Heath said he's been very frustrated and that Pato has had "little niggling injuries" rather than larger ones, keeping him out for several months. "It's always been enough to keep him away."

Of Paterson's on-field potential, Heath is excited at the prospect of adding the veteran to the lineup. Heath mentioned seeing him play internationally against Russia where he was the best player on the field. "We've got to be patient and wait," Heath says about Paterson's injury woes. "We certainly need him."


A major problem for Orlando City this season has been corners. Historically, the Lions have been quite successful converting corners, but that's changed in their inaugural MLS season. Heath says sometimes it's the delivery that's the problem and sometimes it's the runs in the box, but it's the worst it's been in his five years in Orlando, labeling it "pretty disappointing."

Much of that disappointment comes from the fact that Kaká is often the deliverer of the corners, which are usually well taken. But when he puts in a good ball, "we're invariably in the wrong position." On Friday, the team worked for 20-30 minutes specifically on where each player should be, but when the game came around, they weren't in the right positions.

Bringing the Players Back

Despite the recent struggles, Heath is pleased with where the team currently sits. He says that everyone needs to remember that "we're still an expansion team," but still in a playoff position. It's not easy bringing in 23 new players, and Heath says that in three months' time, if they're still having the same problems, then people can complain.

Even though Sunday’s performance was bad, Heath says that the word to describe the season thus far is “satisfactory.” “Sunday was bad. How many more have been bad?” Heath reiterates that it’s important to move on from the disappointment because the next three or four games are very important, with the next three league games coming against some of the league’s top teams in New England Revolution, D.C. United, and LA Galaxy.

Community Involvement

One of the positives this season is the continuation of the club's commitment to serving the community. "We probably do more than anyone in the league" Heath says. Most of the players are doing 70 to 80 hours of community service.

Dennis Chin

A question via Twitter from someone identifying themselves as "DC" asked about former Lion and cult hero Dennis Chin. "Chinny was fantastic for us in USL," Heath says of the original Lion. He said the coaches spoke with him while he was in Orlando but that he had reached the level of what he was willing to give to get better. "I love Dennis to bits," Heath says, "same with Rob Valentino and Miguel Gallardo. They were exceptional for this club."

Players Pressing Too Hard For a Home Win

Having yet to win at home or score a goal from open play, Heath was asked if the players were pressing too hard to provide for the home support. "Sometimes," Heath admits. He said last week is an example of that, and it's something they've spoken about. Sometimes they just need to be more patient.

Frustration of Older Players in Young Squad

Heath was asked if some of the older players get frustrated with the younger players who are still developing. "You sometimes get that." But Heath says that you have to have a mixture of both veterans and young players or you'll be rebuilding again in two years.

The plan is that everyone moves up. The club would like to have a squad that can remain around for a while but, while some players will leave, it's important to have players already around to take those vacant positions.

Timing of Runs

When issue brought up during the show was the frequent offside calls against striker Cyle Larin. While Heath said Larin does appear offside too often, "sometimes being offside some of the time isn't a bad thing to make defenders think you always offside." As an example, Heath uses former AC Milan and Italy striker Filippo Inzaghi, who former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson once described as "born offside." But that's not what Cyle is attempting to do.

Everton 1984 FA Cup Song

In a lighter moment, a fan played Everton FC's 1984 FA Cup song featuring Heath, which has recently been spreading around Orlando City fans. Heath was willing to sing part of the song before mentioning proudly that the song reached number four in the charts in the UK.

Playing a Friendly Now

On whether playing a friendly at this moment in time was a good idea, Heath said it’s actually a good time. Some guys need some rest, such as Brek Shea, who has been juggling both club and international duty. It’s also a good opportunity to get some players who haven’t played much an opportunity to get on the field. Heath mentioned Conor Donovan, Tommy Redding, Tyler Turner, Harrison Heath, and Estrela as players fans can expect to see Saturday night against Ponte Preta.

