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Lion Links: 11/30/16

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Good morning, Mane Landers.

Yesterday was a somber day for our sport, so let's get started right away.

Tragedy Strikes Brazilian Squad

As I am sure most of you now know, there was a plane crash in Colombia that killed 71 people. The aircraft was flying the Chapecoense football team, a club playing in Brazil’s top league. A majority of the squad was aboard, with three players surviving the crash as well as three players who did not fly with the team. The team was en route to play the first leg of the 2016 Copa Sudamericana Final against Atlético Nacional, a Colombian team. The Copa Sudamericana is South America’s version of Europa League.

There were nine crew members and 68 passengers in all on the flight, which included the squad and journalists. The crash occurred late Monday night near the Colombian city of La Unión. One of the survivors was a flight attendant, who stated that the aircraft ran out of fuel. It took a while for rescue teams to get to the wreckage, as there was a heavy amount of fog. It was not until a few hours after the crash occurred that the survivors were able to reach the hospital. There were seven initial survivors, however, one died after reaching the hospital.

Chapecoense has been compared to Leicester City, as just five seasons ago the club was playing in Brazil’s third tier. Atlético Nacional, asked that the championship be awarded to Chapecoense. CONMEBOL has suspended all of its related activities. Many clubs and players across the footballing world, including Orlando City, have reached out and expressed their condolences to the Brazilian team.

My deepest condolences go out to all of those affected by the plane crash that claimed all those lives. That is something that is always heartbreaking, especially when it involves a sports team that many people idolize and look up to. The response to what happened has been amazing. Brazilian teams wanting to give Chapecoense players free on loans as well as granting the club immunity from relegation for three years. Everyone with a connection to football, whether it be players, teams, coaches, or fans, have all reached out to show their support for the Brazilian club.

It is sad day in football, but life must go on.

Orlando City Reacts to Plane Crash

Orlando City has many connections to Brazilian football; and players and staff have been expressing their sorrow for Chapecoense and all those affected by the aforementioned plane crash. Kaká, the team’s Brazilian captain, posted on Instagram, saying, "I wake up with sad news, my heart is now praying" in Portuguese. CEO of Orlando City, Alex Leitão, another Brazilian, tweeted, "It is a very sad day for soccer[.]" The club changed its Twitter profile picture to that of the Chapecoense badge. And Vice President of Communications Diogo Kotscho stated that he knew some of the people who were on the plane and expressed his sorrow as well. Orlando City and its members are just a small amount of all of those who have honored the Brazilian club. Today, there were many moments of silence before matches, including both English Football League Cup matches.

Former Lions Head Coach Named Minnesota United Manager

Adrian Heath has officially been named the head coach of Minnesota United FC. The former Orlando City SC coach was clearly the front runner for the job and it was made official on Tuesday. Heath was coach of the Lions for their inaugural season back in 2015, and will be coach for Minnesota’s inaugural season as well. The Englishman spent his entire playing career in England, except for one season when he played for La Liga side Espanyol. Heath spent some time managing in England before coming to America. He had a lot of success coaching Orlando City in the USL. When Orlando City was granted an expansion franchise in MLS, he got the job. However, he was sacked by Orlando in the midst of the 2016 season in July, after winning only four of the first 16 games of the season.

Heath spoke to FourFourTwo's Paul Tenorio about his departure from Orlando.

"I thought the circumstances of me losing my job were disappointing," Heath said, in his first public comments about the firing. "The things that came out were really disappointing. I think what I had done for the job warranted more than three lines on the website. That was my disappointment. When I look back I'm really proud of what I did in Orlando. I don't think it was a failure at any stage."

Former Lion Ian Fuller, who also assisted the gaffer with Orlando City, will be on Heath's staff in Minnesota.

Larin a Finalist for 2016 Canadian Player of the Year

Orlando City striker Cyle Larin is one of seven MLS players on the shortlist for Canada’s Men’s Player of the Year for 2016. Other candidates include Vancouver Whitecaps defenders David Edgar and Marcel de Jong, Toronto FC’s Jonathan Osorio and Tosaint Ricketts, FC DallasTesho Akindele, and Montreal Impact midfielder Patrice Bernier. The winner will be announced in December. Larin led Orlando with 14 goals in 2016 and added his first three MLS assists as well. Good luck, Cyle.

U.S. Women Ousted From U20 World Cup

The U.S. Women’s U20 National Team has been knocked out of the U20 World Cup in Papua New Guinea after losing 2-1 to North Korea in the semifinals. After going down 1-0 in the 50th minute, the U.S. tied it up in the 89th minute when Natalie Jacobs placed a nice volley over the goalkeepers head. The excitement of a last-minute, game-tying goal was quickly undone when North Korea scored 48 seconds into extra time. The Americans were unable to find another equalizer and the match finished 2-1. The U.S. will play in the third place game against Japan, which lost to France in the other semifinal match.

