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Lion Links: 5/30/18



Greetings, Mane Landers! At this point hopefully you've recovered from your holiday hangover and you’ve realized that you only have three more days (or fewer) of work until another weekend!

We have a ton of news on this Wednesday morning. Both U.S. national teams have named new rosters, on which you’ll see some familiar faces. MLS has announced another expansion club for 2019. There’s also news on Jonathan Spector and the usual array of free kicks, so let’s dive in!

Spector Finally Cleared for Full Training

It’s been a while since we've seen Orlando City’s rock at center back, and him coming back couldn't be happening at a better time. Jonathan Spector is back in full training with the team after an extended absence due to a concussion.

It’s been since April 8 that we saw Spector out on the field, so he’ll be working back into match fitness but should hopefully be available in the coming weeks. The Lions need him, as the center back position has taken some serious hits with Amro Tarek out for World Cup duty and Lamine Sané and Chris Schuler sustaining injuries.

As for additional updates:

Meram Sends Message to Iraqi MLS Fan

This story is why I love sports so much. Mustafa Abed is of Iraqi decent and is a huge soccer fan. He's been unfortunate, needing a lot of medical attention after being caught in missile strikes.

Orlando City forward Justin Meram heard of the story and prepared a heart-warming message and surprise for the boy.

Three Pride Players Called in for National Team Duty

The U.S. Women’s National Team roster has been set by Head Coach Jill Ellis for camp ahead of two friendlies vs. China starting June 1. You will see many familiar faces including Alex Morgan and Ashlyn Harris. Additionally, center back Shelina Zadorsky got her own call-up to the Canadian National Team as it prepares for a June 10 friendly against Germany.

While there are no reports on the Canadian camp yet, we do know that U.S. players are supposed to be reporting this Friday, June 1, in advance of the Pride’s match against the Seattle Reign on Sunday. This means Orlando will go without both players as it battles another potential playoff team. If there's any consolation, the Reign will also be without two national team players as Megan Rapinoe and Allie Long will both be at camp as well.

I wrote this week about the issues that come with these call-ups. The idea of a national team camp in the heart of the season for friendlies seems a bit odd when it appears that it could have been avoided.

FourFourTwo’s Jeff Kassouf just wrote a fantastic article on the process of how Ellis and BJ Snow are managing player identification and selection, and I highly recommend taking the time.

Rachel Hill Taking Advantage in Whatever Role Given

I speak for many of us at The Mane Land when I say we are big fans of Rachel Hill and have been a bit shocked at her usage this season. While it was in a younger league, she came back from the Australian W-League this summer on a tear after garnering six assists and ranking third in the league with nine goals.

She’s been utilized as both a starter and super sub and got her third goal of the season in the onslaught 5-2 victory over Chicago this weekend. She’s taking her usage in stride though, as the second-year player is a part of an experienced attacking unit.

“I mean, everyone likes to play as much as they can so obviously I’d prefer starting,” Hill said with a smile. “Whatever’s given to me, I’ll take it. Whether I come off the bench or get the start, either way, doesn’t matter. Whatever my role is, I’ll take it and I’ll do the best I can.”

Here’s hoping for continued success and some more starts for Hill, who will be key this weekend with the absence of Alex Morgan.

Vote for Pride Players in Weekly Awards ; Dash Star Wins Player of the Week

Ashlyn Harris is up for NWSL Save of the Week and Sydney Leroux is up for Goal of the Week. Follow those links to cast your votes ASAP!

Also, Houston Dash Forward and English international Rachel Daly was named NWSL Player of the Week for her brace vs. the Washington Spirit.

USMNT Makes Roster Changes for Upcoming Friendlies

As expected, interim Head Coach Dave Sarachan made a fair amount changes in preparation of the U.S. Men’s National Team friendlies against Ireland and France. With tougher competition on deck, a few more veterans were added to the roster, which should help a team that still is carrying an average age of just over 23.

Seven total players departed while 10 were brought in for the trip. Notable departures include Christian Pulisic (a break that was well needed for him, I might add), Alex Bono, and Walker Zimmerman. The players added include veteran USMNT players DeAndre Yedlin and Bobby Wood. But there is plenty of youth here as well, and we’ll get Kenny Saief back in the side, as well as New York Red Bulls Tyler Adams and Tim Parker, as well as Luca de la Torre, a standout with the U-20s who plays for Fulham.

