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Lion Links: 1/6/17



TGIF! The first weekend of the new year is upon us, and by now, way too many of us have already dropped the ball on our New Year’s resolutions. Hopefully that’s not you. Personally, I would rather not go into detail on the progress of mine. Let’s just say, it’s not going too well.

Regardless, plenty of news involving Orlando City SC personnel, past and present, has surfaced so let’s jump right into it.

Orlando City Dedicates Section to Pulse Victims

As pictures of the new stadium continually surfaced to tease us all, one couldn’t help but notice rainbow-colored seats. On Thursday, Phil Rawlins led a private ceremony to unveil the 49 seats as a tribute to the 49 people that lost their lives at the Pulse nightclub in the largest mass shooting by a single gunman in modern U.S. history. Rawlins went on to say that the seats are easily visible to anyone who visits the stadium. To be exact, they are in the middle of Section 12, honoring the devastating night of June 12.

"We made a commitment on that day that, which is that we would commemorate, forever, in the new stadium a memory of the 49 victims that lost their lives that day. And today we're here to do that. We're here to commemorate and unveil the 49 rainbow seats that will sit permanently in Section 12 of our new stadium as a constant reminder of the senseless acts of June 12." Rawlins said at the dedication.

It truly is a touching tribute, and a perfect way to use the beautiful game to bring people together. As expected, it was a huge hit.

Goalkeeper Coach Stewart Kerr joins Vancouver

After just one season as the Lions goalkeeper coach, Stewart Kerr has jumped ship to join the Vancouver Whitecaps. Kerr joined the staff under Adrian Heath in December 2015 and played a huge role in Joe Bendik’s breakout season.

Kerr, formerly a goalkeeper for Celtic, Brighton, and Wigan Athletic, was forced to retire at just 26 due to a back injury. He began his coaching career in 2008 with stops at Airdrie United, Motherwell, and Toronto FC before joining Orlando.

While the impact of Kerr’s departure on Bendik is yet to be seen, his decision isn’t all that surprising. Kerr has family in Canada, and given the offer from Vancouver, it’s easy to see why he decided to accept.

“Stewart approached us and expressed his intentions to move closer to his family in Canada. He has been an important part of our technical staff, but we respect and understand his decision to put his family first,” General Manager Niki Budalic said in a press release.

Luke Boden Joining Rowdies

Luke Boden has found a new home — in Tampa Bay. The veteran left back that made the jump from USL to MLS with Orlando City will sign with the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the USL. Like Kerr, Boden elected to be close to his family despite interest from MLS clubs.

Boden came to Orlando after coming up through the youth ranks at Sheffield Wednesday in England. Several loan stints later, Boden made the decision to ply his trade in the U.S. The 28-year-old made 45 MLS appearances for the Lions in two years, starting in 43 of them.

Perhaps the best crossing fullback that has put on the purple shirt, Boden had his contract option declined after the 2016 season in which he saw significant less time on the field.

Cyle Larin Not Cleared to Play in Florida Cup All-Star Game

In Florida Cup’s third year, the tournament will include 14 clubs from seven different countries. The tournament plans to honor the victims of the Chapecoense team that lost their lives in a plane crash.

As part of the tournament, legends of the game along with well-known local players take the field for a 20-minute all-star exhibition. This year’s game is scheduled for Jan. 15 at UCF’s Brighthouse Networks Stadium.

In a turn of events, Orlando City will not clear Cyle Larin to play prior to annual medicals scheduled to take place during the last week of January. Larin was expected to be a part of the 22-man roster that will be released next week, and even featured in its promotional video. "The club's plan is to make him ready, fit, and healthy for our season," an Orlando City spokesman told the Orlando Sentinel.

Arena Calls Up 32 Players for January Camp

As expected, U.S. Soccer announced the players that new (old) head coach Bruce Arena has chosen to participate in this month’s camp that culminates in two friendlies against Serbia and Jamaica in San Diego and Chattanooga, respectively. January camp rarely resembles the full talent pool due to it being almost exclusively domestic-based players. Christian Pulisic is in the middle of a Champions League race, John Brooks and Fabian Johnson are seeing valuable minutes in the Bundesliga, and, understandably, their clubs aren’t interested in letting them go and risking injury elsewhere.

Arena’s 32-man roster exclusively features MLS talent representing 15 clubs. Unsurprisingly, Orlando City was one of those without representation. The players that will make their way into camp on Jan. 10 can be found in the linked article above.

A few names from the list jump out. Chris Wondolowski being named to the squad means that despite a new man in charge, it’s more of the same. It was Klinsmann’s unwavering loyalty to some players that put him in the line of fire from supporters. Wondolowski was definitely one of those players.

While Kekuta Manneh was always expected to make this list, he is currently in the process of completing his eligibility requirements to represent the United States and will be unable to participate in the friendlies at the end of camp.

