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Lion Links: 1/28/17



The fallout from the Kevin Molino trade is just starting to settle over the landscape of the league two days later. Analysts and pundits are still trying to make sense of it and Orlando City is apparently looking to add another attacking player, no doubt utilizing some of that record amount of allocation money. Alicia DelGallo of the Orlando Sentinel says they’re in the market for a specific level of addition.

The mentioned player is Christian Cueva, a Peruvian midfielder currently with Sao Paulo. They have reportedly rejected any advances from Orlando, but it’s an interesting sign that they’re trying to reinvest that money and quickly. With only a few days left until most transfer windows around the world close. I wouldn’t mind seeing us wait until summer when clubs are more willing to sell. We have solid enough pieces to hold our own for the first half of the year. There are a lot of directions the club could go and rushing it would be a mistake. Nonetheless, I’ll be refreshing Twitter nonstop until March 4 hoping for a bombshell.

While you wait, likely doing something similar, here are some links for you to peruse.

Orlando City Adds GK Depth

As part of the blockbuster trade for Kevin Molino, Orlando sent away backup goalkeeper Patrick McLain. Boss Jason Kreis has been adamant about having experienced depth at every position and mentioned that the Lions were looking to replace McLain. The front office moved quickly, acquiring the services of MLS veteran Josh Saunders in exchange for the team’s natural fourth-round draft pick in 2019. Kreis worked with Saunders in 2013 and 2015 at Real Salt Lake and New York City FC, respectively.

It looks like a good deal on the surface for the Lions as Saunders has been a member of as many MLS Cup-winning teams as Patrick McLain has MLS appearances (3). He should be able to push Joe Bendik a little better than he was last year. The best part is that Earl Edwards, Jr. probably doesn’t have to spend another entire season on the bench and can get some meaningful game time with Orlando City B.

USL Announces Home Openers

It will be a miniature version of the I-4 Derby to start the United Soccer League season as OCB is slated to travel to St. Petersburg and open the year in Al Lang Stadium on March 25 against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. It will be weird to see Luke Boden wearing the green and gold hoops of the Rowdies for the first time. They’ll finally get to play a match in the new downtown digs on March 30 as the young Lions welcome former Lion James O’Connor and Louisville City FC. It’s unfortunate that they have to open the home schedule on a Thursday but I suppose that’s a drawback of having three teams sharing the same stadium. But I think the trade-off of centralizing the first and second teams is probably worth it. The rest of the schedule for OCB’s second season should drop soon.

Brek Shea is Feeling Good

Things haven’t gone according to plan for the former Stoke City winger since he returned stateside but that might be changing this year. Kreis has already done away with the left back idea and he’s back in an attacking role for 2017. There’s a common theme going around preseason training that everyone is feeling fitter after they were given workout regimens by Kreis to make sure they could focus on training. Shea is also overcoming a slight injury, but that shouldn’t be a concern entering the new year. Hopefully Brek can make his mark on the team in the coming campaign.

City Players Excited for New Stadium

There’s been a lot of talk about what Orlando City’s new downtown stadium will mean for the fans. The parking and tailgating changes, the safe standing section, and the march from Church Street just two blocks to the ground have all been talked about at length. But Jason Kreis has been adamant about how the new atmosphere will push the players, and as Simon Veness of says, the players are just as excited as the fans.

“We shouldn’t lose any home game there,” said Cyle Larin. “The fans deserve it and I think it will create a great atmosphere when we play there.”

And even more important than the atmosphere could be the grass. The turf at Camping World Stadium has claimed several ligaments over the past two years so hopefully we can keep people healthy for the whole year.

“Playing on grass is totally different. It’s much better,” said Antonio Nocerino. “The speed and bounce of the ball; a player’s movement, directions, timing; everything is different. It is more natural and normal for us to play on grass again. Now we need to turn this stadium into the definition of a home advantage. We want to make teams coming in uncomfortable and make each home game feel like a cup final.”

It will be great to finally see it all put together on March 5.

