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Lion Links: 6/23/18



Happy double match day, everyone! The Lions finally return home and look for revenge against the Montreal Impact tonight at 7:30 p.m. Hopefully the lads in purple can give Bobby Murphy his first MLS victory. Meanwhile, the Pride visit the Maryland SoccerPlex tonight at 7 p.m. to face the Washington Spirit.

But what about the time between now and then? How will you fill it? Well, you can go down and start tailgating soon but before then, let’s get caught up with what’s going on.

O’Neill is O’fficially O’fficial

What we mentioned on Thursday afternoon has become official, as Orlando City has announced the signing of center back Shane O’Neill to a three-and-a-half year-deal with club options. The 24-year-old former Colorado Rapids Homegrown Player should fill a much-needed depth role on Orlando’s back line for some time to come, and could possibly grow into a starting caliber defender down the road after learning from the likes of Jonathan Spector and Lamine Sané.

We are pleased to add Shane to our roster,” Orlando City SC general manager Niki Budalic said. “He is an athletic defender who is competitive and hungry to succeed. Shane’s experience in MLS and Europe in addition to various U.S. national teams will be valuable as we head into the second half of the season.”

Murphy: Players Bought in to Shape Change

The Lions came out in a 3-4-3 on Wednesday against D.C. United and it surprised a lot of fans. But Murphy said his decision to change the shape wasn’t unilateral. The interim gaffer talked to his players in advance to gauge their reaction to the change.

“It’s not something I went into just on my own,” Murphy said. “I think if you’re going to change things, you have to have buy-in. I’m a big believer of buy-in versus compliance. If it was something they weren’t comfortable with or didn’t feel good in, then it’s not something we would have done. The players were happy and I think it’s always important to have a ‘Plan B.’”

For the most part, I thought the change went well. We’ll find out tonight if Murphy sticks with it or tries something else against the Montreal Impact.

Orlando City U-18/19 Team Finishes Group Play

The young Lions completed group stage play at the U.S. Soccer Development Academy playoffs on Friday, defeating BW Gotschee, 1-0, on a goal by A.J. Seals. Orlando City finished the group stage with a 1-1-1 record and four points, finishing behind Real Salt Lake (2-0-1, 7 points) and Baltimore Armour (1-0-2, 5 points). It was a competitive group, with one goal separating RSL and OCSC in the opener. Baltimore Armour drew both MLS sides and beat BW Gotschee, which went 0-3-0 in the round robin. The top three teams could hardly have been more evenly matched but Real Salt Lake will move on to the knockout rounds.

I, for one, appreciate the pun, academy Twitter folks.

The U-16/17 side will face Barca Academy today at 4 p.m. A win for the baby Lions would leapfrog them to the top of Group H and into the knockout rounds. Barca can clinch the group with a draw or better. Elsewhere, the U-15 side beat down Internationals, 5-2.

Former Lion Talks About Career-Ending Injury

Sean St. Ledger, a former Orlando City center back, discussed with The Times the knee injury that cut his career short and what that experience was like for him.

“When I was 18 or 20 the older pros were saying to me, ‘It’s not a long career. You need to plan ahead’,” he says. “So obviously I didn’t listen to that. I thought it would last forever but it went so quick. For the majority of the time you’re having the time of your life, getting paid to do something you’d do for free. I never saw the end coming — not until I went back out to train after surgery and my knee would just swell up.

“It really hit me that I’m really struggling. ‘What if it doesn’t get any better?’ The surgeon told me that that might be it. There was no other surgery that could be done. ‘Wow, what am I going to do now?’ It’s difficult to prepare for that. When you spend your whole life — I started playing for Peterborough at nine — it’s such a difficult transition, it’s not easy to get your head around it. You can’t blame anyone who finds the transition difficult.”

St. Ledger has his coaching B license and is working on getting his A license. So it looks like a career on the sidelines may be in the cards for the ex-Lion.

