Happy Wednesday, Mane Landers! Before we get to the festivities, let’s all take a moment to wish William Eyang a happy birthday. Eyang turns 22 today, and is preparing to kick off the season with Orlando City B. The Cameroonian forward played for Bodens BK in Sweden last year, and will bring his speed to Melbourne this coming season. So in his honor, we’re dedicating these Lion Links to him, and making them the best Links of all time (Note: claim may not be accurate).
OCB Schedule Released
After months of eager anticipation, the USL finally released the schedule for the upcoming season, and The Mane Land has you covered for all your planning needs. Fortunately, there are only three conflicts with the senior squad and at least one team is away on all of those, so you never have to worry about what game to attend.
And like any good schedule drop, it is accompanied by instant analysis about games yet to be played between teams with undecided rosters. The USL has declared these to be the 20 most intriguing games. OCB versus last year's OCSC affiliate, Louiville City FC, makes the list. It should be an interesting battle of extremely purple proportions, but considering the amount of new teams in the league and the amount of turnover likely to be seen by many other clubs, it's anybody's guess as to what the best match-ups will be. I just know the best team will be playing in Melbourne.
Past and Future Lions in Action
Yesterday was a busy day for former and potential future Orlando City players. First off, keepers Tally Hall and Josh Ford are training with Seattle. Or in Hall's case, likely rehabbing and watching practice. Former Orlando City midfielder Mikey Lopez signed with NYCFC. Lopez played briefly with Orlando City in March of 2014 while on loan from Sporting KC. His tenure with the team was short, as he was then loaned to Oklahoma City in June. Lastly, potential future OCSC forward and current academy player Alejandro Pereira was part of the U.S. U-17 team to take part in the Aegean Cup. Unfortunately, the team fell short, losing 3-1 to host Turkey in the final. Pereira did not see the field in the game.
Pride Players on International Duty
Ashlyn Harris and Alex Morgan have, unsurprisingly, been named by USWNT Head Coach Jill Ellis to the Olympic qualifying tournament. The tournament will be held between Feb. 10 and 21 in Texas. Harris will be backing up Hope Solo, while Morgan leads a surprisingly thin attacking corps. Meanwhile, Kaylyn Kyle has not been named to the Canadian squad. This is not too surprising as she has been left off most of the recent teams, though she did play significant minutes for Canada in the last World Cup. I guess this means she will be roaring and ready to go for the Pride.
- For some reason, some feel that the World Cup in Qatar is in jeopardy (note to self: see if anything odd has been going on with FIFA recently). Should the location of the tournament come up for grabs again, prospective FIFA President Jerome Chapman supports the U.S. as a location.
- Speaking of the World Cup, long time Italian and Juventus keeper Gianluigi Buffon will retire after the upcoming tournament in Russia. Without actually looking it up, my best estimate is that Buffon has been the Italian goal keeper since forever.
- Lastly, I close with this because it made me laugh. PAOK striker Dimitar Berbatov interviewed himself after getting sent off against AEK Athens. I look forward to the upcoming SBN blog, Berbatov on Berbatov.
That's it for now, kids. Time to go start working on the "Happy Belated Birthday, William Eyang" tifo for the OCB opener.
Lion Links: 2/29/24
Lions reportedly won’t play in U.S. Open Cup, Cavalry FC reflects on its defeat, gauging the USWNT’s panic meter, and more.
Happy Leap Day, Mane Landers! It’s the rarest day of the year, as we all lean into our procrastination a bit and collectively tell March that we’ll get to it tomorrow. It’s been a pretty busy week for me, but knowing the MLS season is in full swing has helped fuel me a bit. Let’s dive into today’s links!
