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Lion Links: 5/20/18



Happy Sunday, Mane Landers. A tough road loss in Toronto on Friday night seemed to set the tone for a bleak weekend here in the Central Florida area, and the weather surely didn’t help. But every team has peaks and valleys, and quite frankly, this isn’t much of a valley.

The Lions are still in an advantageous position on the MLS Eastern Conference table, and the more and more experience the boys in purple gain with each other in real-time match scenarios, the better. There’s a lot to be optimistic about with this squad, and I hope our audience here shares that sentiment.

The Pride, too, give us much to be excited about, with a home clash against the undefeated North Caroline Courage coming up Wednesday. A win in that match would be massive, and I can’t wait to tune in for the action.

Other than that, it’s been a pretty slow weekend, folks. But here’s your Sunday serving of Lion Links. Enjoy.

A Win Against the Chicago Fire Critical for the Lions

Orlando’s loss was, well how do you put it…deflating. Losses against teams that are surely going to be in the playoff race deep into the season have been upsetting to say the least, and the Lions must do everything possible to ensure they don’t fall into a slump (as they did around this time last season). The players are well aware of the foreboding possibility of a slump, too.

“We have to be mentally very strong,” said midfielder Cristian Higuita after Orlando City’s match against TFC. “We have a great team and I felt like today, for the first time in four seasons that I’ve been here, we were superior to Toronto here at BMO Field. Unfortunately, they won, but I think that we showed we’re a very mentally strong team. I think we’re going to be able to prevent [another slump].”

The loss sets up what some are calling a must-win match against the Chicago Fire in Orlando City Stadium next week. Regardless,’s Jordan Culver does a great job breaking down some key factors in what the Lions do successfully.

Philadelphia Union Players Wear Names of Fallen Heroes at Training

The Union partnered with the Tragedy Assistance Program For Survivors (TAPS) for an event that was held on Friday ahead of Military Appreciation Night, which was recognized at the Real Salt Lake match last night. The decision to partner with TAPS was a heartfelt move that emphasized the Union’s’desire to remain close to the local community, famous for its military roots. The Union’s players, typically outfitted in normal training gear, were provided specially crafted kits that were branded with the names of fallen soldiers on the back of them. The event also allowed victims of the fallen heroes the opportunity to share their stories of their loved ones with some of the athletes that they admire on match days.

“To see the Union players wearing their loved one’s name on the back of their jersey and just saying their name out loud and recognizing their loss and wanting to honor that is just beyond words, it’s so special for these families,” said Megan O’Keefe, TAPS entertainment and sports coordinator in a video released by the team. “Not that this is filling a void but it’s really giving them a new person to connect with and share their loved one’s story,” O’Keefe said.

NYRB Goalkeeper Luis Robles’ Ironman Streak Set to End

Luis Robles, arguably one of the best MLS goalkeepers of all time, will finally miss a match due to a knee injury. The keeper hasn’t missed a match in 183 straight, going the full 90 minutes in every single one of them. The legend started his first match near the end of the 2012 season, and there was simply no looking back. He seized the spot in between the sticks, and he quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with, posting 65 clean sheets through all competitions. Andrew Vazzano over at put together a handy little stat counter that emphasizes just how incredible Robles’ ironman streak was, and he also provides a more in-depth view of the streak ending, and even gets a quick word in with Robles himself. The streak ending is significant for the New York Red Bulls, who travel to face a streaking Atlanta team tonight. Ryan Meara will be the man to replace Robles on the evening. We’re rootin’ for ya, Ryan.

Timothy Weah Handed First-Ever Senior Team Start at PSG

Weah, the son of legendary striker and current Liberian President George Weah, was handed the first start of his senior team career for PSG as they traveled to Caen in the final Ligue 1 match of the season yesterday. The result on the day was a 0-0 draw, but Weah seeing out the full 90 minutes at striker (despite picking up a booking in the ninth minute) is significant and has two major implications. The first is that he’s now viewed as a talent that can break into the starting 11 of an elite European side, and that his ascendancy in exposure and stardom should surely follow suit. The second, which correlates directly with the first, is that the U.S. Men’s National Team may now have the young, budding stars it has lacked — and, most importantly, they’re being trained properly by some of the top clubs in the world. Ultimately, seeing Weah find success could prove vital to the development of the national team, the popularity of the sport in our country, and the future of our own national youth development. Plus, just imagine a fully-developed Weah, Cristian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Tyler Adams walking out for the Stars and Stripes together.

