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Lion Links: 10/14/17

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Happy Saturday, people of purple. If you’re looking for something to do today, go to the NWSL championship match down at Orlando City Stadium. A professional sports league is having its final right here in our city, so we should turn out for what is sure to be an exciting match between the Portland Thorns and North Carolina Courage. I’ll be at the stadium later to cover the game and am looking forward to it.

Hopefully you’ve already secured your tickets for Kaká’s final match with Orlando City. Ballon d’Or winners don’t come our way every day and we’ve had Ricky for three years. It’s been a pleasure to watch him show his skills for the Lions and even though I think it’s time for him to move on, I might find the conditions a little dusty tomorrow. Just in case you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, it’ll be your last chance to enjoy The Mane Land ticket discount.

All right, let’s get to your Saturday links.

Prosecutors Won’t Pursue Charges Against Will Johnson

MLS announced last night that the prosecution will not pursue domestic violence charges against Will Johnson. The Orlando City veteran midfielder was arrested Sept. 6 after an altercation with his wife, with whom he is going through a divorce. As a condition of not pursuing the charges, Johnson will undergo a diversion program for a year, which includes a 26-week domestic violence counseling component. Per MLS:

The evidence reviewed by the MLS league office does not establish that Johnson physically assaulted his wife. Nonetheless, the league office has concluded that his overall conduct the night of the incident was not consistent with league policy. As a result of all of the circumstances, the league office has concluded that the five-game suspension served was appropriate.

Johnson, who began training with the team early this week, will be eligible for selection on Sunday when the Lions host the Columbus Crew. It will be interesting to see if he gets on the field and how fans react to his return.

Bruce Arena: He Gone

Three days after the debacle in Trinidad, Bruce Arena resigned as head coach of the United States Men’s National Team. Arena was hired to get World Cup qualifying back on track after a horrible start to the Hex under Jurgen Klinsmann. Things started off well under Arena and qualifying was nearly a sure thing after a 4-0 demolition of Panama here in Orlando just eight days ago, but the perfect storm happened Tuesday as the USMNT lost while both Honduras (vs. Mexico) and Panama (vs. Costa Rica) upset the top teams in CONCACAF.

Here’s Bruce’s parting statement.

An Honorable Captain Goes Down with the Ship, Sunil

While Arena bowed out gracefully, U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati dug in on Friday and said he’s staying put. In fact, he’s actively seeking nominating support to run for a fourth term. That’s a little like the guy who burned down your house asking for your support in being elected fire chief.

"I don't plan to resign…it's not the right day for me to talk about my personal future plans in terms of the fed presidency. It’s not the right time," Gulati stated early during the press conference. While he danced around several questions over whether he would run for re-election as USSF president in Feburary at the Annual General Meeting, he did acknowledge that he had sent a letter to board members asking for their nomination for a 4th four-year term. What is clear is that he intends to see out the United bid for the 2026 World Cup and believes he should be the person in charge when that happens.

Gulati pushed back on reporters who asked why he feels resigning is not what necessary, stating “This is not something that they do in other countries. Maybe coaches resign, but presidents do not…this is not something I’m planning to do.” He further cited the fact that he shouldn’t be judged on Tuesday night’s game but the overall growth of the game in the United States since he was elected president in 2006.

Part of the USSF president’s job is to grow the game at all levels in our country on both the men’s and women’s side. Yet Gulati held his defense-first conference call — in which many writers with uncomfortable questions for him were left on hold until time ran out — at the same time that NWSL Media Day was going on in Orlando. As the NWSL is the women’s top flight in our country, this was an incredibly tone deaf move by a guy in charge of an organization that continues to force the USWNT to play on artificial turf fields. There was no need to steal the NWSL’s moment in the soccer spotlight.

How do U.S. supporters feel about Gulati not only staying on but also seeking reelection? Well, the American Outlaws released a statement.

Another Look at the Legacy of Kaká

Paul Tenorio over at FourFourTwo gave a fair assessment of Kaká’s value on and off the pitch for Orlando City and discussed how the two sides of what the captain brought to the club built the Brazilian’s MLS legacy. The TLDR; version is that Kaká did a boatload for the team and the league and was somewhat productive on the field — just not $7 million worth of productive.

