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Lion Links: 7/22/18

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Happy Sunday, Mane Landers. We’ve got a lot on the docket today, so I say we just jump right in. You ready? Let’s do this.

Here’s your Sunday helping of Lion Links! Bon appetite.

Orlando City Done in at Columbus by Late Penalty, Rocket

The Lions fell 3-2 in Columbus after being just moments away from victory. Leading 2-1, Orlando City fell victim to a late penalty call that seemed softer than anything you’d see on a toilet paper commercial. The resulting tying goal from the spot gave the Crew a boost and Wil Trapp’s laser shot from 30 yards out in stoppage ripped out what was left of Orlando City fans’ hearts.

Check back later this morning for Dave Rohe’s five takeaways from the match. Spoiler: it might contain something about officiating decisions.

The Pride Draw the Reign Yet Again, 1-1

In what’s become a draw-fest over the years, the Orlando Pride and Seattle Reign played to their fifth consecutive draw in a 1-1 match at Orlando City Stadium yesterday afternoon. A few notable stars from both sides, namely the Pride’s Alex Morgan and Reign’s Megan Rapinoe, were not in attendance as they’ve been called up to the U.S. Women’s National Team to represent their country in the upcoming Tournament of Nations. Toni Pressley put the Pride ahead early in the first half, but a second-half surge from the Reign was imminent, and you could sense that a goal for the Reign would just be a matter of when, and not if. Jodie Taylor proved to be the difference maker, and it was her 70th-minute goal that stole a point for the Reign on the road. The fight for second place in the NWSL standings will come down to the wire with only a few fixtures left to play. Here’s a few words from Pressley, the only Pride player to find the back of the net on the day:

Pride Spotlight: Dani Weatherholt

I’m not sure there’s a better teammate than Dani Weatherholt. In this excellent write-up from OrlandoCitySC.com’s (and former TML writer) Meg Van Dyk, fans gain insight into not only the type of player Weatherholt is, but also the type of person she is off the field. Drafted in the fourth round of the 2016 NWSL Draft out of Santa Clara University, Weatherholt was largely a mystery to Tom Sermanni and his staff, but they took a chance on the young midfielder anyway, and boy has it paid off. Weatherholt herself even explains how much it meant to her that the club would put their faith and valuable draft pick on her name.

“For him to believe in me before I even got here was big,” Weatherholt said. “Being a fourth-round draft pick, they never held that against me. I was able to prove myself just like everyone else and make the team.”

And Weatherholt has certainly brought much more than just talent to the pitch for the Pride. Her determination and work rate is second to none on the the squad, something she says she displays to inspire her teammates.

“I try to bring a work rate that inspires others to work harder, both on and off the pitch,” Weatherholt said. “I think that is what people respect about me and it allows me to have that connection with my teammates, to push them and encourage them.”

The Pride are lucky to have Weatherholt, and she’s proven crucial to this season’s push for a playoff appearance. She’s the ideal teammate, and all of the young men and women out there playing should take note of how she conducts herself both on and off the field. I mean, who else would stay back after playing 90 minutes for 47 additional minutes just to greet each fan individually, signing autographs and taking countless pictures in the process?

SIMA Bounced from USL PDL Playoffs

The SIMA Aguilas fell 2-1 in the Southern Conference final last night in extra time to The Villages SC. The two Central Florida clubs met and couldn’t decide the match in 90 minutes, with each side finding the net once. The Villages scored in the 105th minute through Alvaro Macias Raimundo, and held on from there to advance to the national semifinals. Leonardo Novaes scored for SIMA. Congratulations to the Buffalo. The Villages seemed pretty amped about the win.

The Pursuit of Alphonso Davies

With reports abound that Davies has been targeted by the German powerhouse Bayern Munich, speculation has been rising that the move is concrete and just a matter of time before made official. Davies was given permission from his current club, the Vancouver Whitecaps, to sit out yesterday’s match against the Seattle Sounders (and that attack sure did miss him). It’s been rumored that Bayern has offered $12 million for Davies’ services, and I think we’ll be seeing an official announcement in the coming days.

