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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:

Free Kicks

  • 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: 6/14/24

Orlando City prepares to take on LAFC, Lions linked with Alan Saldivia, Orlando City B draws against Chattanooga FC, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! I’m working for most of this weekend but am still looking forward to the absurd amount of soccer ahead of us. Both Orlando City and the Orlando Pride have games Saturday, and the 2024 Euros should give us some exciting matches from teams we don’t watch all too often. Let’s dive right into today’s links!

Orlando City Prepares for LAFC

The international break is over and Orlando City is back in action Saturday night for a home game against LAFC. It’s been a difficult season for the Lions so far, and they have been shut out in three of their past five games. Points have been hard to come by at home for Orlando and a match against one of the best teams in the Western Conference won’t make that any easier. With David Brekalo at the Euros, Rodrigo Schlegel is expected to start and it would be his 100th MLS appearance. Ramiro Enrique would also make his 50th appearance across all competitions as a Lion should he take the field.

Lions Linked Reportedly Bow Out of Bid to Sign Defender Alan Saldivia

With the MLS summer transfer window looming, a rumor surfaced of Orlando City making an offer to sign Uruguayan center back Alan Saldivia from Colo-Colo in Chile. The Lions reportedly offered $1.5 million for the 22-year-old, but that doesn’t reach the $2.2 million Colo-Colo wants at minimum. The Lions reportedly would not go higher. While center back isn’t exactly a pressing need for the Lions at this time, Saldivia would have given the team a young and talented player who could anchor the defense for years to come.

Orlando City B Drops Points in Disappointing Draw

OCB hosted Chattanooga FC and had to settle for a 2-2 draw after giving up a lead not once, but twice. The Young Lions had Chattanooga on the ropes late in the match, taking the lead just before the end of normal time, only to get punched in the mouth in stoppage time and then lose the penalty shootout. It was the second straight 2-2 draw at home for the Young Lions and they’re still on the hunt for their first win this month. OCB’s next game will be on the road against New York City FC II on Wednesday.

Getting Ready for the MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs

The MLS NEXT Cup playoffs kick off Saturday as the best teams across four age groups compete in a knockout format. Orlando City’s U-15 squad was recognized as one of the title contenders in its age group and will take on Real Salt Lake in the round of 32 on Saturday . The team also did well in MLS NEXT Flex, and Jakob Garcia, who has scored 18 goals in 21 games, is the kind of attacker who can make all the difference in knockout matches. Orlando’s U-17 team is capable of making a run as well, although it faces a tough first match on Sunday against the Philadelphia Union, which won the 2024 Generation Adidas Cup. It should be a fun tournament, and hopefully Orlando’s teams can advance far enough to be included in the games streamed on MLS Season Pass.

Free Kicks

  • Carl Robinson is back in MLS after Atlanta United hired him as an assistant coach. The 47-year-old played for Toronto FC and the New York Red Bulls to close out his playing career and also served as the head coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps.
  • Chicago Fire Designated Player Xherdan Shaqiri reportedly wants to return to Europe. The 32-year-old has been with the Fire since 2022 but hasn’t lived up to his billing and his contract is set to expire after this season.

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: 6/13/24

Orlando City B hosts Chattanooga FC tonight, USMNT earns draw against Brazil, MLS’ Juneteenth celebrations, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

How’s it going, Mane Landers? Between my cat finally deciding I’m worth hanging out with and reading a pair of books that have been collecting dust on my shelf, I’ve been having a pretty good week. I’m looking forward to the feast of soccer both in Orlando and abroad over the next few days as well. But for now, let’s get this Thursday started with today’s links!

Orlando City B Hosts Chattanooga FC Tonight

In an enticing midweek match tonight at 7 p.m., Orlando City B will take on Chattanooga FC at Osceola Heritage Park. If not heading to watch OCB in person, you can catch the game on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+. The last time these two teams squared off was on May 4, with Chattanooga winning the penalty shootout for an extra point after a 1-1 draw in Tennessee. The Young Lions are coming off of a 2-2 draw with one of the league’s worst teams this season, Carolina Core FC, but winning the shootout after a late rally could give them the kind of momentum needed to take down Chattanooga. Beating one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference would be quite the statement from OCB during what’s been a middling season so far.

USMNT Draws With Brazil in Orlando

Playing in Orlando at Camping World Stadium, the United States Men’s National Team drew 1-1 against Brazil in a friendly billed as the Continental Clasico. Brazil scored first, but Matt Turner and the USMNT didn’t collapse under the pressure and earned the team’s first ever draw against the South American powerhouse. All in all, it was a much better result than the USMNT’s 5-1 loss to Colombia on Saturday. This was the USMNT’s final match until Copa America later this month. The Yanks will start their campaign against Bolivia on June 23 before playing Panama on June 27 and Uruguay on July 1.

MLS Announces Initiatives for Juneteenth

In partnership with Black Players for Change and Adidas, MLS announced some of the ways the league will be celebrating Juneteenth. Pre-match shirts acknowledging the change players can provide will be worn during warm-ups and fans can buy their own shirts as well, with a portion of the proceeds going toward organizations focused on racial equity and social justice. There will also be a campaign highlighting the connection between professional and academy players, as well as educational content across the league’s social media to raise awareness of the holiday.