As the highest-paid player in the league, Kaka’s production was just OK. In three seasons in MLS, he never scored double-digit goals – eight of his 24 goals across three seasons were from the penalty spot – and he hit double-digit assists just once. He played 28 games in his inaugural season, 24 games in 2016 and will finish his career with 23 games played in 2017. Sometimes, his defensive deficiencies left his team exploited.

The bigger problem was that, at his price, Kaka also represented an opportunity cost. With David Villa producing in back-to-back MVP-caliber seasons in New York, and Sebastian Giovinco turning the league on his head, Kaka’s $7 million price tag was as much a negative as it was a positive. His peers were changing games every week. What could Orlando City do with that Designated Player spot if given the chance?

Tenorio’s piece also has a good breakdown of how much money Orlando City could clear off the books this off-season, so head on over and give it a read.

Orlando Pride U-18/19 Team to Face North Carolina Today

Before this afternoon’s NWSL final, Orlando Pride’s U-18/19 team will host the North Carolina Courage U-18s/19s in Sanford, FL, at the Seminole Soccer Complex. The match will take place at 11 a.m. and will be streamed on the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Facebook page. Good luck to the Baby Pride. (Sorry, I couldn’t think of a catchy nickname for the team.)

Atlanta United Promotes Ex-OCSC GM Paul McDonough

Remember Armando Carneiro? Of course you don’t. Nobody does. You’re completely forgiven if you have forgotten the guy who was hired to be then-Orlando City GM Paul McDonough’s boss and the club’s “chief soccer officer.” After all, he was only on the job for about two months before resigning for personal reasons in December of 2015. But those two months were long enough to chase McDonough out the door. He ended up in Atlanta, as director of soccer operations. After helping build an Atlanta United team that made the playoffs in its inaugural season, McDonough has been promoted to vice president of soccer operations and his contract was extended for four years.

From my few chats with him, I think Paul’s a pretty good dude and there’s no question he learned a lot from the mistakes that were made in the early days of building Orlando City. While I wish nothing but pain and misery for the insufferable Atlanta fans who have slid into my DMs, I’m happy to see McDonough having success and can only shake my head at the entire Carneiro fiasco yet again.

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Well, we weren’t there last night, but this can’t be right. #FakeNews

  • MLS will hold an Expansion Draft for LAFC but shouldn’t, says FourFourTwo.
  • U2’s tour stop in Buenos Aires included a toast to Lionel Messi.
  • Those born on this date include William Penn (1644), Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890), legendary hoops coach John Wooden (1910), James Bond actor Sir Roger Moore (1927), Ralph Lauren (1939), Jerry Glanville (1941), Moody Blues singer Justin Hayward (1946), former Flyers enforcer Dave “The Hammer” Schultz (1949), Night Court actor and magician/comedian Harry Anderson (1952), Thomas “She Blinded Me with Science” Dolby (1958), A League of Their Own actress Lori Petty (1963), and Usher (1978).

That’s all the time I have for you this morning. Stay tuned to The Mane Land for full coverage of Orlando City’s home game tomorrow against the Columbus Crew and a recap of the NWSL final later today.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/29/24

Orlando City faces the Chicago Fire tonight, Kaká to be honored, Pride linked to Grace Chanda, and more.

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Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. It’s match day for Orlando City as the Lions travel to the Windy City to take on the Chicago Fire. Orlando City looks to get back to its winning ways in the midweek matchup and we will have all the coverage you need during the match on our Twitter account, and after the match right here at The Mane Land.

We would also like to wish Orlando Pride Head Coach Seb Hines a very happy birthday! Frankly, it’s the least we can do given everything he has done so far this NWSL season. For now, let’s get to the links.

Lions Prepare for the Fire

Orlando City faces the Chicago Fire tonight at 8:30 p.m. at Soldier Field. The Lions will look to extend a three-match winning streak over the Fire. Facundo Torres has been particularly effective against Chicago, so hopefully he can start scoring some more goals as well. We will have our match preview a little later today.