International Champions Cup Update

Bayern Munich started off on the right foot in their pursuit of the International Champions Cup by beating Paris Saint-Germain, 3-1. Despite the poor result for the Parisians, fans of the U.S. Men’s National Team are swooning over a beautiful goal from Tim Weah. Weah’s pace was on full display as a chipped through ball, won by Kevin Rimane off of an errant Bayern pass, found its way into the goal courtesy of Weah’s right boot. It was certainly an exciting moment for Weah, PSG supporters, and USMNT supporters alike, and can only serve as a springboard for Weah into more meaningful minutes. With that said, his attempted sliding celebration didn’t quite go as planned, but at least he found the humor in it:

Bayern took control of the match in the second half, and goals from Javi Martinez, Renato Sanches, and Joshua Zirkzee sealed a comfortable win. Dortmund also held off Manchester City, thanks to a goal from Mario Götze the day before. American sensation Christian Pulisic has impressed his new head coach, which isn’t the least bit surprising really. Enjoy today’s fixture, which features Dortmund and Liverpool — which is bound to have some flavor since Jürgen Klopp managed Dortmund before darting for an opportunity to manage Liverpool.

Free Kicks

  • The Portland Timbers have withdrawn their protest over the allegation that Los Angeles FC had one too many international players on the match day squad following their defeat in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
  • The Seattle Sounders have followed a strange trend this season with MLS clubs and recent international signings by waiving Norwegian midfielder Magnus Wolff Eikrem, who was signed on Jan. 30.
  • Didier Deschamps has praised Paul Pogba following their country’s triumph at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, specifically highlighting Pogba’s maturity in dealing with the constant media pressure.
  • Speaking of the World Cup, Neymar’s compatriot and teammate, Dani Alves, has come to his friend’s defense following Brazil’s crashing out of the World Cup and meteoric emergence of anti-Neymar memes, mocking the striker’s dramatics displayed in Russia. I love Neymar, but the memes and challenges that were birthed from his theatrics truly are hysterical.

That’s all I’ve got for you today, folks. Be sure to check back in periodically to remain up to date on all things Orlando City and Orlando Pride. And before I go, I just wanted to leave you with this little nostalgic gem, with a little bit of Rex Orange County mixed in. I know, I’m a Rex fanboy. Wanna fight about it?

You’ve got a friend in me, Mane Landers. Have an excellent week, and cheers!

Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/14/24

Orlando City prepares to take on LAFC, Lions linked with Alan Saldivia, Orlando City B draws against Chattanooga FC, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! I’m working for most of this weekend but am still looking forward to the absurd amount of soccer ahead of us. Both Orlando City and the Orlando Pride have games Saturday, and the 2024 Euros should give us some exciting matches from teams we don’t watch all too often. Let’s dive right into today’s links!

Orlando City Prepares for LAFC

The international break is over and Orlando City is back in action Saturday night for a home game against LAFC. It’s been a difficult season for the Lions so far, and they have been shut out in three of their past five games. Points have been hard to come by at home for Orlando and a match against one of the best teams in the Western Conference won’t make that any easier. With David Brekalo at the Euros, Rodrigo Schlegel is expected to start and it would be his 100th MLS appearance. Ramiro Enrique would also make his 50th appearance across all competitions as a Lion should he take the field.

Lions Linked Reportedly Bow Out of Bid to Sign Defender Alan Saldivia

With the MLS summer transfer window looming, a rumor surfaced of Orlando City making an offer to sign Uruguayan center back Alan Saldivia from Colo-Colo in Chile. The Lions reportedly offered $1.5 million for the 22-year-old, but that doesn’t reach the $2.2 million Colo-Colo wants at minimum. The Lions reportedly would not go higher. While center back isn’t exactly a pressing need for the Lions at this time, Saldivia would have given the team a young and talented player who could anchor the defense for years to come.

Orlando City B Drops Points in Disappointing Draw

OCB hosted Chattanooga FC and had to settle for a 2-2 draw after giving up a lead not once, but twice. The Young Lions had Chattanooga on the ropes late in the match, taking the lead just before the end of normal time, only to get punched in the mouth in stoppage time and then lose the penalty shootout. It was the second straight 2-2 draw at home for the Young Lions and they’re still on the hunt for their first win this month. OCB’s next game will be on the road against New York City FC II on Wednesday.

