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Lion Links: 8/31/18



What’s up, Mane Landers? It’s hard to believe that August is coming to a close as this year continues to fly by. We have a soccer filled Labor Day weekend ahead of us with the United States Women’s National Team taking on Chile late tonight at 11 p.m. ET and Orlando City taking the field tomorrow against the surging Philadelphia Union at 7:30 p.m. ET. Now, let’s get to the links of everything you may have missed in the world of soccer yesterday.

Orlando City Aims to Thank Fans Through Results

Despite results on the pitch, Orlando City Head Coach James O’Connor remains confident that his team’s morale is high. With captain Jonathan Spector returning from injury and the recently acquired Carlos Ascues joining the team, there are some silver linings for an Orlando side that has only won once since O’Connor took over the team in July. But one of the driving forces for the Lions has been trying to repay fans for supporting them through thick and thin.

“We’ve consistently had tremendous support throughout my time here and even before then,” O’Connor said. “It definitely motivates you and makes you want to work even harder to bring some success to the supporters because you see how much they give and that’s something I’m absolutely determined to do, is to make sure we get the level of success that they deserve.”

Yoshimar Yotún’s Soccer Journey

Arguably Orlando’s best player, midfielder Yoshi Yotún has played all over the world in some of the most prestigious events that the game has to offer. From trying out at a youth academy in Peru as an 8-year-old to playing in the FIFA World Cup this past summer, Yotún has had a long journey spanning different continents before landing here in Orlando. With experience in the UEFA Champions League with Swedish side Malmo FF and securing qualification in the hyper competitive CONMEBOL, Yotún has done more at age 29 than some players do in their entire career.

Spector Vexed by Injuries and Lack of Consistency

Despite a performance in Orlando’s 2-1 loss to Atlanta United a week ago that earned him the lowest grade of all defenders in our player grades, Spector’s return to the field was a positive sign. In his first full game since June 30, Spector played all 90 minutes and was able to shake off some of the rust that accumulated from playing in only nine of the Lions’ 25 games. Besides dealing with concussions and a nagging hamstring injury, Spector has been frustrated on the sidelines from being unable to establish stability in a rotating back line that desperately needs a pillar.

“I think, as a player, the worst part of being a professional athlete is injuries and not being able to do what you love,” Spector said. “For me, that’s been really frustrating, not being able to help the time when I potentially could have in some difficult moments.”

USWNT Convenes for Chilean Friendlies

With the 2018 Concacaf Women’s Championship right around the corner in October, the USWNT has a month before it needs to qualify for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Between now and then, the team will be in California for two friendlies against a Chilean squad it has never faced before. Familiar faces return to the team at a crucial time, with the likes of Rose Lavelle, Tobin Heath, and Kelley O’Hara all together as the team works to become a cohesive unit. While Orlando fans will certainly be watching how Orlando Pride players Alex Morgan and Ashlyn Harris fit into Head Coach Jill Ellis’ plans, some attention in these upcoming friendlies will be on getting a glimpse of the promising future of the team.

UEFA Champions League Draw Revealed

This year’s UEFA Championship League draw is over, with the 32 best teams in Europe set to play in what promises to be a great group stage. Barcelona, Tottenham, PSG, and Liverpool all have their work cut out for them with tough groups, while teams like Manchester City and Bayern Munich will have little trouble reaching the knockout legs. As for you Christian Pulisic fans out there, he and Borussia Dortmund were drawn into a group with Atletico Madrid, Monaco, and Club Brugge of Belgium.