Graham Zusi at right back sticks out like a sore thumb. Will the Zusi experiment provide better results than Brek Shea’s transition to left back? Let’s wait and see. Zusi’s club teammate, Benny Feilhaber, is back in the fold after falling completely out of favor under Klinsmann.

Phew, that was a lot. Hopefully you absorbed some of it and liked even a fraction of that. If not, I’ll try again next week. Until next time, have a great weekend!

Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/6/23

Lions earn weekly honors, OCSC headed in the right direction, Kylie Strom lands on NWSL Best XI of May, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

Happy Tuesday, everyone. I got absolutely clattered during my Sunday league game over the weekend, and I’ve been hobbling around ever since. Fortunately, my fingers still work just fine, because there are plenty of things to talk through this morning. Let’s get after it.

Lions Earn Weekly Honors

Orlando was well represented on the MLS Team of the Matchday following a 3-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls Saturday night. Facundo Torres and Ivan Angulo were both named to the starting lineup, while Oscar Pareja was given the nod as head coach. Torres scored two goals and Angulo recorded a goal and an assist in the victory. Dave Rohe gave Torres a 7.5 and Angulo an 8, along with the Man of the Match award, in our player grades. It was nice to see other people take notice of the performances they put in. Keep up the good work, fellas!

OCSC Heading in the Right Direction

Orlando City got the complete performance that it’s been looking for in recent weeks, and Oscar Pareja is very pleased with what he saw from his team. He went out of his way to highlight the fact that the Lions stayed vigilant and didn’t relax and give up a goal as the game went on, something that’s been a problem at times this year. While Pareja said that things aren’t perfect yet, he and Torres were both of the opinion that the team is playing better lately, and Torres said that Saturday was OCSC’s best performance of the season.

Kylie Strom Earns Monthly Plaudits

Orlando Pride defender Kylie Strom has been named to the NWSL Best XI for the month of May. Strom started in each of the Pride’s four matches during May and went the full 90 minutes in all but one of them. She helped anchor a back line that only gave up two goals during those four games, but the highlight of her month came during the team’s home game against the Washington Spirit. Strom scored the winning goal in the second half as the Pride handed the Spirit their first loss of the season. Here’s hoping she continues the good form!

Fines and Bans Proposed for Vinicius’ Abusers

The four men accused of hanging an effigy of Vinicius Jr. from a bridge are set to have hefty punishments levied against them. Spain’s anti-violence commission has proposed fines of  €60,001 and two-year stadium bans as a result of their actions. Additionally, the three men accused of racially abusing the Brazilian winger during a match against Valencia may be given fines and a one-year stadium ban as well. All seven were arrested and, although they’ve been released, could still face criminal charges, although that would be unprecedented. The Real Madrid player has suffered repeated instances of racial abuse since arriving in Spain. Hopefully the punishments will do something to deter the ugly incidents from occurring.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City has picked up more points on the road than any other team in the Eastern Conference.

That’s all for me today. Y’all stay safe out there.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/5/23

Torres could be turning the corner, lights go out on OCB, U-20 USMNT knocked out of World Cup, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers. It was quite the packed weekend of soccer, so I won’t blame you if you’re a little tired starting out your week. Orlando City’s victory over the New York Red Bulls was certainly the highlight, and I hope the Lions’ form continues next weekend when I come down to Exploria Stadium for the match against the Colorado Rapids. Let’s get to the links.

Torres Could Be Turning a Corner

Facundo Torres scored a brace in the match against the New York City Red Bulls on Saturday night, and perhaps it is the type of performance that will kick his season into gear. We saw the same thing last season, as Torres started slowly but came on in the second half of the season. Hopefully, Saturday’s match serves as notice he is about to do the same in 2023.

Torres’ two goals doubled his production on the season, with three of the four goals coming against the Red Bulls, and two of them on penalty kicks. Orlando City has desperately needed Torres to find his form. His performance earned him a nomination for MLS Player of the Matchday, so vote early and vote often.

Toronto FC II Turns Lights Out on OCB

OCB traveled to the Great White North to take on Toronto FC II at York Lions Stadium in Toronto, Ontario. It was a difficult night for the Young Lions as Toronto took an early lead and then doubled it before the end of the half. Mason Stajduhar made the start for OCB since Javier Otero was on international duty with Venezuela, but he was unable to help OCB, as the team in front of him played poorly.

After Toronto scored the third goal of the match to go up 3-0, the lights in the stadium went out, much like the hopes of any chance at a comeback for the Young Lions. It was supposed to be a short delay, but that was not the case. Ultimately, lights or no lights it was a night to forget for OCB. The lights never came back on and the match was abandoned and ruled a 3-0 final due to a local curfew. Sean Rollins has your partial match recap.

U-20 USMNT Crashes Out of the U-20 World Cup

The U-20 USMNT team lost 2-0 to Uruguay in the quarterfinal match of the FIFA U-20 World Cup, continuing a trend of the U.S. bowing out in the same round. Heading into the match, the U.S. hadn’t given up a goal in the competition. That all changed in the 21st minute, when Uruguay’s Anderson Duarte scored to put his side up early. The U.S. didn’t help their cause in the second half thanks to an own goal by Joshua Wynder. Even when the U.S. started to get chances on goal, they would be blocked by their own teammates or take a bounce the wrong way. It was as if all the good luck and quality the team played with to get to the quarterfinal was turned against them. It was fun while it lasted.