Montreal Impact Waive Marco Donadel

When the Impact take the field tonight at Orlando City Stadium, a veteran face will be missing. The Quebecois club waived veteran midfielder Marco Donadel on Friday. The Italian has been an integral part of the Impact the past few seasons, but had made only two appearances in 2018 under Remi Garde. The 35-year-old scored three goals and added 10 assists for Montreal in 67 MLS games (61 starts) and produced three assists in eight MLS playoff matches.

Free Kicks

  • The Washington Spirit will be without Mallory Pugh tonight (and possibly without Rose Lavelle), but Orlando Pride gaffer Tom Sermanni says there are no easy games in the NWSL. And he’s right!
  • Don’t forget that tonight is a Pride in Our City match to honor and remember the victims of the Pulse nightclub shootings and to support vital community organizations.
  • USMNT defender Eric Lichaj has signed with Hull City, moving over from another Championship side, Nottingham Forest.
  • Those born on this date include “Bow-Tie Bill” Torrey (1934), the man who was architect of four New York Islanders Stanley Cup teams and helped build the Florida Panthers. Bill died last month and it’s a shame. I spent some time with the Panthers’ front office and Bill was a legend but he treated everyone like they were important. Others born on this day include Academy Award-winner Frances McDormand (1957), writer/filmmaker Joss Whedon (1964), French football legend Zinedine Zidane (1972), former NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira (1976), Jason Mraz (1977), football’s LaDainian Tomlinson (1979), and The Big Bang Theory’s Melissa Rauch (1980).

That’s all I’ve got for you today, folks. Get yourself a device to watch the Pride match on while you’re at the stadium cheering on the Lions tonight! We’ll have full coverage of both matches, though due to the nature of them both occurring at the same time, it’ll be…well…interesting.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 10/3/23

Facundo Torres named to MLS Team of the Matchday, Orlando Pride beat Angel City FC, MLS midweek matchday preview, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It’s been a mixed bag for Orlando soccer over the last few days. Orlando City breezed past CF Montreal on Saturday, the Orlando Pride won to boost its playoff push, and Orlando City B dropped a heartbreaker to Columbus Crew 2 in the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs. As usual, there’s plenty to talk over this morning, so let’s get started.

Facundo Torres Makes Team of the Matchday

Facundo Torres has been named to the latest edition of the MLS Team of the Matchday following his efforts in Orlando City’s 3-0 win over CF Montreal on Saturday. Facu forced the own goal that opened the scoring, was involved in the buildup for the second tally, and bagged the final goal of the night himself. Beyond the stats, he was simply involved the whole game, constantly drifting into dangerous areas inside the fullbacks and causing Montreal’s defense all sorts of problems. He now has 13 goals and four assists in league play this year and is absolutely vital to the way the Lions want to play when in the attacking third. Marcus Mitchell rightly gave him Man of the Match honors in our player grades, and it’s nice to see him get recognition at the national level too. Here’s hoping he keeps it up.

Orlando Pride Win On the Road

The Orlando Pride beat Angel City FC 1-0 in a massive win on the road. It wasn’t a perfect performance, but the Pride scored in the first half and held on to win their ninth game of the season and remain in the playoff hunt. Following the win, Orlando sits in seventh in the league standings with two games to go. The Pride now control their own destiny and will clinch a spot in the postseason with wins against Racing Louisville and the Houston Dash to close out the season. Things remain incredibly tight in the standings, but the result made the Kansas City Current the first team to be eliminated from playoff contention this season.

Looking Ahead to Pivotal MLS Midweek Games

There are a number of big games taking place tomorrow during the 36th matchday of this MLS season. Obviously, Orlando City’s game against Nashville SC takes priority around these parts, as the Lions need a result against a team that’s given them fits if they want to maintain second place in the Eastern Conference. Another game with big ramifications for OCSC is the Philadelphia Union’s home game against Atlanta United. A victory for Philadelphia could see the Union draw level with the Lions if Orlando can’t get a result on the road, so that’ll be one to watch very closely. Finally, the New England Revolution are facing the Columbus Crew. A win for the Revs could see them leapfrog the Lions into second depending on how Orlando fares in the Music City, so there’s plenty at stake during tomorrow’s midweek slate.

