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Lion Links: 11/6/17

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Welp, it’s another Monday and even an extra hour of sleeping in on Sunday morning doesn’t fully prepare you for this kind of thing — regular occurrence or not. Saturday night’s friendly was fun and raised money for a good cause, but we’re fully into the off-season now and Jason Kreis will be holding exit interviews this week, so we should know soon which Lions will be part of the jigsaw puzzle for 2018.

In the meantime, we have Pride players tearing it up in Australia in the W-League. So at least there’s that. Anyway, let’s get to some soccer news.

Puerto Rican Player: Orlando Friendly was “A Beautiful Experience”

Despite dropping a friendly by a lopsided final score of 6-1, players on the Puerto Rico National Team had positive things to say after the match.

Puerto Rico defender Juan Coca spoke to the media after the match. He expressed his feelings toward the event, and what it means to the Puerto Rican players. 

“It’s been a beautiful experience the whole week,” Coca said. “It’s been very difficult this past month in Puerto Rico, it was really nice to have all this emotion and all this energy of Puerto Rican pride — seeing all those flags waving and people screaming ‘Puerto Rico’. People kept cheering us on and making us feel at home, so we’re really appreciative of all the Orlando City fans.”

Coca went on to talk about the difficulties of training in Puerto Rico right now and the team’s head coach, Carlos Cantarero, talked about the warmth of the team’s reception in Orlando and from the city’s Puerto Rican community.

MLS Conference Finals Set

Major League Soccer’s final four is now set. Toronto FC lost the game, 1-0, but advanced on away goals after finishing 2-2 on aggregate with New York Red Bulls. Perhaps the most humorous moment of Sunday was Jozy Altidore giving Sacha Kljestan a dose of his own medicine with this epic flop:

Both were sent off at halftime after a dust-up in the tunnel for violent conduct. In a fun post-match twist, Altidore called out Kljestan on Twitter. Altidore and strike partner Sebastian Giovinco, who picked up a yellow card, will both be suspended for the first leg of the Eastern Conference final series. That will be against the Columbus Crew (#SaveTheCrew). Columbus advanced after a 2-0 loss to New York City FC, but an overall 4-3 aggregate advantage. Toronto visits Columbus for the first leg on Tuesday, Nov. 21.

Over in the Western Conference, we now know that the Seattle Sounders will be squaring off against the Houston Dynamo, who went into Providence Park and left with a 2-1 victory over the Portland Timbers. Because the first leg in Houston was a 0-0 draw, that was plenty for the Dynamo to advance. The Timbers were missing several injured players, but that’s still an impressive road win for a team that won only once away from BBVA Compass Stadium during the regular season. Seattle visits Houston on Nov. 21.

Will Pulisic’s Next Stop be Bayern Munich?

With his impressive performance against Bayern Munich this past weekend, USMNT starlet Christian Pulisic could find his way to the German giants when his time is up at Borussia Dortmund — at least if one club legend has his way. The 19-year-old left his imprint on Bayern Munich legend Lothar Matthäus, who told Sky:

"If Bayern Munich someday looks for a replacement for Robben and [Franck] Ribery, then they have to put out their feelers for Pulisic," Matthaus told  Sky .

"He is 19 years old and has high quality." Matthaus continued. "With his confidence and his speed, he is called to higher [things]."

Speaking of Pulisic, here is an interview with the rising U.S. star where he discusses the USMNT’s qualification failure and the season at Borussia Dortmund.

Former Orlando City Target Dies

One-time Orlando City target and former Stoke City defender Dionatan Teixeira has died of a suspected heart attack at age 25. The Lions were reportedly set to sign Teixeira in the summer of 2016 but rumor has it he failed a medical screening ahead of a proposed deal to bring him to Orlando City. Instead, City brought in Uruguayan center back Jose Aja in July of last year to fill the spot that would otherwise have been occupied by Teixeira. Our deepest condolences go out to everyone who knew, loved, or supported the young Brazilian defender.

Nigerian Army Using Soccer to Keep Youths from Being Radicalized

The army in Nigeria is turning to the beautiful game to prevent kids from being indoctrinated into terrorist sect Boko Haram. The army established a soccer tournament in the Sambisa forest to further battle for hearts and minds in the fight against Boko Haram.