Kaká to Become First Member of Legends Terrace at Inter&Co Stadium

Orlando City and the Orlando Pride are creating a “Legends Terrace” at Inter&Co Stadium to permanently honor those who have made a lasting impact with either club. Unsurprisingly, the first inductee will be the one and only Kaká. The ceremony will take place following the July 6 match against D.C. United. There will also be a concert featuring Latin performer Jota Quest in the Publix Mane Street Plaza outside the stadium prior to the match.

Orlando Pride Linked With Grace Chanda

Do you like Barbra Banda and what she has done since joining the Pride? Do you find yourself wondering, “got anymore of those Zambian strikers?” Well, it just so happens that the Orlando Pride are reportedly interested in signing Zambian forward Grace Chanda. According to the report, the San Diego Wave, Racing Louisville, and the Pride are all interested in signing Chanda. Given the Pride are serious about contending for a title this season, adding another quality attacker is a good move. Let’s hope the rumor is true.

Pride’s Summer Cup Schedule Adjusted

The Olympics won’t be the only women’s soccer competition this summer, as the inaugural NWSL x LIGA MX Femenil Summer Cup will start on July 19. We have learned that the Orlando Pride match against C.F. Monterrey at Inter&Co Stadium has been moved up from Sunday, July 28 to Saturday, July 27. The move does not affect Orlando City’s schedule, as the Lions play a rare Friday match that week. You can check out more information on the competition here.

Free Kicks

  • I know that there are those who are upset with the Leagues Cup as it definitely impacted the U.S. Open Cup this year. However, if you do decide to go to a match, at least part of the ticket price will go to a good cause.
  • Congratulations to Felipe. That is a lot of matches and we appreciate him being with our beloved Orlando City.
  • Congratulations also go out to Orlando City academy player Camilio Guerrero for earning a call-up to a U.S. U-14 national talent identification camp.
  • USMNT winger Tim Weah is making money moves in the Big Apple.

That will do it for today. We will see you on the other side of the match tonight. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/28/24

Yutaro Tsukada earns recognition, Americans in midweek action, European coaching updates, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I hope you all had a restful holiday weekend, and if you didn’t, then I hope you’re well on the way to recovery. We’ve got an exciting schedule this week, with two Orlando City games before an Orlando City B game on Sunday. It’s also OCB forward Yeiler Valencia’s birthday today, so let’s wish him well and jump into today’s links!

Yutaro Tsukada Earns MLS NEXT Pro Honors

OCB winger Yutaro Tsukada was named MLS NEXT Pro Player of Matchweek 11 for his performance in the team’s 5-0 home win against Huntsville City FC. The 22-year-old provided the assist on OCB’s first goal after using some nice skill on the ball to shake his defender. Tsukada then scored a goal of his own off of a free kick in the second half. The rookie has been electric for the Young Lions this season, recording four goals and four assists so far. Hopefully he can keep the momentum rolling when OCB faces Inter Miami II this Sunday.

Major League Soccer Stock Watch

Every week gives us a better idea of each MLS team’s capabilities, so let’s check in on how things are looking following the latest matchday. LAFC is on a great trajectory, as it’s won three consecutive league games and five straight in all competitions. Elsewhere in the Western Conference, Real Salt Lake scored three goals in the final 30 minutes of play to stretch its unbeaten streak to 11 games, and Cristian Arango didn’t have to do all of the heavy lifting. At the other end of things, the New England Revolution have lost three straight games, and six of their last seven. Likewise, the shine looks to have worn off from St. Louis City’s expansion season, as the team has also lost three straight games and simply doesn’t look the same as last year.

Americans in Midweek Action

With most of the European club seasons having concluded, there aren’t as many United States Men’s National Team players in action during the working week, but there are still some important games to make note of. Chief among those is Venezia’s game against Cremonese on Thursday. Tanner Tessmann, Gianluca Busio and Venezia will take on Cremonese over two legs, with the winner gaining promotion to Serie A. Left back Jonathan Gomez may take the field tomorrow morning in Real Sociedad’s friendly against Tokyo Verde as well.