Cincinnati Officially Approved to Join MLS in 2019

MLS has found its 26th club, as it announced Tuesday that FC Cincinnati will join the league in 2019. In a statement, MLS Commissioner Don Garber noted:

“Major League Soccer is proud to introduce Cincinnati as our 26th team,” said Garber. “The rise of Cincinnati as a passionate soccer market in recent years, coinciding with the city’s growing economy and reputation as a top destination for young professionals makes it an ideal city for our growing league.”

It is not really a huge surprise as Cincinnati was considered a finalist in the recent expansion bids. The announcement of Miami had some worried but the club, which had been fantastic from a local support standpoint, finally got its invitation.

Interestingly, while Cincinnati was announced as the 26th club, it will actually enter in as the 24th. Nashville and Miami, which were announced in December and January, respectively, are both slated to join the league in 2020. This is a huge advantage for FC Cincinnati as it won't have to share assets in the expansion process, i.e. allocation spots, draft picks, expansion draft, etc.

Free Kicks

And I leave you with some interesting music news. If I told you a notable soccer TV personality was about to release an album, how long would it take you to get to this individual?

Not gonna lie. I’ll give it at least one listen on Spotify. Why the hell not?

Lion Links

Lion Links: 3/1/24

Orlando’s girls teams playing in national event this weekend, USWNT will face Colombia, Paul Pogba banned for four years, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to March! It always feels like a good sign when a month starts on a Friday. Spring may not officially be here, but it definitely feels like winter is truly behind us. I plan on getting plenty of spring cleaning done this weekend before a fairly busy month. Let’s get this month started with today’s links!

ECNL Girls National Event Kicks Off Today

Some of the best youth soccer players are coming to Florida this weekend for the Elite Club National League’s spring event at Lakewood Ranch. It’s a great chance for clubs to play teams outside of their conference and there are plenty of scouts to impress as well. Orlando City will have four youth teams take part and each team will play at least three games over the three days. Orlando’s G07 squad has notably won five of its eight games in conference play and will take on Real Colorado National today. Orlando’s squads in the other age groups have some strong opponents lined up as well, so it should be a great experience for the club.

USWNT Will Face Colombia in Concacaf W Gold Cup

After finishing second in its group after a loss to Mexico, the United States Women’s National Team will take on Colombia this Sunday in the Concacaf W Gold Cup quarterfinals. The U.S. and Colombia squared off in friendlies last fall, with the teams playing to a scoreless draw in Utah before the U.S. won 3-0 in San Diego a few days later. Colombia also finished second in its group, conceding just once so far this tournament. The winner of Sunday’s match will play whichever team advances from tomorrow’s game between Canada and Costa Rica. On the other side of the bracket, Orlando Pride players square off when Rafaelle, Adriana, and Brazil play Mariana Larroquette and Argentina tomorrow. The winner of that match will play the victor between Mexico and Paraguay.

Portland Timbers Cut Ties With Jersey Sponsor

The Portland Timbers have dropped DaBella Exteriors as their jersey sponsor amid allegations that the company’s CEO, Donnie McMillan, Jr., sexually harassed employees. The accusations did not become public until Feb. 23 and the Timbers have removed DaBella’s image from their website as well. It makes sense that the Timbers would want to distance themselves from this. There was an investigation by U.S. Soccer in 2022 regarding former Portland Thorns head coach Paul Riley, and the club was also fined by MLS for not reporting an incident of alleged domestic violence involving former Timbers player Andy Polo in a timely manner. DaBella replaced Alaska Airlines as the team’s shirt sponsor for this season and the Timbers will now go without one until a new sponsor is chosen.

Paul Pogba Banned for Four Years

After testing positive for testosterone while playing for Juventus, French midfielder Paul Pogba was banned for the maximum four years by Italy’s anti-doping court. In response to the ruling, Pogba stated that the verdict was “incorrect” and that he will appeal this decision.

“I am sad, shocked and heartbroken that everything I have built in my professional playing career has been taken away from me,” Pogba said. “When I am free of legal restrictions the full story will become clear, but I have never knowingly or deliberately taken any supplements that violate anti-doping regulations.”

It’s fair to wonder just where this news leaves his career if his appeal is denied and he serves the full ban. Pogba turns 31 later this month and he is still under contract with Juventus through 2026, although this ban may obviously change that. Injuries have limited him in recent years as well, as he missed out on the most recent World Cup with France.

