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Lion Links: 10/18/17

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Holy cow, it’s Thursday already. It feels like the week is flying by, but not to fear, because we’ve still got some fresh Lion Links ready to go for you today. But before we begin, we want to wish a special happy birthday to our favorite keeper from Cocoa, Ashlyn Harris! The Orlando Pride goalkeeper turns 32 today, and everyone here at The Mane Land sends only the warmest birthday wishes.

Remembering Kaká

That headline sounds a lot more morbid than intended but I feel like rolling with it. Bleacher Report put out an excellent piece reminding the world about Kaká, and how he was once the most dominant name in soccer around the world. Before Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, the maestro in Milan dominated the game. This article gives you a great idea of how polarizing a player Kaká was while he was in the prime of his career with Milan, Madrid, and Brazil. MLS even put out this video documenting how big of an impact Kaká has had on the sport.

OCB…What is Going On?

So, as we reported in Lion Links yesterday, there were reports coming in that stated OCB would be out of the USL next year, and would likely cease operations. Other teams also rumored to be on the way out were Sounders 2, Whitecaps 2, and Bethlehem Steel. At this point we really don’t know what is going on, but we have gotten this report from Alicia DelGallo:

And then there was also this update from Bethlehem Steel:

So basically, there is a lot of information out there, and a lot of misinformation as well. But for now, until the club offers a comment, we will remain silent, while also be anxious, fearful, and hopeful, all at the same time.

OCB Announces Roster Cuts

We have even more OCB news for you today, and it’s stuff that is leaving us still pretty alarmed. Orlando City B has announced the release or expiration of 11 players from contracts including the likes of Austin Martz and former OCSC SuperDraft pick Danny Deakin, as well as Canadian National Team midfielder Jordan Schweitzer. OCB also noted that some contracts expired, including former first teamer Lewis Neal. This doesn’t leave many players for Orlando City B — just four 19-year-olds — which makes the news we reported previously even more disheartening. We don’t know where the future is right now for Anthony Pulis’ OCB side, so we will just have to wait and see.

Interesting Names in the Running for U.S. Soccer President

After the U.S. Men’s National Team crashed and burned out of World Cup qualifying last week, fans everywhere were hoping that heads would roll. So far we have seen a resignation from Bruce Arena. But the name everyone wants to see gone next is U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati. Gulati has said in interviews and conference calls that he has no plans to leave his post, but hasn’t commented with great certainty whether or not he will run for re-election in February. He’s merely said he’s seeking nomination support. Grant Wahl wrote yesterday that Landon Donovan is considering a run, meanwhile Bleacher Report wrote that NBC Sports anchor Kyle Martino will not put his hat in the race, due to his current job, his family, and that the position of U.S. Soccer Federation president is not a paid position. More in-depth analysis from Wahl can be found below:

Personally, I am a big fan of Martino, so it saddens me that he doesn’t think he can run, but he has a family to feed, so I at least I understand his reasoning.

Miami FC Co-Owner Still Talking About Promotion and Relegation in U.S. Soccer

Riccardo Silva is the co-owner of Miami FC, and quite possibly the biggest proponent for promotion and relegation being added to the U.S. Soccer system. As you may have heard back in June, Silva’s company offered Major League Soccer $4 billion in exchange for 10 years of global media rights with the deal being contingent on Pro/Rel being instituted in the United States. MLS turned down the offer — and had to, per their current contracts — and Silva has continued to have his opinions be known. As seen in his recent interview with ESPN’s Gabriele Marcotti. On why promotion and relegation needed to be included in the deal, Silva said:

“The most successful soccer leagues are based on competition. And that's what's probably missing in U.S.soccer. There is no motivation for teams to invest in quality because you can't move from the third division to the second or from the second to the first. We believe the increase in quality can be achieved from the bottom up, with teams investing in quality and we believe right now it's not really happening.”

