Welcome to Wednesday! There, that sounded pretty positive despite this being everyone’s least favorite day of the week. Still, there’s a lot of cool stuff approaching our way on this particular Wednesday.
The Florida Cup resumes right here in Orlando tonight at ESPN Wide World of Sports out at Disney, with Bayer Leverkusen taking on Atletico Mineiro. Tomorrow is the NWSL Draft and another Florida Cup match out at WWOS (Wolfsburg vs. Bahia). Friday brings the MLS SuperDraft.
Before we go any further, let’s give our old gaffer a birthday shout. Adrian Heath – now the boss in Minnesota – turns 56 years young today. The former EPL midfielder will forever be a part of Orlando City lore, helping build a tradition of success (in the form of trophies) in the City Beautiful. Now that Heath has moved on to the frozen tundra of Minnesota, it’s time to honor his legacy by earning more trophies.
Here are your sizzling hot morning Lion Links…
Johnson Invited to Canada’s January Camp; Larin…Injured?
New Orlando City midfielder Will Johnson will be part of the 28-man January camp for the Canadian national team, but the bigger news is that Canada Soccer says Cyle Larin is unavailable due to injury. The camp will be based here in the Sunshine State, down in Ft. Lauderdale, from Jan. 12-18. The Canadians will then descend upon Bermuda, playing a friendly against the host nation on Jan. 22. Of the 28 players attending the camp in Ft. Lauderdale, 18 will go on to represent the Great White North against Bermuda. Larin’s injury is news to me but an Orlando City spokesman said Cyle was still rehabbing an unspecified knock he suffered late in the season. Just a week ago it was reported he was going to appear in the Florida Cup All-Star Game before the club quickly killed that idea. Whatever’s wrong, please get well soon, Cyle.
Former Lion Watson Calls it a Career
Staying with the Loons for a minute, former Orlando City midfielder Jamie Watson has decided to end his playing career at age 30 and take up a job in the broadcast game. Watson has signed on to become the sideline reporter for Minnesota United’s television broadcasts for the expansion club’s first season. The Texas native appeared in 60 games with Orlando City from 2011 to 2013 and averaged about a goal every three matches. He was with the team prior to its arrival in Orlando, playing with the Austin Aztex in 2009 and 2010. The former Real Salt Lake draft pick signed with Minnesota United in 2014 but his career was slowed by injuries with Minnesota. Now he hangs up his boots in favor of a microphone and he’ll probably kill it. Please join me in wishing Jamie the best of luck in his new profession. #ForeverALion
Hamid Out of USMNT Camp with Injury
A knee injury has forced D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid to withdraw from the USMNT January camp. The knock deals a serious blow to what could be Hamid’s best opportunity to move up the depth chart for the national team. Hamid sits behind — at the very least — Tim Howard and Brad Guzan. But both star goalkeepers are getting older and Hamid is among those poised to step in and fill the role. A strong showing in January could have given Hamid a leg up, but he’ll have to wait a while longer for his opportunity. The injury to Hamid leaves the U.S. with plenty of good options in camp, including David Bingham, Stefan Frei, Nick Rimando and Luis Robles.
FIFA Expands 2026 World Cup to 48 Teams
Well, they’ve gone and done it. FIFA has expanded the World Cup Finals field from 32 to 48 teams starting in 2026, an increase of 16 additional countries. The plan, set in motion by FIFA President Gianni Infantino, was unanimously accepted by the council on Tuesday in Zurich. Feels like a cash grab, doesn’t it? Expanding the field doesn’t make a lot of sense from a soccer perspective in what is already a crowded tournament – often filled with arduous travel. Technically, all countries in the soccer-playing world take part in every World Cup. We call it “qualifying.” This move adheres to FIFA’s policy of “if it ain’t broke, fix it anyway.”
I’m not really one to make a big deal out of the latest soccer ball, but if you’re into that sort of thing, MLS has teased its new match ball…The city of St. Louis suffered a blow in its quest for an MLS team with the killing of a stadium bill. Not unexpected, but definitely a setback…For you draftniks, defenders are impressing at the MLS Combine…Giovinco’s agent says his star client is staying in Toronto rather than eyeing a return to Serie A…MLS extended its English language TV deal with Canadian network TSN for five years and TVA Sports will take over French language broadcasting in Canada, replacing RDS.