Current Expectations of Players

When asked of his expectations of his players, having played eight games now, Heath said that those expectations haven't changed. Heath still has no doubt his team can make the playoffs, which has always been the aim. Heath says his side was better than Vancouver, which leads the west, better than D.C. which leads the east, and that the team is right on track, currently sitting in a playoff spot. They just need to bring in some players to get them over the line.


On Tuesday afternoon, news broke that the Florida House of Representatives adjourned three days early without balancing the budget, which would give the club the $30 million sales tax rebate needed to finish the new $115 million stadium in downtown Orlando. While Orlando City’s Vice President of Communications Lenny Santiago said they were very disappointed in the House’s decision, the club is not giving up. They left important issues on the table which still need to be resolved, and the club will make sure the $30 million, which has already been added to the budget for the specific purpose of the stadium, is one of those issues.

The club is currently working on the next steps toward making sure they get the money they were promised a year ago. The state needs to have a balanced budget before July, so they will call a special session in June to do so. Santiago made it clear that the club would be returning to Tallahassee in June to push their agenda.

Why Water Turf?

Many fans have wondered why the Citrus Bowl turf is watered pregame as it doesn't grow. Heath said the watering of the turf makes the ball move quicker on the ground. That's something that helps a team like Orlando City which always attempts to play the ball on the ground.

Ponte Preta Friendly

This week's Coach's Show wrapped up with a discussion about the Ponte Preta friendly coming up this Saturday night. The friendly will be included as part of the season ticket package. It will be considered one of the three "bonus games," which are in addition to the 17 regular season games. Heath said it's exciting to have a team coming in that has "lots of history and lots of tradition." He said the fact that they play in the top league in Brazil means they are a quality opponent.

While this isn't a particularly important game for him, Heath said this will be the most important game of the season for several players that have lacked playing time. While some players such as Kaká and Aurélien Collin are out of town, this is a chance for several younger players to prove they deserve minutes in league games. Tickets for that game are still available.


Reflecting on Eight Years with The Mane Land

A look back over my time with The Mane Land (so far).



Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

As of last week, I have been a contributor at The Mane Land for eight years. That’s longer than I’ve ever been at any of my actual jobs in my life. There are literally only a couple of people who have been with the site longer, but I’m still amazed at how long it’s been. This is not to say I’m going anywhere, but rather I wanted to take the opportunity to look back at the past eight years, and look ahead to the future.

Unlike some, I didn’t come to be a supporter of Orlando City until it was announced that the club was joining MLS. At the time, I was contemplating picking a club to follow in MLS, but being in Tallahassee, there were no nearby options at that time. I considered FC Dallas and D.C. United, given the two were geographically closer in proximity to me than any others. Fortunately, it was literally while I was considering my options that the announcement was made regarding Orlando City’s jump to MLS. It was an easy decision.

As I do in many aspects of my life, I immediately started researching my new club, which led me to the content being produced by The Mane Land. There was also an article on the site titled “Join The Mane Land Staff.” I had often over the years internally bemoaned that I rarely used my Bachelor’s degree in English, and the desire to write welled up in me so much that I emailed the staff. 

In response, one of our former editors, Andrew Marcinko, contacted me and said “I think your voice would be a great fit on TML.” He asked me to submit a Fan Post (those went away with our presence on SBN), and then another piece for review. Following that, our founder and managing editor, Michael Citro, emailed me to welcome me to the staff. I had no idea at the time how big a part of my life this blog would become.

I started out writing Monday’s Lions Links — often one of the more difficult days to write — and a feature piece. It’s been many years gone by now, but there was a time when the feature piece was “Pride Pub,” an ongoing series that paired craft beer and good food based on Orlando City’s opponent. I can tell you that the research for that was very enjoyable, and I still use some of the recipes I found to this day.

Eventually, I started contributing more match coverage and analytical pieces. Staff came and went, but I never thought to leave since I was enjoying myself. Sometime after that, I was promoted to senior columnist, for which I’m grateful. I can without reservation say that I’m a better writer thanks to my time with the site, and from working with such excellent staff.