Euro 2024 Kicks Off on Friday

A loaded gauntlet of summer tournaments finally begins Friday, as Germany hosts Scotland for the first match of Euro 2024. From Cristiano Ronaldo’s potential swan song to a brutal group that includes Spain, Italy, and Croatia, storylines abound for the tournament and each team brings something worth watching to the table. For Orlando City fans, defender David Brekalo was called up by Slovenia, which was drawn in a group with England, Denmark, and Serbia. I’m looking forward to seeing which underdogs prevail and which players make a name for themselves in this tournament.

2026 World Cup Schedule Revealed

The full schedule for the 2026 World Cup was unveiled, which gives a slight glimpse at the paths each host nation could take in the tournament. If the U.S. wins Group D after matches in Los Angeles and Seattle, it will stay on the West Coast for a knockout game in San Francisco before a potential round of 16 game in Seattle and quarterfinal in Los Angeles. Mexico and Canada have similar incentives to win their groups, as they will then host in their country until heading to the U.S. for the quarterfinals, should they make it that far. Here in Florida, Hard Rock Stadium in Miami will serve as the venue for four group games, a round of 32 match on July 3, a quarterfinal on July 11, and the third-place match on July 18.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando Pride Assistant Coach Yolanda Thomas was announced as a panelist for the Black Soccer Coaches’ summer symposium on July 22. She will also have a field session at the event to discuss the role of the midfield when building out of the back.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/12/24

Leagues Cup forgets Orlando’s U.S. Open Cup win, USMNT U-23 loses to Japan, NWSL expansion options, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. The USMNT plays tonight in Orlando, and I hope that you have tickets. If not, we can still watch as we wait for the Orlando City and Orlando Pride matches this Saturday. On a personal note, this Friday will mark my ninth anniversary with The Mane Land. It’s been a heck of a ride, and I’m glad you’ve been there with us. Here’s to many more years to come. Let’s get to the links.

Leagues Cup Forgets Orlando’s U.S. Open Cup Win

Orlando City is playing in the Leagues Cup starting at the end of July and here’s a nice guide to Orlando’s group for the tournament. Of course, the Leagues Cup organizers want you to be pumped so that you watch and buy tickets. I think that is something we should do simply to support the club. However, I don’t think they went about promoting the competition in quite the right way. In a tweet that has since been deleted, the tournament’s social media team stated the Leagues Cup would be Orlando’s chance to win its first trophy. Did you catch the mistake? Taylor Twellman did.

Good on you, Taylor. Facundo Torres was indeed brilliant in that match, as was Benji Michel. Of course, there were others that caught the faux pas as well.

I think we should also be mentioning the USL Championships, but what do I know? Evidently, more than the Leagues Cup’s social media team.

USMNT to Honor Pulse Victims

There’s plenty of fake, corporate shows of support for Pride Month , but in general I think that the USMNT and USWNT have done a good job of being legitimate allies to the LGBTQIA+ community. Tonight, the USMNT will play a friendly against Brazil at Camping World Stadium on the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting. The players will be wearing Pride jerseys to honor those who lost their lives so senselessly eight years ago.

In terms of the game, the USMNT will be without Josh Sargent for the match, and Tyler Adams will only get limited minutes if he plays, as both are coming back from injuries. Get well before the Copa America, lads.

Lions on International Duty

The United States U-23 Men’s National Team lost 2-0 to Japan in its final friendly match before the Olympics. Orlando City’s Duncan McGuire found himself on a bit of an island up top as the U.S. had difficulty moving the ball through the midfield. Hopefully, the U.S. got such play out of its system heading into the Olympics.

OCB’s Wilfredo Rivera made the most of his time playing in Puerto Rico’s World Cup qualifier against Anguilla, scoring a brace in the 8-0 victory. This win comes after a scoreless draw with El Salvador last week and Puerto Rico’s remaining group games during this round of qualifying will be next June.

Exploring NWSL Expansion Options

The NWSL will be expanding to 16 teams in 2026 with many cities vying for the next franchise. The leaders include Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Minneapolis. Atlanta, Denver, and Jacksonville are potential choices as well. If it was to be given to either Atlanta or Jacksonville they would be regional rivals for the Orlando Pride. The league is expected to make a decision by the fourth quarter of 2024.

Free Kicks

  • Congratulations to the U-15 United States Women’s National Team, which won 4-0 over Germany.
  • Did you ever have one of those dreams that was a little scary, but also absolutely hilarious? This preview of Inter Miami’s new mascot is a bit like that. To misquote Jaws: “Ever seen an Inter Miami mascot’s eyes, Chief? He’s got lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eyes.”
  • The Cayman Islands Men’s National Football Team forfeited its match against Cuba because many of its players are on visas in the United States. If those players were to travel to Cuba, the U.S. may have canceled those visas due to travel restrictions.
  • This is one of the most ridiculous no-calls I’ve ever seen. India got royally hosed.

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the Orlando City and Orlando Pride matches this Saturday night. Vamos Orlando!

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