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Lion Links: 10/26/17

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Welcome back to The Mane Land for another fresh batch of Lion Links. It’s Thursday and here in Florida we’ve finally gotten to feel a once forgotten feeling — cool weather! Oh, and the MLS playoffs have just kicked off, so we have some stuff to talk about! Let’s dive right in.

Larin Says He’s Ready for Europe

There’s been a lot of speculation about Cyle Larin for a long time and every transfer window the big question we get is whether the Canadian international will be leaving the City Beautiful. But that would have cost the club money before the end of this season, as the sale of the club’s first ever draft pick will now be worth more to Orlando City than before, due to league rules. And now, Larin says he’s ready for that move to Europe. Of course, the club still owns his rights and will still need to get an offer management feels is worthy of the Lions’ leading goal scorer.

Also embedded in the article linked above, it seems that despite GM Niki Budalic’s desire to re-sign Dom Dwyer after 2018, the Orlando City striker isn’t feeling too confident about a deal just yet.

“I’d like to be at this club, it’s something we’re trying to figure out, but I can’t say I’m so confident at it right now,” Dwyer said Saturday. “I’ll keep training hard and we’ll finish off strong and we’ll see where it goes from there, but I think this one’s out of my hands a little bit.”

Budalic said the club has spoken with Dwyer’s agent several times since he arrived in Orlando and those conversations will continue.

With the club putting such a big investment in Dwyer this season, it will be surprising if a new deal doesn’t get done sooner or later.

MLS Playoffs Need to Chill

Steve Davis over at FourFourTwo.com wrote that MLS really needs to take a step back if the league wants to get people interested in the playoffs. Sure, supporters of the clubs are interested, but how on earth can the average fan get excited when the playoffs (which started last night), kick off just three days after the final whistle blows on the regular season? I tend to agree with Mr. Davis. I’m not saying that they need two weeks off or anything. I just think giving teams more time to game plan and recharge their batteries will give us a better product, and also give media outlets a chance to better cover the lead-up to the games. But that’s just my two cents.

Marta Keeps Scoring Goals

Though the Orlando Pride season may have ended, Brazilian star Marta is still finding her way onto the score sheet. She managed to score a goal from the spot while on international duty with Brazil the other day against China. It was Marta’s fourth goal of the Yongchuan Four Nations Tournament, which Brazil went on to win with a record of 4-0-1. Not too bad at all. We can’t wait to see Marta back in purple next year.

Bill Hamid on the Move

It was announced just before the end of the regular season, that Bill Hamid would not be returning to D.C. United next year, and would move abroad to take on a new challenge. It seems as though that new challenge has revealed itself, as Hamid has now signed with Danish Superliga team FC Midtjylland. The Wolves, as they are called, are a young club, founded only 18 years ago, but they are also very successful, as they won the Danish Superliga in 2015.

One of the more surprising bits of news here comes from Jeff Kassouf, an editor for FourFourTwo, who said Hamid was let go on a free transfer. This kind of makes you think that if D.C. had known about his desire to play abroad, shouldn’t they have sold him a while ago? In my mind, yes. The answer to that question is absolutely yes. Especially when you consider that Hamid has been one of the best goalkeepers in the league for a few years now.

USMNT Finding its Next Manager in the Premier League?

Yes, you read that right. It is being reported that West Ham manager Slaven Bilic is considering leaving his post in London to take on the task of righting the ship that is the U.S. Men’s National Team. talkSPORT is the one breaking this news, and to be honest, we wouldn’t be surprised if Bilic is looking for a job soon, as West Ham is off to yet another slow start this season. Too soon to tell if any of this is true, or where it goes, but speculation is fun. I wouldn’t expect any major announcements until after the United States’ friendly against Portugal in November.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni continues to adapt as the game changes.
  • Orlando City’s corporate partners are stepping up to provide resources for the Fuerza Puerto Rico Friendly Presented by Audi (those last three words are new).
  • The U-17 World Cup is rolling right along in India, and England knocked off Brazil rather convincingly, 3-1, to reach the final. England reaching the final makes me feel at least a little bit better about the tournament for the United States. If you’re going to lose, you might as well lose to a team that made the final.
  • More on that England youth system: Just take a look at this graphic Squawka put together. We might be on the brink of English football dominance if the Three Lions’ youths can keep these results rolling through the senior level.

  • The Carabao Cup always finds a way to give us interesting news. What’s going on this time? Manchester City and Arsenal could find themselves disqualified over an interesting substitution rule. Check it out here.
  • Serie A games are trying to find new ways to combat anti-Semitism. After an event that happened in the stands of a game between Roma and Lazio, it has been decided that passages from Anne Frank’s Diary will be read before games to promote Holocaust remembrance. Good job, Italy.
  • Ever wonder who the worst player in FIFA 18 is? Well, you can find out all about him and his 46 overall ranking here, but, spoiler alert, he’s actually not a player at all.

That’s all we have time for today. Enjoy that MLS playoff action that we have on the slate for tonight (Atlanta-Columbus, Houston-Sporting KC), and check back with us tomorrow for some more Lion Links! Before I go, here is your dad joke of the day:

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 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 in Orlando.

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 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: 2/20/24

The Wall sells out for opening night, 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 has 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 begins 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 work 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 (or at least lengthy) 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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