Free Kicks

  • Toronto FC signed English midfielder Matty Longstaff to a contract through the 2025 season. Longstaff has previous played for Newcastle United and should help improve a Toronto team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2020.
  • LA Galaxy midfielder Mark Delgado’s second yellow card he received in his team’s opener has been rescinded and he’s eligible for Saturday’s match against the San Jose Earthquakes. Delgado was sent off while the Galaxy were up against Inter Miami, and the Herons then went on to score and leave with a point.
  • The New England Revolution beat Independiente to advance to the Concacaf Champions Cup’s round of 16.
  • Bay FC forward Racheal Kundananji had to exit Zambia’s Olympic qualifier against Ghana due to an injury.
  • The United States Men’s National Team’s next away kit was reportedly leaked and it sure is something. It’s like a Bomb Pop got mixed into the team’s laundry.
  • The USL Super League’s Fort Lauderdale United unveiled its branding and the colors are pretty nice. However, the logo has a bit too much alphabet soup going on for my liking.

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: 2/29/24

Lions reportedly won’t play in U.S. Open Cup, Cavalry FC reflects on its defeat, gauging the USWNT’s panic meter, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Leap Day, Mane Landers! It’s the rarest day of the year, as we all lean into our procrastination a bit and collectively tell March that we’ll get to it tomorrow. It’s been a pretty busy week for me, but knowing the MLS season is in full swing has helped fuel me a bit. Let’s dive into today’s links!

Orlando City Reportedly Won’t Play in 2024 U.S. Open Cup

The latest reports involving Major League Soccer’s participation in this year’s U.S. Open Cup indicate that Orlando City, along with a majority of MLS teams, won’t be playing their first teams in the tournament. According to ESPN‘s Jeff Carlisle, the Houston Dynamo and the seven best teams from last season that aren’t taking part in the Concacaf Champions Cup will have their first teams take part. The format will reportedly be announced soon and we’ll see if Orlando City B and other MLS NEXT Pro teams will be in the tournament.

It will be pretty disappointing if Orlando’s first team doesn’t end up playing. Even though the Lions suffered an early exit last year, they won in 2022 and Head Coach Oscar Pareja has a penchant for excelling in the U.S. Open Cup.

Cavalry FC Reflects on Loss to Orlando City

Although Cavalry FC lost in both legs against Orlando City in its first Concacaf Champions Cup campaign, the Canadian club can hold its head high. Cavalry Head Coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. spoke on the team’s tactics in the second leg in Orlando to overcome the hefty aggregate deficit.

“Strategically, we wanted to frustrate them in the first half with an extra defender, and often at times we were in a back five,” Wheeldon said. “And second half, we wanted to unleash with more attackers and have a go, because it was 0-0. We thought … one, we wanted to make history with our first goal, and two, we wanted to get a result here.”

That first goal did come with Myer Bevan making some history for his team to take back to Canada. All in all, Cavalry did pretty well as the underdog and it’s unfortunate it didn’t get a true home game in Calgary. Cavalry’s defense is the real deal and I doubt this is the last time it makes an appearance in the Champions Cup.

Assessing the Fallout From the USWNT’s Defeat

The United States Women’s National Team suffered a shocking defeat to Mexico earlier this week that’s brought on varying levels of panic. The clock is ticking before the Olympics and the USWNT struggled to bounce back after trailing in the first half and had difficulties on both sides of the ball. While the issues at center back will likely be solved once Naomi Girma and Tierna Davidson play, the midfield has plenty of question marks and a weird balance of youth and experience. It’s an awkward stage for the USWNT, as Emma Hayes doesn’t arrive until May and won’t have much time to get the team ready for Paris. Of course, the USWNT could still win this tournament and the return of Mallory Swanson may heal most wounds this summer, leaving this loss as just a minor blemish when the year is up. Only time will tell and the USWNT has plenty of opportunity to right the ship.

FA Cup Quarterfinals Are Set

It was a pretty wild day in the FA Cup, with some of England’s top teams fighting their way into the quarterfinals. Chelsea needed a late winner from Conor Gallagher to beat Leeds United 3-2 at Stamford Bridge. Manchester United’s match against Nottingham Forest also had a dramatic finish, as United’s Casemiro scored the game’s only goal in the 89th minute. Wolverhampton ousted Brighton thanks to an early goal, and Liverpool got the job done against Southampton.

In the quarterfinals, Newcastle will travel to take on Manchester City, Wolverhampton will host the second division’s Conventry City, Chelsea will take on Leicester City, and Manchester United will face off against Liverpool. All four matches will take place on March 16.

