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Lion Links: 2/3/17



Good morning, Mane Land readers. I hope you enjoyed last Friday’ Lion Links from our managing editor while I was out of the office. And if you didn’t even realize that I was gone, well…I forgive you and hope that you continue to enjoy reading our coverage of everything that is Orlando soccer and more.

With that said, I am happy to be back and eager to bring you the top news so let’s not waste any more time.

Kreis Admits Molino Asked to Leave OCSC

There were mixed reviews to say the least when Orlando City elected to ship Kevin Molino to Minnesota United in a reunion of sorts with former Lions head coach Adrian Heath. It became apparent that Molino was a part of what Jason Kreis referred to as an “in-house” issue when he was distant from his teammates in training and didn’t travel to Jacksonville for preseason camp. With that said, many were still sad to see the Trinidad & Tobago international go after he capitalized regularly in 30 appearances in 2016 with 11 goals and eight assists. But the player himself asked out of Orlando, expecting a big raise after one year of production that the club couldn’t (and wouldn’t) cave in to.

“We tried to do what we could in offering a contract that we felt was competitive to what he was hoping for, but the player was still unhappy. For me, what’s most important is whether a player wants to be in the team, and the last question I asked him was, ‘Kevin, do you want to be here?’ And he said, ‘No I don’t, coach. I’d like a change of scenery’. At that point, that’s who we want to be going forward, a club that wants players to desperately be a part of it.”

While replacing the midfielder’s production on the field will be no easy task, Kreis made it clear that the culture in the locker room comes before all else.

Kreis Pleased with Lions’ Preseason Trajectory

If fans are upset about Molino’s departure, maybe this will help. Jason Kreis told Orlando Sentinel writer Alicia DelGallo things are going well this preseason.

“The effort they’ve been putting in has been second to none. The commitment level, the competitiveness in training sessions I think has reached a new level, which is exactly what we wanted.”

Kreis went on to praise the team’s fitness level, something he criticized after he was hired in July, calling it “at a different level than it was last year.”

“I couldn’t be happier with where we are right now, but I know we have a ton of work left to do still,” Kreis said. “The good thing is we have five weeks left to get it done in.”

That’s great news. A fit and committed Orlando City team should challenge for the postseason in 2017.

Deakin Looks to Make Senior Team

Orlando City’s only SuperDraft selection in 2017 came in the third round in the person of forward Danny Deakin. The Sheffield, England native has arrived at Orlando City’s preseason camp and is looking to get first-team games in his rookie season.

“It’s very good,” Deakin said. “I knew it was gonna be a lot better than college. The speed of play is very high and everyone’s very consistent on the ball. But yeah, I’m enjoying it. I think I’ve adapted pretty well to it. But yeah, it’s good and I’m enjoying my time here.”

Deakin doesn’t have a lot of goals for his rookie season. He’s focused on contributing to his team and getting as much time on the pitch as he can. “I’d like to play. I’d like to start games and show what I can do,” Deakin said. “I’d like to be involved in the first team and be around things. But you just never know, I’m just gonna do what I can and see where it takes me.”

Orlando City B Announces Preseason Schedule

As OCB looks to improve upon its first USL season in 2017, the club announced its preseason schedule that consists of seven friendlies beginning on Feb. 23. Following the preseason opener against the University of Central Florida, it will take on OKC Energy FC in Bradenton at the IMG Academy in the only game that will be streamed live at Check out the link for the full slate.

Lifetime to Broadcast NWSL Matches

The NWSL has announced a partnership with A+E Networks that includes Lifetime broadcasting a weekly NWSL match Saturdays at 4 p.m. Lifetime will serve as an official sponsor and broadcast partner for the league.

In addition to the broadcast, the partnership will feature a joint venture, NWSL Media. According to the press release, NWSL Media will oversee the live streaming of matches, including pre-game, halftime, and post-game segments.

“This partnership is not only tremendously significant in the continued growth of NWSL, but representative of how far the league has come in four years and where it can go in the future,” U.S. Soccer president Sunil Galati said.

