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The Mane Land Yearly Awards: Orlando City’s Best Goal, Save, and Player of 2016

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So, Orlando City’s 2016 season was, in many respects, a letdown. There were highs and lows and a lot of internal changes, but in the end, the team missed the playoffs and their season ended in disappointment

There's a lot to look forward to for next year, though. New stadium, first full year under Jason Kreis, new players and new home jerseys. Until then, though, let's take a look back at the 2016 season and who stood out in the year that was.

Goal of the Year: Brek Shea vs. Portland Timbers

Back at the end of April, I wrote this in the monthly awards: “In what could be in contention for Goal of the Season for Orlando City, Brek Shea’s rocket against the defending MLS Cup champions is our goal of April.”

It turns out that this goal, at least according to The Mane Land staff, was indeed Orlando City’s best goal of 2016.

After getting the ball on the left wing and stumbling a bit, Shea was able to play a nice one-two with Kaká, get the ball in the box, curl the ball off the outside of his foot, and rocket it into the top right corner of the net. This was Shea’s first club goal since his days at FC Dallas back in 2012, and what a goal it was.

Kaká’s goal against D.C. United also received votes, but it was fairly unanimous that Brek’s goal was the winner.

Save of the Year: Joe Bendik on Didier Drogba

In a season in which Joe Bendik made more saves than he ever has in his career, and second-most in all of MLS, there were definitely tons of saves to choose from for this award. With an at most times questionable back line, Bendik was forced time and time again to come up with big stops for Orlando City. Arguably his best on the year, however, was the point-blank save on Montreal’s Didier Drogba.

Back in September, I wrote about the save.

“The play started when the Impact’s Donny Toia put a ball from midfield over the top of the Orlando back line. Hassoun Camara then one-timed the ball across the face of goal towards Drogba on the far post. Bendik was able to sprint over from one side of goal to the other and make a diving stop on Drogba’s effort as he tried to slot the ball away. Another Save of the Week for Joe Bendik to add to his highlight reel.”

Player of the Year: Kevin Molino

What a year it was for the Trinidadian midfielder. Coming back from an ACL tear and questions about his ability in MLS, Molino got off to a slow start to the 2016 campaign. After notching his first goal against the Timbers, a penalty which Kaká graciously let him take to help his confidence, Molino began to catch the goal-scoring fire he had back in 2014. The midfielder finished the season with 11 goals and eight assists, which was good for 16th in the league in goals and 24th in MLS in assists. Molino was integral in the Orlando attack, mixing well with Kaká and, later on, Matias Perez Garcia, helping not only score big goals, but set them up as well. Not only that, but Molino is up for MLS Comeback Player of the Year, which, if the MLS voting folks have any sense about, he should win. Overall, it was a breakout year in MLS for Molino with a lot to build on for 2017.

Team captain Kaká also received votes from the staff after another outstanding year.

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Well, that does it for our look back at 2016. We’ll keep you updated here at The Mane Land with all the player movement over the next few months and who will be back for the Lions come next year.

Be sure to weigh in with your thoughts for each category in the comments section.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/21/24

Two Lions recognized, Pride player up for weekly honors, United States releases training camp roster, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It was a damn good weekend for Orlando’s teams, as Orlando City beat San Jose 1-0, and the Orlando Pride took down the Seattle Reign 3-2, which meant that the two teams picked up all six points on offer, and out on the west coast, no less! We’ve got plenty of news to talk over today, so let’s jump straight into the links.

Lions Included in Team of the Matchday

A pair of Lions have been rewarded for their efforts in Saturday’s win with a place in the latest edition of the MLS Team of the Matchday. Wilder Cartagena was given a spot in the starting XI as a center back after yet another commanding performance in a three-man back line for Orlando City. The Peruvian was superb and finished with five tackles, four clearances, and two interceptions, as OCSC kept a second clean sheet in a row. Jack Lynn was given a spot on the bench, after grabbing a late winner in an extended substitute appearance. Lynn entered the fray for an injured Duncan McGuire in the 16th minute, and was the difference maker as he latched onto a scuffed Martin Ojeda shot to win the game for Orlando in the 89th minute.

Pride Player up for Weekly Honors

Emily Sams’ strike against the Seattle Reign has been nominated for the NWSL Goal of the Week. On a night that had plenty of goals, Sams opened the scoring in the ninth minute. The ball found its way to her at the top of the box, and the defender didn’t even bother taking a touch as she hit the ball first time and curled it past the despairing dive of Laurel Ivory. Sams isn’t exactly a prolific goal scorer, so that makes the sweetly hit goal that much better. Be sure you go and drop a vote for her to win!

