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Lion Links: 3/31/18

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Happy double match day, Orlando City and Orlando Pride fans! Not only is it a double match day, but both games are in the afternoon, so your evening will be free and you can get to bed at a decent hour. That’s important because the kids will be up super early due to make sure the Easter Bunny visited and filled their baskets with enough sugar to ensure they wind up in rehab.

Whoops, sorry. I lost my focus for a second like this little guy.

OK, now that I’ve regained my focus, it’s my job to inform you that the Lions are hosting the Red Bulls today at 1 p.m. (preview and how to watch can be found here), and Lifetime’s coverage of the Pride at the Washington Spirit begins at 3:30 p.m.

Before I go diving into today’s Lion Links, here’s a public service announcement and a request to give what you can.

And now, on to our top stories at this hour.

Everyone’s Gone to the Movies…with Sacha

Forgive my self indulgence of putting a Steely Dan song title in the above headline (I love the Dan), but it certainly fits. Orlando City midfielder Sacha Kljestan’s decision to buy out a whole movie theater for a screening of the film Love, Simon was a big hit, as all tickets were claimed. The club put together this video about the event and you can hear directly from Kljestan why he decided to do this. If you don’t see the embedded video below, you can find it by clicking this link.

What Does Orlando City’s $490.53 Million Evaluation Mean?

If the evaluation of nearly half a billion dollars — used as the basis for the sale of an 8.63 percent stake to Albert Friedberg — is accurate regarding Orlando City, it represents a huge leap in recent values placed on MLS clubs. Prosoccerusa.com’s Roger Simmons writes that it would be a huge jump from the $272 million that Forbes placed on OCSC as of 2016 (and wrote about in 2017) — which placed it fifth in MLS — and it would also push the club’s value above that of 15 National Hockey League teams. The LA Galaxy was the league’s most valuable club per the 2017 Forbes article, at $315 million. If Orlando City’s value jumped by more than $200 million in two years, that would show remarkable growth for Major League Soccer. Simmons correctly points out that the NHL team values could have gone up since the 2017 Forbes report, but it’s hard to imagine the clubs in that league kept up that kind of pace.

Pride Players Ready for Homecoming

When the Pride visit Washington today, several members of the team will be facing their old squad. Ali Krieger, Shelina Zadorsky, Ashlyn Harris, Toni Pressley, and Christine Nairn have all worn Spirit colors in their careers. Beyond having played for Washington, Krieger’s hometown of Dumfries, VA, isn’t too far away.

“It’s always nice to go to my home town and see my friends and my family,” Krieger said. “I’ve always said that. It’s enjoyable in that way. You know, I’ll always be happy the club at the time, for those four years, gave me that opportunity and I respect that.

“But, obviously, I’ve been playing here. This is my second year and I’m so proud to be wearing purple and to play for this club and organizations. Always, to have the Pride – no pun intended – going into this game in my home town is always exciting. I had a lot of joy in my time there. There’s no negative feelings whatsoever.”

Speaking of Krieger, How Long Might She Play?

As many players get older, they get the inevitable questions about how much longer they might keep putting their bodies through the rigors of professional sports. Jordan Culver asked such questions of Pride defender Ali Krieger and the good news is that she says she can’t see herself giving up the game in the near future.

“I guess as I get older … I don’t know. I enjoy it every year a little bit more. I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon.”

“Everyone tends to think as you get older, you tend to wear off physically, mentally and you’re just emotionally maybe not there,” she said. “I love the game so much. I know I take good care of my body and I know and I understand I need to do a little bit extra every year I continue to play.”