Those born on this date include former E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons (1942…RIP Big Man), original Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye (1946), former NBA star and native Orlandoan Darryl “Chocolate Thunder” Dawkins (1957), longtime Manchester United captain Bryan Robson (1957), Bangles guitarist Vicki Peterson (1958), former NASCAR driver Brett Bodine (1958), Mary J. Blige (1971), actress Amanda Peet (1972), English striker Emile Heskey (1978), Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen (1982), Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy (1987), and English soccer twins Michael and Will Keane (1993).
That’s all the time for me today. Enjoy your Wednesday and look for our coverage of tonight’s match between clubs from the German Bundesliga and Brazilian Serie A from the Disney campus.
Lion Links: 10/3/23
Facundo Torres named to MLS Team of the Matchday, Orlando Pride beat Angel City FC, MLS midweek matchday preview, and more.
Happy Tuesday, everyone! It’s been a mixed bag for Orlando soccer over the last few days. Orlando City breezed past CF Montreal on Saturday, the Orlando Pride won to boost its playoff push, and Orlando City B dropped a heartbreaker to Columbus Crew 2 in the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs. As usual, there’s plenty to talk over this morning, so let’s get started.
Facundo Torres Makes Team of the Matchday
Facundo Torres has been named to the latest edition of the MLS Team of the Matchday following his efforts in Orlando City’s 3-0 win over CF Montreal on Saturday. Facu forced the own goal that opened the scoring, was involved in the buildup for the second tally, and bagged the final goal of the night himself. Beyond the stats, he was simply involved the whole game, constantly drifting into dangerous areas inside the fullbacks and causing Montreal’s defense all sorts of problems. He now has 13 goals and four assists in league play this year and is absolutely vital to the way the Lions want to play when in the attacking third. Marcus Mitchell rightly gave him Man of the Match honors in our player grades, and it’s nice to see him get recognition at the national level too. Here’s hoping he keeps it up.
Orlando Pride Win On the Road
The Orlando Pride beat Angel City FC 1-0 in a massive win on the road. It wasn’t a perfect performance, but the Pride scored in the first half and held on to win their ninth game of the season and remain in the playoff hunt. Following the win, Orlando sits in seventh in the league standings with two games to go. The Pride now control their own destiny and will clinch a spot in the postseason with wins against Racing Louisville and the Houston Dash to close out the season. Things remain incredibly tight in the standings, but the result made the Kansas City Current the first team to be eliminated from playoff contention this season.
Looking Ahead to Pivotal MLS Midweek Games
There are a number of big games taking place tomorrow during the 36th matchday of this MLS season. Obviously, Orlando City’s game against Nashville SC takes priority around these parts, as the Lions need a result against a team that’s given them fits if they want to maintain second place in the Eastern Conference. Another game with big ramifications for OCSC is the Philadelphia Union’s home game against Atlanta United. A victory for Philadelphia could see the Union draw level with the Lions if Orlando can’t get a result on the road, so that’ll be one to watch very closely. Finally, the New England Revolution are facing the Columbus Crew. A win for the Revs could see them leapfrog the Lions into second depending on how Orlando fares in the Music City, so there’s plenty at stake during tomorrow’s midweek slate.
Andre Blake Criticizes Heavy Matchload
If you play in Major League Soccer these days, you’re going to be putting a lot of miles on your legs. A sharp uptick in the number of matches played, combined with rosters that aren’t exactly in the deep end of the pool, means that guys are logging some serious minutes. Union goalkeeper Andre Blake was not shy in criticizing MLS for the number of matches that teams are playing this year. He has called the situation “ridiculous”, saying that the players are suffering and that the quality of the league will decrease as a result of injuries due to the overloaded schedules. Blake has an excellent point, particularly because many of the league’s top players will also play international fixtures in addition to club games, further adding onto an already untenable workload.
- Marta, Adriana, and Rafaelle have all been called up for Brazil’s upcoming friendlies.
- Orlando City rose one spot to third in ESPN.com’s latest MLS power rankings.
- San Diego’s MLS team has announced the location of its training facility and residential youth academy.