Free Kicks

  • Steve Davis from FourFourTwo writes that MLS and U.S. Soccer are different, and you can’t blame MLS for the fact that the USMNT laid an egg. Have to agree with you on that one, Steve.
  • Former U.S. Soccer legend Claudio Reyna lashed out at U.S. Soccer following the World Cup qualifying debacle. He called U.S. Soccer “obnoxious” and “arrogant.” This is also really hard to argue with.
  • In “that’s really a thing?” news, PRO referees have announced their nominations for Referee and Assistant Referee of the Year. Personally, can’t say we think anyone is really too deserving, because PRO referees have been pretty bad throughout the course of MLS, but maybe Mark Geiger? He’s kinda okay.
  • In interesting roster news, it’s being reported Bill Hamid is leaving D.C. United. No news yet on where he plans to go. Where do you want to see Hamid end up?
  • Also, the Champions League was back this week! In case you missed all the results from yesterday, here ya go!

That’s all for me today, folks! Don’t worry or stress too much about the OCB stories right now, as all of us here at The Mane Land are worried and stressing enough for the entire city of Orlando. Fingers crossed the kids still get to play, that’s all I have left to say on the matter. Depressing news aside, I’ll leave you with a bad joke to get you through the rest of the day.

If you like inclusion of bad dad jokes, I’ll toss one in at the end of all my Lion Links going forward, just let me know in the comments!

Lion Links

Lion Links: 2/21/24

Orlando City takes on Cavalry FC tonight, Lions sign Jeorgio Kocevski, USWNT wins in Concacaf W Gold Cup, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you in Florida as we get to watch the Lions in action tonight in the Concacaf Champions Cup. There’s not much new with me this week other than staying busy covering high school basketball and hockey. Let’s also wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride forward Amanda Allen. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Orlando City Takes on Cavalry FC Tonight

Orlando City will be in action tonight in the first round of the Concacaf Champions Cup, as it takes on Cavalry FC at Starlight Stadium at 10 p.m. This matchup will be the Lions’ first competitive match of 2024, with their MLS season opener against CF Montreal set for Saturday. The Lions were knocked out by Tigres due to away goals in last year’s Concacaf Champions League. Cavalry FC will make its debut in this competition tonight and qualified by winning the 2023 Canadian Premier League Shield. The second leg between these two sides will be on Feb. 27 at Inter&Co Stadium.

Orlando City Signs First-Round Draft Pick Jeorgio Kocevski

Orlando City signed 2024 MLS SuperDraft pick Jeorgio Kocevski to a contract through the 2024 season, with club options for 2025, 2026, and 2027. Kocevski scored the game-winning goal in stoppage time in Orlando’s final preseason match against the Colorado Rapids this past weekend. The midfielder was selected 21st overall in the first round of the 2024 MLS SuperDraft by the Lions in December. He played four years for Syracuse, recording seven goals and 18 assists in 71 matches. Kocevski is the only player the club has signed from the Lions’ 2024 draft class and will likely get some minutes with Orlando City B this season.

St. Louis City and Philadelphia Union Win in Champions Cup

Orlando City isn’t the only MLS team kicking off its Concacaf Champions Cup campaign this week. St. Louis City edged out the Houston Dynamo 2-1, with rookie Hosei Kijima scoring the winner in stoppage time. The Philadelphia Union were on the road in Costa Rica to face off against Deportivo Saprissa and won 3-2 thanks to a hat trick from Julian Carranza in the second half. As for other tournament matches this week, the New England Revolution face Independiente in Panama tonight, with Nashville playing Moca FC in the Dominican Republic and FC Cincinnati taking on Jamaica’s Cavalier SC tomorrow.

USWNT Beats the Dominican Republic in W Gold Cup

The United States Women’s National Team got its Concacaf W Gold Cup campaign off to a great start with a 5-0 win against the Dominican Republic in Group A. Olivia Moultrie scored her first USWNT goal to give her team an early lead, with Lynn Williams giving the U.S. another goal before halftime. Moultrie scored another in the second half to earn her brace, and Jenna Nighswonger converted a penalty for her first USWNT goal as well. Former Pride forward Alex Morgan replaced Mia Fishel on the roster due to injury and scored from the penalty spot in stoppage time. The USWNT’s next game will be against Argentina on Friday at 10:15 p.m.

