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Lion Links: 2/26/16

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Happy Friday, Mane Landers! Oh, to be young again. Even if I had the ability to relive my youth I probably would not have become a standout defender good enough to be drafted by the Orlando Pride with the 10th overall selection. I bring this up as today is Pride defender Samantha Witteman's birthday–so be sure to wish her well! I'll cope by stocking up on Girl Scout cookies as we begin National Girl Scout Cookie Weekend. Without wanting to start a cookie war, feel free to share your favorite variety in the comments section. On to the links!

Previews Roll In As Season Nears

With Orlando City’s season opener against Real Salt Lake only nine days away, the previews continue to roll in prior to the beginning of the 2016 season. The latest comes from American Soccer Analysis, which provides a statistical preview of what fans can expect from the club this season. What do you make of the article’s conclusion for OCSC? Do you have higher hopes/expectations? Is Orlando City more than a mid-tier Eastern Conference team?

Boden's Noble Cause

Luke Boden's son, Kaleb, is currently battling against a rare eye disease called nystagmus. According to the American Optometric Association, "nystagmus is a vision condition in which the eyes make repetitive, uncontrolled movements, often resulting in reduced vision." Boden's wife, Kerem, set up a gofundme page to raise money to help doctors find a cure. Kaleb is adorable and nystagmus stinks; do what you can, Lion Nation!

Ashlyn Harris Apparel

For all you fashionistas out there, be sure to check out Ashlyn Harris' new apparel. The Orlando Pride goalkeeper has a variety of designs available offering fans an alternative way to show support for the returning Floridian.

CONCACAF Reform Measures Unanimously Passed

As a result of the corruption scandal uncovered last year, CONCACAF member nations have unanimously passed reform measures, which will be implemented immediately. From a statement released by the regional association (originally quoted in the linked story):

The reforms passed today go further than ever before to incorporate essential principles of good governance and compliance into CONCACAF's statutes. However, it is only the beginning of the equally important process of changing the culture of how football is governed and administered by implementing these reforms in a meaningful and sustainable way.

Professional Futsal League to "Americanize" Game

When is a sport no longer the sport it claims to be? That question will seemingly be pertinent to the Professional Futsal League, slated to begin play in 2017. The U.S. league already has big names of world soccer attached to it, and deep-pocketed owners and league investors aplenty. As the fledging league establishes its foundation, reports suggest that the league will strive to "Americanize" the game by implementing a unique set of rules. Any suggestions for christening the proposed hybrid game? Will the league be simply be a flash in the pan, or do you think it has lasting potential?

MLS News and Notes

  • Don Garber is in Zürich as a representative of MLS at the newly formed World Leagues Forum, a new organization formed with the intention to represent the interests and collective views of professional soccer leagues around the world. Speaking of this morning’s FIFA Congress, Garber hopes the new head of the sport’s governing body will initiate “sweeping change.”
  • The San Jose Earthquakes have acquired Panamanian international midfielder Alberto Quintero on loan for the upcoming season from Mexican second division side Lobos BUAP. Quintero played in all six of Panama’s matches at last summer’s Gold Cup, in which his side finished in third place.

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  • Future post-L.A. Galaxy career for Steven Gerrard? If his managing plans fall apart he has an in with the world of journalism.
  • FIFA is currently holding elections for its new president. Here’s a good primer on the election process, who is running, and what outcomes you can possibly expect. For what it’s worth, Sunil Gulati said Thursday that the U.S. Soccer Federation will throw its support behind Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein. Tokyo Sexwale would certainly win if this election were for best name.
  • Today’s birthdays around the soccer world include former Manchester United player and current Molde coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (b. 1973), current Crystal Palace striker Emmanuel Adebayor (b. 1984), Spanish international Fernando Llorente (b. 1985), and Brazilian midfielder Diego (b. 1985). Also celebrating a birthday is American singer Michael Bolton (b. 1953) to which I leave you to enjoy your weekends with the following:

Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/11/24

Learning more about Morgan Gautrat, OCB plays tonight, Champions League action, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I’m having a fairly stressful but great week after adopting my first cat and getting him all set up here. It may take a few weeks to turn him into a loyal Orlando soccer fan, but I have high hopes. Regardless, I’m looking forward to the gauntlet of games with Orlando City B playing today, the Orlando Pride tomorrow, and Orlando City on Saturday. Let’s get to the links!

Getting to Know Morgan Gautrat

Orlando Pride midfielder Morgan Gautrat was the latest player to field questions as part of the video series for fans to learn more about the players who wear purple. She weighed in on how she changed her game once she transitioned to the United States Women’s National Team at age 19, going from a playmaking attacker to a player who slots in deeper in the midfield. Gautrat brings leadership, experience, and a strong skillset to a young Pride team that’s built a strong culture around it. She also spoke on how Florida is her soccer home, what her spirit animal is, and the team’s aspirations this season.

