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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: 11/28/23

Luciano Acosta named MVP, Americans in action, scheduling news for U.S national teams, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Tuesday, everyone. I’m dragging a little today after having an extended period of time off for the Thanksgiving holiday, but there’s no rest for the wicked and the only way out is through. With that being the case, let’s get into today’s news.

Luciano Acosta Wins MLS MVP

In a piece of news that plenty of people likely saw coming from several miles away, Luciano Acosta has been named Major League Soccer’s Most Valuable Player. Acosta racked up 34 goal contributions during the regular season, finishing the 2023 campaign with 17 goals and 14 assists as the driving force behind his team’s run to the Supporters’ Shield. He was voted the best player in the league by quite some margin, and won the award in a landslide, taking 60.37% of the votes to Denis Bouanga’s 14.97% and Thiago Almada’s 6.46%.

American Stars in Midweek Action

There are a number of United States Men’s National Team players that will be in action this week, with several UEFA Champions League clashes highlighting the viewing slate. Christian Pulisic, Yunus Musah and AC Milan will face Giovanni Reyna’s Borussia Dortmund today in a game with huge ramifications for both teams. Malik Tillman, Ricardo Pepi, and Sergino Dest may play in PSV Eindhoven’s match with Sevilla tomorrow, and a win would likely go a long way to securing a place in the Round of 16. Additionally on Wednesday, Brenden Aaronson and Union Berlin have a chance to make a big move towards a place in the Europa League, as a win over Braga would leapfrog the German club into third place in Group C.

USMNT & USWNT Scheduling News

The USMNT will open its 2024 slate of games with a match against Slovenia on Jan. 20 in San Antonio. The match will fall outside of an international window, meaning that the January camp roster will largely be made up of domestic-based players. The USMNT have faced Slovenia twice before, with the most recent time being a 3-2 win in Ljubljana courtesy of a Jozy Altidore penalty kick.

While we already knew that the United State’s Women’s National Team would play China PR on Dec. 5 in Frisco, we now know that one of the team’s legends will be honored before the game. The U.S. Soccer Federation has announced that former Orlando Pride defender Ali Krieger, who stated in March that she will retire following the NWSL season, will be honored before the match. Krieger played 108 games for the USWNT and is a two-time World Cup winner with the team.

Notable Women’s Players to Miss International Matches

A pair of high profile women’s players will miss upcoming international games. First up, Sam Kerr will not feature in Australia’s back-to-back friendlies against Canada due to a foot injury. Kerr has struggled with injuries this year and her availability was limited during this summer’s World Cup.

Alexia Putellas will miss Spain’s two Nations League matches against Sweden and Italy after picking up a left knee injury. Putellas had missed Euro 2022 due to an ACL tear, but was back to help her side win the World Cup several months ago. Fortunately for Spain, the team is well positioned atop its group and has enough players in the squad that it shouldn’t feel her absence too keenly.

Free Kicks

  • A pair of Willian penalties and an early Alex Iwobi goal helped Fulham beat Wolverhampton, with American defenders Antonee Robinson and Tim Ream also starting.
  • New York Red Bulls forward Tom Barlow is reportedly headed to the Chicago Fire.

That’s all I’ve got for you this morning. Y’all stay safe out there.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 11/27/23

Western Conference final is set, Jim Curtin wants Alejandro Bedoya to stay, action from top European leagues, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Monday, everyone. Orlando City’s season might not have ended the way any of us wanted, but 2023 was still a year with a lot to enjoy and be proud of for Lions fans. Before getting into today’s news, let’s wish Martin Ojeda a happy 25th birthday!

Western Conference Final is Set

The Western Conference final is now set, as the Houston Dynamo will be facing LAFC. Houston grabbed a 1-0 win at home over Sporting Kansas City in the first game of the night. Franco Escobar got the home team on the board in the 39th minute and that proved to be enough for Houston to book its ticket to the next round.

In the late kickoff, LAFC went on the road and got its own 1-0 win over the Seattle Sounders. Denis Bounga did what he does best and got the game’s only goal in the 30th minute, and LAFC was able to see out the remainder of the match. Seattle didn’t go down without a fight though, and Maxime Crepeau produced a string of outstanding second-half saves to deny the Sounders an equalizer.

Jim Curtin Wants Alejandro Bedoya Extended

Last month it was being reported that the Philadelphia Union were not planning on extending Alejandro Bedoya, whose contract expires now that the season is over. Following the Union’s exit from the playoffs, Jim Curtin did not mince words when expressing his belief that Bedoya’s time with the club should be extended, saying that Bedoya is bigger than anyone and that his work on the field speaks for itself. Things got really interesting when he appeared to take a shot at Philly’s front office, saying “I think anywhere in the world, the head coach would have a say in what’s up with this captain. I think there was a miscommunication for sure.”