Gianluigi Buffon Ends His 17-Year Playing Career with Juventus

The legend’s final match for the The Old Lady couldn’t have gone any better, either. Earning his 301st clean sheet for the club, Buffon was substituted off after an hour of play with tears in his eyes, his teammates at his side, and the entire stadium in complete adulation. The supporters showed their love for their club legend by displaying banners and adoring gifts as he mingled with his fans, and Buffon returned the favor as he took a lap to honor the fans in attendance at his substitution. He ended the day by winning his ninth Serie A title. Nobody truly knows what’s next for the 40-year-old; rumors are that he’s been offered a playing deal with France’s PSG, while others say that he’s been offered an influential role within Juventus’ highest offices. Regardless, the man is a legend, and if his playing days are over I’ll personally be selfishly depressed that he’s no longer making incredible saves on my television.

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  • Everyone’s favorite Italian enigma, Mr. Mario Balotelli, has been called up to the Italian national team for the first time since the 2014 World Cup. Personally, I can’t wait to see him don the famous blue kit again. His former gaffer during their time at Manchester City, Roberto Mancini, is the one who gave him the call.
  • ESPN FC put together an excellent presentation that highlights Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta’s impactful career.

  • Chelsea downed Manchester United, 1-0, to win the FA Cup final.
  • Portuguese legend and Real Madrid star striker Cristiano Ronaldo has officially struck 450 times for Real Madrid. That’s just for Real Madrid. Sheesh.

All right, folks. That’s about all I’ve got for you today. Before I go, I want to leave you with a clip of who I think will one day become the greatest football manager of all time. That’s one hell of a bold statement, but I’ll stand by it to my grave. Fergie, José, Pep…you fellas better watch out for this kid:

Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/30/24

Orlando City draws on the road, Duncan McGuire called up, Grace Chanda will reportedly sign with the Orlando Pride, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

For those of you who watched Orlando City’s game Wednesday night, I hope the universe repays you with good fortune in some way today. The week rolls on though, as we get ready for more Orlando soccer this weekend, along with international friendlies around the world to enjoy. For now though, let’s get to the links!

Orlando City Draws Against the Chicago Fire

The Lions went on the road and had to settle for a 1-1 draw against the Chicago Fire. Neither goal was anything to write home about in a match that was highlighted by sloppy play and yet another controversial refereeing decision the Lions had to deal with. A draw on the road while on short rest generally isn’t the worst result in the world, but it was a poor performance from the Lions. They’ll aim to get back in the winning column this Saturday when they travel to play the New York Red Bulls.

Duncan McGuire Called Up For Training Camp

Orlando City forward Duncan McGuire was one of 25 players called up for the United States Men’s Olympic Soccer Team’s training camp ahead of a friendly with Japan on June 11. McGuire has earned his spot on the team during a solid second season with the Lions that has included five goals. Columbus Crew goalkeeper Patrick Schulte, Koln forward Damion Downs, and LA Galaxy defender Jalen Neal are a few of the other notable players called up. Nashville SC center back Walker Zimmerman is the only player over 23 that was called up for this camp.

Grace Chanda Will Reportedly Join the Pride

An agreement was reportedly reached between the Orlando Pride and Zambian attacker Grace Chanda for her to join the club on a deal through 2025, with an option for 2026 as well. It would be a free transfer, but she would not join the Pride until after the Olympics. Chanda was named to the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations Best XI and was also on the shortlist for the 2022 Best CAF Women’s Player of the Year Award. The 26-year-old did not play in last year’s World Cup due to an illness, but has come off the bench in Madrid CFF’s past two games. The Pride are having a historic year and Chanda should help them push for a title if she does end up joining her international teammate, Barbra Banda.

Getting to Know Emily Sams

Pride defender Emily Sams is the latest player to field questions as part of the club’s video series for fans to learn more about the players. Sams spoke about the disappointment in how the team’s season ended last year after missing out on the playoffs on a goal differential tiebreaker. She also talked about the team’s aspiration to not only make the playoffs but contend for a title this year. It’s her second season with the Pride and she’s been a key reason why Orlando has done so well so far. Sams discussed what the team’s atmosphere is like, as well as how she likes to spend time outdoors exploring Orlando’s many lakes when not on the field.

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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: 5/29/24

Orlando City faces the Chicago Fire tonight, Kaká to be honored, Pride linked to Grace Chanda, and more.



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.



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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