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Lion Links: 7/13/17

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Happy I-4 Derby day, Mane Landers. That’s right, the vile enemy from Tampa Bay visits Orlando City Stadium tonight to take on OCB. No doubt Rowdies fans will soon be locking up their double-wides, jumping in their mid-90s Ford pickups and heading east on Interstate 4 to invade our beautiful Purple Palace.

Will they outnumber the home fans? It’s possible. Orlando City’s USL side may have moved to downtown Orlando, but the bump in attendance has been negligible. It’s kind of expensive to support multiple home teams, but this game will be one you’ll want to see. Several of the young Lions on MLS contracts should be in the lineup and you’ll get a chance to see longtime Orlando City player Luke Boden again. Hope to see you there in droves.

While we kill the hours between now and tailgate time, let’s enjoy some links:

USMNT Fumbles Away 2-0 Lead, Still Beats Martinique

In a match that was frustrating to watch if you’re a fan of the USMNT, the Yanks blew a 2-0 lead to tiny Martinique but responded with the final goal to win 3-2 in Tampa. Jordan Morris scored a brace and Omar Gonzalez scored his second career international goal to lead the U.S. to the top of Group B.

In the other Group B match, Nicaragua scored first after a 0-0 opening period, but Panama answered immediately and went on to win, 2-1, moving to four points and the same goal differential as the U.S., but Los Canaleros are in second due to the goals scored tiebreaker.

Kreis Doesn’t Back Off from Ref Remarks

If you thought Orlando City Head Coach Jason Kreis was just angry in the heat of the moment when he spouted off about PRO referees’ treatment of his team after the Lions’ 3-1 loss to Toronto FC last week, well…maybe not. Kreis has had time to look at the film from that match and when asked about those remarks at training, he basically doubled down.

“…it’s one of those occasions where sometimes after a game you say something without maybe being level-headed or having the ability to look at the video first. Often times you’ll change your opinion from those statements,” he paused, “This is not one of those times.”

“I’ve already watched the video, and it’s very, very clear to me that decisions that went against us – in the Toronto game in particular, but I can tell you generally I feel the same exact way in every single match we played this year – the decisions that have gone against us in 50/50 calls, the little things going against us, it’s just not right. And in that game in particular, the decision for a foul that they called against [Jozy] Altidore that led to the third goal that broke our back, um, was critically wrong. And so, it’s another game where you walk out and you feel like if the referees had been better we certainly could have come back in that game and drawn because we had all the momentum, we’d just scored, things were looking positive for us.”

The question now becomes…will there be one fine from the league, or two?

Ramos, Alston Repeat Injuries Confounding Kreis, Trainers, Doctors

The Lions have tried any number of things to prevent the rash of hamstring issues that plagued the team in preseason and early in the MLS campaign. But despite sticking to proper nutrition, training, strength and conditioning tactics, and rehab, Rafael Ramos and Kevin Alston continue to suffer the same types of ailments. The elusive problem has been frustrating Jason Kreis.

“It’s an impossible situation, right?” Kreis said, lowering his gaze in what looked to be sympathy and frustration when Ramos first was mentioned.

“We all want to look for the black-and-white answer. We’re handling all the black and white information. We’re doing all the right things, the rehab, the nutrition, the strength work, the one-v-one work he’s doing outside the field. We’re putting in all the right information, but for some reason it’s still eluding us. So, I just don’t have an answer.”

Compounding the problem is that both play the same position — right back. Kreis is at least hopeful that the latest injury setback for Ramos will be closer to two weeks than four.

“We’re hopeful it’s a small, minor problem,” Kreis said. “It’s also not to the exact same muscle that he’s been dealing with, so we’re hopeful it could be a minor issue that we can move forward from very quickly. But it’s concerning, it’s concerning no doubt.”

Kaká Featured in MLS Flight Path Series

One of the more interesting story series’ that mlssoccer.com has produced recently is the Flight Path series, which talks about a star player’s travels around the world and how they got to North America. Orlando City skipper Kaká got his turn, and the piece highlights his trek from Brazil to Italy to Spain, then back to Italy, before finally landing in the City Beautiful, where he felt he still had something to prove.

"I always heard, 'Americans don't like soccer, they don't want soccer here,' that it would never be a good sport here. I saw that as a challenge. I said, 'I want to go play there and show the people that soccer has a lot of good value.'

No Lions on the MLS Homegrown Team Roster

MLS Homegrown Team Head Coach Brian McBride’s roster for the 2017 MLS Homegrown Game will be the first without an Orlando City player since the team joined the league in 2015. Tyler Turner had made the squad the last two years before leaving the organization this past off-season. Harrison Heath, now on loan to Sacramento Republic from Atlanta United, was selected previously but was injured prior to the match and couldn’t participate. Center back Tommy Redding was not included in this year’s team, although some of his U-20 USMNT teammates were.