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  • Luka Modric has been named UEFA Men’s Player of the Year after a great performance in the FIFA World Cup that saw him bring home the Golden Ball from the tournament. Also, Pernille Harder won UEFA Women’s Player of the Year. In a collective 34 games in her domestic league with Wolfsburg, the UEFA Women’s Champions League, and 2019 FIFA World Cup qualifying, the Danish forward had an incredible 30 goals. Congratulations to Luka and Pernille!
  • The Lions have a tough opponent tomorrow as the Union come to town. Philadelphia has been soaring lately, in large part due to forward C.J. Sapong getting shifted out wide. Hopefully Orlando’s fullbacks can keep him in check.
  • Sporting Kansas City forward Diego Rubio will miss the game with Orlando City next week after being called up by the Chilean National Team. Fellow forwards Daniel Salloi and Johnny Russel were also called up to their international teams and miss the match. Those three are SKC’s leading goal scorers with 22 of the team’s 47 goals this season. The Lions will be without Yotún, Mohamed El-Munir, and Amro Tarek.
  • While in California for the friendlies, Alex Morgan and Kelly O’Hara visited the StubHub Center garden to pick carrots and chase some chickens.

  • As the USWNT gears up for its first of two friendlies with Chile tonight, here are a few things you may not have known about the South American squad.
  • Former Lion Cyle Larin was called up to the Canadian National Team for the upcoming Concacaf Nations League qualifiers. He will be returning to Florida ahead of Canada’s first match on Sept. 9 against the U.S. Virgin Islands in Bradenton.
  • As for the UEFA Nations League, here is a great guide to how the new competition will spice up European soccer.
  • USMNT defender Geoff Cameron nears a move to join Queens Park Rangers.
  • We end our links with this story involving the new sport of Quidditch at the University of Central Florida. I only mention it because apparently, the UCF team took on a few Orlando Pride players in a game. Unfortunately, there is no footage of them in action, but if you pause the video below around the two-minute mark you should see the Pride’s Dani Weatherholt, Kristen Edmonds, Haley Kopmeyer, and Christine Nairn with the team. Plus it’s a cool video about the sport that I thought was silly but is kind of interesting.

That’s all I’ve got for you today. Make sure to check back in with us for more Orlando City and Orlando Pride coverage. Have a great Friday!

Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/16/24

Nico Lodeiro earns recognition, Marta up for Goal of the Week, MLS stock watch, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I hope you had a good weekend and got your taxes filed correctly and on time. It was a good weekend for Orlando soccer, as the Orlando Pride, Orlando City B, and Orlando City went undefeated and picked up seven of the nine points on offer. As always, we have a lot to talk through today. Before we get into today’s links, let’s all wish Luis Muriel a happy birthday!

Nico Lodeiro Makes Team of the Matchday Bench

Midfielder Nico Lodeiro has earned recognition for his part in Orlando City’s 3-2 win over D.C. United, making the bench of the latest edition MLS Team of the Matchday. The Uruguayan entered the fray in the 72nd minute and helped OCSC come back and take all three points. He took the corner kick that David Brekalo equalized from, (even though he was not initially credited with the assist) and provided an outstanding through ball for Duncan McGuire’s game-winner. Sean Rollins graded him a 6.5/10 and named him Man of the Match in his player grades as well. Here’s hoping he keeps up the good work!

Marta’s Goal Nominated

Marta’s game-winning strike during Friday’s contest against Utah Royals FC has been nominated for NWSL Goal of the Week. On the road and in the game as a substitute, it didn’t take long for the Brazilian to make her mark on the match. She was barely on the field for five minutes when she met a ball that was rolling across the box with a first-time strike that she powered in off the back post. It proved to be the game’s only goal and was enough to give the Pride their first win of the season. Make sure you vote for her to win this week’s honor!

MLS Stock Watch

The fortunes of Major League Soccer teams are in constant flux, and it’s always nice to keep track of how your enemies are doing. Former Lion Sacha Kljestan weighed in on which clubs’ stock went up and which went down after the weekend’s games. We start on a good note, as a resilient performance from Orlando City saw the good guys pick up their second win of the season. The LA Galaxy hammered the Vancouver Whitecaps by a score of 3-1, and proved that their place atop the Western Conference standings is no fluke. On the other side of the coin, Toronto FC has given up 10 goals in its last three matches, and Jon Herdman needs to find a way to keep things from getting worse until the Reds’ group of injured players can return to the field.