In a pair of friendlies on Friday, Mexico plays Bolivia and Uruguay takes on Costa Rica. With the USMNT set to face both Bolivia and Uruguay in group play of this summer’s Copa America, the two matches present a good chance to better gauge the Yanks’ opponents.

European Coaching Updates

Several notable European club teams have coaching vacancies to fill this summer, and there are some updates on a few of those positions. Chelsea has reportedly made an approach for Leicester City’s Enzo Maresca, and has requested permission to talk to the manager who guided the Foxes back to the Premier League in his first year with the club. Meanwhile, despite interest from Manchester United, Kieran McKenna is reportedly set to stay at Ipswich Town, and has had talks about extending his contract. Finally, Aston Villa has extended Unai Emery’s contract, with his new deal keeping him at the club until 2029.

Transfer Rumor Roundup

Transfer season is kicking into gear, and we have several rumors to sift through this morning. Up first, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich are reportedly all in hot pursuit of Stade Rennais winger Desire Doue. Casemiro reportedly has a deal lined up with a team in the Saudi Pro League, and may have played his last game for Manchester United. Newly promoted Southampton is reportedly interested in signing Adam Lallana as a free agent. Finally, Paris Saint-Germain is said to have entered the race to sign Bruno Guimaraes, and will face stiff competition from Manchester City and Arsenal.

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That’s all I have for you this morning. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/27/24

Orlando City loses to the Crew, Pride and OCB win, Southampton seals return to Premier League, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

Happy Memorial Day, Mane Landers! I hope you all had a good holiday weekend. I worked at Under Armour all weekend while wrapping up my high school sports coverage for the spring season. It was a mixed weekend for our teams. Orlando City lost, but both the Pride and OCB won their matches. We’ve got plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links. 

Lions Lose at Home to Columbus Crew

Orlando City lost 2-0 to the Columbus Crew on Saturday at Inter&Co Stadium and saw its three-match unbeaten streak end. The match’s first goal was controversial as the referee, Jair Marrufo, initially awarded the Lions a penalty late in the first half but went to the monitor and reviewed a play at the other end of the pitch. He instead awarded Columbus a penalty kick. Diego Rossi scored from the spot to put the Crew ahead 1-0 before halftime. Columbus extended its winning streak to three matches. Orlando has struggled at home, going just 1-3-4 so far this season. The Lions have not scored a goal at home since April 27. Despite the loss, the Lions still remain in 10th in the Eastern Conference with 16 points. Next up for Orlando is a pair of road matches this week, starting Wednesday at the Chicago Fire, followed by a Saturday night matchup against the New York Red Bulls. 

Pride Win at Home Over Portland Thorns

The Orlando Pride won their record-setting eighth straight match with a 2-1 victory at Inter&Co Stadium against the Portland Thorns Friday. Barbra Banda scored two goals in the first half to give the Pride a 2-0 lead going into halftime. Portland pulled one back, but the Pride held on for the victory and claimed three points. Orlando remains undefeated in league play after 11 matches, and the Pride stay atop the NWSL table with 27 points. The Pride are off this week but will return to action on the road next Friday, June 7, against the San Diego Wave.

OCB Win at Home against Huntsville City FC

On Sunday, Orlando City B bounced back with a season-high five goals in a 5-0 win over Hunstville City FC at Osceola County Stadium. Jhon Solis, Yutaro Tsukada, and Shak Mohammed put OCB ahead 3-0, while Yeiler Valencia scored his first two OCB goals to seal the win for the Young Lions. OCB is now in sixth in the Eastern Conference with 16 points. Meanwhile, Huntsville City FC remains winless through 10 matches and stays at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. OCB’s next match will be on the road Sunday at Inter Miami CF II. 

Southampton Clinches Promotion to Premier League

Southampton booked its return to the Premier League with a 1-0 over Leeds United in the EFL Championship playoff final at Wembley Sunday. Adam Armstrong scored the lone goal in this match as the Saints returned to the top flight after being relegated the previous season. Southampton joins Leicester City and Ipswich Town, securing promotion to the Premier League. Despite finishing third in the table, Leeds’ playoff woes continue as this is the sixth time it missed out on securing promotion and finished its season with only one win out of its last six matches. 

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That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Monday and I’ll see you next time.

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