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Lion Links: 5/13/18



Happy Sunday, Mane Landers, but more importantly Happy Mother’s Day! I hope that everyone enjoys their Mother’s Day in whatever fashion you most prefer. As for my family, we’ll be having a cookout: burgers, franks, and steaks. I’ve gone overboard in this year’s gift to my mom for the holiday, but I won’t spoil it here in case she’s reading (if you are, hi Mom, love you).

Mothers are the hardest working human beings on the planet, and they don’t get the credit they’re due. Make sure you remind yours that you love and appreciate her. It’s a happy day to celebrate, so do so no matter what. Also, we here at The Mane Land also want to wish a very special birthday to fan favorite and overall beloved teammate Scott Sutter, who turns 32 years young today! Happy birfday, Mr. Sutter. We love you and the positivity that you bring to the squad!

Oh, and the Lions host Atlanta United in Orlando City Stadium.

What a day…we’ll keep this one trimmed to ensure you can get back to enjoying your family and preparing for what’s destined to be a fantastic match. Here’s your Sunday serving of Links, Mane Landers.

Orlando Pride Score Early and Hold Off Portland Thorns, 2-1

In a match that saw the Thorns dominate ball possession and shots, the Pride held on to their early lead and saw the match through, winning three important points in the process and beating the Thorns for the first time ever. Alex Morgan was on target early, scoring in the 11th minute. Christine Nairn followed suit just minutes later, ripping a beauty from distance to grab one of her own (see below) and give the Pride an early 2-0 lead. That score line wouldn’t last long, however, as Portland’s Christine Sinclair netted in the 23rd minute to keep the Thorns in the match. Ultimately, the ladies in purple successfully fended off the late barrage from the Thorns, and rightfully earned the full three points.

Head Coach Jason Kreis Buys Orlando’s Mothers Purple Roses

The Lions’ gaffer made the admirable decision to purchase 1,000 purple roses to be handed out to mothers as they enter Orlando City Stadium for the weekend’s clash against powerhouse rival Atlanta United. The gesture, both generous and heartfelt, shows a side of the Lions’ coach that the supporters don’t often get to see. He stated, “Anybody that’s got a mother or anybody that’s married to a mother, it’s always a special day and it gives us an opportunity to recognize them in a very public forum.” Ultimately, it was a classy move by an ascending celebrity in the city of Orlando. Cheers, Jason, and cheers to all of the Orlando mothers (and any, anywhere, for that matter).

Lions’ Supporters Make Saturday’s Training Session Something Special

With an exciting clash with rival side Atlanta United on the horizon, members of Orlando City’s supporter’s groups, The Ruckus and the Iron Lion Firm, turned out in numbers to cheer on their boys in purple in their final team training session before the match. The atmosphere was something else as 45 supporters showed up to chant the team’s beloved tunes. The move was a nice gesture from the fans that attended, and serves as a reminder of how much the team means to the community. The feeling is mutual as well, as star winger Justin Meram said, “They want a high standard. They express their opinions. I think it’s a great thing that they understand the game and want everyone to succeed and do well.”

Toffees’ Gaffer Sam Allardyce Provides Update on Rooney Transfer Saga

It appears that Everton manager Sam Allardyce isn’t opposed to seeing Wayne Rooney leave the club amid heated interest from MLS side D.C. United. When asked about the potential move, the manager stated,

“If the player wants to go – if any player wants to leave – then I’m comfortable with that. But let’s get this right: Wayne Rooney has not asked to leave and neither has he had a confrontation with me,” Allardyce said. “My understanding of the situation is there seems to have been some negotiation somewhere along the line. I don’t get involved in anything with regards to transfers so all I know is there appears to be interest from DC United. Where that lies and where Wayne lies with it I can’t tell you at the moment. But in terms of clarity of whether Wayne is staying or leaving, I’ll find out a little more later when he comes into training.”

It’s looking increasingly possible that we’ll see the English legend plying his trade in MLS, and I can’t wait to see how the players will stack up around him. Despite his age, Rooney still holds world class potential in his ability and leadership, and could prove to be the foundation of a future title-contender. The move to some pundits, of course, will scream of the cliched “retirement league” mantra that some believe MLS has become, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The truth is Rooney is still plenty capable as a top class striker for a top European side. Regardless of the critics, I can’t wait to see this one.