UEFA Champions League Roundup

The UEFA Champions League had plenty of drama as the round of 16 continued. Inter Milan won 1-0 in its first leg against Atletico Madrid at home, with Mark Arnautovic scoring the only goal in the match. In the Netherlands, PSV Eindhoven and Borussia Dortmund played to a thrilling 1-1 draw. The second legs for both matchups will be played on March 13. There is more Champions League action today, as FC Porto hosts Arsenal while Napoli takes on Barcelona.

Free Kicks

  • The latest MLS power rankings are out just before the regular season begins. Orlando City begins the season in the fifth spot.
  • Orlando City and the Orlando Pride announced fan experience upgrades at Inter&Co Stadium featuring Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology in merchandise shops, stadium Wi-Fi upgrades, and a jersey history experience.
  • The MLS Players Association released a statement on the ongoing referee lockout.
  • Here is the list of MLS Season Pass commentator assignments for opening week.

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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 2/20/24

The Wall sells out, Robin Jansson earns recognition, Concacaf W Gold cup preview, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Tuesday, everyone! We’re now just one day away from the first competitive Orlando City game of the year, and it can’t get here fast enough. As usual, we have plenty to cover this morning, so let’s jump straight into it.

The Wall Sells Out for Orlando City’s Season Opener

The Wall, the supporters section of Orlando City’s stadium, has sold out of single-match tickets ahead of Saturday’s home opener against CF Montreal. Limited tickets for the match are still available for the rest of the stadium, and hopefully it will fully sell out for the first match of the season. This Saturday will be the 10th consecutive time in which the Lions start their MLS season at home. It should be a great match and a chance for Orlando to get its season off to a good start between Concacaf Champions Cup matches against Cavalry FC.

Robin Jansson Praised as a Top Defender in MLS

Orlando City center back Robin Jansson was recognized as one of the best center backs in MLS by MLSsoccer.com‘s Joseph Lowery. The 32-year-old has been an integral part of Orlando’s defense since joining the league in 2019 and should continue anchoring the team’s back line this season. Not only is he excellent in terms of defense, but the Beefy Swede can also make an impact on offense with his passing and surprising runs up the field. Jansson is one of the most consistent defenders in the league and agreed to a new contract with the club earlier this month.

MLS Transfer News Roundup

The 2024 Major League Soccer season might kick off tomorrow, but transfers are still flying thick and fast, which means we have things to catch up on. We start with one of the teams opening the season tomorrow, Inter Miami, which has officially transferred midfielder Gregore to Botafogo in the Brazilian top flight. We move on to NYCFC, which has completed the signing of striker Jovan Mijatović from Red Star Belgrade. The 18-year-old Serbian youth international has inked a deal that runs through the 2028 season, with an option year for 2029. We finish up with the Houston Dynamo, which have signed Coco Carasquilla to a contract extension. The Panamanian midfielder’s deal now runs through the 2025 season and has option years for 2026 and 2027.

Concacaf W Gold Cup Preview

The inaugural Concacaf W Gold Cup kicks off later today, so make sure you get up to speed on everything you need to know about the competition. The United States Women’s National Team has been grouped with Argentina, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico, and will be looking for a strong showing following a disappointing campaign at last summer’s World Cup. The tournament will feature a total of 12 teams, with eight Concacaf representatives and four from CONMEBOL. The top two finishers in each of the three groups advance to the knockout round, along with the top two third-place finishers. The USWNT begin play tonight against the Dominican Republican at 10:15 p.m. from Dignity Health Sports Park.