In November of 2016, Michael asked if I wanted to give co-hosting The Mane Land PawedCast a try. My first recording was for Episode 71. We just recorded Episode 354, and with the exception of maybe two or three episodes, I have been on every single one of 283 episodes over the last six plus years. Michael and I have spent a lot of time talking on and off the podcast over the years, and I’m proud of what we have produced and to call him my friend.

We recently added an Orlando Pride-specific podcast called Skopurp: An Orlando Pride PawedCast. For years we wanted to give the Pride the time and attention the club deserves. Now, it is a reality, but one that I ask you to listen to and share. I’ll even put out that although Michael and I are the current hosts, we merely consider ourselves stewards and are hoping to get others to come onboard and eventually take it to the next level.

When I started with The Mane Land, the site had just made the move from a free WordPress site to the SBNation network. It was a big deal, and for many years it was a good partnership. Of course that all came to an end not too long ago, and our blog went the independent route thanks to the incredibly generous support of our readers and listeners. In fact, if you want to be one of those supporting our efforts, please go to our Buy Me A Coffee site to become a member. The move has allowed a flexibility we didn’t have before, but I really want others to have the same sense of joy and accomplishment that I have as a member of our staff. 

At one point we had nearly twice the staff that we do now, and as you know, many hands make light work. The opposite of that is also true. I genuinely believe that there must be others out there with the same passion for Orlando City as I have — with the same desire to have their voice heard, whether through the written word or on a podcast. I promise you there is an opportunity to contribute here with us. Our internal discussions are informative, engaging, and often funny. Please consider joining us, as I did eight years ago. I haven’t regretted it and I know you won’t either.

I want to thank all of those who contributed to The Mane Land over the years. There are many that I am still in touch with, though they are no longer a part of the staff. Of course, the current staff are a pleasure to work with, and I appreciate their dedication to what we are trying to do.

Finally, I want to thank the readers and listeners over the years. From those who regularly comment on our articles, to those that I’ve personally met at matches or even randomly on the street, you are a big reason that we do all of this. You are a big reason why I’ve been doing this for the better part of a decade. it is always a genuine pleasure hearing your thoughts or simply sharing a moment of joy together — U.S. Open Cup final, anyone?

So, thank you. I look forward to many more years of this journey together.

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Orlando City

The Mane Land Announces Membership Program

Maximize your Mane Land experience with our new TML membership program while supporting our independent efforts.



Hello, readers of The Mane Land and listeners of our podcasts. Before you start reading this, please note that the most important part of this post is at the end. So, don’t stop until you get to the bottom.

You may recall that when we left SBNation to become independent, we really weren’t sure the best way to go about that. Many of our readers and listeners generously offered to help us make that transition, but we still weren’t sure the best path forward, so we took a poll.

The poll was pretty much split down the middle between those who preferred a one-time, Kickstarter-style campaign (which we did, and those of you who stepped up to help completely blew us away!) and those who favored a Patreon-style, subscription-based membership with extra perks. In fact, the member subscriptions option got a few more votes in our poll.

The folks who took part in our GoFundMe fundraiser were fantastic and are now immortalized on this very site on the “Our Founders” page. But we had always planned to give folks the option to choose whichever method of support they preferred and we tried to communicate that throughout the process. It took a little longer than expected to get up and running, but our membership subscription program is now in place! (You may notice the fancy new banner ad about it on the home page, echoed below.)

Supporting TML helps build a better TML for you to enjoy, so you’re really subscribing to your own Orlando soccer fandom.

Part of that delay was thinking up something that didn’t encroach on the benefits we gave our Founders. Those folks helped us get started and deserve the exclusivity of the perks they got. The other part of the delay is that there just aren’t enough hours in the day. (However, for you guys, I’m willing to be cloned.)

We have utilized the popular Buy Me a Coffee platform to run this program. You can find the basics here. The Mane Land premium membership program includes three tiers of membership, as well as the option to click on the “Support” tab for those who just want to help us out whenever, without joining the program or adding any recurring “appointment-based” payments to their budgets. We love that feature of Buy Me a Coffee (or “Buy Us a Beer” in our case…you drink what you like).