United States Releases Pre-Copa Roster

The United States Men’s National Team has announced its 27-player roster that will take part in a pre-Copa America training camp. The final tournament roster needs to have at least 23 players and a maximum of 26, so Gregg Berhalter won’t need to make a ton of cuts if he doesn’t want to. The roster features Josh Sargent making his return to a training camp for the first time since the 2022 World Cup, as well as Cameron-Carter Vickers, Luca de la Torre, and Sean Johnson making their first appearances in 2024. LAFC youngster Timmy Tillman is the least experienced player in the mix with just one appearance to his name, while Christian Pulisic’s 66 appearances leads the team. The USMNT will play Colombia and Brazil in tune-up friendlies on June 8 and June 12, with the latter match taking place in Orlando at Camping World Stadium.

MLS Stock Watch

With another MLS matchday in the close, we can reflect on which teams are on the rise, and which ones seem to be headed in the wrong direction. FC Cincinnati has now won six straight games, and is hot on Inter Miami’s heels at the top of the Eastern Conference table. New York City FC has now won three in a row after beating the New York Red Bulls 2-1 in the Hudson River Derby, a result which saw the Pigeons leapfrog NYRB into third place in the East. At the other end of things, the Chicago Fire have lost four straight and only scored two goals in their last seven matches, while CF Montreal got hammered 5-1 by Toronto FC and has matched Chicago with a fourth-straight loss.

European Transfer Rumor Roundup

Several European club seasons may have ended, but that just means that the off-season transfer rumor mill is starting to kick into gear. Premier League champion Manchester City has reportedly agreed to personal terms with West Ham midfielder Lucas Paqueta, but is still negotiating with the Hammers about a sale price. Runners-up Arsenal wants to bolster its team to get over the line and win the title next year and is said to have Alexander Isak, Brian Brobbey, and Viktor Gyokeres on a short list of strikers, although the Gunners expect to face competition from Chelsea for Gyokeres. Despite chatter concerning a possible move away during the summer, Mohamed Salah has said he will “fight like hell” to win trophies with Liverpool next season. Finally, Bayern Munich is said to have had internal talks about appointing Vincent Kompany as the club’s next manager, and the board has even reached out to the Belgian directly to discuss his current situation.

Free Kicks


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

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. San Jose Earthquakes: Five Takeaways

What did we learn from Orlando City beating the Earthquakes on the West Coast?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City wrapped up three matches in eight days with a trip out west on short rest for a late night matchup against the San Jose Earthquakes. Playing level throughout much of the match, it appeared as though both teams would split the points until the Cardiac Cats found some late magic. What follows are my immediate takeaways from an unexpected, yet satisfying, three points.

3-5-2 For the Win

The 3-5-2 lineup returned once again and proved to be quite a versatile team shape for the Lions. Against San Jose, the Lions were without captain Robin Jansson due to injury and defensive midfielder Cesar Araujo was suspended due to yellow card accumulation. Dagur Dan Thorhallsson returned to the starting lineup and slotted in as a wingback in the formation. Wilder Cartagena excelled once again as a center back, and Felipe did well filling in for Araujo in the midfield. The shape has allowed the coaching staff to more easily fill gaps with different players as needed, and I think we may see it as the default formation for the foreseeable future.

Duncan McGuire Injured Early On

Jack Lynn was substituted on in the 15th minute for an injured Duncan McGuire, who landed awkwardly on his right arm after being sandwiched between two Quakes players in an aerial duel. It was an early exit for McGuire, who tried to stop his fall by sticking out his forearm. Given the injuries the team has dealt with over the last several matches, one can only hope this does not lead to a prolonged absence for Orlando’s leading scorer.

Ivan Angulo Defies Tired Legs

No one would have faulted the Lions for sitting back as the match neared its end given that this was their third match in eight days, and second on the road during that stretch. It makes the effort Ivan Angulo gave to help create the winning goal even more impressive. After running up and down the field all game, Angulo chased down a clearance after a San Jose corner kick and beat defenders down the length of the field on a lung-busting run. The fitness staff and trainers deserve some credit for ensuring that the Lions had their legs under them that late into a match considering the travel and schedule congestion of the week.

Jack Lynn After Dark

Jack Lynn, who was selected in the first round of the 2022 MLS SuperDraft, found the back of the net for the second time this season. In what was likely an unexpected 75 minutes of game action for him, Lynn scored late to give Orlando all three points. The goal was a combination of being in the right place at the right time, as Martin Ojeda mishit his shot after the cross from Angulo, and impressive body control from Lynn, who contorted his body to redirect the ball into the back of the net. It was an impressive finish for Lynn, who had another great chance to put the game away that was saved just minutes prior to his goal. Lynn ultimately would not be denied and made sure the Orlando City fans back on the East Coast woke up to good news.