Americans in Midweek Action

There are two big matches featuring American players this week, so get them marked down on your calendar and don’t miss any of the action. Thursday sees Christian Pulisic, Yunus Musah, and AC Milan travel to the Italian capital to try to overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit to Roma in the Europa League quarterfinals. Musah started Sunday’s match against Sassuolo and Pulisic subbed on in the second half as Milan clawed its way back to a 3-3 draw. Friday then has Juventus and Weston McKennie traveling to Cagliari for a Serie A tilt. Juve is currently third in the league and needs to keep picking up results to secure a UEFA Champions League place for next season.

UEFA Champions League Preview

Speaking of the Champions League, the quarterfinals wrap up today and tomorrow and there are a number of storylines to keep an eye on. Luis Enrique is strong in his belief that Paris Saint-Germain can overcome a 3-2 loss in the first leg to advance past Barcelona. Xavi has promised that Barca will look to attack rather than sitting and protecting its lead. Elsewhere, Bayern Munich will be without the suspended Alphonso Davies and likely Kingsley Coman due to injury, and their replacements will be hard pressed to contain Ben White and Bukayo Saka. Finally, Edin Terzic’s substitutions gave Borussia Dortmund a spark in the team’s 2-1 loss to Atletico Madrid in the first leg, which means the coach may have a selection headache on his hands as he tries to lead his side to a comeback.

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That’ll do it for me this morning. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/15/24

Lions beat D.C. United, Pride pick up road win over Utah Royals, Barbra Banda arrives in Orlando, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. Orlando City and the Pride both won over the weekend, and there has been plenty of action in European soccer. Over the past week, I’ve been busy covering high school sports like lacrosse and softball. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Lions Top D.C. United

Orlando City overturned a late 2-1 deficit to win 3-2 against D.C. United at Audi Field over the weekend. David Brekalo scored the equalizer in the second half to tie the match at 2-2. Duncan McGuire came off the bench in the second half and scored in stoppage time, as the Lions beat D.C. United for the first time since Oct. 2, 2021. The Lions were 0-3-1 against D.C. United over the last two seasons prior to Saturday’s win. Orlando has now picked up points in each of the last three matches. Orlando City will be on the road again this weekend when it takes on CF Montreal on Saturday.

Orlando Pride Defeat Utah Royals; Help Arrives

The Orlando Pride got their first win of the 2024 NWSL last Friday with a 1-0 against the Utah Royals. Marta came off the bench in the second half and scored the lone goal to seal the win for Orlando. The Pride drew each of their first three matches to start the season against Racing Louisville, Angel City FC, and the Chicago Red Stars. Friday’s result means the Pride have six points through four league matches and are fifth in the NWSL table.

Despite needing four matches to pick up their first win of the year, the Pride are ahead of last year’s pace at the same point in the season, and remain undefeated (1-0-3) despite still waiting to play with this off-season’s marquee signing, Zambian international striker Barbra Banda. The new Pride forward arrived on Sunday to a warm welcome at Orlando International Airport.

It will be interesting to see how quickly Seb Hines can get Banda acclimated to the club and the league. Orlando could use Banda’s offensive firepower, as the club has struggled to score goals in the early part of the season. The Pride will be back in action against the San Diego Wave this Friday.

Bayer Leverkusen wins Bundesliga; Manchester City Leads EPL Title Race

Bayer Leverkusen cruised to a 5-0 win against Werder Bremen on Sunday to win its first ever Bundesliga title with five league matches left to spare. Xabi Alonso’s side won the league title by a 16-point margin, ending Bayern Munich’s 11-year run as title holders. Leverkusen is also unbeaten through 43 matches across all competitions. Meanwhile, in England, we have a new Premier League title race leader as Manchester City crushed Luton Town 5-1 on Saturday. On Sunday, Arsenal lost 2-0 to Aston Villa and Liverpool lost 1-0 to Crystal Palace. There are six match days remaining and this race could go down to the wire. Manchester City is at the top of the table with 73 points, while Arsenal and Liverpool remain two points behind in second and third, respectively, with 71 points.