Free Kicks

  • After getting married, Orlando Pride defender Emily Madril will have a new name on the back of her jersey this season.
  • Former Pride midfielder Becky Edwards is an assistant coach at the University of Tennessee and shared details about her time as both a player and coach with the U.S. U-20 team.
  • Enjoy this captured moment of Orlando midfielder Wilder Cartagena being awesome.
  • LAFC forward Mateusz Bogusz’s strike against the Seattle Sounders won the first MLS Goal of the Matchday of the season, claiming 35.4% of the vote.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a pretty great Leap Day and that the rest of the week goes smoothly.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 2/28/24

Orlando City moves on in Champions Cup, Orlando Pride unveil new kits, USMNT to play Brazil in Orlando, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope you all enjoyed watching Orlando City’s win Tuesday night in the Concacaf Champions Cup. I’ve been staying busy at Under Armour, while wrapping up covering high school basketball playoff action with the state championship this weekend. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Orlando City Defeats Cavalry FC in Concacaf Champions Cup

The Lions took care of business on Tuesday, defeating Cavalry FC 3-1 at Inter&Co Stadium to advance 6-1 on aggregate and reach the round of 16 in the Concacaf Champions Cup. Forward Luis Muriel got his first start as a Lion, and there was plenty of rotation from the lineup Head Coach Oscar Pareja used against CF Montreal this past weekend. It was Orlando’s first home win in the continental tournament and the Lions will face Tigres in the next round in a rematch of their series in last year’s Concacaf Champions League. The first match will be in Orlando on Tuesday, with the second leg taking place in Mexico on March 12.

Orlando Pride Unveil New Phoenix and Citrus Kits

The Orlando Pride unveiled two new kits on Tuesday as part of the NWSL’s league-wide kit reset ahead of the upcoming season. The first kit is called the Phoenix kit, which features the Pride’s two recognizable colors, purple and blue. The Phoenix kit also features a two-toned purple gradient that goes from the top right to bottom left on the jersey.

The secondary Citrus Kit is an all new color scheme that pays tribute to Florida’s citrus industry. The Citrus Kit features a new orange and iced-out green color scheme with oranges and leaves, while the letters and numbers have the same green coloring. The socks have “Pride” handwritten on the back, while a stylized “OP” is on the lower end of the jersey.

Both kits will be unveiled during the kit party at the Orlando Regional History Center later today. Fans can purchase replicas of the two new jerseys at, in the Den at Inter&Co Stadium, and on

Philadelphia Union Advance Past Deportivo Saprissa

The Philadelphia Union survived a wild match against Deportivo Saprissa at Subaru Park, securing a 3-3 draw to advance to the next round on aggregate. There were four goals in the first 30 minutes of the match, and Mariano Torres gave Saprissa a needed third goal in the second half to send the game to extra time. Despite playing a man down after defender Jack Elliot was sent off, the Union’s Mikael Uhre scored in extra time and the defense held on to advance. There is more Concacaf Champions League action tonight, as FC Cincinnati takes on Cavalier SC, already up 2-0 on aggregate, while Nashville SC faces Moca FC with a 3-0 aggregate lead. The New England Revolution will host Independiente tomorrow.

USMNT to Play Brazil at Camping World Stadium

The United States Men’s National Team will play Brazil in the second edition of the Continental Clasico on June 12 at Camping World Stadium. Both teams will use this match to test themselves in preparation for the Copa America this summer. This will be the first meeting between these two sides since 2018, when the USMNT lost 2-0 to Brazil in a friendly at MetLife Stadium. In the first edition of the Continental Clasico last April, the USMNT played Mexico in a thrilling 1-1 draw. The USMNT has only beaten Brazil once in 19 matches, but its record in Orlando has been stellar, with a 7-2-0 record in recent years. The 2024 Copa America will kick off on June 20.

Free Kicks

  • The latest MLS power rankings have been released after opening week. Orlando City dropped three places to eighth after a scoreless draw against CF Montreal this past weekend.
  • The Orlando Pride’s Rafaelle started and scored a goal in Brazil’s win against Panama in the Concacaf W Gold Cup. Pride forward Adriana came off the bench for Brazil as well.
  • USMNT captain Tyler Adams is back at training with AFC Bournemouth. Adams has been sidelined since last September with a hamstring injury.

That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Wednesday and I’ll see you next time.

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