First off, happy 22nd birthday to midfielder Cristian Higuita. With the announcement of the Ballon d'Or winner and so many more awards having been announced, you would think that we must have missed something, but you would be wrong! So to test that theory, why don't you start devouring today's Lion Links!
Orlando City Gets Fizzy
With the stadium starting to take shape, many fans were starting to wonder about what calorie-laden beverages (other than beer, which is still to be announced) would be available to guzzle whilst cheering on the team. Well the wait is finally over, soda heads, as Orlando City has officially announced Coca-Cola as the (wait for it) official carbonated beverage and bottled water partner of the club. The deal is set to last for the next five years and will see the company granted pouring rights for the new soccer stadium and with a phrase that is popular with MLS fans, the terms of the deal were not disclosed.
OCSC Foundation Hits a Hole-in-One
The Orlando City Foundation strengthened its commitment to improving the Central Florida community yesterday when it announced that it had partnered with the Kate and Justin Rose Foundation to host the first Kicks for Kids FootGolf Tournament on Monday, Feb. 22, at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club at Grande Lakes. Orlando City players and local golf celebrities are expected to take part, and spectators are encouraged to come and walk the course during game play.
Ballon d'Or and So Much More
With a Ballon d'Or ceremony that could be best remembered for Kaká wearing a purple suit, it was Lionel Messi who took home the ultimate annual individual soccer prize. Messi beat fellow Barcelona teammate Neymar and Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo to take home the trophy for the record-breaking fifth time and firmly placed himself in soccer folklore at the tender age of 28. You can check out who voted for whom here.
However, Messi was not the only winner yesterday and the U.S. women's team certainly had something to celebrate after a memorable 2015. USWNT Head Coach Jill Ellis won FIFA Coach of the Year for Women's Football and Carli Lloyd took home individual honors after helping lead the U.S. to the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup by being named FIFA Women's Player of the Year.
MLS Combine News
With the 2016 MLS SuperDraft taking place on Thursday, the MLS Combine wraps up today and draft boards will start to be finalized. With that, yesterday saw the release of many stock watches from around the internet:
- MLSSoccer.com weighs in and UCF Winger Hadji Barry doesn’t come out well.
- Soccer By Ives analyst Franco Panizo provides an insight into big names and the sleepers who excelled from Day 1.
- For all you statisticians, Soccerwire.com breaks down every stat from the Combine games in Day 2.
And in news that will certainly excite the front office, MLS released another combine survey filled in by the participants and Orlando City tied for fourth among the participants' favorite MLS clubs. And to increase your enthusiasm about a player acquisition mechanism that is looking fairly out of date, MLSSoccer.com takes us on a look back to the 2015 SuperDraft through the eyes of OCSC.
Also not to be outdone, the 2016 NWSL Draft also takes place this week, and to help stay on top of who the Pride might select, Top Drawer Soccer gives us a run down of the top 30 prospects coming out of college.
And because I said we have everything, here is a little more from yesterday:
- The Carolina Challenge Cup will not be held this year. USL side Charleston Battery said that the tournament will be taking a break this year as it was hard to get top competitors to commit.
- Saudi Arabia is using soccer and its influence in the Asian Football Confederation as a way of keeping Iran out of international soccer.
- Former Orlando City USL affiliate Louisville City FC will spend some preseason time in Florida.
- South American club teams are banding together to try to get more dividends under TV deals with FOX Sports and CONMEBOL.
- Univision has acquired the Spanish language TV rights from Telemundo for the broadcast of European national team soccer.
Well that's it for today, Mane Landers. Make sure to check us out all week as we count down to and cover the MLS SuperDraft, NWSL Draft, and any Orlando City announcements as they break.
Lion Links: 12/8/23
Orlando City will play Flamengo in preseason friendly, Kylie Strom signs new deal, USMNT’s Copa America group draw, and more.