For those who do choose to become members, we hope we have provided value and we are planning to add benefits along the way, in addition to providing special giveaways, events, etc. (more on that below). We have also provided subscription options — with monthly or annual memberships. The annual cost essentially gives you 12 months for the price of 10.

Current Benefits

The current membership benefits depend on which level of support you choose — Homegrown Player, TAM Player, or Designated Player level. Each level includes all benefits from the lower tiers, with additional benefits for each higher level.

Homegrown Player: This is a basic set-it-and-forget-it level of support for The Mane Land, providing a way for our readers and podcast listeners to contribute to the success of TML‘s independence goals. We want to compensate our current volunteers, replace lost income of those who previously received small stipends from being part of the SBNation network, add photographers, attract new writers, and expand our coverage. Additionally, each Homegrown Player Level member will be recognized in a Lion Links column, which is still typically our most widely read post of each day and one of the top daily links columns among soccer sites. Homegrown Player Level members will also be included in any future prize drawings we have or events we host and may be subject to future benefits as they are added.

TAM Player: In addition to Homegrown Player benefits, TAM Players will receive a new weekly e-newsletter in their inbox (unless you opt out…some people hate email). These will be informal missives from myself, other TML writers, or a combination, discussing what’s on our mind regarding Orlando City, the Pride, OCB, or soccer in general. Think of it as an extra post from our site that may cover multiple topics. Additionally, you’ll get a 10% discount from our web shop items that we control (presently, that means everything except our listed MLS Shop items). We will definitely have more benefits coming for this level soon and will look for opportunities to include additional benefits as they become available.

Designated Player: This limited availability level of support includes all perks from the Homegrown and TAM levels, but it goes beyond. Your discount at our webshop (for items we control) will be 15% off. Additionally, we’ll send you Zoom links to watch us “make the doughnuts” whenever we record the podcast. This includes when we interview guests. You’ll see how the sausage is made behind the scenes and everything that we say, some of which will end up on the cutting room floor before the final podcast is sent out. This includes both The Mane Land PawedCast and SkoPurp Soccer: An Orlando Pride PawedCast. And after two months of membership you can commission a bonus episode of either podcast simply by letting us know what topic you want us to cover. Think of this as an extended Ask Us Anything. We’ll do a whole show about your topic and you can even join us to discuss it if you wish.

The DP Level will certainly have additional benefits tacked on as we move forward. It is currently limited to 40 members but could be expanded slightly depending on demand and our Zoom attendance.

Future Benefits / Benefits Under Consideration

While we won’t be able to schedule these due to the random nature of items falling into our hands, there will be periodic prize giveaways in drawings that include all of our members, regardless of level. The catch is that you get one entry per level of support, meaning Homegrown Player Level members will get one entry per prize drawing, TAM Player Level members will get two entries per drawing, and Designated Player Level members get three entries for prize drawings. Some of the kinds of items we have come across in the past include match tickets, trinkets, posters, scarves, and so on.

We are planning to add a message board to our website, well…soon-ish is the word that comes to mind. The plan for the message board is to build our community and further the discussion about the club. As part of this, we’re planning an exclusive, members-only area of that message board that TAM and DP members can access. This will be a place our staff can share informational nuggets we can’t necessarily write stories about for various reasons and interact with our members on a daily basis.

Other things in the works include meet-and-greets/watch parties where you can chat with TML staff members and catch a road match with a bunch of like-minded Orlando City/Pride fans while we all cheer on the team together. There may also be other informal outings with one or more members of the staff, organized fantasy leagues, random Zoom calls for Q&A sessions, and perhaps even some organized group outings for Orlando City / Pride matches, national team games, etc.

The Most Important Part of This Post

Remember at the top of this post, when I said the most important part is at the bottom? Well, that seems like a long time ago, now, so it’s OK if you’ve already forgotten.

