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Lion Links: 7/15/18

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Happy World Cup final Sunday, Mane Landers! Cherish these hours, because we won’t have the opportunity to experience the greatest sporting final on the globe for another 1,460 days; that’s 35,040 hours, 2,102,400 minutes, or 126,144,000 seconds respectively. If that isn’t a bit deflating, I don’t know what is.

Yesterday’s third-place match didn’t disappoint, with Belgium’s golden generation triumphing over England, 2-0. As I’ve mentioned previously, this has been the greatest World Cup I’ve ever witnessed, and I’m entirely sure that it has nothing to do with recency bias. I have a feeling that today’s final will live up to the rest of what has been a simply chaotic yet inspiring tournament.

With that said, here’s your Sunday helping of Lion Links. Eat up!

Orlando City Halts Skid with 2-0 Win vs. Toronto FC

Earl Edwards Jr. was named as the man in between the sticks for this home match against a struggling Toronto side, and he sure did give Head Coach James O’Connor something to think about in terms of who his true No. 1 will be going forward. Chris Shuler, of all players, opened the scoring on the night by heading home a deflected Dom Dwyer strike. Dwyer added another of his own just after the break off of a fine strike from just outside the box, beating Toronto FC’s and the USMNT’s young starting goalkeeper, Alex Bono. The Lions held on from there, winning 2-1 and adding much-needed points. Oh, and that godforsaken nine-match losing streak is over. Thank baby Jesus.

Check back later today for our player grades and Man of the Match from Michael Citro and a photo gallery from Deon Cooper.

Orlando Pride Fight Back to Beat Utah Royals

In the final match of the recent road stint for the Orlando Pride, it was the Utah Royals that found the back of the net first, and early, as Amy Rodriguez put the Royals up 1-0 in just the seventh minute with a nicely chipped volley from some good buildup play. Alex Morgan notched one to tie up the match just before the halftime whistle, with a spot kick. Kristen Edmonds scored from an excellent chip in the second half. From there, the Pride seized momentum and grinded out a gritty and much-needed 2-1 win — one that included seven minutes of heart-pounding stoppage time. Three points in the bag, and the women in purple (well, white yesterday) are still in the hunt for a playoff position.

Belgium’s Golden Generation Downs England for Bronze, 2-0

As I mentioned in the introduction, Belgium completed its best run in a World Cup yesterday by beating Gareth Southgate’s young England squad, 2-0, and securing the third-place honors and bronze medals. The match seemed like it could be split wide open after a fourth-minute Thomas Meunier volley from a beautiful cross by Nacer Chadli. It didn’t break wide open though, and instead turned into a standoff of playing styles. The Belgians were clearly ready to absorb England’s attacks and opted to strike on the counter attack — a tactic that proved to be the undoing of the Three Lions. An 82nd-minute strike from Belgian talisman and captain Eden Hazard (more on him later) sealed the deal, and England, despite controlling possession for the majority of the match and impressing during this exciting tournament, go home empty-handed.

Timothy Chandler Wants to Play for His Country Again

Tabbed as one of former USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s dual-national recruits, right back Timothy Chandler, who plays for Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga, is prepared to don the Stars & Stripes again in the future should the opportunity arise. Chandler hasn’t been called up since Klinsmann’s firing, and age 28, he knows his World Cup opportunities are slowly dwindling.

“When they call me up for the national team, I’m there,” he said. “Of course I miss it. … I see all the players go to their national teams, and I want to fly to the States and play for my country. But the coach decides who plays, and I just wait for him to call me.”

Chandler has enjoyed a spectacular season with Frankfurt, which won the German Cup — the club’s first lifting of major silverware in 20 years. He’s also encouraged by the influx of American talent within the ranks of Bundesliga clubs, and views the moves as valuable experience for these young, developing players.

“It’s good for them to come over to Germany, to Europe, to try something different than the States,” he said. “When you go there, you have to live there for some months and get everything better [adjusting off the field], but it’s good to go there, play there, have some time in Europe, learn a lot, and then maybe they can come back to America and finish their careers.”

Free Kicks

  • Congratulations to Orlando Pride defender Ali Krieger for making it to 100 NWLS appearances!

  • It’s a small world, folks.

  • Former Orlando Pride No. 10 Lianne Sanderson has made her move to Juventus official. Congratulations, Lianne!

  • Ever wonder why some clubs use race car seats as their bench? Here’s why.
  • I have no words for this one. Actually, I do. This seems wrong. This seems like a way to get one of your players intentionally injured. That said, I once played on a Sunday League team that won a match 15-0, and we stopped trying to score after the second goal (you can only hold 99% of possession for so long before you have to do something in the final third). I don’t know how I feel about either of the two results, to be honest.


That about wraps it up for me today, folks. Enjoy what is destined to be an exhilarating World Cup final in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium between Croatia and the heavily-favored French side. I’ve been trumpeting France as the winners since our Bearded Guy wrote up The Mane Land’s World Cup predictions.