According Nigerian newspaper Punch, the army has organized a soccer tournament in Sambisa forest. The idea is to “make vulnerable youths in the communities unavailable for Boko Haram radicalization and recruitment,” says Timothy Antigha, the army’s deputy director of public relations. The tournament kicked off last month and will run till the end of the year. Antigha told the paper the tournament is aimed at “engaging” and “winning the hearts of youths” as well as “fostering civil-military cooperation.”

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Looks like we’ll see some new blood for the USMNT’s friendly at Portugal.

  • The UCF women went to penalties after a scoreless draw in the AAC final against South Florida, but it was USF that prevailed on spot kicks, 5-3.
  • Unsurprisingly, the NASL will appeal it’s denied preliminary injunction on Division 2 status.
  • Among those born on this date are basketball inventor James Naismith (1861), baseball HOFer Walter Johnson (1887), Sally Field (1946), late Eagles singer Glenn Frey (1948), Footloose actress Lori Singer (1957), Mystery Science Theater 3000 actor/puppeteer Trace Beaulieu (1958), Living Colour singer/guitarist Corey Glover (1964), Ethan Hawke (1970), Pat Tillman (1976), Emma Stone (1988), and yesterday’s red card recipient, Jozy Altidore (1989).

That’s all the time I’ve got for you this morning. I’ll leave you with this highlight goal from alleged Orlando City striker target Jo Inge Berget.

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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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/24/24

Orlando City prepares for the Crew, Barbra Banda an NWSL MVP favorite, Orlando Pride announce sleeve sponsor, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! The gauntlet of Orlando soccer home games starts tonight when the Orlando Pride take on the Portland Thorns in a clash of win streaks. I’m working for most of the weekend, but am looking forward to watching some soccer and playing my way through the Ace Attorney games during my spare time. For now though, let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world.

Orlando City Gets Ready to Host the Crew

Orlando City is on a three-game unbeaten run and will take on the Columbus Crew Saturday night in an Eastern Conference showdown. The last time these two sides met was in the 2023 Eastern Conference semifinals with the Crew winning in extra time to eliminate the Lions. It’s the third consecutive road game for the Crew after winning 3-1 against both CF Montreal and the Chicago Fire. Saturday’s match is also the Crew’s last match before the Concacaf Champions Cup final on June 1. Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja spoke on how the Lions will be up to the task regardless of which players take the field for Columbus. Pareja also spoke about how Duncan McGuire is working his way back from the injury he suffered last week.

Barbra Banda Named MVP Frontrunner

ESPN updated its rankings of players in contention to be named NWSL MVP this season and Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda tops the list. The Zambian forward hasn’t been with the Pride for long, but she has scored six goals in six games to help the Pride win seven straight games. Opposing defenses haven’t figured out a way to stop her, and it’s fair to think of her as an MVP favorite alongside fellow attackers in the league like Sophia Smith and Temwa Chawinga. Pride defender Emily Sams also earned herself a spot on the list, ranking 11th. It’s nice to see her get some deserved recognition for her role in the Pride’s stellar defense this year.

Orlando Pride Announce Sleeve Sponsor

A partnership was announced between the Orlando Pride and Heart of Florida United Way, a charity that’s supported families in Central Florida for the past 85 years. As part of the partnership, Heart of Florida United Way will become the first sleeve sponsor for the Pride and its logo will be on the right sleeve of both of the Pride’s jerseys this year. A new ticket program is also being created for 50 tickets to be donated to a local charity for each Pride home game.

Orlando City Unveils Watch Party Schedule

The schedule for this Orlando City season’s watch parties is out, along with the lineup of this year’s included pubs. Each pub will have MLS Season Pass access for fans to watch Orlando’s games this year and there will be chances to win tickets and autographed items at the watch parties as well. There are three new pubs added to the lineup this year, including The Castle Irish Pub at College Park, Paddywagon Irish Pub in Dr. Phillips, and Winter Garden’s Hagan O’Reilly’s. The first watch party will be at The Hammered Lamb in Ivanhoe Village on June 1 when the Lions face off against the New York Red Bulls.

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  • Pride midfielder Evelina Duljan was called up to join Sweden’s U-23 team for the upcoming Four Nations Tournament.
  • NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman became the first woman to be named Sports Business Journal‘s Sports Executive of the Year.

That’s all I have for you this time around. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!

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