Free Kicks

  • In her latest installment of the Chronicles of Nairnia, Orlando Pride midfielder Christine Nairn interviews Estelle Johnson of the Washington Spirit.
  • Portland Thorns coach Mark Parsons has been suspended two matches and fined for an interaction with an official following his team’s loss to the North Carolina Courage last weekend. The suspension includes Orlando’s visit to Portland on April 15. However, the Thorns have filed an appeal.
  • Orlando City youth tryouts start May 1. Here’s how to get your kids involved.
  • Manchester United Manager Jose Mourinho says Zlatan will be good for soccer in the U.S.
  • It’s a great day for classical music fans, as those born on this date include composers Johann Sebastian Bach (1685) and Joseph Haydn (1732). Also calling today their birthdays are former St. Elsewhere star and voice of KITT William Daniels (1927), hockey legend Gordie Howe (1928), The Partridge Family mom Shirley Jones (1934), Herb Alpert (1935), Christopher Walken (1943), Welcome Back, Kotter’s Gabe Kaplan (1945), Al Gore (1948), Cheers actress Rhea Perlman (1948), AC/DC guitarist Angus Young (1955), hockey’s Pavel Bure (1971), and Ewan McGregor (1971).

That’s all for me today, folks. We’ll have full coverage of today’s Orlando City and Orlando Pride matches, so check back with us throughout this very busy Saturday.

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. 

Free Kicks


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.

Free Kicks

  • 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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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/23/24

Orlando Pride prepare for the Portland Thorns, Pride Brazilian trio called up, Atalanta wins Europa League, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this Thursday finds you well as we all get ready for a busy next few days of Orlando soccer to enjoy. It’s been a fairly busy couple of days for me, and I plan on knocking out a few errands before enjoying the upcoming matches. Until then, let’s enjoy today’s links!

Pride Prepare to Host the Portland Thorns

The Orlando Pride have a huge home game against the Portland Thorns tomorrow night. It will be a clash of win streaks, as the Pride have won their past seven games and the Thorns have won their last six. Pride Head Coach Seb Hines is well aware that Portland is a formidable foe with talented players such as Sophia Smith, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Sam Coffey. He spoke on how tomorrow will be a challenge, as well as how playing at home will give the Pride a boost during the game.

Pride Trio Called Up by Brazil

The Pride’s Marta, Rafaelle, and Adriana were all called up for Brazil’s pair of friendlies against Jamaica in Brazil on June 1 and June 4.

These matches will help Brazil prepare for a tough group in the Olympics against Spain, Japan, and Nigeria. Angelina, who featured for Brazil during the SheBelieves Cup, was not called up due to an injury sustained while with the Pride. Although these games will take place during an international break, the Pride do have a road game against the San Diego Wave on June 7, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Hines gives them some rest for that match.

Assessing Emma Hayes’ Time With Chelsea

It felt like forever ago that it was announced Chelsea’s Emma Hayes would leave the club to replace Vlatko Andonovski and coach the USWNT. A great article by ESPN broke down what USWNT fans can learn from her time with Chelsea, including how she’s dealt with the adversity she’s faced both on and off the field. Her impending exit put a spotlight on Chelsea’s season, and she still managed to secure the league title despite the pressure. Chelsea also announced that five members of the coaching staff will leave the club to join Hayes at the USWNT. It’s a new era for the USWNT, and Hayes brings plenty of experience and leadership to the position.

Atalanta Crushes Leverkusen to Win Europa League

Italian club Atalanta lifted the Europa League trophy after a 3-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen in Dublin. The day belonged to Nigerian winger Ademola Lookman, who scored a hat trick that included this stunner that doubled Atalanta’s lead in the first half.

It’s Atalanta’s second trophy in club history, and first in 61 years. It’s also the first trophy for manager Gian Piero Gasperini after coaching in Italy for 30 years. This result snapped Leverkusen’s remarkable unbeaten streak at 51 games, and ended the club’s bid at a treble. Bayer Leverkusen will aim to bounce back Saturday when it plays FC Kaiserslautern in the German Cup final.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City President of Business Operations Jarrod Dillon has issued a challenge to Orlando City fans for the upcoming trio of Orlando soccer home games, so it may be worth your while to get tickets for the Lions, Pride, and OCB this weekend.
  • Pride forward Amanda Allen placed 16th in ESPN‘s rankings of the 17 teenagers currently playing in the National Women’s Soccer League (the author deemed it unfair to assess Milly Clegg without seeing her on the field more). Allen mostly just hasn’t had much playing time, but that could change over the summer.
  • Former Pride player Camille Ashton (known as Cami Levin when she played in the Pride midfield in 2016 and 2017) has resigned as the general manager of the Kansas City Current.

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

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