“I see France taking home the cup. They’re loaded in every single position with world-class talent, and they’ve under-performed for some time now. I think this is the summer they finally put it all together and can forget Zizou’s red card in the 2006 final. As for who I’m rooting for, that’ll be Argentina, Brazil, and Portugal. I’d like to see Neymar, Messi, or Ronaldo lift the cup, and time is running low on the latter two. Quite frankly, I just want consistent quality football.”

I’d be more than happy with a Croatian triumph though, too. If I’m right, hooray! If I’m wrong, hooray!

Have a great week, Mane Landers. And good luck managing your impending World Cup hangover.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/24/24

Orlando City prepares for the Crew, Barbra Banda an NWSL MVP favorite, Orlando Pride announce sleeve sponsor, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! The gauntlet of Orlando soccer home games starts tonight when the Orlando Pride take on the Portland Thorns in a clash of win streaks. I’m working for most of the weekend, but am looking forward to watching some soccer and playing my way through the Ace Attorney games during my spare time. For now though, let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world.

Orlando City Gets Ready to Host the Crew

Orlando City is on a three-game unbeaten run and will take on the Columbus Crew Saturday night in an Eastern Conference showdown. The last time these two sides met was in the 2023 Eastern Conference semifinals with the Crew winning in extra time to eliminate the Lions. It’s the third consecutive road game for the Crew after winning 3-1 against both CF Montreal and the Chicago Fire. Saturday’s match is also the Crew’s last match before the Concacaf Champions Cup final on June 1. Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja spoke on how the Lions will be up to the task regardless of which players take the field for Columbus. Pareja also spoke about how Duncan McGuire is working his way back from the injury he suffered last week.

Barbra Banda Named MVP Frontrunner

ESPN updated its rankings of players in contention to be named NWSL MVP this season and Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda tops the list. The Zambian forward hasn’t been with the Pride for long, but she has scored six goals in six games to help the Pride win seven straight games. Opposing defenses haven’t figured out a way to stop her, and it’s fair to think of her as an MVP favorite alongside fellow attackers in the league like Sophia Smith and Temwa Chawinga. Pride defender Emily Sams also earned herself a spot on the list, ranking 11th. It’s nice to see her get some deserved recognition for her role in the Pride’s stellar defense this year.

Orlando Pride Announce Sleeve Sponsor

A partnership was announced between the Orlando Pride and Heart of Florida United Way, a charity that’s supported families in Central Florida for the past 85 years. As part of the partnership, Heart of Florida United Way will become the first sleeve sponsor for the Pride and its logo will be on the right sleeve of both of the Pride’s jerseys this year. A new ticket program is also being created for 50 tickets to be donated to a local charity for each Pride home game.

Orlando City Unveils Watch Party Schedule

The schedule for this Orlando City season’s watch parties is out, along with the lineup of this year’s included pubs. Each pub will have MLS Season Pass access for fans to watch Orlando’s games this year and there will be chances to win tickets and autographed items at the watch parties as well. There are three new pubs added to the lineup this year, including The Castle Irish Pub at College Park, Paddywagon Irish Pub in Dr. Phillips, and Winter Garden’s Hagan O’Reilly’s. The first watch party will be at The Hammered Lamb in Ivanhoe Village on June 1 when the Lions face off against the New York Red Bulls.

Free Kicks

  • Pride midfielder Evelina Duljan was called up to join Sweden’s U-23 team for the upcoming Four Nations Tournament.
  • NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman became the first woman to be named Sports Business Journal‘s Sports Executive of the Year.

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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/23/24

Orlando Pride prepare for the Portland Thorns, Pride Brazilian trio called up, Atalanta wins Europa League, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this Thursday finds you well as we all get ready for a busy next few days of Orlando soccer to enjoy. It’s been a fairly busy couple of days for me, and I plan on knocking out a few errands before enjoying the upcoming matches. Until then, let’s enjoy today’s links!

Pride Prepare to Host the Portland Thorns

The Orlando Pride have a huge home game against the Portland Thorns tomorrow night. It will be a clash of win streaks, as the Pride have won their past seven games and the Thorns have won their last six. Pride Head Coach Seb Hines is well aware that Portland is a formidable foe with talented players such as Sophia Smith, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Sam Coffey. He spoke on how tomorrow will be a challenge, as well as how playing at home will give the Pride a boost during the game.

Pride Trio Called Up by Brazil

The Pride’s Marta, Rafaelle, and Adriana were all called up for Brazil’s pair of friendlies against Jamaica in Brazil on June 1 and June 4.

These matches will help Brazil prepare for a tough group in the Olympics against Spain, Japan, and Nigeria. Angelina, who featured for Brazil during the SheBelieves Cup, was not called up due to an injury sustained while with the Pride. Although these games will take place during an international break, the Pride do have a road game against the San Diego Wave on June 7, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Hines gives them some rest for that match.

Assessing Emma Hayes’ Time With Chelsea

It felt like forever ago that it was announced Chelsea’s Emma Hayes would leave the club to replace Vlatko Andonovski and coach the USWNT. A great article by ESPN broke down what USWNT fans can learn from her time with Chelsea, including how she’s dealt with the adversity she’s faced both on and off the field. Her impending exit put a spotlight on Chelsea’s season, and she still managed to secure the league title despite the pressure. Chelsea also announced that five members of the coaching staff will leave the club to join Hayes at the USWNT. It’s a new era for the USWNT, and Hayes brings plenty of experience and leadership to the position.