Orlando City B Takes On Philadelphia Union II

The Young Lions are on the road today at 4 p.m. for an MLS NEXT Pro match against Philadelphia Union II. OCB last played in Chester, PA in last year’s season opener, winning 3-1 in an impressive victory. The team will hope for a similar result tonight to get back on track after a loss to Inter Miami II earlier this month. Philadelphia has yet to lose in regulation this season and has won both of its home matches. It should be a tough match for the Young Lions, but a great chance to climb back up the Eastern Conference standings for them.

Assessing USWNT After SheBelieves Cup Win

The United States Women’s National Team is moving towards the Olympics with plenty of momentum after winning the SheBelieves Cup and Concacaf W Gold Cup. There were plenty of parallels between the SheBelieves Cup final and the Gold Cup semifinal against Canada, one was just a bit more waterlogged. Canada used a late penalty to send the game to penalty kicks, Sophia Smith scored, and Alyssa Naeher stood on her head in the penalty shootout. The key differences were that Mallory Swanson has given the attack some needed dynamism after returning, and the defense struggles without Naomi Girma to anchor it. It was also Twila Kilgore’s final game as the USWNT’s interim head coach, and now attention will turn towards how Emma Hayes can elevate the team once she takes over.

Champions League Quarterfinals Roll On

Atletico Madrid and Barcelona both won in their first legs of the Champions League quarterfinals, although neither match was a blowout. Atletico Madrid hosted Borussia Dortmund and scored twice in the first half. Dortmund brought one back in the second half, but Atletico Madrid held on to secure a 2-1 win. The road team completed the comeback in the other match though, with Barcelona winning a 3-2 thriller against Paris Saint-Germain that included four goals in the second half. All in all, this was a great round of quarterfinal first legs filled with plenty of goals, and the second legs next week should be pretty entertaining.

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  • Andrew Wiebe was the latest analyst to dive into Orlando’s attacking woes this season. I personally think things will naturally improve once the team gets some rest under its belt and Luis Muriel settles in. I agree with Wiebe though that Wilder Cartagena and Cesar Araujo must return to form.
  • The Champions League shouldn’t overshadow a strong slate of Europa League quarterfinals today. My favorite matchup of the four would have to be the Italian showdown between AC Milan and Roma.
  • English forward Rachel Daly announced that she is retiring from international soccer. The 32-year-old scored 22 goals last season with Aston Villa and has scored 16 goals in 84 appearances with England.
  • Midfielder Dillon Serna is hanging up his cleats at age 30 after a career that included time with the Colorado Rapids and Colorado Springs Switchbacks.
  • Manchester City’s Rodri is feeling the wear and tear of his team’s pursuit for silverware. Rest may be hard to come by for him during a congested schedule, and he hasn’t lost in the past 66 games he’s played in.
  • Former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy shared the struggle he had after retiring, providing details on his drug addiction and the despair felt after he quit playing.

That’s all I have for you today on this fine Thursday. Treat yourself to something you deserve, check in with a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, and have a great day!

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Lion Links: 4/10/24

MLS Earth Day kits are in, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson gets noticed, U.S. wins SheBelieves Cup, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. Time to start your day with some tasty links. Orlando City and the Pride are back in action this weekend, and OCB has a match tomorrow. That means plenty of goodness to end the week. Three straight days of Orlando matches is something for which to be grateful. Let’s get to the links.

Orlando City’s Greener Goals

Orlando City joins the other clubs in MLS in celebrating Earth Day with the Greener Goals week of service. Each club will volunteer time to help the environment. The club has two cleanups scheduled, including one in the area around the stadium in which fans can contribute to the effort. Additionally, all the clubs will have special One Planet pre-match kits. The kits are made from recycled materials and represent either soil, woods, or water. I’m guessing that the Orlando City kit is of the soil variety.

Dagur Dan is Da Man

The Mane Land PawedCast isn’t the only outfit noticing that Dagur Dan Thorhallsson is a force to be reckoned with. To be fair, he had some struggles during Orlando City’s hectic start to the season. Once he was rested, he was back in form and others outside of Orlando are taking notice. It’s not particularly surprising given his very nice right foot on crosses, his ability to take on opponents, and his ability to get back on defense. I’m looking forward to more from him because I don’t want no Fop! I’m a Dagur Dan man!

Barbra Banda Sends Zambia to the Olympics

After a 2-1 loss to Morocco in the first leg, Zambia bounced back with a 2-0 road win in the second leg to qualify for this summer’s Olympics. Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda scored twice in the match, including a penalty in extra time to secure the win on aggregate. It’s the second straight trip to the Olympics for Zambia, with Banda scoring six goals in the group stage of the last Olympics. This year, Zambia is in a tough group against the U.S., Germany, and Australia, but has the talent to make a run.

Once Upon a What?

