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Lion Links: 5/2/18

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We have got a lot of news for you today, so I’ll say a quick hello and hope you’re all gearing up for a great weekend of Cinco De Mayo and Orlando City going for win No. 6 in a row. Also, congrats to my modern GOAT, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Real Madrid for making it to their third Champions League final in a row — and fourth in five years — after yesterday’s victory in one of the best matches of the tournament against Bayern Munich.

We’ve got news on the Pride match later today, City focusing on language, transfer rumors, and so much more. So get to reading! Or read slowly and ignore work, really your choice. But let’s not forget to wish Orlando City Assistant Coach Miles Joseph a happy birthday as well!

Is Orlando a Legitimate Eastern Conference Threat?

MLS Soccer gave their take on Orlando City being a contender for their big question of the week:

Bobby Warshaw ends up on the fence knowing it’s early and the mitigating factors to this five-game win streak — the longest of any team this season. Which I think is the right take. City has had an easy run lately against lower teams and — other than the San Jose match — hasn't looked in control in most, but rather coming back in matches to grind out points (not bad to do but you can’t live on that).

The next month will give some clearer answers on where City stands as they face teams like Atlanta United, NYCFC, and Toronto. All the while trying to get Jonathan Spector and Uri Rosell into the mix after both have missed considerable time.

Morgan and Harris Questionable for Today’s Match; Ashlyn Not Suspended

The Orlando Pride travel to Chicago today to face off against the second-place Red Stars tonight at 7:30 p.m. However, they could be without two of their best players as Alex Morgan and Ashlyn Harris are questionable as of this morning. Morgan has a hyperextended left knee and Harris has a hyperextended left elbow, according to the latest NWSL injury report.

While both are losses, the Pride can hope to replace Morgan much easier with the depth across the front three. Sydney Leroux could be pushed to the central forward role with Rachel Hill most likely starting on the right side.

Harris would be replaced by Haley Kopmeyer who started for the Seattle Reign last season. She is no Aubrey Bledsoe, however, who has been nominated for NWSL Save of the Week every week this season, including winning for the second week in row.

One bit of good news is that Ashlyn, if healthy, will be available for selection. After her incident with Seattle Reign forward Jodie Taylor was reviewed by the league, it has been found that there will be no action taken. It was admittedly a rough challenge and could have gone in either direction. Personally I think the Pride got lucky.

Stay tuned to Twitter to get up to date information on both players.

Orlando City’s Off-the-Field Communication Work a Focus

Go read this article. It is a very good perspective in the area of psychology that is often ignored (by fans/media). Orlando City and its mental coach and Video Analyst Guillermo Sánchez have focused on communication to help build synergy is a vast multicultural element.

“When you have a team of a lot of cultures — I think we have around 12 … if you count coaching staff and staff, we have a lot more than that — it’s important for them to get to know each other so any type of communication can flow better,” said Sánchez, Orlando City’s mental coach and video analyst.

One can hope that all this focus is a contributing factor to the recent wining streak and one that will continue to help the team come together over the course of the season as City has some many new players learning English like Josué Colmán and Lamine Sané.

Ali Krieger Enjoying Her TV Work

If you’re not at the stadium watching, you should have seen Orlando Pride defender Ali Krieger spending time with the local TV coverage breaking down some soccer.

“Right now, it’s a bit of a hobby, obviously my first focus is this team and getting in the playoffs and winning this season,” Krieger said. “When I do have time, I really enjoy going in and to hang out and chat and getting my little 10 minutes and still be a part of the game and doing anything for this wonderful club.”

I watched her work with BeIn Sports during USMNT World Cup Qualifying and very much enjoyed her a part of the crew. While it’s a hobby today, strong female voices in the media are always needed and hopefully this turns into a great post-playing career opportunity for her.

Tally Hall Finding a New Purpose in Orlando

Former Orlando City goalkeeper Tally Hall has been seen around the stadium as of late. If you've noticed him, you’d see he’s in a different type of uniform. A great story for a great guy finding his way after professional soccer.