Atalanta Crushes Leverkusen to Win Europa League

Italian club Atalanta lifted the Europa League trophy after a 3-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen in Dublin. The day belonged to Nigerian winger Ademola Lookman, who scored a hat trick that included this stunner that doubled Atalanta’s lead in the first half.

It’s Atalanta’s second trophy in club history, and first in 61 years. It’s also the first trophy for manager Gian Piero Gasperini after coaching in Italy for 30 years. This result snapped Leverkusen’s remarkable unbeaten streak at 51 games, and ended the club’s bid at a treble. Bayer Leverkusen will aim to bounce back Saturday when it plays FC Kaiserslautern in the German Cup final.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City President of Business Operations Jarrod Dillon has issued a challenge to Orlando City fans for the upcoming trio of Orlando soccer home games, so it may be worth your while to get tickets for the Lions, Pride, and OCB this weekend.
  • Pride forward Amanda Allen placed 16th in ESPN‘s rankings of the 17 teenagers currently playing in the National Women’s Soccer League (the author deemed it unfair to assess Milly Clegg without seeing her on the field more). Allen mostly just hasn’t had much playing time, but that could change over the summer.
  • Former Pride player Camille Ashton (known as Cami Levin when she played in the Pride midfield in 2016 and 2017) has resigned as the general manager of the Kansas City Current.

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: 5/22/24

Lions and Pride reflect on victories, Christian Pulisic’s Serie A recognition, the USWNT roster drops, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. I know that a lot of you are Orlando Pride supporters as well as Orlando City supporters, but for those of you who aren’t, you are really missing out. Superstar players, undefeated, top of the table, and this team hasn’t even played up to its potential yet. Seriously, you need to get out to a match if you can. For now, let’s get to the links.

Talking About Orlando City

You can tell Oscar Pareja loves his players. He is the type of coach that nearly always has only good things to say regardless of the result. Of course, when the club gets a win on the road in the third match in eight days, thanks to the fourth striker on the depth chart. Jack Lynn takes a professional approach to being the backup and prepares to play in every match. It’s also nice when he scores a match-winning goal.

So how did the MLSsoccer.com power rankings treat the Lions for the road victory? Orlando City moved up three spots to 19, thanks to earning seven points in the last three matches. That’s better than the ESPN rankings we shared yesterday. ESPN also had the Lions at 19 but dropped them a spot in doing so.

Seb and Sams Speak

The Orlando Pride have a chance this Friday to set an NWSL win streak record in the match against the Portland Thorns, but first Seb Hines, Rafaelle, and Emily Sams reflected on the win against the Seattle Reign. Hines was rightly happy with the result but said he still feels his team has room to improve. I agree with him, despite the Pride being on top of the table and undefeated.

Rafaelle felt the victory showed the team how much mental fortitude the Pride have to be able to secure the road win. She also thinks that being at home with a chance to break the win streak record will make the team work that much harder. Sams reflected on her first NWSL goal but said she just wants to focus on getting three points each match.

Pulisic and Wright Shine

Christian Pulisic’s year keeps getting better. He had such a a good season for AC Milan that he has been named a finalist for Serie A Midfielder of the Year. The other finalists are Inter Milan’s Hakan Calhanoglu and Atalanta’s Teun Koopmeiners. Pulisic has 19 goal contributions in 35 appearances for AC Milan.

The USMNT’s pre-Copa America roster dropped Monday, and it looks like Haji Wright will potentially see some action at winger for Gregg Berhalter. The move provides some needed depth at the position and may give Wright more playing time. Of course, Wright and Pulisic aren’t the only players of interest. You can check out a breakdown of the players called up here.

Hayes’ First USWNT Roster Announced

The Olympics are rapidly approaching and new USWNT Head Coach Emma Hayes has announced the 23-player roster for the final two matches against South Korea before the final Olympic roster is named. There are a mix of veteran and younger players in the group. Notably, there are 19 players who won the SheBelieves Cup back in April. It also sees the return of Rose Lavelle, who missed the SheBelieves Cup due to injury. While not altogether surprising, it is still disappointing on one level for Pride fans that Emily Sams didn’t get a call-up.

Free Kicks

  • Congratulations to Orlando Pride midfielder Ally Lemos on her call-up to the USWNT U-20s for the matches against the Korea Republic.
  • Philadelphia Union keeper Andre Blake has reportedly signed a new longterm contract with the club.
  • The USMNT U-15 squad defeated Japan to take first place in the Vlatko Markovic Tournament. Congratulations to the young Yanks.
  • Bayer Leverkusen will play in two cup finals in four days, starting with today’s Europa League championship against Atalanta. The second final is for the German Cup this Saturday against Kaiserslautern.
  • Mauricio Pochettino and Chelsea have parted ways after only one season. Potchettino’s departure was mutually agreed upon. The coaching carousel continues.
  • Emanuel Reynoso from Minnesota United is reportedly headed to Liga MX side Club Tijuana.

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the matches this weekend. Vamos Orlando!

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