In addition, the Lifetime logo will feature on the right sleeve of all teams’ jerseys.

Pereira Called into U.S. U-17 Residency Program

Alejandro Pereira, current member of Orlando City’s academy set-up, has been called into the U.S. Soccer Residency Program in Bradenton for the 2017 Spring Semester. Head coach John Hackworth invited Pereira along with 31 others in pursuit of qualifying for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup.

Pereira was one of the 28 players invited for the spring semester that were also in residency last fall. Hackworth also called in several new players, including Ethan Bartlow, Tyler Shaver, Grayson Barber, and David Ochoa. Notable players that will not return for spring residency are Chris Goslin and Chris Durkin, who will be looking to earn a first-team place in preseason with Atlanta United and D.C. United, respectively, after signing homegrown deals.

The U-17 World Cup qualifying tournament is set to begin April 14 in Panama. The emphasis of this semester will be preparing the players to not only qualify, but make an impact in the World Cup.

Lampard Calls it Quits

Few players in the history of the game have experienced the long-lasting success that Frank Lampard has. After 21 years, 13 of which were spent at Stamford Bridge with Chelsea, Lampard has made the decision to hang up his boots.

Lampard last played for New York City FC after leaving Chelsea in 2014 and spending the 2014-2015 season with NYCFC parent club, Manchester City. The England international is one of just three players to record over 100 goals and 100 assists. The others on that list are Manchester United legends Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney.

This MLS off-season has seen world football legends retire after coming stateside. First it was Liverpool legend, Steven Gerrard, and now Lampard. Gerrard recently joined Liverpool’s coaching staff at the academy level, and with Lampard giving thanks to the Football Association for the opportunity to study for his coaching badges, Lampard could follow in his footsteps by making a return to Stamford Bridge.

That should more than do it for today’s links. It sure is good to be back, and I can only hope that your weekend is as enjoyable as writing for you all is for me. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the good times!

Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/16/24

Nico Lodeiro earns recognition, Marta up for Goal of the Week, MLS stock watch, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I hope you had a good weekend and got your taxes filed correctly and on time. It was a good weekend for Orlando soccer, as the Orlando Pride, Orlando City B, and Orlando City went undefeated and picked up seven of the nine points on offer. As always, we have a lot to talk through today. Before we get into today’s links, let’s all wish Luis Muriel a happy birthday!

Nico Lodeiro Makes Team of the Matchday Bench

Midfielder Nico Lodeiro has earned recognition for his part in Orlando City’s 3-2 win over D.C. United, making the bench of the latest edition MLS Team of the Matchday. The Uruguayan entered the fray in the 72nd minute and helped OCSC come back and take all three points. He took the corner kick that David Brekalo equalized from, (even though he was not initially credited with the assist) and provided an outstanding through ball for Duncan McGuire’s game-winner. Sean Rollins graded him a 6.5/10 and named him Man of the Match in his player grades as well. Here’s hoping he keeps up the good work!

Marta’s Goal Nominated

Marta’s game-winning strike during Friday’s contest against Utah Royals FC has been nominated for NWSL Goal of the Week. On the road and in the game as a substitute, it didn’t take long for the Brazilian to make her mark on the match. She was barely on the field for five minutes when she met a ball that was rolling across the box with a first-time strike that she powered in off the back post. It proved to be the game’s only goal and was enough to give the Pride their first win of the season. Make sure you vote for her to win this week’s honor!

MLS Stock Watch

The fortunes of Major League Soccer teams are in constant flux, and it’s always nice to keep track of how your enemies are doing. Former Lion Sacha Kljestan weighed in on which clubs’ stock went up and which went down after the weekend’s games. We start on a good note, as a resilient performance from Orlando City saw the good guys pick up their second win of the season. The LA Galaxy hammered the Vancouver Whitecaps by a score of 3-1, and proved that their place atop the Western Conference standings is no fluke. On the other side of the coin, Toronto FC has given up 10 goals in its last three matches, and Jon Herdman needs to find a way to keep things from getting worse until the Reds’ group of injured players can return to the field.

