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Lion Links: 12/20/17

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I don’t know about you, but I’m getting excited. This time of year always has me jacked up. Minus the craziness of getting through last-minute Christmas shopping, everything is finally ramping up. Champions League knockout rounds have been drawn, MLS off-season is hitting full swing, and at the end of the day we’re hitting the new year, which for whatever reason — probably the Cleveland fan in me — has me optimistic over the entire soccer landscape. I’m jacked up on good holiday vibes, so lets get into it.

Orlando City Set to Kick Off 2018 Against D.C. United

If you didn't already hear, Orlando City has officially announced its kickoff match for the 2018 MLS season, and the Lions will face off with D.C. United at home. This will be the fourth time in a row City will open at home, as it looks to start off 2018 right against a D.C. United that hit its stride in the back half the year with additions like Paul Arriola.

All I can say is: ARE WE THERE YET?

Morgan, Krieger, and Marta Selected in CONCACAF’s Best XI

CONCACAF announced its Best XI for 2017 and, to no surprise, the Orlando Pride found their way to multiple spots on the list. Alex Morgan, Marta, and Ali Krieger were all honored after a banner 2017.

If there was one gripe, it has to be the rehashing of FIFA Player of the Year debates where Carli Lloyd was again given a prestigious honor despite being injured for a decent chunk of the year. This left Matilda and Sky Blue FC forward Sam Kerr off an awards list again. Quite frankly, I don’t know how this is still happening.

MLS Nashville Bound? Sounds Like It

It appears that MLS will be announcing its newest city — and one of two new expansion teams — Tuesday afternoon:

Jeff Carlisle isn't the only one talking, as Sports Illustrated’s Brian Straus reports:

The league all but confirmed Tuesday morning that the Nashville bid fronted by local billionaire John Ingram and supported by the Wilf brothers, who own the Minnesota Vikings, has been accepted. MLS commissioner Don Garber will join Ingram, Tennessee governor Bill Haslam and Nashville mayor Megan Barry at an event Wednesday afternoon at the Country Music Hall of Fame, where they’ll announce the city’s entry.

And if that isn't enough, a judge recently threw out a lawsuit intended to block the creation of a soccer-specific stadium in Nashville.

Is this a good thing for MLS? You can argue absolutely, especially regionally, as the South gains another team and the MLS soccer map gets more diverse. Is Nashville going to support a team well? That remains to be seen, but they did have a Tennessee state record for the Gold Cup with over 47,000 in attendance in July at Nissan Stadium (I worked that U.S. game and the atmosphere was solid for it being in a football stadium). And you have to consider that as far as expendable sports dollars go, there’s only two other pro franchises to contend with.

If this is true, this leaves Detroit, Cincinnati, and Sacramento as the remaining cities vying for an MLS expansion club. It’s anyone's guess right now as to who will win that last spot.

Leo Pereira Looks to Stay in Brazil

Center back Leo Periera, who was on loan from Clube Atlético Paranaense — City's official Brazilian partner club — has had his option picked up by his parent club for the 2018 season. While the defender filled in at times in 2017, the youngster never really settled in as the center back musical chairs certainly didn't help. As a reminder of his 2017 season, here was our final season grade.

This will add a very valuable international spot back to the roster for GM Niki Budalic to utilize this off-season.

Speculation on New Pride Players as Sermanni Returns from Europe

It’s every good manager’s role to actively scout, but it seems that Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni may have something up his sleeve with his recent trip to Europe. With Camila injured, and Australians Steph Catley and Alanna Kennedy out of contract (yet considering extension offers), Sermanni went to Europe in search of what could be a few new additions to the Pride in 2018. Backline Soccer ponders who the possible targets could be.

Your USSF Presidential Candidate Update

Paul Caligiuri starts off with an open letter to the Federation, most notably calling out the recent issue of USSF’s board of directors looking to finalize a general manager position before the new president can even be elected. Couldn't agree more with him that the timing is very odd and seems like a control grab — my words, not his — by an organization’s board set to protect itself and its power.

Michael Winograd, my current preference, sat down with Yahoo! Sports’ Henry Bushnell to discuss many of his takes but the article mainly highlights Winograd’s take on the youth soccer industry. Youth soccer has a multitude of issues, and one very big one being that the Aspen Institute illuminates in regards to participation of athletes ages 6-12.

For you Eric Wynalda fans, here’s his new website where you can keep tabs on all his stances, forums, etc.

Another OCB Alum Finds a Home

Defender Zach Carroll has found a home with Reno 1868 FC. The 23-year-old center back will move to his third team in three years despite earning second-team All-USL in 2016 with New York Red Bulls II and a year with Orlando City B that had many excited about his future prospects.

This is just another player in a line of multiple OCB players who has found his way out of town, giving OCB supporters continued heartburn on what is to come for 2018.

All the best, Zach.

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So until next week, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, or simply just enjoy some free vacation time. Cheers!

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.

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  • 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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