Action Packed European Weekend

It was a busy weekend in the top European leagues, and there’s a lot to catch up on. We’ll start in the Premier League, where Aston Villa beat Tottenham 2-1 to hand a third straight loss to Spurs. The victory saw Villa leapfrog Tottenham into fourth place and only two points behind Arsenal at the top of the table.

In Italy, Juventus and Inter Milan battled to a 1-1 draw in a clash between the two teams at the top of the table. The result means that Inter maintains its spot in first place, and keeps a two-point lead over Juve, and a six-point gap between AC Milan in third.

Finally, Rodrygo scored a brace and Jude Bellingham got yet another goal as Real Madrid beat Cadiz 3-0 to retake first place in La Liga from Girona.

Transfer Rumor Roundup

As always, the transfer rumor mill is turning 24/7, and that means there are some interesting stories to cover today. First up, Victor Osimhen is reportedly Chelsea’s top transfer target during the upcoming January window. The Blues would likely need to break their transfer record to get the job done, but they’ve struggled to start the year and Todd Boehly isn’t shy about whipping out his checkbook.

Arsenal is said to be interested in signing Douglas Luiz in January, but Unai Emery has made it clear that Aston Villa want to keep him, which is unsurprising given how important he’s been for the team this season.

Finally, Steven Bergwijn says he’s happy at Ajax despite interest from West Ham and Saudi Arabia.

Free Kicks

  • Alejandro Garnacho scored a completely absurd goal to spark Manchester United’s 3-0 win over Everton.

That’s all I have for you this morning. Y’all stay safe out there.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 11/25/23

Lions set to host Crew, Orlando must stop potent Columbus attack, Pereyra approaches 10,000 minutes, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

The day has arrived, Mane Landers! The Lions are set to host an Eastern Conference semifinal match tonight at Exploria Stadium. I hope you have grabbed your tickets, but if not, there is still a bit of time to find your way into the stadium. Prior to the match, my wife and I are going to check out the new Hunger Games prequel at the movie theater. The original series released when I was in college, so there will be a bit of nostalgia watching the latest edition.

With such a big match upon us, there are plenty of links breaking it down today. So let’s get right to it.

Lions Host Columbus Crew

Orlando City hasn’t been to the conference semifinals since the 2020 season. The match against the Columbus Crew marks just the second time reaching this point in club history. Orlando enters as the No. 2 seed, but the two clubs often play to exciting scorelines no matter the potential talent gap through seeding purposes. The last time these teams played, Columbus took a 3-1 lead, only for the Lions to score three times from the 73rd minute and beyond to claim a wild 4-3 win.

A Clash of Strengths

Orlando City and the Columbus Crew offer contrasting styles and opposite strengths. The Crew play a pressure possession game that puts opposing defenses on their heels with quick attacks. Columbus led MLS with 67 goals in the regular season and scored eight during the three-game, opening-round series against Atlanta United. Orlando, on the other hand, was tied for the fifth-fewest goals allowed in the league, conceding only 39 in the regular season. The Lions were also the only team in the playoffs not to give up a goal, putting together consecutive 1-0 wins against Nashville in their first-round matchup. Head Coach Oscar Pareja knows that he needs more out of his Orlando attackers.

“In Columbus, you can see that initiative to be more aggressive,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said. “I guess that sometimes they need to defend too, and now our initiative is just to create a way where we can make them worry about defending too.”

Powering Through the Break

Orlando City has not played for 18 days. While the long layoff was partially due to the first-round sweep, it also backed up to the November FIFA international window. The Lions had five players away on international duty: goalkeeper Pedro Gallese and defensive midfielder Wilder Cartagena for Peru, winger Facundo Torres for Uruguay, forward Wilfredo Rivera for Puerto Rico, and defender Abdi Salim for Somalia. For the remaining players who stayed behind at home, they tried to make the most of the situation.

“We have been working,” Head Coach Oscar Pareja said. “After our game against Nashville, we had a couple of days off to refresh after our efforts there and the emotions the game brought us. We have kept a good pace and have worked on some details toward what is coming with Columbus. We are waiting for some players that are out on national team duty, but we are ready. This week, we have been a bit more intense in our preparations. The boys are good and healthy.” 

Mauricio Pereyra Set to Hit 10,000 Minutes

Should he start and play through the 38th minute today, captain Mauricio Pereyra will reach 10,000 minutes across all competitions as a Lion. Pereyra will be only the third Orlando City player to reach the milestone, joining defender Robin Jansson and goalkeeper Pedro Gallese. In his time with Orlando, the Uruguayan maestro has accumulated 134 appearances and holds the club assists record with 47. Pereyra will likely reach his milestone tonight, but the club has a chance at collectively reaching new heights as well. A win would advance the Lions to the Eastern Conference final for the first time in team history. The win would also make seven straight victories and 16 consecutive results at home. Each would be club records. 

Free Kicks

It’s about that time for our earlier-than-usual kickoff time. Be early, be loud, and be safe. Vamos Orlando!

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