Dwyer Talks USL, MLS, USMNT

Former Lion Dom Dwyer talked about his time in the USL, with Sporting Kansas City, and giving his allegiance to the United States rather than his native England for international play in this video interview:

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  • Former Orlando City midfielder Brian “Cobi” Span played 90 minutes in a UEFA Champions League qualifying match for for IFK Mariehamn vs. Legia Warsaw. Mariehamn lost, 3-0.
  • Here’s a profile on how Orlando City broadcaster McKenzie Thirkill has built a career in sports.
  • French Guiana played Florent Malouda, knowing he was ineligible under FIFA rules and the eventual 0-0 draw would likely be forfeited. French Guiana is not recognized by FIFA but is recognized by CONCACAF. So why not play him against Canada in the country’s territory’s Gold Cup opener? A ruling is expected today.
  • Ex-FIFA exec Chuck Blazer died last night at age 72. He did a lot of good things for soccer, and then he did some not-so-good things.
  • Those born on this date include Julius Caesar (100 BC), Hogan’s Heroes star Bob Crane (1928), Patrick Stewart (1940), Harrison Ford (1942), Roger McGuinn of the Byrds (1942), Cheech Marin (1946), Grease actress Didi Conn (1951), boxer Michael Spinks (1956), filmmaker Cameron Crowe (1957), Community’s Ben Chang himself — Ken Jeong (1969), Welsh footballer Craig Bellamy (1979), baseball’s Shin-Soo Choo and Yadier Molina (both 1982), and Mexican goalkeeper Memo Ochoa (1985).

That’s all the time I have for this morning, folks. Check back later for full coverage of OCB-Tampa Bay, and stick around this weekend for the Orlando Pride vs. FC Kansas City and the USMNT vs. Nicaragua.

I leave you today with some I-4 Derby talk from Anthony Pulis and Rob Valentino.

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.

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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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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/11/24

Learning more about Morgan Gautrat, OCB plays tonight, Champions League action, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I’m having a fairly stressful but great week after adopting my first cat and getting him all set up here. It may take a few weeks to turn him into a loyal Orlando soccer fan, but I have high hopes. Regardless, I’m looking forward to the gauntlet of games with Orlando City B playing today, the Orlando Pride tomorrow, and Orlando City on Saturday. Let’s get to the links!

Getting to Know Morgan Gautrat

Orlando Pride midfielder Morgan Gautrat was the latest player to field questions as part of the video series for fans to learn more about the players who wear purple. She weighed in on how she changed her game once she transitioned to the United States Women’s National Team at age 19, going from a playmaking attacker to a player who slots in deeper in the midfield. Gautrat brings leadership, experience, and a strong skillset to a young Pride team that’s built a strong culture around it. She also spoke on how Florida is her soccer home, what her spirit animal is, and the team’s aspirations this season.

Orlando City B Takes On Philadelphia Union II

The Young Lions are on the road today at 4 p.m. for an MLS NEXT Pro match against Philadelphia Union II. OCB last played in Chester, PA in last year’s season opener, winning 3-1 in an impressive victory. The team will hope for a similar result tonight to get back on track after a loss to Inter Miami II earlier this month. Philadelphia has yet to lose in regulation this season and has won both of its home matches. It should be a tough match for the Young Lions, but a great chance to climb back up the Eastern Conference standings for them.

Assessing USWNT After SheBelieves Cup Win

The United States Women’s National Team is moving towards the Olympics with plenty of momentum after winning the SheBelieves Cup and Concacaf W Gold Cup. There were plenty of parallels between the SheBelieves Cup final and the Gold Cup semifinal against Canada, one was just a bit more waterlogged. Canada used a late penalty to send the game to penalty kicks, Sophia Smith scored, and Alyssa Naeher stood on her head in the penalty shootout. The key differences were that Mallory Swanson has given the attack some needed dynamism after returning, and the defense struggles without Naomi Girma to anchor it. It was also Twila Kilgore’s final game as the USWNT’s interim head coach, and now attention will turn towards how Emma Hayes can elevate the team once she takes over.

Champions League Quarterfinals Roll On

Atletico Madrid and Barcelona both won in their first legs of the Champions League quarterfinals, although neither match was a blowout. Atletico Madrid hosted Borussia Dortmund and scored twice in the first half. Dortmund brought one back in the second half, but Atletico Madrid held on to secure a 2-1 win. The road team completed the comeback in the other match though, with Barcelona winning a 3-2 thriller against Paris Saint-Germain that included four goals in the second half. All in all, this was a great round of quarterfinal first legs filled with plenty of goals, and the second legs next week should be pretty entertaining.