Free Kicks

  • Houston Dash winger Maria Sanchez has reportedly requested a trade four months after signing a record-breaking deal in NWSL history in the off-season to remain with the club.
  • Manchester United edged Chelsea 2-1 to beat the Blues for the first time ever. Making the win even bigger was that it took place in the Women’s FA Cup semifinal. United will play Tottenham in the final at Wembley on May 12.
  • The EFL Championship is three weeks away from its finale, with a few clubs featureing Americans still in the mix for promotion. Josh Sargent’s Norwich City side holds the final playoff spot, while Haji Wright’s Conventry and Duane Holmes’ Preston North End in the hunt for a shot at promotion.
  • The AS Roma versus Udinese match was suspended after defender Evan Ndicka collapsed away from play and had to be stretchered off. The game was tied at 1-1 with about 20 minutes remaining when Ndicka went down. The club shared this update on social media.

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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/12/24

Orlando Pride play in Utah tonight, Orlando City B earns a point, Europa League quarterfinals begin, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Happy Friday! I hope this week has gone smoothly for you as we gear up for even more Orlando soccer tonight and tomorrow. It should be a nice next few days, even if I’m working for most of it. I don’t have many plans outside of work beyond bonding with my cat and trying a new stuffed bread recipe. Let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world!

Orlando Pride Play the Utah Royals Tonight

The Orlando Pride are on the road tonight for a showdown with the Utah Royals at 9:30 p.m., and you can catch the game on NWSL+ or through Bally Sports if you’re local. Although the Royals are an expansion team this year, the Pride last squared off against the previous Royals back in 2019, with Orlando losing all three games to Utah that season. This season, the Pride are riding a three-game unbeaten streak. However, they are also still on the hunt for their first win after three consecutive draws. While the offense awaits the arrival of Zambian striker Barbra Banda, the Pride have managed to score off of a set piece in each of their three games so far. While a draw on the road wouldn’t be awful by any means, hopefully the Pride can get a solid tally in the win column tonight.

Orlando City B Draws Philadelphia Union II

OCB went on the road to take on Philadelphia Union II and earned a single point after a 1-1 draw and penalty shootout. The two teams traded goals in the first half, but the Young Lions were on the back foot for most of the second half. While Orlando’s offense sputtered, the defense survived chance after chance from Philadelphia to send the game to a shootout. Orlando lost the lengthy shootout, 7-6, claiming just one point, but at least the Young Lions didn’t leave Pennsylvania empty handed. Hopefully OCB can return to its winning ways when it faces off with Crown Legacy FC on April 19.

New York City FC Stadium Plans Finally Approved

Plans to build a soccer-specific stadium in Queens for new grounds for New York City FC were approved by New York City officials. It will be a $780 million stadium expected to open in 2027 and serves as the centerpiece of a redevelopment project in the neighborhood. The 25,000-seat stadium will be right next to Citi Field, which has been one of the many home venues for NYCFC over the years since joining as an expansion side alongside Orlando City in 2015. It’s a bit wild that this stadium is set to open 10 years after Orlando christened its own soccer-specific stadium back in 2017. At least the Lions won’t have to play road games at baseball stadiums for much longer.

Europa League Quarterfinals Kick Off

The Europa League quarterfinals are underway, with the remaining eight teams squaring off in the first legs of their matchups. In England, Atalanta leaned on a brace from Gianluca Scamacca and stellar defense to win 3-0 against Liverpool. Bayer Leverkusen’s unbeaten streak stretched to 42 games after it beat West Ham United 2-0, thanks to a pair of late goals. The first match between Italian clubs AC Milan and Roma went to the visitors, as Roma scored early on and held on for a 1-0 win at San Siro. The only quarterfinal that wasn’t a shutout took place in Portugal, with Benfica beating Marseille, 2-1. The second legs will all take place at the same time next week, which should make for an exciting Thursday afternoon of soccer.

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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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