Happy Friday! The work week is almost over and I’m really looking forward to the weekend. I’ll be celebrating a friend’s birthday and knocking out most of the holiday shopping that I haven’t gotten around to just yet. Hopefully the malls aren’t too chaotic. Regardless, it should be a nice next few days. But for now, let’s get to the links!
Orlando Will Face Flamengo in 2024 FC Series
Orlando City’s first preseason game will take place on Jan. 27 when it takes on Flamengo at Camping World Stadium as part of the 2024 FC Series, which was previously known as the Florida Cup. Going up against one of Brazil’s powerhouses should be great preparation for the Lions after a record season in 2023 that earned them a spot in the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup. It will be the second meeting between the two sides after a 2015 friendly in Brazil that Flamengo won 1-0. It will be nice to see the Lions in action at Camping World Stadium again and the kickoff time for next month’s match will be unveiled at a later time.
Kylie Strom Signs New Deal With Pride
Defender Kylie Strom, who was a free agent following the 2023 season, will return to the Orlando Pride after signing a three-year deal with the club. She joined the Pride in the summer of 2021 from Atletico Madrid and started in 26 games this past year, holding down the left back position. The Pride now retain their starting back line heading into 2024 and have full protection in Tuesday’s expansion draft. Although the defense struggled at times, it improved as the season wore on and the Pride nearly made the playoffs. Jordyn Listro is now the only free agent left from last year’s squad.
NWSL Announces Blueprint for 2024 Schedule
The framework for the 2024 NWSL season was revealed and the 182-match regular season has been formatted so that NWSL games don’t take place during international breaks. The biggest change is that the NWSL Challenge Cup is no longer a tournament and now just a match between the NWSL Shield winner and the NWSL champion, meaning San Diego Wave FC will play NJ/NY Gotham FC on March 15. However, there will be a weekend tournament organized by the league for all 14 teams during a break in the regular season while the Summer Olympics take place. The playoffs will feature eight teams and won’t include byes this year, with the quarterfinals starting on Nov. 9 and the NWSL Championship set for Nov. 23. Clubs can begin their preseason camps as early as Jan. 22 and no later than Jan. 29.
Copa America Teams Learn Their Groups
The United States Men’s National Team will take on Uruguay, Panama, and Bolivia in its group in the 2024 Copa America. Uruguay was one of the strongest opponents the U.S. could get drawn against, as the South American team has scored 13 goals so far in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying. The important match between the USMNT and Uruguay will take place on July 1 in Kansas City. We’ll see how much Orlando City winger Facundo Torres plays for Uruguay in the tournament. As for Orlando’s Peruvian pair of Pedro Gallese and Wilder Cartagena, Peru is in a tough group against Argentina, Chile, and whichever nation prevails between Canada and Trinidad & Tobago.
We also have a clearer idea on which teams will be playing in Orlando. Two games will take place at Exploria Stadium, with Chile playing either Canada or Trinidad & Tobago on June 29 before Bolivia and Panama face off on July 1.
Gisele Thompson Signs With Angel City FC
Angel City FC signed young defender Gisele Thompson to a three-year contract that had this year count as the first year, with an option for an additional year in 2026. She turned 18 earlier this month and turned down an offer to play at Stanford to instead sign with Angel City, meaning the club did not need to use a draft pick for her to join. Gisele is the sister of Alyssa Thompson, who Angel City traded up to select with the first pick in the 2023 NWSL Draft. They are the youngest players on Angel City’s roster and will become the second pair of sisters to play in the league.
- The Colorado Rapids are reportedly in talks with American goalkeeper Zack Steffen to sign him from Manchester City.
- According to reports, St. Louis City will trade away Lucas Bartlett, Jared Stroud, and $300,000 in General Allocation Money to D.C. United in exchange for 23-year-old midfielder Chris Durkin.
- Everton broke out of the relegation zone with a surprising 3-0 win over Newcastle United. Everton has responded well after being handed a 10-point reduction last month, winning three of its past four games.
- Prosecutors in Italy requested the maximum ban of four years for Paul Pogba for doping after he tested positive for testosterone.