Orlando City Reportedly Won’t Play in 2024 U.S. Open Cup
The latest reports involving Major League Soccer’s participation in this year’s U.S. Open Cup indicate that Orlando City, along with a majority of MLS teams, won’t be playing their first teams in the tournament. According to ESPN‘s Jeff Carlisle, the Houston Dynamo and the seven best teams from last season that aren’t taking part in the Concacaf Champions Cup will have their first teams take part. The format will reportedly be announced soon and we’ll see if Orlando City B and other MLS NEXT Pro teams will be in the tournament.
It will be pretty disappointing if Orlando’s first team doesn’t end up playing. Even though the Lions suffered an early exit last year, they won in 2022 and Head Coach Oscar Pareja has a penchant for excelling in the U.S. Open Cup.
Cavalry FC Reflects on Loss to Orlando City
Although Cavalry FC lost in both legs against Orlando City in its first Concacaf Champions Cup campaign, the Canadian club can hold its head high. Cavalry Head Coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. spoke on the team’s tactics in the second leg in Orlando to overcome the hefty aggregate deficit.
“Strategically, we wanted to frustrate them in the first half with an extra defender, and often at times we were in a back five,” Wheeldon said. “And second half, we wanted to unleash with more attackers and have a go, because it was 0-0. We thought … one, we wanted to make history with our first goal, and two, we wanted to get a result here.”
That first goal did come with Myer Bevan making some history for his team to take back to Canada. All in all, Cavalry did pretty well as the underdog and it’s unfortunate it didn’t get a true home game in Calgary. Cavalry’s defense is the real deal and I doubt this is the last time it makes an appearance in the Champions Cup.
Assessing the Fallout From the USWNT’s Defeat
The United States Women’s National Team suffered a shocking defeat to Mexico earlier this week that’s brought on varying levels of panic. The clock is ticking before the Olympics and the USWNT struggled to bounce back after trailing in the first half and had difficulties on both sides of the ball. While the issues at center back will likely be solved once Naomi Girma and Tierna Davidson play, the midfield has plenty of question marks and a weird balance of youth and experience. It’s an awkward stage for the USWNT, as Emma Hayes doesn’t arrive until May and won’t have much time to get the team ready for Paris. Of course, the USWNT could still win this tournament and the return of Mallory Swanson may heal most wounds this summer, leaving this loss as just a minor blemish when the year is up. Only time will tell and the USWNT has plenty of opportunity to right the ship.
FA Cup Quarterfinals Are Set
It was a pretty wild day in the FA Cup, with some of England’s top teams fighting their way into the quarterfinals. Chelsea needed a late winner from Conor Gallagher to beat Leeds United 3-2 at Stamford Bridge. Manchester United’s match against Nottingham Forest also had a dramatic finish, as United’s Casemiro scored the game’s only goal in the 89th minute. Wolverhampton ousted Brighton thanks to an early goal, and Liverpool got the job done against Southampton.
In the quarterfinals, Newcastle will travel to take on Manchester City, Wolverhampton will host the second division’s Conventry City, Chelsea will take on Leicester City, and Manchester United will face off against Liverpool. All four matches will take place on March 16.
- After getting married, Orlando Pride defender Emily Madril will have a new name on the back of her jersey this season.
- Former Pride midfielder Becky Edwards is an assistant coach at the University of Tennessee and shared details about her time as both a player and coach with the U.S. U-20 team.
- Enjoy this captured moment of Orlando midfielder Wilder Cartagena being awesome.
- LAFC forward Mateusz Bogusz’s strike against the Seattle Sounders won the first MLS Goal of the Matchday of the season, claiming 35.4% of the vote.
- FC Cincinnati beat Cavalier 4-0 in the Champions Cup to advance to the round of 16, where it will take on Brandon Vazquez and Monterrey.
- Spain beat France 2-0 to win the inaugural Women’s Nations League final, with Aitana Bonmati and Mariona Caldentey both scoring.
- American midfielder Johnny Cardoso was named La Liga’s U-23 Player of the Month after a strong February with Real Betis.
- After missing the past weekend, American forward Folarin Balogun will no longer be taking penalty kicks for AS Monaco.
- Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly the frontrunners to land striker Victor Osimhen, who just had a hat trick in Napoli’s 6-1 win over Sassuolo.
- Former Manchester United defender John O’Shea will serve as Ireland’s interim head coach for a pair of friendlies in March.
That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a pretty great Leap Day and that the rest of the week goes smoothly.
Lion Links: 2/28/24
Orlando City moves on in Champions Cup, Orlando Pride unveil new kits, USMNT to play Brazil in Orlando, and more.
Hello, Mane Landers. I hope you all enjoyed watching Orlando City’s win Tuesday night in the Concacaf Champions Cup. I’ve been staying busy at Under Armour, while wrapping up covering high school basketball playoff action with the state championship this weekend. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.
Orlando City Defeats Cavalry FC in Concacaf Champions Cup
The Lions took care of business on Tuesday, defeating Cavalry FC 3-1 at Inter&Co Stadium to advance 6-1 on aggregate and reach the round of 16 in the Concacaf Champions Cup. Forward Luis Muriel got his first start as a Lion, and there was plenty of rotation from the lineup Head Coach Oscar Pareja used against CF Montreal this past weekend. It was Orlando’s first home win in the continental tournament and the Lions will face Tigres in the next round in a rematch of their series in last year’s Concacaf Champions League. The first match will be in Orlando on Tuesday, with the second leg taking place in Mexico on March 12.
Orlando Pride Unveil New Phoenix and Citrus Kits
The Orlando Pride unveiled two new kits on Tuesday as part of the NWSL’s league-wide kit reset ahead of the upcoming season. The first kit is called the Phoenix kit, which features the Pride’s two recognizable colors, purple and blue. The Phoenix kit also features a two-toned purple gradient that goes from the top right to bottom left on the jersey.
The secondary Citrus Kit is an all new color scheme that pays tribute to Florida’s citrus industry. The Citrus Kit features a new orange and iced-out green color scheme with oranges and leaves, while the letters and numbers have the same green coloring. The socks have “Pride” handwritten on the back, while a stylized “OP” is on the lower end of the jersey.
Both kits will be unveiled during the kit party at the Orlando Regional History Center later today. Fans can purchase replicas of the two new jerseys at ShopOrlandoPride.com, in the Den at Inter&Co Stadium, and on NWSLShop.com.
Philadelphia Union Advance Past Deportivo Saprissa
The Philadelphia Union survived a wild match against Deportivo Saprissa at Subaru Park, securing a 3-3 draw to advance to the next round on aggregate. There were four goals in the first 30 minutes of the match, and Mariano Torres gave Saprissa a needed third goal in the second half to send the game to extra time. Despite playing a man down after defender Jack Elliot was sent off, the Union’s Mikael Uhre scored in extra time and the defense held on to advance. There is more Concacaf Champions League action tonight, as FC Cincinnati takes on Cavalier SC, already up 2-0 on aggregate, while Nashville SC faces Moca FC with a 3-0 aggregate lead. The New England Revolution will host Independiente tomorrow.
USMNT to Play Brazil at Camping World Stadium
The United States Men’s National Team will play Brazil in the second edition of the Continental Clasico on June 12 at Camping World Stadium. Both teams will use this match to test themselves in preparation for the Copa America this summer. This will be the first meeting between these two sides since 2018, when the USMNT lost 2-0 to Brazil in a friendly at MetLife Stadium. In the first edition of the Continental Clasico last April, the USMNT played Mexico in a thrilling 1-1 draw. The USMNT has only beaten Brazil once in 19 matches, but its record in Orlando has been stellar, with a 7-2-0 record in recent years. The 2024 Copa America will kick off on June 20.
- The latest MLS power rankings have been released after opening week. Orlando City dropped three places to eighth after a scoreless draw against CF Montreal this past weekend.
- The Orlando Pride’s Rafaelle started and scored a goal in Brazil’s win against Panama in the Concacaf W Gold Cup. Pride forward Adriana came off the bench for Brazil as well.