That is all for me today. I hope you have a great Wednesday! Please continue to keep all those affected by the plane crash in your thoughts and prayers. And give the ones you love a little extra strong hug today.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/28/24

Yutaro Tsukada earns recognition, Americans in midweek action, European coaching updates, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I hope you all had a restful holiday weekend, and if you didn’t, then I hope you’re well on the way to recovery. We’ve got an exciting schedule this week, with two Orlando City games before an Orlando City B game on Sunday. It’s also OCB forward Yeiler Valencia’s birthday today, so let’s wish him well and jump into today’s links!

Yutaro Tsukada Earns MLS NEXT Pro Honors

OCB winger Yutaro Tsukada was named MLS NEXT Pro Player of Matchweek 11 for his performance in the team’s 5-0 home win against Huntsville City FC. The 22-year-old provided the assist on OCB’s first goal after using some nice skill on the ball to shake his defender. Tsukada then scored a goal of his own off of a free kick in the second half. The rookie has been electric for the Young Lions this season, recording four goals and four assists so far. Hopefully he can keep the momentum rolling when OCB faces Inter Miami II this Sunday.

Major League Soccer Stock Watch

Every week gives us a better idea of each MLS team’s capabilities, so let’s check in on how things are looking following the latest matchday. LAFC is on a great trajectory, as it’s won three consecutive league games and five straight in all competitions. Elsewhere in the Western Conference, Real Salt Lake scored three goals in the final 30 minutes of play to stretch its unbeaten streak to 11 games, and Cristian Arango didn’t have to do all of the heavy lifting. At the other end of things, the New England Revolution have lost three straight games, and six of their last seven. Likewise, the shine looks to have worn off from St. Louis City’s expansion season, as the team has also lost three straight games and simply doesn’t look the same as last year.

Americans in Midweek Action

With most of the European club seasons having concluded, there aren’t as many United States Men’s National Team players in action during the working week, but there are still some important games to make note of. Chief among those is Venezia’s game against Cremonese on Thursday. Tanner Tessmann, Gianluca Busio and Venezia will take on Cremonese over two legs, with the winner gaining promotion to Serie A. Left back Jonathan Gomez may take the field tomorrow morning in Real Sociedad’s friendly against Tokyo Verde as well.

In a pair of friendlies on Friday, Mexico plays Bolivia and Uruguay takes on Costa Rica. With the USMNT set to face both Bolivia and Uruguay in group play of this summer’s Copa America, the two matches present a good chance to better gauge the Yanks’ opponents.

European Coaching Updates

Several notable European club teams have coaching vacancies to fill this summer, and there are some updates on a few of those positions. Chelsea has reportedly made an approach for Leicester City’s Enzo Maresca, and has requested permission to talk to the manager who guided the Foxes back to the Premier League in his first year with the club. Meanwhile, despite interest from Manchester United, Kieran McKenna is reportedly set to stay at Ipswich Town, and has had talks about extending his contract. Finally, Aston Villa has extended Unai Emery’s contract, with his new deal keeping him at the club until 2029.

Transfer Rumor Roundup

Transfer season is kicking into gear, and we have several rumors to sift through this morning. Up first, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich are reportedly all in hot pursuit of Stade Rennais winger Desire Doue. Casemiro reportedly has a deal lined up with a team in the Saudi Pro League, and may have played his last game for Manchester United. Newly promoted Southampton is reportedly interested in signing Adam Lallana as a free agent. Finally, Paris Saint-Germain is said to have entered the race to sign Bruno Guimaraes, and will face stiff competition from Manchester City and Arsenal.

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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/27/24

Orlando City loses to the Crew, Pride and OCB win, Southampton seals return to Premier League, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

Happy Memorial Day, Mane Landers! I hope you all had a good holiday weekend. I worked at Under Armour all weekend while wrapping up my high school sports coverage for the spring season. It was a mixed weekend for our teams. Orlando City lost, but both the Pride and OCB won their matches. We’ve got plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links. 

Lions Lose at Home to Columbus Crew

Orlando City lost 2-0 to the Columbus Crew on Saturday at Inter&Co Stadium and saw its three-match unbeaten streak end. The match’s first goal was controversial as the referee, Jair Marrufo, initially awarded the Lions a penalty late in the first half but went to the monitor and reviewed a play at the other end of the pitch. He instead awarded Columbus a penalty kick. Diego Rossi scored from the spot to put the Crew ahead 1-0 before halftime. Columbus extended its winning streak to three matches. Orlando has struggled at home, going just 1-3-4 so far this season. The Lions have not scored a goal at home since April 27. Despite the loss, the Lions still remain in 10th in the Eastern Conference with 16 points. Next up for Orlando is a pair of road matches this week, starting Wednesday at the Chicago Fire, followed by a Saturday night matchup against the New York Red Bulls. 