Free Kicks

  • The SIMA Aguilas, a USL PDL team that features several Orlando City academy products, opened their 2018 regular season last night at Montverde Academy and played to a scoreless draw against Weston FC.
  • The fellas over at polled a pod of eight of the writers and editors on which match today will be the one they’re looking forward to the most. Spoiler alert: five of the eight picked Orlando City-Atlanta.
  • If you’re looking ahead to next weekend’s opponents, Orlando City plays at Toronto FC. The Reds will be without Giovinco after he was sent off late in last night’s match at New England for hands to the face.

  • San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski is now officially the player with the most goals with a single club in MLS history. Congrats, Wondo.

  • Jose Mourinho’s longtime assistant, Rui Faria, is set to step down from his role with Manchester United in order to spend quality time with his family before pursuing the next step in his professional career. Mourinho stated, “17 years and the kid is now a man. The intelligent student is now a football expert, ready for a successful career as a manager.”
  • Matt Reed over at did a write-up on who he views as the best and worst valued players in MLS based on their current contract.
  • Congratulations are in order to the 2002 Boys Black Team and their coaches for winning the Greater Central Florida Youth Soccer League Third Division Championship!

  • A report has recently stated that Brazilian superstar Neymar told his teammates that he will not return to PSG following the World Cup in Russia this summer amid interest from several of Europe’s top clubs. I’m not sure what’s going on with this one, all I know is there’s going to be a lot of money moving between some bank accounts.
  • Meanwhile, Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is back on track in terms of his ankle’s health, and he’s expected to be available and selected for the upcoming Champion’s League final against Liverpool.
  • Former Lion and current Whitecap Jose Aja scored his first career MLS goal Friday against the Houston Dynamo.

“Well, that’s about all that’s fit to print,” Mane Landers (that’s something my mom says when she’s ready to get off of the phone with me). Enjoy your family on this wonderful Mother’s Day, and then revel in what will go down as an epic clash between two of the south’s hottest footballing clans. I can’t wait, Mane Landers, it’ll be a good one.

Before I sign off, I’ll leave you with my score prediction: 3-2 Orlando.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/21/24

Facundo Torres earns praise, Orlando Pride play the Utah Royals tonight, FC Cincinnati linked with Weston McKennie, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! This weekend is what soccer fans dream of, with NWSL, MLS, Copa America, and Euro 2024 matches to enjoy. The Orlando Pride are in action tonight, Orlando City plays Saturday, and the U.S. begins its Copa America campaign on Sunday. But first, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter!

Facundo Torres Makes MLS Team of the Matchday Bench

Orlando forward Facundo Torres earned a spot on the bench of the MLS Team of the Matchday after providing a goal and an assist in Orlando’s 2-2 draw against Charlotte FC. Both contributions were crucial to Orlando getting a point on the road. It was only Torres’ third goal of the season, so hopefully this gets him going. If the Lions are to claw their way up the Eastern Conference table, they’ll need more performances like this from their talisman.

Orlando Pride Host the Utah Royals Tonight

The Orlando Pride will aim to get back in the win column tonight when they take on the Utah Royals at home. The last time these two teams squared off was on April 12, with Orlando winning 1-0 in the first of eight straight victories for the Pride. Another match with the Royals could be just what the doctor ordered for an Orlando side that’s been held to draws in its past two matches. While Utah is having a difficult season and sits last in the league standings, it did get its first road win on Sunday against Bay FC.

FC Cincinnati Reportedly Wants Weston McKennie

American midfielder Weston McKennie could be coming to the U.S., as FC Cincinnati has reportedly made an offer to sign him from Juventus. Cincinnati is willing to spend up to $15 million to bring McKennie on as a Designated Player. The 25-year-old has one year left on his contract with Juventus, but he’s likely leaving the Italian club this summer if reports are to be believed. McKennie was part of FC Dallas’ academy, but never actually played in an MLS game before heading to Europe.

Spain Wins to Advance in Euro 2024

Spain booked its spot in the knockout stage of Euro 2024 after beating Italy 1-0 in a match that didn’t quite live up to its billing. It does set up for an intriguing matchup between Italy and Croatia on Monday, though. England and Denmark traded first-half goals but neither team could find a winner in a 1-1 draw. In the other Group C match, Orlando City defender David Brekalo came on as a late substitute in Slovenia’s 1-1 draw against Serbia.