Andre Blake Criticizes Heavy Matchload

If you play in Major League Soccer these days, you’re going to be putting a lot of miles on your legs. A sharp uptick in the number of matches played, combined with rosters that aren’t exactly in the deep end of the pool, means that guys are logging some serious minutes. Union goalkeeper Andre Blake was not shy in criticizing MLS for the number of matches that teams are playing this year. He has called the situation “ridiculous”, saying that the players are suffering and that the quality of the league will decrease as a result of injuries due to the overloaded schedules. Blake has an excellent point, particularly because many of the league’s top players will also play international fixtures in addition to club games, further adding onto an already untenable workload.

Free Kicks

  • Marta, Adriana, and Rafaelle have all been called up for Brazil’s upcoming friendlies.

That’s all I have for you today. Y’all stay safe out there!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 10/2/23

Orlando City’s trophy aspirations, the Orlando Pride playoff hunt, OCB falls to Columbus Crew 2, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers! Though I’m still reveling in the huge win over CF Montreal, I’m also looking ahead to a big week for both Orlando City and the Orlando Pride. It’s such a great time of the year with MLS and NWSL matches, plus the European leagues, and American football. So much to watch, so little sleep to be had. Let’s get to the links.

Lions Looking for Hardware

Orlando City set a record for wins and points in a season with the win over CF Montreal on Saturday night. Hopefully it’s a record that will be extended over the final three matches of the regular season. The coaches and the players certainly think that Orlando City has an opportunity to win the MLS Cup. Where the Lions finish in the standings will go a long way towards reaching the final and that all starts Wednesday night.

The Pride’s Playoff Push

The Orlando Pride continue their push to make the NWSL playoffs for the first time since the 2017 season with a trip across the country to take on Angel City FC later tonight. It is the first of two away matches this week — the last road games of the regular season. The Pride sit just above Angel City in the standings with the clubs in seventh and eighth places, respectively. The game will be Marta’s 100th match over all competitions. Securing three points over Angel City would make a big difference in the Pride’s race to the playoffs. Keep an eye out for our preview later today.

OCB Penalized Out of the Playoffs

On The Mane Land PawedCast, we often describe Orlando City B matches as being “drunk.” OCB’s 2-1 playoff loss to Columbus Crew 2 will definitely be described as such. There were three red cards, two penalties, and Jack Lynn didn’t score a goal for once. There were some questionable calls by both the refs and by OCB Head Coach Martin Perelman, but conceding only from the penalty spot while outscoring the hosts in the run of play won’t (and shouldn’t) sit well with the Young Lions. While the result is disappointing, one should remember that OCB is a development squad, and one that made the playoffs to boot.

USMNT Players in Action Abroad

USMNT players made some noise this weekend. Christian Pulisic played 82 minutes and scored AC Milan’s winning goal in the club’s 2-0 victory over Lazio. It was one of two shots on target for the American. Striker Folarin Balogun missed not one, but two penalty shots in Monaco’s match against Marseille. Fortunately, Balogun scored an equalizer in the run of play and his teammate secured the 3-2 win. The win moves Monaco to the top of Ligue 1.

Over in the Eredivisie, Malik Tillman got his first start for PSV. Tillman provided an assist and scored the game winner late in second-half stoppage time to give PSV a 3-1 win over FC Volendam. It was a Man of the Match performance by the American. In less good news, Tyler Adams will miss more time with AFC Bournemouth as he has had a setback with his hamstring injury. How long he will be out is still to be determined.