Americans in Midweek Action

There are two big matches featuring American players this week, so get them marked down on your calendar and don’t miss any of the action. Thursday sees Christian Pulisic, Yunus Musah, and AC Milan travel to the Italian capital to try to overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit to Roma in the Europa League quarterfinals. Musah started Sunday’s match against Sassuolo and Pulisic subbed on in the second half as Milan clawed its way back to a 3-3 draw. Friday then has Juventus and Weston McKennie traveling to Cagliari for a Serie A tilt. Juve is currently third in the league and needs to keep picking up results to secure a UEFA Champions League place for next season.

UEFA Champions League Preview

Speaking of the Champions League, the quarterfinals wrap up today and tomorrow and there are a number of storylines to keep an eye on. Luis Enrique is strong in his belief that Paris Saint-Germain can overcome a 3-2 loss in the first leg to advance past Barcelona. Xavi has promised that Barca will look to attack rather than sitting and protecting its lead. Elsewhere, Bayern Munich will be without the suspended Alphonso Davies and likely Kingsley Coman due to injury, and their replacements will be hard pressed to contain Ben White and Bukayo Saka. Finally, Edin Terzic’s substitutions gave Borussia Dortmund a spark in the team’s 2-1 loss to Atletico Madrid in the first leg, which means the coach may have a selection headache on his hands as he tries to lead his side to a comeback.

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That’ll do it for me this morning. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/15/24

Lions beat D.C. United, Pride pick up road win over Utah Royals, Barbra Banda arrives in Orlando, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. Orlando City and the Pride both won over the weekend, and there has been plenty of action in European soccer. Over the past week, I’ve been busy covering high school sports like lacrosse and softball. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Lions Top D.C. United

Orlando City overturned a late 2-1 deficit to win 3-2 against D.C. United at Audi Field over the weekend. David Brekalo scored the equalizer in the second half to tie the match at 2-2. Duncan McGuire came off the bench in the second half and scored in stoppage time, as the Lions beat D.C. United for the first time since Oct. 2, 2021. The Lions were 0-3-1 against D.C. United over the last two seasons prior to Saturday’s win. Orlando has now picked up points in each of the last three matches. Orlando City will be on the road again this weekend when it takes on CF Montreal on Saturday.

Orlando Pride Defeat Utah Royals; Help Arrives

The Orlando Pride got their first win of the 2024 NWSL last Friday with a 1-0 against the Utah Royals. Marta came off the bench in the second half and scored the lone goal to seal the win for Orlando. The Pride drew each of their first three matches to start the season against Racing Louisville, Angel City FC, and the Chicago Red Stars. Friday’s result means the Pride have six points through four league matches and are fifth in the NWSL table.

Despite needing four matches to pick up their first win of the year, the Pride are ahead of last year’s pace at the same point in the season, and remain undefeated (1-0-3) despite still waiting to play with this off-season’s marquee signing, Zambian international striker Barbra Banda. The new Pride forward arrived on Sunday to a warm welcome at Orlando International Airport.

It will be interesting to see how quickly Seb Hines can get Banda acclimated to the club and the league. Orlando could use Banda’s offensive firepower, as the club has struggled to score goals in the early part of the season. The Pride will be back in action against the San Diego Wave this Friday.

Bayer Leverkusen wins Bundesliga; Manchester City Leads EPL Title Race

Bayer Leverkusen cruised to a 5-0 win against Werder Bremen on Sunday to win its first ever Bundesliga title with five league matches left to spare. Xabi Alonso’s side won the league title by a 16-point margin, ending Bayern Munich’s 11-year run as title holders. Leverkusen is also unbeaten through 43 matches across all competitions. Meanwhile, in England, we have a new Premier League title race leader as Manchester City crushed Luton Town 5-1 on Saturday. On Sunday, Arsenal lost 2-0 to Aston Villa and Liverpool lost 1-0 to Crystal Palace. There are six match days remaining and this race could go down to the wire. Manchester City is at the top of the table with 73 points, while Arsenal and Liverpool remain two points behind in second and third, respectively, with 71 points.