Where Five Yanks Abroad Could be Heading This Summer

FourFourTwo USA recently looked at five hot names in the U.S. National Team pool that could be on the move from their current clubs:

  • Christian Pulisic – Borussia Dortmund BVB
  • Bobby Wood – Hamburg SC
  • Emerson Hyndman – Bournemouth
  • Geoff Cameron – Stoke City
  • Tyler Adams – New York Red Bulls

These names breed interest on both sides of the pond as we may see the likes of Wood and Cameron back home while Adams should be going the opposite direction. Overall I think Wood moving to the Netherlands (think Jozy Altidore’s best European season) or MLS would be the right move. He needs some confidence after a rough year and either location would be great for him.

I think Adams and Pulisic are in different situations than Wood, albeit similar between themselves. These young rising stars need to be on the pitch. I have no issue if Adams stays for another year of seasoning in the MLS where he can get continual time. Although I will say if a team like Schalke could pair him with a U.S. national like Weston McKennie, that would be fun.

Pulisic is the name to watch this summer but he needs the same thing. Moving to a Liverpool where you’re battling the likes of Sadio Mané, Mo Salah, and Roberto Firmino for playing time isn't going to help. More time on the field at his age is the right move and one more year at Dortmund might not be too bad.

Free Kicks:


That was a lot for you! So hopefully we were able to keep you away from work for as long as you needed. Go Pride tonight and City on Sunday. And don’t forget to have a margarita or two on Saturday. Cheers!

Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/14/24

Orlando City prepares to take on LAFC, Lions linked with Alan Saldivia, Orlando City B draws against Chattanooga FC, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! I’m working for most of this weekend but am still looking forward to the absurd amount of soccer ahead of us. Both Orlando City and the Orlando Pride have games Saturday, and the 2024 Euros should give us some exciting matches from teams we don’t watch all too often. Let’s dive right into today’s links!

Orlando City Prepares for LAFC

The international break is over and Orlando City is back in action Saturday night for a home game against LAFC. It’s been a difficult season for the Lions so far, and they have been shut out in three of their past five games. Points have been hard to come by at home for Orlando and a match against one of the best teams in the Western Conference won’t make that any easier. With David Brekalo at the Euros, Rodrigo Schlegel is expected to start and it would be his 100th MLS appearance. Ramiro Enrique would also make his 50th appearance across all competitions as a Lion should he take the field.

Lions Linked Reportedly Bow Out of Bid to Sign Defender Alan Saldivia

With the MLS summer transfer window looming, a rumor surfaced of Orlando City making an offer to sign Uruguayan center back Alan Saldivia from Colo-Colo in Chile. The Lions reportedly offered $1.5 million for the 22-year-old, but that doesn’t reach the $2.2 million Colo-Colo wants at minimum. The Lions reportedly would not go higher. While center back isn’t exactly a pressing need for the Lions at this time, Saldivia would have given the team a young and talented player who could anchor the defense for years to come.

Orlando City B Drops Points in Disappointing Draw

OCB hosted Chattanooga FC and had to settle for a 2-2 draw after giving up a lead not once, but twice. The Young Lions had Chattanooga on the ropes late in the match, taking the lead just before the end of normal time, only to get punched in the mouth in stoppage time and then lose the penalty shootout. It was the second straight 2-2 draw at home for the Young Lions and they’re still on the hunt for their first win this month. OCB’s next game will be on the road against New York City FC II on Wednesday.

Getting Ready for the MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs

The MLS NEXT Cup playoffs kick off Saturday as the best teams across four age groups compete in a knockout format. Orlando City’s U-15 squad was recognized as one of the title contenders in its age group and will take on Real Salt Lake in the round of 32 on Saturday . The team also did well in MLS NEXT Flex, and Jakob Garcia, who has scored 18 goals in 21 games, is the kind of attacker who can make all the difference in knockout matches. Orlando’s U-17 team is capable of making a run as well, although it faces a tough first match on Sunday against the Philadelphia Union, which won the 2024 Generation Adidas Cup. It should be a fun tournament, and hopefully Orlando’s teams can advance far enough to be included in the games streamed on MLS Season Pass.