Free Kicks

That will do it for today. It’s a busy week coming up with Pride matches tonight and on Friday, and the Lions playing on Wednesday and Saturday. Check back for all of our coverage of your favorite teams. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/30/23

City’s home unbeaten run, Lions hunting for home field advantage, Facundo Torres loves scoring goals, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Welcome to the weekend, Mane Landers. The Lions are closing out the month of September at home tonight with CF Montréal. On Sunday, OCB takes on Crew 2, while the Orlando Pride have a late match against Angel City on Monday. I never hate this time of year, when it seems like at any moment we can turn on the TV and catch a match, whether it be Orlando-based or afar. I’m here for it.

Before we head into the links today, let’s take a moment to wish our Brazilian midfielder and master of the late match dark arts, Felipe, a happy birthday!

Orlando City Go Streaking at Home

After a disappointing 1-1 draw against Inter Miami, Orlando City is powering towards the playoffs. The Lions will take on CF Montréal at Exploria Stadium tonight at 7:30 p.m. The Lions enter the match riding an impressive 10-game unbeaten home streak in league play. On the other side of the ball, CF Montréal has gone five straight games without a win and sits eighth in the East battling hard to stay above the playoff line. Orlando City sits on the cusp of a record points total, with 51 currently tied for the best in club history. A win or draw against tonight’s Canadian opposition would make this the best MLS season in its ninth campaign since joining MLS in 2015.

“Obviously, the last game was a great effort from the team and, you know, you’re disappointed to not take the three points at the end and only be able to take the draw,” Orlando forward Martin Ojeda said.  “I think we’re gonna give that little bit extra in these last four games and continue pushing to try and put ourselves in second place or as high as we possibly can.”

Orlando City Hunts for Home Field Advantage

With just four games left in the season, two points separate Orlando City’s second-place position with the New England, which is currently in sixth. The close gap could pivot the upper half of the Eastern Conference table with a combination of different results across the league. While the Lions have clinched a playoff spot, they have yet to fully secure postseason home field advantage. All season the club’s preparation has led up to this crucial moment where a knockout round mentality can push them forward in locking down a playoff match in Exploria Stadium.

“We have pushed for two-and-a-half, three months towards us achieving these objectives and putting the team in the best place we can,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said. “Now we are in that spot, but we have to sustain it or even go higher. And knowing that in the playoffs, we need to be optimized to be sharp and advance.

Facundo Torres Keeps Scoring

With 12 goals and four assists, Uruguayan Designated Player Facundo Torres is having himself a great season heading into Matchday 35. As it stands, Torres sits tied for fourth in MLS goals and tied for third on the club in assists. If you need a hype video to get you pumped for the match tonight, take a look at this highlight reel showcasing the winger’s prowess in front of the net.

Orlando Pride Travel to Angel City

On Monday night, the Orlando Pride will kick off at 10 p.m. against Angel City at BMO Stadium. Orlando currently sits in seventh place, just a point behind the playoff line. This will be the second meeting between the two sides. In their first fixture, Angel City walked away the victors at Exploria Stadium in April with a 2-1 scoreline. An Angel City first-half goal by forward Claire Emslie was countered early in the second half by Pride forward Messiah Bright. However, it was the visiting team with the last laugh as Angel City forward Katie Johnson scored a last-gasp header at the death in the 10th minute of stoppage time to earn all three points.

Free Kicks

  • The Orlando City match day media team had quite the time trolling Inter Miami fans at Exploria Stadium.
  • Orlando Pride staff put in the extra work this week improving the team’s training facility.
  • The United States Men’s Deaf National Team earned a 1-0 win against England in the Round of 16 at the 2023 DIFA Men’s World Deaf Football Championships.
  • You can take as many steps as you want when walking up to strike a penalty, but the more you take, the worse you look when you fail at scoring. Just ask Neymar.

That’s all I have for you today. Enjoy the match at home tonight. Show up early and be loud. Every point counts this late in the game. Vamos Orlando!

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