Bruce Arena Selects Squad for First Friendly of 2017

The USMNT has cut some of the members of Camp Cupcake as the team prepares to face Serbia tomorrow. It’s a side almost entirely made up of MLS players including Dax McCarty and Graham Zusi of Winter Park and Longwood, respectively. Jozy Altidore is set to earn his 100th cap with the national side, a feat only achieved by 16 Americans so far.

Taylor Kemp, Keegan Rosenberry, Brian Rowe, Wil Trapp, and Chris Wondolowski were released back to their clubs and did not make the cut. It’s great to see guys that were left out in the cold under Jurgen Klinsmann back in the team like McCarty and Benny Feilhaber. Hopefully Arena’s new methodology will be enough to jump-start the team in the World Cup Qualifiers coming up in March.

Phoenix Joins Race for MLS Expansion

MLS likes the idea of filling holes in the map. So to fill the giant gap between Los Angeles and Dallas, as well as get involved in one of the largest media markets in the country, the league has invited Phoenix Rising FC to enter the expansion coversation. Fans of Orlando City during its USL days will remember the club as Arizona United SC, which at one point had City legends Rob Valentino, Dennis Chin, and Long Tan under contract at the same time.

The league has considered Phoenix for the last 13 years, ever since officials toured potential stadium sites. They join Detroit, Sacramento, San Diego, and Cincinnati, among others, who could potentially submit expansion bids for the next four teams allowed in. Having land for a stadium gives them a leg up over some outfits if the league wants to avoid another situation like Beckham’s Miami franchise. The deadline for submissions for places 25 and 26 is Tuesday.

Those are all of the Lion Links we have for you on this fine Saturday. Remember to check back in for our coverage of the national team’s friendlies in the coming days and enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/23/22

Lions and Herons meet again, Carly Nelson is writing a book, NWSL free agency opens, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

Happy Founder’s Day, Mane Landers! It was on this day in 2014 that our fearless leader and Managing Editor Michael Citro started our first ever WordPress website. It’s safe to say that I’m sure The Mane Land has impacted your life as much as it has mine over the years, whether that be through daily reading or weekly podcasts. Cheers to Michael and all those who have come before me.

In my own personal news, I have been grinding away on the new EA FC 24 (the franchise formerly known as EA’s FIFA.) So far, the gameplay and updates have been great in my initial 15+ hours of play, and my online Ultimate Team is starting to really take its shape. I’m sure in a couple weeks that I’ll transition to a traditional Career Mode and take the Lions all the way to an MLS Cup and beyond.

Before we dive into today’s links, let’s all wish a very happy birthday to everyone’s favorite defensive midfielder, Wilder Cartagena!

Third Bout for Orlando City and Inter Miami

Orlando City and Inter Miami have already met twice this campaign. Sunday’s match will look to break the deadlock between the two rivals as both clubs have a victory to their name in this year’s series. In May, the Lions grabbed a 3-1 victory over the Fort Lauderdale-based club. The two sides met for a second time in the knockout round of Leagues Cup 2023 with Inter Miami taking the 3-1 result at DRV PNK Stadium. No matter the result this time around, Orlando City has already clinched a playoff spot, however, the Herons need every point they can get to attempt to do the same.

Carly Nelson, Goalkeeper and Author

It isn’t unheard of to learn that an athlete might have tried another sport before finding soccer, Orlando Pride goalkeeper Carly Nelson came from a background of gymnastics, tennis, basketball, and baseball before her father started a club soccer team with her in mind. While Nelson might have idolized USWNT legend Hope Solo as a child, she started her playing days as a forward, winger, and midfielder. Outside of protecting the Pride’s net, Nelson is spending time writing a book about her life growing up in Utah and the issues her family faced to hopefully help others that might find themselves in similar situations.

NWSL Opens 2024 Free Agency

The National Women’s Soccer League has officially opened the league’s unrestricted and restricted free agency periods. In accordance with the NWSL Players’ Association’s collective bargaining agreement, eligible free agents can begin negotiations for their 2024 Standard Player Agreements. Players eligible for unrestricted free agency include all who have at least five years of service within the NWSL and contracts expiring in 2023, while players eligible for restricted free agency include those who have at least three years of service. For the Orlando Pride, defender Kylie Strom is set to be an unrestricted free agent and midfielder Jordyn Listro is under restricted terms. Any club that currently holds the rights of a restricted free agent has a seven-day period to match an incoming offer from another club or else the player may sign with the new club under the terms of the offer.

