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Lion Links: 7/25/17

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Happy Tuesday, everyone. We’re now just four days away from Atlanta United getting dumped when the Lions invade the Peach State. It’ll be glorious, of course, like when Ramsay Bolton got fed to his dogs.

Sorry if that seems a bit graphic for this early in the morning, but I’ve been Thronin’ it up more than ever and wondering when ol’ Euron Greyjoy will get his comeuppance, even if he did us a favor by ridding us of at least two Sand Snakes.

Anyway, that’s all Greek to those of you who aren’t down with Game of Thrones, so let’s just move into today’s Lion Links.

World Cup to Orlando?

The City of Orlando has been contacted by the joint bid for the U.S., Mexico, and Canada to host the 2026 World Cup. Mayor Buddy Dyer has been a friend to soccer and has been ambitious in chasing the sport’s largest events. Getting the World Cup to the City Beautiful would be the icing on the proverbial cake.

“We received the formal bid documents on Friday and are currently evaluating the bid and what this would involve from our community,” read a statement released by the city on Monday evening. Fox-35 was the first to report Orlando’s invitation to join the U.S. World Cup bid.

Orlando would make a great location for the event, with plenty of infrastructure, including hotel rooms, world-class training facilities, and several stadia which could host matches. We’ll continue to follow this story as it develops.

More on Dom; Why Off-Year Gold Cup Should be Scrapped

Embedded in this column about doing away with the off-year Gold Cup and holding it only once every four years, FourFourTwo writer Paul Tenorio provided a small nugget about the recent Dom Dwyer-to-Orlando transfer rumors.

Two league sources confirmed that Orlando City and Sporting Kansas City are engaged in trade talks and that a deal could be completed early in the week. Those sources were not able to confirm what Orlando City would send back to Kansas City as part of the deal. Stay tuned…

OK, so it’s not much, but it’s nice to have a second (and third) source on the story and that there is a potential timeline. Don’t hold your breath, though. As we explained, this could be a complicated deal.

The main section of the column is accurate. There’s little need for the two-year Gold Cup cycle. In the off years, the bigger CONCACAF teams have no incentive to field a top squad, and the quality of play suffers, as we’ve seen this year in the group stage. What do you think? Are you in favor of the status quo, or going to a four-year rotation?

Zidane Expects Tough Test from Kaká, MLS All-Stars

Real Madrid Manager Zinedine Zidane spoke about his club’s upcoming match against the 2017 MLS All-Star Team. Zidane is looking for his club — going through its preseason — to gain fitness and chemistry, while he says the difficulty of playing the MLS guys is that they’re in mid-season form.

“Obviously, it’ll be nice to see Kaká,” Zidane told reporters through a translator Sunday after Real Madrid’s loss on penalty kicks to Manchester United in an International Champions Cup exhibition. 

“He’s an important player in the history of Real Madrid. It’ll be nice for his ex-teammates so see him, as well.”

Fabian Johnson Mulling International Retirement

Borussia Monchengladbach and USMNT star Fabian Johnson may be done with international soccer after the 2018 World Cup. Further, his appearances in lower profile games between now and then will also drop off a bit.

In a wide-ranging Q&A, Johnson also revealed that he has an agreement in place with Bruce Arena to only play for the U.S. men’s national team in the “more important” matches. While he was among the lengthy list of regular first-team players to be omitted from the current Gold Cup roster, he has missed several friendlies in the past several years.

When asked if the 2018 World Cup could be a good stopping point for his international career, the 29-year-old didn’t rule it out saying that it “could very well be” for him.

Need a Striker or Midfielder? Here are Some:

FourFourTwo put together a list of five strikers who could be realistic options for MLS teams in this transfer window. As someone who follows a team that needs more scoring punch, this interested me greatly. Interestingly, writer Steve Davis didn’t see Orlando City as a potential fit for any of the players listed, despite a need for another target man. Of these five, I’m most intrigued by Andre-Pierre Gignac (obviously) and Bryan Ruiz. Which of these guys, if any, would you like to see in purple?

Davis also pushed out a list of midfielders. Interestingly, he did not list Orlando City as a possible good fit for Juan Quintero, but he did think Adam Maher of PSV might fit the bill.

Another Obstacle to Beckham’s Endless Miami Deal

If David Beckham’s group ever brings an MLS team to Miami, the book about the journey is going to dwarf the length of anything Stephen King ever wrote. The latest obstacle for the group is a wealthy Miami resident who is suing Beckham in an effort to kill the stadium plan. Bruce Matheson contends the stadium will destroy the Overtown neighborhood's quality of life with noise, traffic, and pedestrian congestion because it will also host concerts. I’m sure the fact that Matheson owns nearby land has nothing to do with it.