U-20 USWNT Falls to Mexico in Concacaf Final

Two days after qualifying for the U-20 Women’s World Cup, thanks to a 2-1 win over Costa Rica, the U-20 USWNT lost to Mexico in the Concacaf U-20 Women’s Championship match by the same 2-1 score. Both teams left it late, with Mailin Orozco starting the scoring for Mexico and Onyeka Gamero equalizing for the U.S. A bit of poor defending allowed Mexico to get the game winning goal from Fatima Servin in the 87th minute.

Free Kicks

  • The U-16 Men’s Youth National Team closed out the 2023 International Dream Cup with a 2-1 win over the U-16 Nigeria Youth National Team. Orlando City academy goalkeeper Zackory Campagnolo got the start for the U.S.
  • Former Lion Cyle Larin’s Real Valladolid were relegated to La Liga 2 thanks to a final day 0-0 draw with Getafe. Larin Lead Real Valladolid with seven goals on the season in only 13 appearances.
  • LAFC took on Leon in the second leg of the Concacaf Champions League final Sunday night. Leon came into the match up 2-1 on aggregate and won the 2023 Concacaf Champions League.
  • During the Concacaf Champions League match, Aaron Long attempted a header for LAFC and had to be subbed off due to concussion protocols. It’s a good example of why the protocols are in place.
  • Israel shocked Brazil, defeating the favorites 3-2 in the quarterfinal of the U-20 World Cup. This is Israel’s first appearance at the competition and the team will now face Uruguay in the semifinals.
  • There were much bigger names in the $1 million, 7v7 The Soccer Tournament, but in the end it was Newtown Pride that captured the prize, outlasting teams like Wrexham AFC and a team made up of former USWNT players (which lost to Wrexham, 12-0). The club, which beat SLC FC in the final, will donate a portion of their winnings to Sandy Hook Elementary School charities.
  • Folarin Balogun scored in his final match for Reims in Ligue 1 and is now looking forward to a call-up to the USMNT at the Nations League competition.

That will do it for today. If you make it either the Orlando City or Orlando Pride match this weekend, I hope to see you. Please say hello.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/3/23

The Orlando Pride hit the road, OCB players called up, USMNT U-20 squad can make history, and more.



Merry match day morning, Mane Landers! I hope you have multiple screens ready as both Orlando City and the Orlando Pride are in action this evening. Hopefully, it will be a weekend of better results for the clubs, as both are coming off difficult results. It’s been a busy week for me already and it won’t slow down anytime soon, so enjoying matches is a nice break. Let’s get to the links.

Orlando Pride Start a Busy Stretch

The Orlando Pride are heading west to play the Houston Dash tonight, followed by an NWSL Challenge Cup match against NJ/NY Gotham FC on Wednesday, and then back to Exploria Stadium to host the Portland Thorns next Sunday. Three games in nine days will test the club’s depth and it’s reasonable to expect a heavily rotated side in the Challenge Cup match. The Pride enter tonight looking for a second straight win over the Dash. To make that a reality the Pride will need to create and this time convert on the chances on goal.

OCB Venezuelan Call-ups

Goalkeeper Javier Otero and fullback/winger Moises Tablante have been called up to the Venezuelan National Football Team for a pair of friendlies this month (translate). Venezuela will face Honduras on June 15 in Washington, D.C. and Guatemala at Rentschler Field on June 18 in East Hartford, Connecticut.

Orlando City B may only be without them for one match, but the team will certainly miss the pair during the time they are on international duty. Otero has been very good in goal, and Tablante has been contributing to the attack. Of course, it is an honor for both to represent their national team and we wish them well.

Pride Month Kicks Off

Both Orlando City and the Orlando Pride are celebrating Pride Month with logo changes for both squads. The Pride will be hosting the “Pride in our City” match against the Portland Thorns on June 11 in tribute to the victims of the Pulse Nightclub tragedy.

The Lions and the Pride are only two of many other sports teams to recognize and celebrate the LGBTQIA+ communities in June. Other teams include the Wilf-owned Minnesota Vikings and Florida-based Major League Baseball club, the Tampa Bay Rays.

USMNT U-20 Opportunities

When the U-20 USMNT squad meets Uruguay on Sunday there is the possibility that some of the players will also make an appearance for the senior squad in the 2026 World Cup. It’s also possible that this team can advance, possibly to the final. If so, they will make history. If the team makes it past Uruguay either Brazil or Israel will await in the semifinal. Of course, the U.S. is not the only team in Argentina with a path to the trophy.

Free Kicks

That will do it for today. Check back for our coverage of both Orlando City and the Orlando Pride. Vamos Orlando!

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