USMNT’s Tyler Adams Nearing Return

Tyler Adams will not make his Bournemouth debut this weekend, but he could return as early as next week. Bournemouth’s manager, Andoni Iraola, provided a positive update on the U.S. Men’s National Team captain as he finishes up rehabbing a long-term hamstring injury.

“He has started this week at least to train partially with the group, so probably we can have a chance of having him next week or two weeks, something like this. Tyler is really close because once you start training partially with the group, it’s a matter of sensations, and if you are physically good enough. He has a very good physical base. So I think it will take not a long time to see Tyler with the team.”

Adams has not played since March after having a hamstring surgery. Even with a known injury, the 24-year-old still completed a move from Leeds United to Bournemouth following Leeds’ relegation to keep him in the top flight.

MLS Weekend Preview

Aside from the Florida derby, there are plenty of matches to be excited about around the league this weekend. Personally, I’m looking forward to catching a bit of the D.C. United and New York Red Bulls match. Manager Wayne Rooney’s club is right on the bubble in a tight Eastern Conference race while the Red Bulls can do themselves a huge service and come back into the playoff picture with a win. Out in the Western Conference, there is a real buzz around a Portland Timbers squad after a manager sacking. It could be a huge win for the Timbers and likely push them above the play-in round should they find a result against the Colorado Rapids.

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That’s all I have for you today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a fantastic Saturday. Be safe on Sunday at the match. Stay hydrated and look out for those around you. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/22/23

Orlando City prepares for Inter Miami, MLS NEXT Pro Decision Day is Sunday, USWNT wins against South Africa, and much more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! It’s been a pretty busy week of apartment hunting and work for me, so I’m looking forward to some rest and relaxation this weekend. I don’t have many plans, but I did make sure to carve out a few hours to make a drink and get some reading done. My book club is fairly low maintenance, but I’ll be behind if I don’t finish Fourth Wing before the second book in the series comes out in November. Let’s get into today’s links!

Orlando City Takes On Inter Miami This Weekend

Following a 2-0 loss on the road to New York City FC earlier this week, Orlando City will aim to bounce back when it hosts rival Inter Miami this Sunday. Orlando has a chance to set club records for the most wins and points in a season since it joined MLS in 2015. It will be the third meeting between the two clubs this season, with Orlando beating Miami 3-1 in May before falling 3-1 in the Leagues Cup’s knockout stage. Although Miami will be without Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba according to Head Coach Tata Martino, the Herons still have plenty of attacking talent in the form of Sergio Busquets, Leonardo Campana, and Josef Martinez.

Orlando City B Readies for MLS NEXT Pro Decision Day

Sunday will also be the final day of the MLS NEXT Pro regular season, with nearly every team in action. Here’s everything you need to know about Decision Day across the league, with playoff spots still up for grabs. Orlando City B has already clinched its spot in the postseason, but can secure fifth in the Eastern Conference when it takes on FC Cincinnati 2. However, the difference between fifth and a lower seed won’t matter too much due to a new rule this year where the second and third seed in each conference choose which lower seed it wants to host in the playoffs. The Golden Boot race is competitive as well, with OCB’s Jack Lynn tied at the top with New York City FC II’s Matt Myers. We’ll see if Lynn takes part in Sunday’s match after giving the first team needed depth last weekend.

USWNT Beats South Africa in Julie Ertz’s Finale

The United States Women’s National Team won 3-0 against South Africa in the first of two friendlies this month. All three of the USWNT’s goals came in the first half, with Lynn Williams bagging a brace. In her final USWNT game, Julie Ertz started and earned plenty of applause from the crowd at TQL Stadium when she was subbed off in the 36h minute. M.A. Vignola made her USWNT debut in the match as well, coming on at halftime. The two nations will play again on Sunday in what will be forward Megan Rapinoe’s last game with the USWNT.