Getting Ready for the MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs

The MLS NEXT Cup playoffs kick off Saturday as the best teams across four age groups compete in a knockout format. Orlando City’s U-15 squad was recognized as one of the title contenders in its age group and will take on Real Salt Lake in the round of 32 on Saturday . The team also did well in MLS NEXT Flex, and Jakob Garcia, who has scored 18 goals in 21 games, is the kind of attacker who can make all the difference in knockout matches. Orlando’s U-17 team is capable of making a run as well, although it faces a tough first match on Sunday against the Philadelphia Union, which won the 2024 Generation Adidas Cup. It should be a fun tournament, and hopefully Orlando’s teams can advance far enough to be included in the games streamed on MLS Season Pass.

Free Kicks

  • Carl Robinson is back in MLS after Atlanta United hired him as an assistant coach. The 47-year-old played for Toronto FC and the New York Red Bulls to close out his playing career and also served as the head coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps.
  • Chicago Fire Designated Player Xherdan Shaqiri reportedly wants to return to Europe. The 32-year-old has been with the Fire since 2022 but hasn’t lived up to his billing and his contract is set to expire after this season.

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: 6/13/24

Orlando City B hosts Chattanooga FC tonight, USMNT earns draw against Brazil, MLS’ Juneteenth celebrations, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

How’s it going, Mane Landers? Between my cat finally deciding I’m worth hanging out with and reading a pair of books that have been collecting dust on my shelf, I’ve been having a pretty good week. I’m looking forward to the feast of soccer both in Orlando and abroad over the next few days as well. But for now, let’s get this Thursday started with today’s links!

Orlando City B Hosts Chattanooga FC Tonight

In an enticing midweek match tonight at 7 p.m., Orlando City B will take on Chattanooga FC at Osceola Heritage Park. If not heading to watch OCB in person, you can catch the game on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+. The last time these two teams squared off was on May 4, with Chattanooga winning the penalty shootout for an extra point after a 1-1 draw in Tennessee. The Young Lions are coming off of a 2-2 draw with one of the league’s worst teams this season, Carolina Core FC, but winning the shootout after a late rally could give them the kind of momentum needed to take down Chattanooga. Beating one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference would be quite the statement from OCB during what’s been a middling season so far.

USMNT Draws With Brazil in Orlando

Playing in Orlando at Camping World Stadium, the United States Men’s National Team drew 1-1 against Brazil in a friendly billed as the Continental Clasico. Brazil scored first, but Matt Turner and the USMNT didn’t collapse under the pressure and earned the team’s first ever draw against the South American powerhouse. All in all, it was a much better result than the USMNT’s 5-1 loss to Colombia on Saturday. This was the USMNT’s final match until Copa America later this month. The Yanks will start their campaign against Bolivia on June 23 before playing Panama on June 27 and Uruguay on July 1.

MLS Announces Initiatives for Juneteenth

In partnership with Black Players for Change and Adidas, MLS announced some of the ways the league will be celebrating Juneteenth. Pre-match shirts acknowledging the change players can provide will be worn during warm-ups and fans can buy their own shirts as well, with a portion of the proceeds going toward organizations focused on racial equity and social justice. There will also be a campaign highlighting the connection between professional and academy players, as well as educational content across the league’s social media to raise awareness of the holiday.

Euro 2024 Kicks Off on Friday

A loaded gauntlet of summer tournaments finally begins Friday, as Germany hosts Scotland for the first match of Euro 2024. From Cristiano Ronaldo’s potential swan song to a brutal group that includes Spain, Italy, and Croatia, storylines abound for the tournament and each team brings something worth watching to the table. For Orlando City fans, defender David Brekalo was called up by Slovenia, which was drawn in a group with England, Denmark, and Serbia. I’m looking forward to seeing which underdogs prevail and which players make a name for themselves in this tournament.