Americans in Midweek Action

With a number of American players taking part in games during the working week, get everything marked down on your calendar so you don’t miss anything. Things get started this afternoon with a huge game, as Malik Tillman, Ricardo Pepi, Sergino Dest, and PSV Eindhoven take on Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League. European competition continues on Thursday as well, with Christian Pulisc, Yunus Musah, and AC Milan facing Rennes in the Europa League play. Things finish out on Friday as the red-hot Brandon Vazquez and Monterrey face Juarez in Liga MX competition.

Minnesota United Close to Coaching Hire

A coaching search that will surely go down as one of the most thorough in MLS history is nearing its conclusion, as Minnesota United is reportedly close to naming Manchester United assistant Eric Ramsay as the team’s new skipper. While nothing is official yet, Ramsay is said to be the leading candidate, and The Athletic‘s Tom Bogert says that the team is closing in on the hire. If he joins, Ramsay will become the youngest coach in league history at the tender age of 32, and he will also become Minnesota’s second coach following Adrian Heath’s departure in October of last year.

Free Kicks


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

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Lion Links: 2/19/24

Orlando City wins preseason finale, post-match concert artists named, U.S. Open Cup in jeopardy, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers. We’re about to get to see Orlando City play matches in both the MLS regular season and the Concacaf Champions Cup. Cavalry FC is up first on Wednesday and CF Montreal on Saturday. That’s a whole lot of Canada to start things off, eh? Before we get to the links, please join us in wishing a happy birthday to Orlando Pride star Marta, who turns 38 today.

Orlando City Defeats the Rapids in Preseason Finale

The Lions won their final preseason match against the Colorado Rapids 3-2 at Inter&Co Stadium on Saturday. Kyle Smith got the scoring going mere seconds into the match and Facundo Torres doubled the lead on a penalty kick before the end of the first half. The Rapids tied it up in the second half, but Orlando City rookie Jeorgio Kocevski scored a late winner in stoppage time to keep the Lions unbeaten in the preseason. Orlando ended the preseason schedule with a record of 4-0-1.

Orlando Postgame Concert Announced

As I get older, I see each decade get its time in the nostalgic spotlight. Evidently, it is the 1990s’ turn. Orlando City announced a concert that will follow the Austin FC match at Inter&Co Stadium on March 23. You didn’t ask for it — and neither did anyone else — but Vanilla Ice, Rob Base, and Montell Jordan are headlining an “I Love the 90s” post-match concert. I’m not entirely certain if everyone will be required to stop, collaborate, and listen, but it’s certainly a possibility.

PRO Referee Strike Looms

Normally, if I told you that Orlando City didn’t have to worry about the Professional Referees Organization (PRO), I’m willing to bet you’d be pretty happy. Now it’s a real possibility that the Lions’ first match will likely have stand-in referees. The Professional Soccer Referees Association rejected a new collective bargaining agreement with PRO, meaning that there will be a lockout. PRO has identified “qualified replacements” ready to make sure that matches will be able to be played.

Open Cup in Jeopardy

The start of the 2024 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is only a month away, although that isn’t a certainty. U.S. Soccer and MLS are still not seeing eye to eye regarding how many of the senior squads will participate. On the other side of the equation, the USL is pushing back against the demands from MLS.

Ultimately, this is a power struggle between the upper levels of organized soccer in this country. If a compromise solution can’t be found, it could mean that the Open Cup won’t take place this year. If that happens, it won’t help any of the involved parties and it will be devastating to the supporters of all the clubs at every level.

Free Kicks

  • Thanks to Zakaria Taifi’s mother, Alyssa Taifi, we know that Orlando City B defeated Philadelphia Union II by a score of 4-0 in a preseason scrimmage, and that there was some chippiness in the match.
  • Inter Miami is under pressure to get roster compliant. As such, Federico Redondo will not be joining the Herons due to Miami’s inability to bring him in because of MLS regulations regarding payment methodology.
  • Inter Miami midfielder Victor Ulloa announced he is retiring, which will also help Miami’s roster cap problems.

That will do it for today. Check back for our coverage of Orlando City’s two matches this week. Vamos Orlando!

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