- Al Ittihad refused to leave the locker room due to a statue of a deceased Iranian general that had been placed near the field, meaning the team’s Asian Champions League match was called off.
That’s all I have for you today. Y’all stay safe out there!
Lion Links: 10/2/23
Orlando City’s trophy aspirations, the Orlando Pride playoff hunt, OCB falls to Columbus Crew 2, and more.
Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers! Though I’m still reveling in the huge win over CF Montreal, I’m also looking ahead to a big week for both Orlando City and the Orlando Pride. It’s such a great time of the year with MLS and NWSL matches, plus the European leagues, and American football. So much to watch, so little sleep to be had. Let’s get to the links.
Lions Looking for Hardware
Orlando City set a record for wins and points in a season with the win over CF Montreal on Saturday night. Hopefully it’s a record that will be extended over the final three matches of the regular season. The coaches and the players certainly think that Orlando City has an opportunity to win the MLS Cup. Where the Lions finish in the standings will go a long way towards reaching the final and that all starts Wednesday night.
The Pride’s Playoff Push
The Orlando Pride continue their push to make the NWSL playoffs for the first time since the 2017 season with a trip across the country to take on Angel City FC later tonight. It is the first of two away matches this week — the last road games of the regular season. The Pride sit just above Angel City in the standings with the clubs in seventh and eighth places, respectively. The game will be Marta’s 100th match over all competitions. Securing three points over Angel City would make a big difference in the Pride’s race to the playoffs. Keep an eye out for our preview later today.
OCB Penalized Out of the Playoffs
On The Mane Land PawedCast, we often describe Orlando City B matches as being “drunk.” OCB’s 2-1 playoff loss to Columbus Crew 2 will definitely be described as such. There were three red cards, two penalties, and Jack Lynn didn’t score a goal for once. There were some questionable calls by both the refs and by OCB Head Coach Martin Perelman, but conceding only from the penalty spot while outscoring the hosts in the run of play won’t (and shouldn’t) sit well with the Young Lions. While the result is disappointing, one should remember that OCB is a development squad, and one that made the playoffs to boot.
USMNT Players in Action Abroad
USMNT players made some noise this weekend. Christian Pulisic played 82 minutes and scored AC Milan’s winning goal in the club’s 2-0 victory over Lazio. It was one of two shots on target for the American. Striker Folarin Balogun missed not one, but two penalty shots in Monaco’s match against Marseille. Fortunately, Balogun scored an equalizer in the run of play and his teammate secured the 3-2 win. The win moves Monaco to the top of Ligue 1.
Over in the Eredivisie, Malik Tillman got his first start for PSV. Tillman provided an assist and scored the game winner late in second-half stoppage time to give PSV a 3-1 win over FC Volendam. It was a Man of the Match performance by the American. In less good news, Tyler Adams will miss more time with AFC Bournemouth as he has had a setback with his hamstring injury. How long he will be out is still to be determined.
- The San Diego Wave are the first NWSL team to secure a playoff spot thanks in part to Alex Morgan’s goal in the Wave’s 2-0 victory over the Portland Thorns.
- FSU women’s soccer remained undefeated over two matches this week. The first match saw the Noles equalize in the literal last second in a 3-3 draw with North Carolina. The second match was a 2-0 win over The University of Miami.
- Mia Fishel made her debut for Chelsea and scored a goal for her new club in a 2-1 win over Tottenham. Her great start comes only a week or so after her USWNT debut.
- Matt Turner is a golf fan, but he didn’t get drawn into commenting on the U.S. Ryder Cup loss to England. Smart move considering he plays for Nottingham Forest in England.
- Christian Pulisic’s dad wasn’t quite as animated as others following his son’s goal for AC Milan. I’m not saying he wasn’t happy, but he definitely stayed cool and calm.
That will do it for today. It’s a busy week coming up with Pride matches tonight and on Friday, and the Lions playing on Wednesday and Saturday. Check back for all of our coverage of your favorite teams. Vamos Orlando!
Lion Links: 9/30/23
City’s home unbeaten run, Lions hunting for home field advantage, Facundo Torres loves scoring goals, and more.