- USMNT captain Tyler Adams is back at training with AFC Bournemouth. Adams has been sidelined since last September with a hamstring injury.
- Seattle Sounders legend Ozzie Alonso is returning to the club to sign a one-day contract to announce his retirement from professional soccer.
- Mallorca defeated Real Sociedad 5-4 on penalties to advance to the Copa del Rey final for the first time in 21 years.
- Former Blackburn manager Jon Dahl Tomasson has been hired as Sweden’s next manager and will be the first foreign-born coach to lead the men’s side.
That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Wednesday and I’ll see you next time.
Lion Links: 2/27/24
Dagur Dan Thorhallsson named to Team of the Matchday, Orlando City hosts Cavalry FC tonight, USWNT loses to Mexico, and more.
Happy Tuesday, everyone. Orlando City might not have gotten the result we were hoping for to start MLS play, but it’s a long season and it isn’t easy to play on two fronts when coming back from a long layoff. The Lions will get a chance to get back to winning ways tonight when they face Cavalry FC in Concacaf Champions Cup play. As usual, we have a lot to talk about, so let’s get after it.
Dagur Dan Named to MLS Team of the Matchday
Dagur Dan Thorhallsson has been recognized for his efforts in Orlando City’s opening game against CF Montreal with a place in the MLS Team of the Matchday. He got the start at right back and came on strong in the second half, completing three key passes and 88% of his passes on the night. He also completed a cross, a long ball, and took a team-high four shots, although he only put one on target. Sean Rollins gave him a grade of 6 out of 10 on the night, making him one of the highest-rated Lions not named Pedro Gallese.
Orlando City Chases History
Orlando City already made history last week when the team earned its first ever Concacaf Champions Cup victory with a 3-0 win over Cavalry FC. Tonight, the Lions are looking to make a little more history by earning the club’s first home victory in the competition, as well as advancing to the next round for the first time. OCSC put itself in a good position to do exactly that, as a win, draw, or a loss by two goals or fewer will be enough to see the good guys through to the next round. Orlando defender Kyle Smith shared his thoughts on tonight’s match.
The Calgary Herald provided an interesting look at tonight’s game from the view of the visitors as well. After falling at Starlight Stadium, the Canadian club heads to a tough environment in Orlando as the underdog.
USWNT Falls to Mexico
The United States Women’s National Team lost its final game of the Concacaf W Gold Cup group stage, falling 2-0 to Mexico. Lizbeth Ovalle gave Mexico the lead in the first half and Mayra Pelayo put the nail in the coffin with another goal in stoppage time. It was the USWNT’s first time losing at home against a Concacaf team in 23 years, and first time being beaten by Mexico since 2010. It was a rough game for the USWNT, as it struggled on both sides of the ball. As a result of this loss, the U.S. finish second in its group and will play in the quarterfinals this weekend.
Americans in Midweek Action
There are a number of United States Men’s National Team players taking part in games during the working week, so make sure you don’t miss any of the action. Tomorrow sees Gianluca Busio, Tanner Tessmann, and Venezia host Cittadella in Serie B action, while Giovanni Reyna, Matt Turner, and Nottingham Forest host Manchester United in the FA Cup. Things finish up on Friday, with Christian Pulisic, Yunus Musah, and AC Milan facing Lazio in Serie A, and Folarin Balogun and Monaco facing off against Paris Saint-Germain.
- Forward Luis Muriel is available for selection tonight and could make his Orlando City debut.
- Orlando City placed sixth in ESPN‘s first power rankings of the season.
- Orlando Pride forward Mariana Larroquette started and had an assist in Argentina’s 3-0 win over the Dominican Republic.
- Minnesota United has officially named Eric Ramsay as the team’s new head coach.
- Everton had its points deduction reduced from 10 to six, which moves the Toffees five points clear of the relegation zone into 15th place.
That’s all I have for you this morning. Vamos Orlando!
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