As for today’s slate of games, Slovakia will face off against Ukraine, Poland plays Austria, and France takes on the Netherlands. We’ll see if Kylian Mbappe will play after breaking his nose in France’s opening match.

Latest FIFA Rankings Unveiled

Despite losing 5-1 to Colombia in a friendly, the U.S. didn’t drop enough points to be unseated from 11th in the latest FIFA rankings. The U.S. remains the highest-ranked Concacaf nation, and Mexico dropped to 15th after losing to both Uruguay and Brazil in friendlies. Argentina is still at the top of the rankings, while Brazil leapfrogged England for fourth place. The rankings usually don’t matter all too much, but they are used to determine pots for the World Cup. With Euro 2024 and Copa America going on, things could shake up a bit for some of the world’s best teams.

Free Kicks

  • Peter Musa was named MLS Player of the Matchday for his hat trick in FC Dallas’ 5-3 win against Minnesota United. It was the Croatian striker’s first hat trick since he joined Dallas this past off-season, and he now has eight goals this season.
  • Now with Cruz Azul, former Atlanta United forward Georgios Giakoumakis took some parting shots at MLS in regards to how losses are OK compared to Liga MX. I find it a pretty oblivious thing to say considering Atlanta fired its head coach a day after losing to Charlotte FC earlier this month.
  • Steve Cooper, who was sacked by Nottingham Forest six months ago, was hired as Leicester City’s new manager.
  • Of the 47 goals scored so far in Euro 2024, five have been own goals and only Germany’s Jamal Musiala has scored more than once. None of the goals have been scored from the penalty spot as well.
  • Burnley is reportedly in talks with Ruud van Nistelrooy to be the club’s next manager after Vincent Kompany’s departure.

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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/20/24

Orlando City draws against Charlotte FC, Wilfredo Rivera joins first team, Ally Watt speaks on Black Women’s Player Collective, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B / Mark Thor

How’s it going, Mane Landers? Last night’s Orlando City match featured plenty of ups and downs, but it was a pretty exciting way to spend a Wednesday night. Hopefully the Cardiac Cats weren’t too hard on your heart. Before we dive into today’s links, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride defender Celia!

Orlando City Draws Against Charlotte FC

The Lions went on the road for a match against Charlotte FC and earned a point with a 2-2 draw. Matches between the two teams are usually close affairs and this one was no different, as neither team did enough to claim victory. One one hand, equalizing twice on the road against a stingy defense isn’t the worst outcome for Orlando. On the other hand, Charlotte played most of the match a man down and a win was definitely in the cards for the Lions. Hopefully Orlando can break this five-game winless streak when it hosts the Chicago Fire on Saturday.

Wilfredo Rivera Available for the First Team

Orlando City B midfielder Wilfredo Rivera is with the first team this week after signing a short-term agreement with Orlando City. He was an unused substitute in Wednesday’s match in Charlotte and will be available for selection in Orlando’s match against the Chicago Fire on Saturday. The 20-year-old signed a similar agreement in March of this year, but has yet to make his MLS debut. Rivera came off the bench in OCB’s match against Chattanooga FC on Thursday and scored a brace earlier this month while on international duty with Puerto Rico. The signing was necessary as Ramiro Enrique is on an excused absence for a personal matter.

Ally Watt Discusses Black Women’s Player Collective

Orlando Pride forward Ally Watt talked about her role as the team’s representative for the Black Women’s Player Collective, which is a non-profit organization created by Black players in the NWSL. Watt spoke on how the collective allows her and other players to provide opportunities for young girls that they didn’t have. One such initiative is the creation of mini-pitches to give more safe and equitable spaces for Black girls to play soccer.

Copa America is Upon Us

This year’s Copa America, which will pit the top 16 nations in the Western Hemisphere against each other, kicks off tonight. Here’s a great guide to each team’s notable players and chances to win the tournament. Orlando City goalkeeper Pedro Gallese was noted as the star to watch on Peru’s squad. He has his work cut out for him though in a group that includes Argentina, Canada, and Ecuador. As for the U.S., Christian Pulisic and Giovanni Reyna are key players for the team’s aspirations at a deep run.