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  • Houston Dash winger Maria Sanchez has reportedly requested a trade four months after signing a record-breaking deal in NWSL history in the off-season to remain with the club.
  • Manchester United edged Chelsea 2-1 to beat the Blues for the first time ever. Making the win even bigger was that it took place in the Women’s FA Cup semifinal. United will play Tottenham in the final at Wembley on May 12.
  • The EFL Championship is three weeks away from its finale, with a few clubs featureing Americans still in the mix for promotion. Josh Sargent’s Norwich City side holds the final playoff spot, while Haji Wright’s Conventry and Duane Holmes’ Preston North End in the hunt for a shot at promotion.
  • The AS Roma versus Udinese match was suspended after defender Evan Ndicka collapsed away from play and had to be stretchered off. The game was tied at 1-1 with about 20 minutes remaining when Ndicka went down. The club shared this update on social media.

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: 4/12/24

Orlando Pride play in Utah tonight, Orlando City B earns a point, Europa League quarterfinals begin, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Happy Friday! I hope this week has gone smoothly for you as we gear up for even more Orlando soccer tonight and tomorrow. It should be a nice next few days, even if I’m working for most of it. I don’t have many plans outside of work beyond bonding with my cat and trying a new stuffed bread recipe. Let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world!

Orlando Pride Play the Utah Royals Tonight

The Orlando Pride are on the road tonight for a showdown with the Utah Royals at 9:30 p.m., and you can catch the game on NWSL+ or through Bally Sports if you’re local. Although the Royals are an expansion team this year, the Pride last squared off against the previous Royals back in 2019, with Orlando losing all three games to Utah that season. This season, the Pride are riding a three-game unbeaten streak. However, they are also still on the hunt for their first win after three consecutive draws. While the offense awaits the arrival of Zambian striker Barbra Banda, the Pride have managed to score off of a set piece in each of their three games so far. While a draw on the road wouldn’t be awful by any means, hopefully the Pride can get a solid tally in the win column tonight.

Orlando City B Draws Philadelphia Union II

OCB went on the road to take on Philadelphia Union II and earned a single point after a 1-1 draw and penalty shootout. The two teams traded goals in the first half, but the Young Lions were on the back foot for most of the second half. While Orlando’s offense sputtered, the defense survived chance after chance from Philadelphia to send the game to a shootout. Orlando lost the lengthy shootout, 7-6, claiming just one point, but at least the Young Lions didn’t leave Pennsylvania empty handed. Hopefully OCB can return to its winning ways when it faces off with Crown Legacy FC on April 19.

New York City FC Stadium Plans Finally Approved

Plans to build a soccer-specific stadium in Queens for new grounds for New York City FC were approved by New York City officials. It will be a $780 million stadium expected to open in 2027 and serves as the centerpiece of a redevelopment project in the neighborhood. The 25,000-seat stadium will be right next to Citi Field, which has been one of the many home venues for NYCFC over the years since joining as an expansion side alongside Orlando City in 2015. It’s a bit wild that this stadium is set to open 10 years after Orlando christened its own soccer-specific stadium back in 2017. At least the Lions won’t have to play road games at baseball stadiums for much longer.

Europa League Quarterfinals Kick Off

The Europa League quarterfinals are underway, with the remaining eight teams squaring off in the first legs of their matchups. In England, Atalanta leaned on a brace from Gianluca Scamacca and stellar defense to win 3-0 against Liverpool. Bayer Leverkusen’s unbeaten streak stretched to 42 games after it beat West Ham United 2-0, thanks to a pair of late goals. The first match between Italian clubs AC Milan and Roma went to the visitors, as Roma scored early on and held on for a 1-0 win at San Siro. The only quarterfinal that wasn’t a shutout took place in Portugal, with Benfica beating Marseille, 2-1. The second legs will all take place at the same time next week, which should make for an exciting Thursday afternoon of soccer.

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

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