“It’s apparent that Mr. Matheson hates professional sports,” Michael Hernández, the mayor's spokesperson, told the Herald. “He’s doing his best to drive out the Miami Open from Key Biscayne, and now he hopes to block Major League Soccer from coming to Miami.”

Free Kicks

  • Howard Megdal from Vice Sports posted an interesting Q&A with Orlando Pride star midfielder Marta.
  • Predictably, Atlanta United is up for MLS Goal of the Week and MLS Save of the Week, because that’s what it takes sometimes to beat Orlando City in the Purple Palace. Villalba and Guzan definitely turned in super human efforts for the bad guys, with the latter also making MLS Team of the Week.
  • In a Sports Business Journal story that created some Twitter buzz yesterday, Major League Soccer rejected a $4 billion global media rights deal from international media company MP & Silva, which stipulated the league adopt promotion and relegation. It’s not clear why the offer was made, as the league is contractually forbidden from participating in media rights discussions with other distributors.
  • Among those born on this date are actor Walter Brennan (1894), football’s Walter Payton (1954), model — and David Bowie’s widow — Iman (1955), baseball’s Doug Drabek (1962), hockey’s Tony Granato (1964), Friends actor Matt LeBlanc (1967), hockey’s Evgeni Nabokov (1975), MLS and USMNT striker Conor Casey (1981), Brazilian footballer Hulk (1986), and Chicago Fire midfielder John Goossens (1988).

That’s all for me today. I leave you with this brilliant tribute to Full House put out by the Orlando Pride:

Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/17/24

Orlando City rises in power rankings, Orlando Pride waive two players, Champions League results, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. Time to start your day with some tasty links. It’s shaping up to be an exciting weekend with Orlando City, the Orlando Pride, and Orlando City B all playing. Last week, Orlando’s teams ended up with seven out of nine possible points. Here’s hoping we see nine out of nine this weekend. Let’s get to the links.

Orlando City Moving On Up

Starting the season 0-3-1 is a good way to be in the cellar of the utterly meaningless MLSsoccer.com power rankings. Orlando City is now starting to climb up the rankings thanks to three straight results. The Lions moved up four spots to 21st after the 3-2 victory over DC United. It was Duncan McGuire’s goal that secured the win, and his performance off the bench was a talking point for this week as well.

Farewell Kaylie Collins and Tori Hansen

The Orlando Pride announced that goalkeeper Kaylie Collins and defender Tori Hansen were waived on Tuesday. Both players were on loan in Australia’s A-League Women ,with Collins at Western Sydney Wanderers FC and Hansen with Melbourne Victory FC. Collins and Hansen were both NWSL draft picks for the Pride, though neither saw significant minutes with the club.

Barbra Banda Begins Training

Barbra Banda participated in her first training with the Pride Tuesday. It’s uncertain how much playing time she may get this week, but it’s possible she makes her first appearance against the San Diego Wave this Friday. Please remember that it sometimes takes new players time to get used to a new club, a new city, and a new league. Of course, I’m still hoping she comes on and scores a brace against the Wave.

Wild Matches in Champions League Quarterfinals

Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund both overcame deficits in the first leg to advance to the UEFA Champions League semifinals. PSG dropped four goals on Barcelona to win 6-4 on aggregate. Barcelona scored first, but made things hard on itself when Ronald Araújo was sent off.

Borussia Dortmund also scored four goals, defeating Atletico Madrid 5-4 on aggregate. Dortmund gave up an own goal, but battled back to take the lead in the match and then the lead in the tie thanks to goals scored in the 71st and 74th minutes. It was a wild, fun match to watch. Dortmund and PSG will meet in the semifinals.

Free Kicks

  • MLS will now start implementing the new rules for off-field treatments, timed substitutions, and in-stadium VAR announcements. The idea is to maximize effective match time.
  • The International Football Association Board (IFAB) will test new time limit rules during the 2024-2025 season for how long keepers can hold the ball with potential consequences including giving the opposing team a corner or a throw-in.
  • Finally, our thoughts are with the friends and family following the passing of Joel McKell.

That will do it for today. Check back later in the week as we get you ready for the Orlando City, Orlando Pride, and OCB matches this weekend. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/16/24

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

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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.

Free Kicks


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.

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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.

Free Kicks

  • 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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