2026 World Cup Schedule Revealed

The full schedule for the 2026 World Cup was unveiled, which gives a slight glimpse at the paths each host nation could take in the tournament. If the U.S. wins Group D after matches in Los Angeles and Seattle, it will stay on the West Coast for a knockout game in San Francisco before a potential round of 16 game in Seattle and quarterfinal in Los Angeles. Mexico and Canada have similar incentives to win their groups, as they will then host in their country until heading to the U.S. for the quarterfinals, should they make it that far. Here in Florida, Hard Rock Stadium in Miami will serve as the venue for four group games, a round of 32 match on July 3, a quarterfinal on July 11, and the third-place match on July 18.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando Pride Assistant Coach Yolanda Thomas was announced as a panelist for the Black Soccer Coaches’ summer symposium on July 22. She will also have a field session at the event to discuss the role of the midfield when building out of the back.

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: 6/12/24

Leagues Cup forgets Orlando’s U.S. Open Cup win, USMNT U-23 loses to Japan, NWSL expansion options, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. The USMNT plays tonight in Orlando, and I hope that you have tickets. If not, we can still watch as we wait for the Orlando City and Orlando Pride matches this Saturday. On a personal note, this Friday will mark my ninth anniversary with The Mane Land. It’s been a heck of a ride, and I’m glad you’ve been there with us. Here’s to many more years to come. Let’s get to the links.

Leagues Cup Forgets Orlando’s U.S. Open Cup Win

Orlando City is playing in the Leagues Cup starting at the end of July and here’s a nice guide to Orlando’s group for the tournament. Of course, the Leagues Cup organizers want you to be pumped so that you watch and buy tickets. I think that is something we should do simply to support the club. However, I don’t think they went about promoting the competition in quite the right way. In a tweet that has since been deleted, the tournament’s social media team stated the Leagues Cup would be Orlando’s chance to win its first trophy. Did you catch the mistake? Taylor Twellman did.

Good on you, Taylor. Facundo Torres was indeed brilliant in that match, as was Benji Michel. Of course, there were others that caught the faux pas as well.

I think we should also be mentioning the USL Championships, but what do I know? Evidently, more than the Leagues Cup’s social media team.

USMNT to Honor Pulse Victims

There’s plenty of fake, corporate shows of support for Pride Month , but in general I think that the USMNT and USWNT have done a good job of being legitimate allies to the LGBTQIA+ community. Tonight, the USMNT will play a friendly against Brazil at Camping World Stadium on the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting. The players will be wearing Pride jerseys to honor those who lost their lives so senselessly eight years ago.

In terms of the game, the USMNT will be without Josh Sargent for the match, and Tyler Adams will only get limited minutes if he plays, as both are coming back from injuries. Get well before the Copa America, lads.

Lions on International Duty

The United States U-23 Men’s National Team lost 2-0 to Japan in its final friendly match before the Olympics. Orlando City’s Duncan McGuire found himself on a bit of an island up top as the U.S. had difficulty moving the ball through the midfield. Hopefully, the U.S. got such play out of its system heading into the Olympics.

OCB’s Wilfredo Rivera made the most of his time playing in Puerto Rico’s World Cup qualifier against Anguilla, scoring a brace in the 8-0 victory. This win comes after a scoreless draw with El Salvador last week and Puerto Rico’s remaining group games during this round of qualifying will be next June.

Exploring NWSL Expansion Options

The NWSL will be expanding to 16 teams in 2026 with many cities vying for the next franchise. The leaders include Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Minneapolis. Atlanta, Denver, and Jacksonville are potential choices as well. If it was to be given to either Atlanta or Jacksonville they would be regional rivals for the Orlando Pride. The league is expected to make a decision by the fourth quarter of 2024.

Free Kicks

  • Congratulations to the U-15 United States Women’s National Team, which won 4-0 over Germany.
  • Did you ever have one of those dreams that was a little scary, but also absolutely hilarious? This preview of Inter Miami’s new mascot is a bit like that. To misquote Jaws: “Ever seen an Inter Miami mascot’s eyes, Chief? He’s got lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eyes.”
  • The Cayman Islands Men’s National Football Team forfeited its match against Cuba because many of its players are on visas in the United States. If those players were to travel to Cuba, the U.S. may have canceled those visas due to travel restrictions.
  • This is one of the most ridiculous no-calls I’ve ever seen. India got royally hosed.

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the Orlando City and Orlando Pride matches this Saturday night. Vamos Orlando!

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