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  • Andrew Wiebe was the latest analyst to dive into Orlando’s attacking woes this season. I personally think things will naturally improve once the team gets some rest under its belt and Luis Muriel settles in. I agree with Wiebe though that Wilder Cartagena and Cesar Araujo must return to form.
  • The Champions League shouldn’t overshadow a strong slate of Europa League quarterfinals today. My favorite matchup of the four would have to be the Italian showdown between AC Milan and Roma.
  • English forward Rachel Daly announced that she is retiring from international soccer. The 32-year-old scored 22 goals last season with Aston Villa and has scored 16 goals in 84 appearances with England.
  • Midfielder Dillon Serna is hanging up his cleats at age 30 after a career that included time with the Colorado Rapids and Colorado Springs Switchbacks.
  • Manchester City’s Rodri is feeling the wear and tear of his team’s pursuit for silverware. Rest may be hard to come by for him during a congested schedule, and he hasn’t lost in the past 66 games he’s played in.
  • Former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy shared the struggle he had after retiring, providing details on his drug addiction and the despair felt after he quit playing.

That’s all I have for you today on this fine Thursday. Treat yourself to something you deserve, check in with a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, and have a great day!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/10/24

MLS Earth Day kits are in, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson gets noticed, U.S. wins SheBelieves Cup, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. Time to start your day with some tasty links. Orlando City and the Pride are back in action this weekend, and OCB has a match tomorrow. That means plenty of goodness to end the week. Three straight days of Orlando matches is something for which to be grateful. Let’s get to the links.

Orlando City’s Greener Goals

Orlando City joins the other clubs in MLS in celebrating Earth Day with the Greener Goals week of service. Each club will volunteer time to help the environment. The club has two cleanups scheduled, including one in the area around the stadium in which fans can contribute to the effort. Additionally, all the clubs will have special One Planet pre-match kits. The kits are made from recycled materials and represent either soil, woods, or water. I’m guessing that the Orlando City kit is of the soil variety.

Dagur Dan is Da Man

The Mane Land PawedCast isn’t the only outfit noticing that Dagur Dan Thorhallsson is a force to be reckoned with. To be fair, he had some struggles during Orlando City’s hectic start to the season. Once he was rested, he was back in form and others outside of Orlando are taking notice. It’s not particularly surprising given his very nice right foot on crosses, his ability to take on opponents, and his ability to get back on defense. I’m looking forward to more from him because I don’t want no Fop! I’m a Dagur Dan man!

Barbra Banda Sends Zambia to the Olympics

After a 2-1 loss to Morocco in the first leg, Zambia bounced back with a 2-0 road win in the second leg to qualify for this summer’s Olympics. Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda scored twice in the match, including a penalty in extra time to secure the win on aggregate. It’s the second straight trip to the Olympics for Zambia, with Banda scoring six goals in the group stage of the last Olympics. This year, Zambia is in a tough group against the U.S., Germany, and Australia, but has the talent to make a run.

Once Upon a What?

Once Upon a Coconut is now the official coconut water sponsor of Orlando City, the Orlando Pride, and Inter&Co Stadium. If you’re like me, your first response was, “I was unaware that official coconut water sponsors were a thing.” Well, they are, and now the club is a leader in this exciting new frontier. All kidding aside, sponsors mean money for the club, which is a good thing, and the product will be available to sample in the Mane Street Plaza Fan Zone. Drink up, me hearties!

USWNT Wins the SheBelieves Cup

It took the USWNT all the way to penalty kicks to finally win the 2024 SheBelieves Cup, defeating Canada 2-2 (5-4). Canada struck first before the U.S. took the lead on a Sophia Smith brace. Canada equalized late on a soft penalty conceded by Crystal Dunn, and the match went to spot kicks to decide things. Despite missing the first shot, the U.S. eventually won, thanks to three saves by Alyssa Naeher, who also contributed a goal in the shootout.

In the third-place match, Brazil and Japan also went to penalty kicks, with Brazil winning the shootout 3-0 after a 1-1 draw, with Lorena saving all three of Japan’s penalty kicks. Cristiane scored the equalizer for Brazil in the 71st minute to ultimately send the game to penalties. The Orlando Pride’s Angelina and Marta played for Brazil.

Racial Abuse in El Trafico

Following LAFC’s 2-1 victory over the LA Galaxy Saturday, the Galaxy’s Ghanaian forward, Joseph Paintsil, was the victim of online racial abuse. Reportedly, an LAFC fan used a derogatory slur and criticized Paintsil’s performance in the match. MLS, the Galaxy, and LAFC all condemned the incident. The parties are continuing to work with local authorities to hold the person accountable.

To be very clear, as far as I’m concerned, there is no room for this in soccer or anywhere. No racism, no homophobia, no transphobia — just stop being horrible.

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That will do it for today. Remember to check back daily as we get you ready for all the upcoming matches. Vamos Orlando!

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