Making History On the Road

Orlando City and the San Jose Earthquakes do not exactly have a storied rivalry however, anytime the club can achieve a first in team history it should be mentioned. Last evening’s victory marked Orlando City’s first ever road victory against the Earthquakes. Heading into this match, I thought the Lions would opt for a heavily rotated lineup on the road, as the Lions were facing a club at the bottom of the Western Conference table on short rest. Instead, the club turned in a classic performance under Pareja, staying defensively sound to keep the game close and get a result on the road. The Lions were able to get the win on a counter attack and the result secured seven points from their last three matches.


Those are the things that stood out most to me from the 1-0 victory against the Earthquakes, let us know in the comments below what stood out to you. As always, vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links: 5/20/24

Lions and Pride win, MLS weekend recap, Manchester City wins Premier League title, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. It was another good weekend for our teams, as Orlando City and the Pride both won their respective matches. I’ve been busy covering high school playoff action with soccer, volleyball, lacrosse, and softball. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Lions Pull Out Late Win on the Road

Orlando City pulled out a late 1-0 win on the road against the San Jose Earthquakes at PayPal Park on Saturday. Jack Lynn came off the bench and scored the lone goal in this match for Orlando to grab the three points. Duncan McGuire started the match but had to be substituted out early in the first half due to injury and was replaced by Lynn. The Lions are on a three-match unbeaten streak after a scoreless draw at home against Inter Miami on Wednesday. Orlando City moves up to 10th in the Eastern Conference with 16 points. The Lions return to action on Saturday to face the Columbus Crew at Inter&Co Stadium.

Orlando Pride Win Against Seattle Reign FC

The Orlando Pride won their seventh straight match after a 3-2 win against the Seattle Reign at Lumen Field on Sunday. There were plenty of goals in this one, with Barbra Banda lifting the Pride to their first ever win in Washington against the Reign. Orlando remains undefeated in league play after 10 matches and the Pride sit atop the NWSL table with 24 points. The Pride return home for a Friday night matchup against the Portland Thorns at Inter&Co Stadium.

MLS Weekend Recap

It was another busy weekend in MLS, with four rivalry matches taking place. Let’s start with the Hudson River Derby, as New York City FC edged past the New York Red Bulls 2-1. Real Salt Lake got a thrilling 5-3 win against the Colorado Rapids in the Rocky Mountain Cup. In Canada, Toronto FC cruised past CF Montreal with a 5-1 victory. The Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas battled to a 1-1 draw down in Texas. FC Cincinnati defeated St. Louis City SC 3-1, while the Columbus Crew beat the Chicago Fire 3-1 as well.

The Philadelphia Union shut out the New England Revolution 3-0 to snap its six-match winless streak. Austin FC won 3-2 over Sporting Kansas City, Minnesota United handed the Portland Timbers a 2-1 defeat, and Inter Miami got a late goal from Leonardo Campana for a 1-0 win over D.C. United.

Manchester City Wins English Premier League

Manchester City defeated West Ham 3-1 to win a historic fourth consecutive Premier League title on Sunday with 91 points on the final day of the season. Phil Foden scored twice in this match as Manchester City became the first club to win four straight Premier League trophies. Arsenal defeated Everton 2-1 but ended up short of the title, finishing second with 89 points. Liverpool won in Jurgen Klopp’s final match as manager, beating Wolves 2-0 to finish third. Aston Villa finished fourth despite a 5-0 loss to Crystal Palace, Tottenham finished fifth, and Chelsea finished sixth in the table. Luton Town lost 4-2 at home to Fulham to finish 18th, officially joining Burnley and Sheffield United in being relegated to the EFL Championship next season. 

Free Kicks

  • Former Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner has agreed to a one-year contract extension with Manchester United, with an option for another year. Manchester United won its first major trophy earlier this month, winning the Women’s FA Cup.
  • Former USMNT player Jonathan Bornstein has agreed to play for NPSL side Tallahassee SC in their summer season. He made his debut on Saturday as the Battle Lions won their opener 2-0 against the Miami Dutch Lions FC.
  • According to Tom Bogert, new MLS expansion side San Diego FC is reportedly closer to sealing a move to sign Chucky Lozano over from PSV Eindhoven.
  • Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi announced he will leave the club after its Premier League season ended in a 2-0 loss to Manchester United on Sunday. 
  • Bayer Leverkusen completed its Bundesliga season unbeaten with a 2-1 win over FC Augsburg. The club also made history as the first team in the history of the Bundesliga to complete a full season without a loss. 

That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Monday and I’ll see you next time.

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