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Lion Links: 8/10/17

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Happy Thursday, Mane Landers. Big shout out to our readers in Missouri, since your state was admitted to the union on this date in 1821. I’m sure we’re huge in Missouri.

We’re gearing up for a big weekend, with all three of Orlando City’s teams in action on Saturday night. We’ll be out at the Orlando Pride’s home showdown with Sky Blue FC (more on that below) and have full coverage of Orlando City at New York Red Bulls and OCB at Richmond.

But while we wait for Saturday, let’s indulge in some rumors and a little Linksocology.

Spector Left Training Wednesday with Injury

From the “not great, Bob!” department, center back Jonathan Spector picked up a knee injury in training on Wednesday.

He underwent multiple tests with the club’s medical staff on Wednesday. Results of those tests and an update on his status is expected Thursday.

This is the player Orlando City can least afford to lose, so hopefully this isn’t a serious or long-term injury. If so, get ready for a back line of Jose Aja and Tommy Redding, with Leo Pereira called in as the break-glass-in-case-of-emergency option off the bench.

Kaká: “Almost Great”

Economic Times published this story about world-class soccer players whose stay at the top of their game didn’t last long. They included current Orlando City captain Kaká among the six players on the list. Names along with the likes of Ronaldinho, Fernando Torres, Michael Owen, and others, said the Brazilian’s stay on top lasted from 2005-2007.

He was the most graceful footballer of his generation and in 2007 he was on top of the world. In January 2009 Manchester City tried to sign him for £91million until, in Garry Cook's immortal words, Milan “bottled it“. Later that year Kaka did get his move, to Real Madrid for 65m, but it never worked for him there.He got injured and lost that famous old burst of pace. In 2013 he returned to Milan and is now in Major League Soccer with Orlando City. 

Orlando Pride Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris Cleared to Play

Just a day after Aubrey Bledsoe recorded her second clean sheet of the season, the Orlando Pride have cleared starter Ashlyn Harris for play for Saturday’s match-up with Sky Blue FC. Harris injured her quad while taking a goal kick against the Seattle Reign on May 21 and Bledsoe has provided steady backstopping duties in her place for much of the 2017 NWSL season. Still, it’ll be good to have the captain available for duty again.

Also, some guy over at orlandocitysc.com wrote this piece about the Pride’s strong second half showings.

Red Bulls Shorthanded This Weekend

When Orlando City visits Red Bull Arena this Saturday, the hosts will be down a couple of players. Sal Zizzo was sent off in the New York Derby last weekend but the bigger news is the injury sustained by Daniel Royer. The MLS Player of the Month for July was injured in the match at New York City FC and is listed as week-to-week with a hyperextended right knee that resulted in a bone bruise. With 10 goals on the season, Royer is a key component to the NYRB attack. No need to weep for da Bulls, however, who still have a potent offense and are 7-2-2 at Red Bull Arena in 2017.

USMNT Midfielder Paul Arriola to D.C. United

D.C. United’s makeover continues with a huge expenditure of money to bring in USMNT midfielder Paul Arriola from Club Tijuana.

The transfer would be the most expensive in the history of the club, costing DCU $3 million. United would also be on the hook for acquiring his rights from the LA Galaxy.

Man, what Orlando City could have done with a right-sided winger like Arriola. But that price tag is pretty significant in terms of the transfer fee, and the club will reportedly have to tack on a boat load of allocation money for his rights to the Galaxy and over a million per year on salary.

Rafa Marquez Linked to Drug Trafficking

Mexican soccer legend and noted USMNT thorn-in-the-behind Rafa Marquez could be in big trouble.

the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control added Rafael “Rafa” Márquez, a Mexican soccer legend and current captain of the national team, to its list of specially designated nationals for alleged connections to drug trafficking. He is allegedly linked to, among others, the Flores drug trafficking organization — that is, the group led by Raúl Flores Hernández.

I always knew the guy was shady but not that shady.

Free Kicks

  • SB Nation has put together this awesome English Premier League preview for 2017.
  • Columbus Crew sent Ethan Finlay to Minnesota United. I’d have liked to have had Finlay in Orlando, honestly.
  • The Philadelphia Union have hired a chief tattoo officer.
  • Austin is returning to the USL and the club will play at Circuit of the Americas. I’m still not feeling bad that Phil Rawlins moved the Aztex to Orlando for the 2011 season.
  • The Florida Tropics of the Major Arena Soccer League have signed league veteran Mauricio Salles, who has 195 goals in 160 career arena games.
  • Those born on this date include Herbert Hoover (1874), Monopoly creator Charles Darrow (1889), sausage mogul Jimmy Dean (1928), baseball’s Rocky Colavito (1933), “Ronette” Ronnie Spector (1943), Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson (1947), Rosanna Arquette (1959), INXS drummer Jon Farriss (1961), basketball’s John Starks (1965), boxer Riddick Bowe (1967), sportscaster — who didn’t quite work out in soccer — Gus Johnson (1967), Toad the Wet Sprocket guitarist Todd Nichols (1967), former NHL and U.S. defenseman Bret Hedican (1970), Manchester United legend Roy Keane (1971), The Leftovers actor Justin Theroux (1971), former Minnesota United goalkeeper John Alvbåge (1982), and Portland Thorns midfielder Dagný Brynjarsdóttir (1991).

That’s all the time I have today. Please enjoy your Thursday and let’s gear up for another triple game day on Saturday.

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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