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Lion Links: 12/1/17

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Well Mane Landers, here we are at the start of December. The MLS Cup Final is set, the winter transfer window opens in nine days, and the “group(s) of death” will be known later this morning.

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t even begun getting in the whole Christmas spirit yet. I have zero decorations up, I have not begun shopping for my wife and daughter, and I have already gotten in trouble with my in-laws for requesting the Christmas music at dinner a few nights ago be turned off. No, I am not a Scrooge. I just want to get through my birthday before I get geared up for Christmas. In the meantime, let’s dig into what we are here for.

What is Rafael Ramos Really Saying?

If you were paying attention on social media yesterday morning, you may have seen this social media post from Orlando City right back Rafael Ramos.

Shortly after the rumor frenzy and Twitter storm that erupted trying to decipher what the message meant, the club answered:

The message on the photo posted by Rafa has many still scratching their heads, as it seems to be the harbinger of finality, although Orlando City exercised its option on Rafa’s contract after the season. This will be something to watch, and if any more information can be dredged up, we will certainly let you all know.

2017 NCAA Women’s College Cup Stage is Ready

Orlando City Stadium received a bit of a makeover this week in preparatiuon to host the 2017 NCAA Women’s College Cup. Teams from Duke, South Carolina, Stanford, and UCLA will battle it out in The City Beautiful. We wish all the ladies good luck in the tournament (Go Gamecocks, because if I don’t say that my family in South Carolina might disown me. The only worse offense would be to cheer for Clemson). Check back later for our preview and how to watch the College Cup, as well as full coverage of both matches tonight.

Seattle Returns to MLS Cup Final

After beating the Houston Dynamo on the road 2-0 last week, the Seattle Sounders took care of business at home with a 3-0 win to advance to the 2017 MLS Cup Final. The Sounders won their semifinal on an aggregate score of 5-0 and will face Toronto FC in a rematch of the 2016 MLS Cup Final, which ended with the Sounders winning in a tight penalty shootout. The defending champions are riding high and haven’t conceded a goal in MLS play since early October. The stage is now set and the MLS Cup Final will take place on Dec. 9 in Toronto.

Contract Deadline Day has Come and Gone

For all non-playoff MLS teams, this past Monday was the deadline to pick up or decline player contract options for the 2018 season. Some clubs, Orlando City included, made their decisions weeks ago. Other teams waited until the deadline. Here is a good breakdown of what went down for many clubs on Deadline Day.

USL Rochester Rhinos to Take a Hiatus

Even with a community that rallied to help raise funds, the Rochester Rhinos have decided to take a one-year hiatus from competing in the USL. As the only non-MLS club to win the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup since the formation of MLS, the break will not hurt the club’s standing with USL as the Rhinos try to solidify a stable environment from which to operate for the 2019 season.

Baby Yanks Open the Nike Friendlies with a Loss

The U-17 USMNT opened up the Nike Friendlies against England in a hard-fought 1-0 loss to England at the Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch, FL. Brazil played the Netherlands in the other match which saw Brazil win, 2-1. The Baby Yanks play again tonight at 7 p.m. and look to bounce back as they face the Netherlands. Never heard of Lakewood Ranch? Here is a map to show you just how close the matches really are.

Free Kicks:

  • The 2018 World Cup group draw is today. Keep your eyes fixed on The Mane Land for coverage and breakdown a little later this morning. Do you have any guesses on the Group of Death? I think there will be two.
  • Vancouver Whitecaps announced the addition of Venezuelan International striker Anthony Blondell through 2020, with an option for 2021. The Caps sent TAM and GAM to FC Dallas for his rights to make the deal happen.
  • Atlanta United signed defender Greg Garza to a multi-year contract.
  • Keaton Parks might be a name to keep track of over the next few years. American, 20 years old, central midfielder, and traveling with Benfica on the first team roster for the Portuguese club’s match against FC Porto.

That’s it for today. I hope you have a fantastic Friday, have some amazing plans with friends and family, and get to enjoy this beautiful season in Florida I like to call “not summer.” I’ll be watching soccer, planning a beard competition, watching more soccer, and enjoying the weekend as much as I can. Oh, I almost forgot, if you are going to Jacksonville this weekend for WVRM FEST 5, do not miss Dark Castle (no people hiding in caves were hurt by the CIA using this track). My 9-year-old daughter thinks it is pretty cool that this is just a girl on guitar/vocals and a guy on drums/vocals. What can I say? We listen to music and watch footy on weekends.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 7/12/24

Orlando City prepares for the New England Revolution, Summer Yates signs new contract, USWNT faces Mexico on Saturday, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! I’m working for most of the weekend but am still looking forward to a smorgasbord of soccer over the next few days. I’m also hoping to get some reading done, as I’ve fallen a bit behind in my reading goals for the year during this summer. But for now, let’s dive into today’s links from across the soccer world!