Europa League Group Stage Kicks Off

The first round of Europa League group stage matches is over, with all 32 teams getting things started across Europe. Brighton & Hove Albion’s first Europa League match was a rough one, as the English club fell 3-2 at home against AEK Athens. The Spanish clubs also struggled, with Villarreal getting shut out 2-0 by Panathinaikos and Real Betis losing 1-0 to Rangers. Elsewhere, AS Roma beat Sheriff Tiraspol 2-1 thanks to a winner from Romelu Lukaku, Liverpool won 3-1 over Austrian club LASK after trailing early on, and Marseille drew 3-3 with Ajax in a thriller. West Ham, Atalanta, Bayer Leverkusen, and SC Freiburg also won their group openers.

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  • Enjoy the sights and sounds from the Orlando City Foundation’s annual celebrity golf and footgolf tournament.

That’s all I have for you today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/21/23

Orlando City clinches playoff berth despite loss, Eastern Conference standings remain close, USWNT plays South Africa tonight, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

How’s it going, Mane Landers? Last night’s result wasn’t the best outcome by any means, but losing on the road on short rest after a huge win isn’t the worst thing in the world. We’ll just have to shake that loss off and look forward to more soccer while we have it. Before we dive into today’s links, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Orlando City B midfielder Imanol Almaguer!

Orlando City Clinch Playoff Spot Despite Loss

The Lions weren’t able to put together a comeback in their 2-0 loss on the road to New York City FC. Playing at a narrow Citi Field, Orlando was not able to get much of anything going on offense and was shut out for the first time since July 8. The loss snapped Orlando’s six-game unbeaten streak in MLS play as well. Although the Lions are headed back to Florida emptyhanded, they did qualify for the playoffs due to other results in the league. Orlando will look to right the ship when it hosts Inter Miami this Sunday at 7:30 p.m.

Eastern Conference Remains Tight After Midweek Matches

Orlando wasn’t the only Eastern Conference team to clinch its spot in the playoffs after the latest midweek matches, with the Columbus Crew and Philadelphia Union both qualifying. Cucho Hernandez had a hat trick within the first 23 minutes of the Crew’s 3-0 win at home against the Chicago Fire. A penalty kick in stoppage time by Daniel Gazdag salvaged a point for the Union in a 2-2 draw with Charlotte FC. FC Cincinnati also needed a late equalizer from the penalty spot in its 1-1 draw with CF Montreal. As for how Orlando’s rivals fared, Atlanta United drew 1-1 with D.C. United and Miami beat Toronto FC, 4-0. Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba both exited in the first half and Miami Head Coach Tata Martino stated that neither will play against Orlando this weekend. Of course, that could just be misdirection. We’ll know for certain come Sunday.

USWNT Plays South Africa Tonight

The United States Women’s National Team will play its first match since the World Cup tonight when it faces South Africa tonight at 7:30 p.m. at TQL Stadium. Following Vlatko Andonovski’s departure last month, Twila Kilgore will coach the team for these friendlies. It will also be Julie Ertz’s final game after 10 years of playing for the USWNT. The 31-year-old announced her retirement last month and spoke more about her decision ahead of tonight’s match. After tonight, the USWNT will play South Africa again on Sunday at Soldier Field.

Champions League Group Stage Rolls On

More clubs got their first taste of this year’s Champions League action as the group stage kicked off this week. Arsenal’s campaign got off on the right foot, with a 4-0 win over PSV Eindhoven that put the English club at the top of its group after a 1-1 draw between Sevilla and Lens. Manchester United had a rougher time, falling 4-3 on the road to Bayern Munich. Goalkeeper Andre Onana struggled and blamed himself for the loss. Real Madrid needed a goal from Jude Bellingham in stoppage time to win 1-0 over Union Berlin at home, while Lautaro Martinez scored a late equalizer in Inter Milan’s 1-1 draw with Real Sociedad. Elsewhere, Napoli beat Braga 2-1, RB Leipzig won 2-0 against a Benfica side that was reduced to 10 men early on, and Galatasaray and Copenhagen split the points in a 2-2 result.

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That’s all I have for you today. Be like a goldfish and enjoy your Thursday!

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