The most important part of our membership program is you. We want your feedback so we can make this program something that interests and excites you. We want to know what you like and dislike about this program. We want to know if there are some things we didn’t think of that interest you. If you like what we’re offering, tell us! If you hate what we’re offering, we want to know what you’d prefer instead or in addition. If you want to go drinking with Dave, we can probably arrange that, but it’ll be a unique tier and we’ll have to figure out the cost of that.

No idea is too crazy to suggest, even if it’s too insane for us to actually offer. Let us know what you want from your subscription and we’ll see if that’s something we can do. We’ll make it easy for you by putting the form right here below this post, which is now concluded.

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Welcome Home!



Where do I even start? When we were told in January that SBNation was pulling its support of The Mane Land and other MLS and NHL blogs — and many podcasts — I was devastated. The site had become my new baby in September of 2014 and after eight and a half years, I wasn’t ready to let it go.

I was in a pickle. I couldn’t afford to lose the monthly stipend I had been getting from SBNation to manage the site and provide a steady stream of content. It wasn’t that it was a huge monthly sum, but it mostly covered my car payment. That car was purchased when my salary was higher. The pandemic hit my day job like it did to many, and after a four-month layoff, I got my old job back but not at the same rate. So, imagine taking a pay decrease at work and then, on top of that, losing the amount you spend per month on your car payment. There was simply no way to launch The Mane Land independently, I thought, because I simply couldn’t cover the startup costs. Even with some generous offers from the staff to pitch in, there simply wasn’t a way.

Once we took the news public, there was an outpouring of support on social media. We appreciated both the pledges to help out that we got from the community and the signal boosting that the national media gave blogs like ours. Those national folks rely on local reporting for background.

Encouraged by this outpouring of public support, I met with the TML staff and we threw some ideas around. We polled our Twitter followers to see how our community would prefer to show their support. We got pretty close to a 50/50 split between those who wanted to provide a one-time donation via a Kickstarter or GoFundMe crowdsourcing effort, and those who would prefer some sort of premium subscription add-on service like Patreon or Buy Me a Coffee.

We didn’t get a lot of responses to that poll, but we decided as a group that since the results were so similar, we would offer both and let the public choose one path, the other, or even both. (Stay tuned for news soon-ish on the premium subscription level, but rest assured, everything you’ve been getting for free at TML will remain free!)

I was, admittedly, skeptical that we could raise enough startup money to create a private business, pay for hosting a new site and two podcasts (having long wanted to give the Orlando Pride their own unique show), registering a domain, paying for some design work and consulting, and any unexpected expenses that might come up. However, I thought we’d at least give it a try.

Then the amazing Orlando City, Orlando Pride, and TML community got involved. You guys pushed us past our bare minimum goal in just four and a half hours when our fundraiser went live on March 1. We reset our goal and you met that by midnight. We reset our goal again, to the dream total we discussed on our initial staff Zoom chat and you met that by that first weekend.

Stunned. Humbled. Amazed. Touched. All of these words apply to how that made us feel, but they don’t quite cover it. I think we all felt an enormous responsibility, as well. We felt a mandate to provide you the best site and the best coverage we can.

We got everything we needed to run the site for two years, even if we don’t earn a penny after our launch — and we plan to try, via advertising, a Patreon (or similar) program, an online shop, affiliate links, and anything else we can think of. But we decided to leave the GoFundMe open through the end of March, just in case there were folks who wanted to contribute but needed to wait for payday, or if more people wanted to become founding members of this new site.

Now, here we are. You guys did this. We’re here because of you. And this site isn’t quite what it will become. I’m still learning my way around WordPress, after being away from it for years. There’s more to build, and some of the things you’re seeing on this site now will be improved in the future. We’ll continue to tweak it, add things, and upgrade as we go.

For now, I just want to welcome you to your new online home. On behalf of our entire staff, I thank our founding members, who are now immortalized on this site in our founders section. If you weren’t able to contribute to our transition from SBNation’s network to an autonomous and independent, new version of The Mane Land, you can thank the folks on our founders page, because without them, we wouldn’t be here. And if you still want to help out, we’ve got more things on the way.


Michael Citro
Managing Editor

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