- Brazilian club Santos was relegated for the first time in its 111-year history, and its fans aren’t handling it very well.
That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!
Lion Links: 12/7/23
Mauricio Pereyra and Orlando City part ways, Belgian club reportedly interested in Duncan McGuire, Marta scores in Brazil’s win, and more.
How’s it going, Mane Landers? It’s been another hectic week for me and I’m hoping things start to slow down as December rolls on. It’s hard to believe we’re already a week into the month. I’ve enjoyed this colder weather over the past few days though. Let’s dive right into today’s links from around the soccer world.
Mauricio Pereyra and Orlando City Part Ways
Orlando City captain Mauricio Pereyra will not be returning to the team for the 2024 season after he and the club mutually agreed to terminate his contract. The Uruguayan midfielder joined the Lions in the summer of 2019, going on to make 136 appearances across all competitions as a Lion. His 47 career assists were the most in club history and he led the Lions with 12 assists this past MLS season. Pereyra was a key part of Orlando’s turnaround over the past few years, and I’ll miss watching him break opposing back lines with his passing. That being said, his departure opens up some interesting possibilities in Orlando’s midfield. This could open the door for Martin Ojeda to fit in a bit more easily in the lineup, but the team also has an open Designated Player spot that could be used to bring in an attacking midfielder who can take the offense to another level. The club released a video thanking Pereyra for his time in Orlando, including some of his highlights and appreciation from teammates and staff.
Belgian Club Reportedly Interested in Duncan McGuire
Orlando City forward Duncan McGuire was one of the best young players in MLS this past year, so it’s not a surprise that European clubs are taking notice. Dutch and Belgian clubs reportedly had scouts at Orlando’s final game of 2023, and American Soccer Now‘s Brian Sciaretta stated that RWD Molenbeek is interested in McGuire.
The club has an American owner and is currently 11th in Belgium’s top flight after earning promotion last season. McGuire scored 13 goals in his rookie season and was a finalist for 2023 MLS Young Player of the Year. Hopefully the 22-year-old stays in Orlando for a while longer before making the jump to Europe.
Marta Scores in Brazil’s Win Over Nicaragua
The Orlando Pride’s Marta started and scored as Brazil’s captain in the team’s 4-0 friendly win over Nicaragua. She doubled Brazil’s lead in the 40th minute and came off in the second half for Pride teammate Adriana. Brazil then found two more goals and the defense secured the shutout in its final game of the year.
It was a nice way for Brazil to end the year after losing 2-0 Japan this past Sunday. Brazil has already qualified for next year’s Olympics after winning the 2022 Copa America and will shift its focus to doing well in the tournament after an early exit in this year’s World Cup.
Luis Rubiales Was Accused of Inappropriate Conduct With English Players
FIFA’s report of the Disciplinary Committee’s decision regarding former Spain federation president Luis Rubiales became public and England FA Chair England Debbie Hewitt’s testimony detailed inappropriate misconduct towards English players as well. According to Hewitt’s testimony, Rubiales seemingly forcefully kissed Lucy Bronze and stroked Laura Coombs face at the 2023 World Cup’s medal ceremony. FIFA stated that more severe sanctions than the three-year ban Rubiales was handed were considered.
- As a result of pyrotechnics being used by LAFC supporters group 3252, the club was fined $100,000 and 3252 will have all supporter privileges suspended pending a review by the club and LAFC.
- MLS unveiled the ball that will be used next season and I like the design well enough to want to kick it.
- UEFA announced that it is creating a health panel to gain insight on why ACL injuries occur so frequently in women’s soccer.
- In the DFB Pokal, third-division side Saarbruecken beat Eintracht Frankfurt to reach the quarterfinals.
- Newcastle United goalkeeper Nick Pope is estimated to miss the next four months after dislocating his left shoulder and requiring surgery.
- Kevin de Bruyne was named to Manchester City’s roster for the Club World Cup later this month, meaning he may make his return from a hamstring injury before the year’s end.