Pride Win at Home Over Portland Thorns

The Orlando Pride won their record-setting eighth straight match with a 2-1 victory at Inter&Co Stadium against the Portland Thorns Friday. Barbra Banda scored two goals in the first half to give the Pride a 2-0 lead going into halftime. Portland pulled one back, but the Pride held on for the victory and claimed three points. Orlando remains undefeated in league play after 11 matches, and the Pride stay atop the NWSL table with 27 points. The Pride are off this week but will return to action on the road next Friday, June 7, against the San Diego Wave.

OCB Win at Home against Huntsville City FC

On Sunday, Orlando City B bounced back with a season-high five goals in a 5-0 win over Hunstville City FC at Osceola County Stadium. Jhon Solis, Yutaro Tsukada, and Shak Mohammed put OCB ahead 3-0, while Yeiler Valencia scored his first two OCB goals to seal the win for the Young Lions. OCB is now in sixth in the Eastern Conference with 16 points. Meanwhile, Huntsville City FC remains winless through 10 matches and stays at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. OCB’s next match will be on the road Sunday at Inter Miami CF II. 

Southampton Clinches Promotion to Premier League

Southampton booked its return to the Premier League with a 1-0 over Leeds United in the EFL Championship playoff final at Wembley Sunday. Adam Armstrong scored the lone goal in this match as the Saints returned to the top flight after being relegated the previous season. Southampton joins Leicester City and Ipswich Town, securing promotion to the Premier League. Despite finishing third in the table, Leeds’ playoff woes continue as this is the sixth time it missed out on securing promotion and finished its season with only one win out of its last six matches. 

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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/24/24

Orlando City prepares for the Crew, Barbra Banda an NWSL MVP favorite, Orlando Pride announce sleeve sponsor, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! The gauntlet of Orlando soccer home games starts tonight when the Orlando Pride take on the Portland Thorns in a clash of win streaks. I’m working for most of the weekend, but am looking forward to watching some soccer and playing my way through the Ace Attorney games during my spare time. For now though, let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world.

Orlando City Gets Ready to Host the Crew

Orlando City is on a three-game unbeaten run and will take on the Columbus Crew Saturday night in an Eastern Conference showdown. The last time these two sides met was in the 2023 Eastern Conference semifinals with the Crew winning in extra time to eliminate the Lions. It’s the third consecutive road game for the Crew after winning 3-1 against both CF Montreal and the Chicago Fire. Saturday’s match is also the Crew’s last match before the Concacaf Champions Cup final on June 1. Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja spoke on how the Lions will be up to the task regardless of which players take the field for Columbus. Pareja also spoke about how Duncan McGuire is working his way back from the injury he suffered last week.

Barbra Banda Named MVP Frontrunner

ESPN updated its rankings of players in contention to be named NWSL MVP this season and Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda tops the list. The Zambian forward hasn’t been with the Pride for long, but she has scored six goals in six games to help the Pride win seven straight games. Opposing defenses haven’t figured out a way to stop her, and it’s fair to think of her as an MVP favorite alongside fellow attackers in the league like Sophia Smith and Temwa Chawinga. Pride defender Emily Sams also earned herself a spot on the list, ranking 11th. It’s nice to see her get some deserved recognition for her role in the Pride’s stellar defense this year.

Orlando Pride Announce Sleeve Sponsor

A partnership was announced between the Orlando Pride and Heart of Florida United Way, a charity that’s supported families in Central Florida for the past 85 years. As part of the partnership, Heart of Florida United Way will become the first sleeve sponsor for the Pride and its logo will be on the right sleeve of both of the Pride’s jerseys this year. A new ticket program is also being created for 50 tickets to be donated to a local charity for each Pride home game.

Orlando City Unveils Watch Party Schedule

The schedule for this Orlando City season’s watch parties is out, along with the lineup of this year’s included pubs. Each pub will have MLS Season Pass access for fans to watch Orlando’s games this year and there will be chances to win tickets and autographed items at the watch parties as well. There are three new pubs added to the lineup this year, including The Castle Irish Pub at College Park, Paddywagon Irish Pub in Dr. Phillips, and Winter Garden’s Hagan O’Reilly’s. The first watch party will be at The Hammered Lamb in Ivanhoe Village on June 1 when the Lions face off against the New York Red Bulls.

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  • Pride midfielder Evelina Duljan was called up to join Sweden’s U-23 team for the upcoming Four Nations Tournament.
  • NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman became the first woman to be named Sports Business Journal‘s Sports Executive of the Year.

That’s all I have for you this time around. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!

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