Welcome to the weekend, Mane Landers. The Lions are closing out the month of September at home tonight with CF Montréal. On Sunday, OCB takes on Crew 2, while the Orlando Pride have a late match against Angel City on Monday. I never hate this time of year, when it seems like at any moment we can turn on the TV and catch a match, whether it be Orlando-based or afar. I’m here for it.
Before we head into the links today, let’s take a moment to wish our Brazilian midfielder and master of the late match dark arts, Felipe, a happy birthday!
Orlando City Go Streaking at Home
After a disappointing 1-1 draw against Inter Miami, Orlando City is powering towards the playoffs. The Lions will take on CF Montréal at Exploria Stadium tonight at 7:30 p.m. The Lions enter the match riding an impressive 10-game unbeaten home streak in league play. On the other side of the ball, CF Montréal has gone five straight games without a win and sits eighth in the East battling hard to stay above the playoff line. Orlando City sits on the cusp of a record points total, with 51 currently tied for the best in club history. A win or draw against tonight’s Canadian opposition would make this the best MLS season in its ninth campaign since joining MLS in 2015.
“Obviously, the last game was a great effort from the team and, you know, you’re disappointed to not take the three points at the end and only be able to take the draw,” Orlando forward Martin Ojeda said. “I think we’re gonna give that little bit extra in these last four games and continue pushing to try and put ourselves in second place or as high as we possibly can.”
Orlando City Hunts for Home Field Advantage
With just four games left in the season, two points separate Orlando City’s second-place position with the New England, which is currently in sixth. The close gap could pivot the upper half of the Eastern Conference table with a combination of different results across the league. While the Lions have clinched a playoff spot, they have yet to fully secure postseason home field advantage. All season the club’s preparation has led up to this crucial moment where a knockout round mentality can push them forward in locking down a playoff match in Exploria Stadium.
“We have pushed for two-and-a-half, three months towards us achieving these objectives and putting the team in the best place we can,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said. “Now we are in that spot, but we have to sustain it or even go higher. And knowing that in the playoffs, we need to be optimized to be sharp and advance.
Facundo Torres Keeps Scoring
With 12 goals and four assists, Uruguayan Designated Player Facundo Torres is having himself a great season heading into Matchday 35. As it stands, Torres sits tied for fourth in MLS goals and tied for third on the club in assists. If you need a hype video to get you pumped for the match tonight, take a look at this highlight reel showcasing the winger’s prowess in front of the net.
Orlando Pride Travel to Angel City
On Monday night, the Orlando Pride will kick off at 10 p.m. against Angel City at BMO Stadium. Orlando currently sits in seventh place, just a point behind the playoff line. This will be the second meeting between the two sides. In their first fixture, Angel City walked away the victors at Exploria Stadium in April with a 2-1 scoreline. An Angel City first-half goal by forward Claire Emslie was countered early in the second half by Pride forward Messiah Bright. However, it was the visiting team with the last laugh as Angel City forward Katie Johnson scored a last-gasp header at the death in the 10th minute of stoppage time to earn all three points.
- The Orlando City match day media team had quite the time trolling Inter Miami fans at Exploria Stadium.
- Orlando Pride staff put in the extra work this week improving the team’s training facility.
- The United States Men’s Deaf National Team earned a 1-0 win against England in the Round of 16 at the 2023 DIFA Men’s World Deaf Football Championships.
- You can take as many steps as you want when walking up to strike a penalty, but the more you take, the worse you look when you fail at scoring. Just ask Neymar.
- RB Leipzig parted ways with its sporting director Max Eberl amid speculation linking him with Bayern Munich.
- Barcelona moved to the top of La Liga with a 1-0 home win over Sevilla after defender Sergio Ramos accidentally put the ball into his own net in the second half.
- Chelsea’s Ben Chilwell has suffered a serious injury and will likely miss substantial time according to the club.
That’s all I have for you today. Enjoy the match at home tonight. Show up early and be loud. Every point counts this late in the game. Vamos Orlando!
Lion Links: 10/3/23
Orlando Pride vs. Angel City FC: Final Score 1-0 as Pride Claim Huge Win On the Road
Orlando Pride vs. Angel City FC: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More
Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, and More
Lion Links: 9/30/23
Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Final Score 3-0 as Lions Dominate Canadian Visitors
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