Once Upon a Coconut is now the official coconut water sponsor of Orlando City, the Orlando Pride, and Inter&Co Stadium. If you’re like me, your first response was, “I was unaware that official coconut water sponsors were a thing.” Well, they are, and now the club is a leader in this exciting new frontier. All kidding aside, sponsors mean money for the club, which is a good thing, and the product will be available to sample in the Mane Street Plaza Fan Zone. Drink up, me hearties!

USWNT Wins the SheBelieves Cup

It took the USWNT all the way to penalty kicks to finally win the 2024 SheBelieves Cup, defeating Canada 2-2 (5-4). Canada struck first before the U.S. took the lead on a Sophia Smith brace. Canada equalized late on a soft penalty conceded by Crystal Dunn, and the match went to spot kicks to decide things. Despite missing the first shot, the U.S. eventually won, thanks to three saves by Alyssa Naeher, who also contributed a goal in the shootout.

In the third-place match, Brazil and Japan also went to penalty kicks, with Brazil winning the shootout 3-0 after a 1-1 draw, with Lorena saving all three of Japan’s penalty kicks. Cristiane scored the equalizer for Brazil in the 71st minute to ultimately send the game to penalties. The Orlando Pride’s Angelina and Marta played for Brazil.

Racial Abuse in El Trafico

Following LAFC’s 2-1 victory over the LA Galaxy Saturday, the Galaxy’s Ghanaian forward, Joseph Paintsil, was the victim of online racial abuse. Reportedly, an LAFC fan used a derogatory slur and criticized Paintsil’s performance in the match. MLS, the Galaxy, and LAFC all condemned the incident. The parties are continuing to work with local authorities to hold the person accountable.

To be very clear, as far as I’m concerned, there is no room for this in soccer or anywhere. No racism, no homophobia, no transphobia — just stop being horrible.

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That will do it for today. Remember to check back daily as we get you ready for all the upcoming matches. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links: 4/9/24

Charlie Campbell reflects on Orlando City, Americans in midweek action, UEFA Champions League preview, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Hopefully everyone’s eyes are still intact if you tried to view the solar eclipse Monday, because we have a busy week ahead of us. The United States Women’s National Team plays Canada in the final of the SheBelieves Cup tonight, Orlando City B plays Philadelphia Union II on Thursday, the Orlando Pride play the Utah Royals on Friday, and Orlando City travels to D.C. United on Saturday. Needless to say, we have plenty to cover this morning, so let’s get to the links.

Reflecting on Orlando City’s History

The 2024 season is all about appreciating Orlando City’s history, and that’s just what former Lion Charlie Campbell did back in January. The midfielder played for Orlando City in the team’s USL Pro days starting back in 2011, but he hadn’t been back to the city in over 10 years since retiring from professional soccer. He visited the Lions’ soccer-specific stadium for the first time and got to see the banner for the team that won the USL Pro title in 2011 hanging in the rafters. Campbell spoke about how tightly knit that team was and called his time in Orlando some of the fondest memories he has.

Americans in Midweek Action

As usual, there are a number of Americans who will be playing games during the work week, so make sure you have the games you want to see marked down on your calendar. Haji Wright and Coventry City have a big match later today while chasing promotion, as they visit fourth-place Southampton. Thursday sees Christian Pulisic, Yunus Musah, and AC Milan square off against Roma in the Europa League. Things finish up on Friday with some American on American action in La Liga, as Luca de la Torre and Celta Vigo travel to face Johnny Cardoso and Real Betis.

UEFA Champions League Preview

The UEFA Champions League is back this week as the quarterfinals get underway, and there are a number of storylines to keep an eye on. Real Madrid has reportedly submitted a request to UEFA to have its match against Manchester City played with the roof of the Santiago Bernabeu closed in order to boost the atmosphere. Although with Antonio Rudiger labeling his upcoming duel with Erling Haaland as “personal,” I doubt atmosphere will be in short supply during that tie. Elsewhere, Gabriel Jesus has warned Bayern Munich that Arsenal is a team that’s all grown up, as the Gunners try to reach the semifinals for the first time in 15 years by beating a Bayern team that has frequently been their UCL kryptonite. Echoing those sentiments of maturity is Kylian Mbappe, who has said that he “will not hide” as Paris Saint-Germain welcomes Barcelona in a campaign that will almost certainly be the Frenchman’s last chance to win the Champions League while playing for PSG.

Colombian Women’s Team Beat Mexico in Orlando

Inter&Co Stadium played host to the Colombian and Mexican women’s national teams on Saturday. The teams squared off in a friendly as part of MexTour W 2024. Colombia came out with the result, as veteran forward Catalina Usme scored the game winner in a 1-0 affair. As has become customary during games featuring a Colombian national side, the yellow jerseys were out in force, and the crowd certainly skewed in the favor of the eventual winners. All in all, it was an excellent event, and it’s always nice to see the City Beautiful getting some extra love when it comes to hosting soccer games.

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That’s all I have for you this morning. Vamos Orlando!

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