Chuck Booth over at CBS Sports also ranked each team heading into the tournament, placing the U.S. fifth on the list. Argentina tops the rankings, and I was a bit surprised to see Brazil in fourth. Peru is last, but hopefully Gallese and Wilder Cartagena can help prove the doubters wrong.

Germany Advances in Euro 2024

Germany followed up its opening win against Scotland with a 2-0 win over Hungary to become the first team to clinch a spot in the knockout round of Euro 2024. In the other Group A matchup, Switzerland and Scotland battled to a 1-1 draw that included a great goal from Xherdan Shaqiri after a bad giveaway by Scotland.

It looked like Albania was headed towards another frustrating loss after giving up the lead in the second half, but a late strike by Klaus Gjasula salvaged a 2-2 draw against Croatia. Today’s slate of matches features a showdown between Spain and Italy, along with Denmark’s clash with England. We also may get to see Orlando City center back David Brekalo take the field in Slovenia’s match against Serbia.

Free Kicks

  • Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Ryan Gauld won MLS Goal of the Matchday for his strike in stoppage time against the New England Revolution.
  • FC Cincinnati’s Luca Orellano scored one of the best goals of the season with a pinpoint strike from downtown.
  • NJ/NY Gotham FC extended its unbeaten streak to nine games, with rookie Maycee Ball scoring a late winner to beat the San Diego Wave 2-1.

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

Lion Links: 6/19/24

Orlando City needs to score, Duncan McGuire in demand, Orlando City B match postponed, and more.



Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

Happy Juneteenth, Mane Landers. It is a day to celebrate the end of chattel slavery in the United States and the progress of the Black community in this country. There is always more work to be done, but celebrating the progress to date is worthwhile. Today is also a match day for Orlando City, but for now let’s get to the links.

Scoring Goals is Important

Former Orlando City gaffer Adrian Heath is known for saying that goals change games. Orlando City has not scored many goals this season, making it hard for the club to change games and get results. Head Coach Oscar Pareja is taking the positives from the last match, but he will need to turn things around in Orlando’s attack if he’s to snap the club’s four-game winless streak. The first opportunity is tonight against Charlotte FC.

Competition Grows for Duncan McGuire’s Services

Following the Blackburn Rovers debacle in the last transfer window, we know that Duncan McGuire has interest in moving abroad. If not for incompetence on Blackburn’s part he would already be in Europe. The other interested party in that saga was Sheffield Wednesday, a club that is reportedly still interested in signing the young striker. Now, the English club may have some competition from Torino in Serie A, with other Serie A clubs interested as well. Hopefully, Orlando City will be able to secure McGuire’s services, though I expect he wants to go abroad.

Tonight’s Orlando City B Match Postponed

Orlando City B was set to take on New York City FC II today, but the match has been postponed. The new date and kickoff time have not yet been announced.

It’s not the first time this game’s date has been changed, as it was originally set for June 29 when the season’s schedule was announced. The Young Lions may not be complaining much about not having to play on the road on relatively short rest. As it stands, OCB’s next match will now be against Atlanta United 2 on June 26.

Hines Remembers Match After Pulse Shooting

It’s been a week since the eighth anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub tragedy. Yesterday, it was eight years since Orlando City played the San Jose Earthquakes in the first Orlando City match following the shooting. Orlando Pride Head Coach Seb Hines was a starting center back for the Lions in that match. He remembers the emotions of that day. Hines spoke on how it felt to get up for a match, but also taking time in the 49th minute to honor the 49 people whose lives were taken away too soon. He still has the rainbow sweatbands from that match that he was wearing when he scored a header for Orlando City. Hines remembers the good and the bad, and so should we.

Upgrading the NWSL Match Experience

NWSL clubs are trying to improve the matchday experience for their fans. That looks different everywhere, but at Inter&Co Stadium that experience includes local food vendors as a part of the “Orlando Made” initiative by Orlando City and the Orlando Pride. Of course, great food will only get attendance to a certain level. The real crowd pleaser is winning, and the Pride have been doing a lot of that so far this season.

Free Kicks

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the match tonight. As always, Vamos Orlando!

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