- Liverpool center back Joel Matip may miss the rest of the season after an ACL injury in his team’s win this past weekend.
That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week.
Lion Links: 12/6/23
Antonio Carlos linked with move to Fluminense, Emily Madril agrees to new contract with the Pride, USWNT beats China, and more.
Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. There is not much new with me, I’ve just been staying busy working at Under Armour and covering high school basketball and wrestling lately. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.
Antonio Carlos Linked with Fluminense
Orlando City center back Antonio Carlos was linked with a move back to Brazil, with Fluminense reportedly close to finalizing a deal to sign him.
Carlos initially joined Orlando on loan from Palmeiras before the 2020 season. Following that season, the club signed him to a three-year contract with an option for an additional year. The 30-year-old has been a key part of Orlando’s defense under Head Coach Oscar Pareja, although Carlos missed some time this past season due to injury.
Emily Madril Agrees to New Contract With the Pride
The Orlando Pride announced that defender Emily Madril has reached an agreement with the club on a new three-year contract through the 2026 NWSL season. Madril just finished her first season with the Pride, making 27 appearances for the club across all competitions and leading all rookies with 1,977 minutes played in the NWSL regular season. She was already signed to a three-year deal through 2025, but the Pride were able to find a way to keep her with the club for another year. Now the club can work on retooling its roster with a back line anchored by Madril and Rafaelle.
MLS 2023 College Showcase Begins Today
Major League Soccer announced the 44 invitees for the 2023 MLS College Showcase. The event will kick off today through Dec. 9 in Phoenix. One local player to keep an eye on is defender Jahlane Forbes out of Wake Forest. Forbes is from Clermont, FL and joined Orlando City’s academy in 2016. He has also played for Orlando City B, making three appearances. Forbes made 19 appearances for Wake Forest in the 2023 season, recording five goals and seven assists. Other top prospects to watch include Louisville defender Josh Jones, High Point’s Jefferson Amaya, and Marshall forward Matthew Bell.
USWNT Beats China in Final Friendly of 2023
The U.S. Women’s National team defeated China 2-1 at Toyota Stadium in its final match of 2023. The USWNT trailed 1-0 at halftime, but bounced back in the second half thanks to a pair of goals and a solid defensive effort. Jaedyn Shaw gave the USWNT its winner in the 79th minute, scoring in her hometown in a memorable moment for the 19-year-old. It was the USWNT’s second win over China this month after winning the first match 3-0 this past Saturday in Fort Lauderdale.
Former Lion Daryl Dike Nears Return with West Brom
After being sidelined with an Achilles injury since March, former Lion Daryl Dike could make his return to West Brom this month. Dike has been back at training with the club since last month to work his way back to fitness, and West Brom’s manager, Carlos Corberan, stated that that he would be an option in the squad by the end of the December if he keeps progressing well. The 23-year-old joined West Brom in December of 2021, but injuries have limited his playing time while in England.
- The Orlando Pride had a message for former Pride goalkeeper Erin McLeod after her farewell ceremony with the Canadian Women’s National Team during its friendly against Australia on Tuesday.
- The Chicago Fire have announced that Frank Klopas will return to the club to serve as head coach for the second time. Klopas was the head coach for the Fire from 2011 to 2013 and was the interim coach this past season after Ezra Hendrickson’s departure in May.
- Minnesota United announced that Sean McAuley will remain with the club as its interim head coach going into the 2024 season.
- Former Portland Timbers Head Coach Gio Savarese is reportedly in consideration for the open head coach position with the New England Revolution.
- The Seattle Sounders have reached an agreement with goalkeeper Stefan Frei on a new two-year contract that will keep him at the club through the 2025 season.
That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Wednesday and I’ll see you next time.
Lion Links: 12/8/23
Orlando Pride Sign Kylie Strom to Three-Year Deal
2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Favian Loyola
Orlando City Parts Ways with Captain Mauricio Pereyra
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