Free Kicks

  • Carl Robinson is back in MLS after Atlanta United hired him as an assistant coach. The 47-year-old played for Toronto FC and the New York Red Bulls to close out his playing career and also served as the head coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps.
  • Chicago Fire Designated Player Xherdan Shaqiri reportedly wants to return to Europe. The 32-year-old has been with the Fire since 2022 but hasn’t lived up to his billing and his contract is set to expire after this season.

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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/13/24

Orlando City B hosts Chattanooga FC tonight, USMNT earns draw against Brazil, MLS’ Juneteenth celebrations, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

How’s it going, Mane Landers? Between my cat finally deciding I’m worth hanging out with and reading a pair of books that have been collecting dust on my shelf, I’ve been having a pretty good week. I’m looking forward to the feast of soccer both in Orlando and abroad over the next few days as well. But for now, let’s get this Thursday started with today’s links!

Orlando City B Hosts Chattanooga FC Tonight

In an enticing midweek match tonight at 7 p.m., Orlando City B will take on Chattanooga FC at Osceola Heritage Park. If not heading to watch OCB in person, you can catch the game on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+. The last time these two teams squared off was on May 4, with Chattanooga winning the penalty shootout for an extra point after a 1-1 draw in Tennessee. The Young Lions are coming off of a 2-2 draw with one of the league’s worst teams this season, Carolina Core FC, but winning the shootout after a late rally could give them the kind of momentum needed to take down Chattanooga. Beating one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference would be quite the statement from OCB during what’s been a middling season so far.

USMNT Draws With Brazil in Orlando

Playing in Orlando at Camping World Stadium, the United States Men’s National Team drew 1-1 against Brazil in a friendly billed as the Continental Clasico. Brazil scored first, but Matt Turner and the USMNT didn’t collapse under the pressure and earned the team’s first ever draw against the South American powerhouse. All in all, it was a much better result than the USMNT’s 5-1 loss to Colombia on Saturday. This was the USMNT’s final match until Copa America later this month. The Yanks will start their campaign against Bolivia on June 23 before playing Panama on June 27 and Uruguay on July 1.

MLS Announces Initiatives for Juneteenth

In partnership with Black Players for Change and Adidas, MLS announced some of the ways the league will be celebrating Juneteenth. Pre-match shirts acknowledging the change players can provide will be worn during warm-ups and fans can buy their own shirts as well, with a portion of the proceeds going toward organizations focused on racial equity and social justice. There will also be a campaign highlighting the connection between professional and academy players, as well as educational content across the league’s social media to raise awareness of the holiday.

Euro 2024 Kicks Off on Friday

A loaded gauntlet of summer tournaments finally begins Friday, as Germany hosts Scotland for the first match of Euro 2024. From Cristiano Ronaldo’s potential swan song to a brutal group that includes Spain, Italy, and Croatia, storylines abound for the tournament and each team brings something worth watching to the table. For Orlando City fans, defender David Brekalo was called up by Slovenia, which was drawn in a group with England, Denmark, and Serbia. I’m looking forward to seeing which underdogs prevail and which players make a name for themselves in this tournament.

2026 World Cup Schedule Revealed

The full schedule for the 2026 World Cup was unveiled, which gives a slight glimpse at the paths each host nation could take in the tournament. If the U.S. wins Group D after matches in Los Angeles and Seattle, it will stay on the West Coast for a knockout game in San Francisco before a potential round of 16 game in Seattle and quarterfinal in Los Angeles. Mexico and Canada have similar incentives to win their groups, as they will then host in their country until heading to the U.S. for the quarterfinals, should they make it that far. Here in Florida, Hard Rock Stadium in Miami will serve as the venue for four group games, a round of 32 match on July 3, a quarterfinal on July 11, and the third-place match on July 18.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando Pride Assistant Coach Yolanda Thomas was announced as a panelist for the Black Soccer Coaches’ summer symposium on July 22. She will also have a field session at the event to discuss the role of the midfield when building out of the back.