Orlando City Prepares for the New England Revolution

The Lions are on the road this weekend for a tough match against the New England Revolution on Saturday. It will be a clash between Eastern Conference teams that have clawed their way back up the table after slow starts to the season. Orlando has won three of its past four games, while the Revolution have won five of their last seven. While Orlando’s offense may be finding its groove this summer, the Lions have never won at Gillette Stadium in the eight games they’ve played there. No team has scored fewer goals this season than New England, which has scored 20 goals in 20 games.

Summer Yates Signs New Contract

The Orlando Pride have signed midfielder Summer Yates to a new contract that will keep her in the City Beautiful through the 2025 season, with an option for 2026. Yates fell farther than expected in the 2023 NWSL Draft and the Pride selected her in the fourth round. It’s proven to be a major steal for the Pride, as Yates has scored four goals in 15 appearances this year. She’s filled the shoes of some of the team’s best attacking midfielders and I’m glad she will be staying in Orlando beyond this year. The Pride also signed Cori Dyke to a new contract earlier this week, so it’s clear the Pride are looking ahead to the future during a historic season.

USWNT Plays Mexico On Saturday

The United States Women’s National Team will play the first of two friendlies before the Olympics when it takes on Mexico on Saturday at Red Bull Arena. The last time these two teams squared off was back in February in the inaugural Concacaf W Gold Cup, with Mexico winning 2-0. That loss raised plenty of eyebrows, but the USWNT went on to win the tournament and hasn’t lost since. The U.S. staff and team that won the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup Team will also be honored prior to the match for the 25th anniversary. The USWNT will take on Costa Rica on Tuesday in its final game before the Olympics.

Jurgen Klopp Reportedly Declines USMNT Job

There wasn’t much time for fans to get hopeful about reports that U.S. Soccer had reached out to former Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp to replace Gregg Berhalter, as more reports surfaced that Klopp turned down interest in the job. It’s not too surprising considering how Klopp has spoken in the past about wanting a break from soccer after leaving Liverpool this year. While I’m obviously interested in who will fill the role, I’m also hoping this search reveals how appealing the job is to other candidates around the world. I don’t think Klopp turning this down particularly means much in the grand scheme of things though, beyond U.S. Soccer doing its due diligence.

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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 7/11/24

Cori Dyke signs new contract with Orlando Pride, Barbra Banda leads NWSL MVP race, Gregg Berhalter fired, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

How’s it going, Mane Landers? It’s been a fairly busy week for me, and I’m looking forward to some upcoming time off from work. I’m also looking forward to the conclusion of international tournaments this weekend. It should be a nice next few days. For now, let’s dive into today’s links!

Cori Dyke Signs New Contract With the Pride

The Orlando Pride have signed rookie midfielder Cori Dyke to a new contract through the 2025 season, with an option for 2026 as well. She has found her footing with the team and in the NWSL, making 11 appearances so far this season. The Pride selected her with the No. 22 overall pick of the 2024 NWSL Draft, signing her to a one-year contract back in March. She’s one of many versatile midfielders added this past off-season, and she’s done well providing relief where needed as a substitute.

NWSL MVP Race Heats Up

ESPN‘s Jeff Kassouf updated the rankings of NWSL MVP candidates for this season and Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda remains at the top. Kansas City forward Temwa Chawinga moved up a spot to second, and she and Banda currently lead the league with 12 goals each. Both players scored on Saturday, and I’m expecting a close MVP and Golden Boot race over the next few months.

Pride defender Emily Sams deservedly moved up in the rankings and is now in seventh. She’s been phenomenal as the anchor of the Pride’s league-leading defense and it’s great to see her garner more recognition as the season goes on. Marta is on the list for the first time this season, ranking 13th for her prominent role in the Pride’s undefeated season so far.

Gregg Berhalter Out as USMNT Head Coach

It’s the end of an era for the United States Men’s National Team, as Gregg Berhalter was relieved of his duties as head coach. This decision comes after a disappointing Copa America run that ended in the group stage after losses to Panama and Uruguay. There’s certainly been success for the USMNT under Berhalter, particularly against Mexico, as he led the team to two Nations League titles and the 2021 Gold Cup trophy. But it never felt like the USMNT was playing to its full potential and could win against the top 10 teams in the world. Hopefully this search for who will replace Berhalter will go better than the last one, and a new coach can come in and take the team to the next level in time for the 2026 World Cup.