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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Lion Links: 6/12/24

Leagues Cup forgets Orlando’s U.S. Open Cup win, USMNT U-23 loses to Japan, NWSL expansion options, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. The USMNT plays tonight in Orlando, and I hope that you have tickets. If not, we can still watch as we wait for the Orlando City and Orlando Pride matches this Saturday. On a personal note, this Friday will mark my ninth anniversary with The Mane Land. It’s been a heck of a ride, and I’m glad you’ve been there with us. Here’s to many more years to come. Let’s get to the links.

Leagues Cup Forgets Orlando’s U.S. Open Cup Win

Orlando City is playing in the Leagues Cup starting at the end of July and here’s a nice guide to Orlando’s group for the tournament. Of course, the Leagues Cup organizers want you to be pumped so that you watch and buy tickets. I think that is something we should do simply to support the club. However, I don’t think they went about promoting the competition in quite the right way. In a tweet that has since been deleted, the tournament’s social media team stated the Leagues Cup would be Orlando’s chance to win its first trophy. Did you catch the mistake? Taylor Twellman did.

Good on you, Taylor. Facundo Torres was indeed brilliant in that match, as was Benji Michel. Of course, there were others that caught the faux pas as well.

I think we should also be mentioning the USL Championships, but what do I know? Evidently, more than the Leagues Cup’s social media team.

USMNT to Honor Pulse Victims

There’s plenty of fake, corporate shows of support for Pride Month , but in general I think that the USMNT and USWNT have done a good job of being legitimate allies to the LGBTQIA+ community. Tonight, the USMNT will play a friendly against Brazil at Camping World Stadium on the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting. The players will be wearing Pride jerseys to honor those who lost their lives so senselessly eight years ago.

In terms of the game, the USMNT will be without Josh Sargent for the match, and Tyler Adams will only get limited minutes if he plays, as both are coming back from injuries. Get well before the Copa America, lads.

Lions on International Duty

The United States U-23 Men’s National Team lost 2-0 to Japan in its final friendly match before the Olympics. Orlando City’s Duncan McGuire found himself on a bit of an island up top as the U.S. had difficulty moving the ball through the midfield. Hopefully, the U.S. got such play out of its system heading into the Olympics.

OCB’s Wilfredo Rivera made the most of his time playing in Puerto Rico’s World Cup qualifier against Anguilla, scoring a brace in the 8-0 victory. This win comes after a scoreless draw with El Salvador last week and Puerto Rico’s remaining group games during this round of qualifying will be next June.

Exploring NWSL Expansion Options

The NWSL will be expanding to 16 teams in 2026 with many cities vying for the next franchise. The leaders include Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Minneapolis. Atlanta, Denver, and Jacksonville are potential choices as well. If it was to be given to either Atlanta or Jacksonville they would be regional rivals for the Orlando Pride. The league is expected to make a decision by the fourth quarter of 2024.

Free Kicks

  • Congratulations to the U-15 United States Women’s National Team, which won 4-0 over Germany.
  • Did you ever have one of those dreams that was a little scary, but also absolutely hilarious? This preview of Inter Miami’s new mascot is a bit like that. To misquote Jaws: “Ever seen an Inter Miami mascot’s eyes, Chief? He’s got lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eyes.”
  • The Cayman Islands Men’s National Football Team forfeited its match against Cuba because many of its players are on visas in the United States. If those players were to travel to Cuba, the U.S. may have canceled those visas due to travel restrictions.
  • This is one of the most ridiculous no-calls I’ve ever seen. India got royally hosed.

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the Orlando City and Orlando Pride matches this Saturday night. Vamos Orlando!

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