England Claims Spot in Euro 2024 Final

This year’s Euro final is set, with Spain and England set to clash in Berlin on Sunday at 3 p.m. England booked its ticket after another dramatic finish in a 2-1 win against the Netherlands. Aston Villa forward Ollie Watkins gave England the winning goal in the 90th minute after coming on as a substitute. I would love to know how many minutes England has been in the lead this tournament, as there have been many late comebacks along its path to the final. Meanwhile, Spain has beaten Germany and France en route to the final after winning a group that included Italy and Croatia. The final should be a good one and I’m looking forward to it.

Colombia Holds On to Reach Copa America Final

The Copa America semifinal between Colombia and Uruguay was a tense affair and Colombia won 1-0. James Rodriguez provided his sixth assist of the tournament on the only goal of the game, but the game turned on its head when Daniel Munoz was sent off late in the second half. Colombia then had to spend the entire second half holding onto its lead and survived, despite good chances from Uruguay’s Darwin Nunez and Luis Suarez. There was mayhem after the match, as there was an altercation between fans and Uruguayan players in the stands.

Colombia has now extended its unbeaten streak to 28 games and will take on Argentina in the Copa America final on Sunday at 8 p.m. The last team that beat Colombia? Argentina back in 2022.

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That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a fantastic day and rest of your week.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 7/10/24

The Pride impress, Banda praised, Copa and Euro results, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers! We now have multiple weeks where the Orlando Pride will sit atop the NWSL table as we enjoy the Summer Olympics and the Summer Cup. Orlando City is on a bit of a roll as well, thanks to a resurging midfield. What I’m getting at is life is pretty good at the moment and we should enjoy it. While you bask in the soccer goodness, you can also check out today’s links.

Hines’ Tactics Beat Kansas City

If you didn’t get a chance to see the Orlando Pride’s victory over the Kansas City Current, stop reading and go watch it. Now that you’re back, you can read about Seb Hines’ adjustments when his squad went down a player following Carrie Lawrence’s sending off in the 42nd minute. This match lived up to the hype as the two undefeated teams clashed in what felt like a playoff match. Once again, the defense was the difference with the Pride now the only remaining undefeated club in the league.

Hayes Praises Banda

The USWNT opens the 2024 Summer Olympics with a match against Zambia. That means the Yanks will have their hands full with Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda to start things off. We’re not the only ones aware of how dangerous a striker Banda is, as USWNT Head Coach Emma Hayes called her the “best striker in the world right now.” It seems that Hayes respects Zambia’s ability to transition quickly from defense to offense, which is smart given how quick Banda is. The match will take place on Thursday, July 25 at 3 p.m.

A Tale of Two Coaches

There is plenty of blame to go around for the USMNT’s early exit from the Copa America, but the same can’t be said for the Canadian National Team. Jesse Marsch didn’t get the U.S. job when Berhalter was brought back, and Canada reaped the rewards in the Copa America, though the team’s journey came to an end last night in a 2-0 loss to Argentina in the semifinal match. Despite the loss, Canadian fans are certain to be happier with Marsch than U.S. fans are with Berhalter.

Spain Advances to the Final

Spain kept its championship hopes alive, defeating France 2-1 in the Euros semifinal match. France actually made Spain work for this one after Randal Kolo Muani scored France’s first goal by a French player in open play to put Les Bleus ahead in the eighth minute. Spain didn’t have to wait too long for the equalizer by Lamine Yanal in the 21st minute, nor for the winning goal by Dani Olmo in the 25th minute. Spain will now face either England or the Netherlands which play today.

Free Kicks

  • Former Orlando City defender RJ Allen is making a go of it as an assistant coach with New Jersey United of the NPSL. His squad is currently playing in the NPSL playoffs.
  • Orlando City’s Dagur Dan Thorhallsson earned an appearance in the MLS Skills of the Matchday highlight reel. You’ll find him at the 21-second mark.
  • The Orlando Pride’s Emily Sams is rocking the U.S. colors at her first (of hopefully many) USWNT camps.
  • U.S. Soccer has hired Catherine Newman as the new new chief marketing officer. If Gregg Berhalter remains as head coach, I know what Newman’s main marketing campaign will be about.
  • If you thought that Wrexham co-owner Ryan Reynolds was just a pretty face for publicity sake, you are very wrong. Reynolds takes an active part in all the players’ development, especially in their off-the-field endeavours.
  • D.C. United was so traumatized by Saturday’s loss to Orlando City that the club went out and signed a new midfielder. Okay, that isn’t the reason, but the signing still happened.

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the Orlando City match this weekend. Vamos Orlando!

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