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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.

Free Kicks

  • 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: 5/17/24

MLSPA releases player salaries, Duncan McGuire discusses move to Blackburn, Orlando Pride prepare for the Seattle Reign, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Friday! The weekend is nearly here, with plenty of soccer both here in the domestic leagues and abroad. I have a pretty packed weekend but am looking forward to watching Orlando City and the Orlando Pride in action. It should be a nice next few days, so let’s get it started with today’s links!

MLSPA Releases Player Salaries

The Major League Soccer Players Association unveiled the base salary and guaranteed compensation information for every player under contract with the league as of April 25 — except Wilder Cartagena, apparently. Luis Muriel is the highest-paid Orlando City player, and his $4.3 million in guaranteed compensation is the 12th most in the league, while his base salary is just over $2.83. As for other Orlando newcomers, Nico Lodeiro’s compensation is $800,000 and David Brekalo’s is $683,000.

Lionel Messi predictably tops the list of all players with $20.4 million guaranteed for playing with Inter Miami. To put that number into perspective, it’s more than the compensation of every team in the league except his own team (Miami), Toronto FC, Nashville SC, and the Chicago Fire. Orlando City is 22nd in the league in compensation, clocking in at $15.07 million.

Duncan McGuire Weighs In on Moving to Blackburn

Orlando City forward Duncan McGuire had a hurricane of an off-season due to a transfer saga that nearly saw him join Blackburn Rovers in England. An administration error by Blackburn prevented the move from going through, and McGuire ultimately returned to Orlando. In the time since, there have been reports that Orlando offered him a new contract and that Blackburn still wants him to join in the summer. McGuire spoke about whether he is still interested in a move to Blackburn after the difficult experience.

“It’s tough to say,” McGuire told GOAL.”That was a pretty bad mistake, a pretty bad mistake by them. I’d be open to maybe having a conversation but it would have to be a lot to get me to go back there. On the plane ride back, I just felt like my tail was between my legs. I asked my agent how often this happens and he was like ‘This doesn’t happen’.

“I didn’t burn bridges with my teammates or have it be like ‘Oh you wanted to leave and now you’re back’. When I got back, it was like I never left.”

Orlando Pride Prepare for the Seattle Reign

The Orlando Pride will take their six-game win streak on the road for a match against the Seattle Reign Sunday night. The Reign are coming off of a 4-0 loss to the Portland Thorns in their sixth defeat of the season, but Pride Head Coach Seb Hines discussed how the Reign played better in that match than the score suggests. The Pride have also never won in Washington, and the turf and atmosphere of Lumen Field could give Orlando some trouble after a long trip. Injuries, particularly to the midfield, have made things difficult for the Pride, but midfielder Morgan Gautrat detailed how the team’s chemistry has helped them get results despite the adversity.

Nashville SC Fires Gary Smith

Nashville SC has parted ways with Gary Smith, who had been the club’s only head coach while in MLS. Smith joined Nashville back in 2018, coaching the team for two seasons in the USL Championship before. With a defensive style, Smith led the team to MLS playoff appearances in all four years but couldn’t put together a deep run. Nashville is currently 10th in the Eastern Conference and Rumba Munthali will serve as the club’s interim head coach while the club searches for a new permanent coach.

Charlotte FC Transfers Enzo Copetti Out

Another Designated Player is leaving Charlotte FC, as the club transferred Enzo Copetti to Rosario Central in Argentina’s top flight. The forward recorded eight goals and three assists across all competitions while with Charlotte, and has played less than 500 minutes this season. Copetti is the latest Designated Player transferred out since Dean Smith took over as Charlotte’s head coach, with Kamil Jozwiak sent to Granada and Karol Swiderski loaned to Hellas Verona. Despite the turnover, Charlotte sits fifth in the Eastern Conference and could make some noise this season if it brings in the right players in the summer transfer window.

Free Kicks

  • Former Lion Miguel Gallardo spoke with the folks over at The Blazing Musket about the New England Revolution and the art of goalkeeping.
  • Our condolences go out to the friends and family of Derek Sanderson, who played for many teams across many leagues back in the 1980s, including the American Soccer League’s Orlando Lions.

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: 5/16/24

Orlando City draws with Inter Miami, Orlando City B loses in Ohio, Austin awarded 2025 MLS All-Star Game, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

I hope you’re all having a nice and easy start to your Thursday morning. Orlando City’s match Wednesday night could’ve gone worse, but could’ve gone better as well. As far as rivalry games go, it probably won’t be all too memorable, but I still hope you enjoyed yourself if you went to the game. Let’s dive into today’s links!

Orlando City Draws Inter Miami at Home

The Lions hosted rival Inter Miami and had to settle for a scoreless draw that featured solid chances for both sides. Orlando remains shorthanded defensively, but Pedro Gallese and the back line of Rodrigo Schlegel, Wilder Cartagena, and David Brekalo did well to get a clean sheet against a Miami side that leads the league in goals by a wide margin. Familiar attacking struggles plagued the Lions though with many chances going unfinished. The Lions will now turn their attention to a trip across the country for a match with the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.

Orlando City B Falls On the Road

After earning its first home win last week, Orlando City B was handed its first road defeat of the season in a 4-3 loss against Columbus Crew 2. OCB was without Yutaro Tsukada, who made his debut with the first team, but the team still did well generating chances on offense. The Young Lions took the lead on two different occasions in the match, but they ultimately couldn’t hold on for a result in a rollercoaster of a match. There’s plenty of time for Head Coach Manuel Goldberg to get his team ready for its next match, which is set to take place at Osceola County Stadium on May 26 against Huntsville City FC.

Orlando City Fined After Match in Philadelphia

Following Orlando City’s win over the Philadelphia Union, the club and Head Coach Oscar Pareja have been issued fines by the MLS Disciplinary Committee for the team violating the mass confrontation policy for the second time this season. The violation took place in the 86th minute at Philadelphia, when the Union were awarded their second penalty of the game. Gallese, Nicolas Lodeiro, Ivan Angulo, and Duncan McGuire were issued fines for their role in things as well.

Luis Muriel was also fined an undisclosed amount for embellishment during an incident with Damion Lowe in the 81st minute of the match. You can judge for yourself if the MLS Disciplinary Committee got it right, but what’s not up for debate is that the Lions got the job done on the road and survived an obscene amount of stoppage time.

Austin Will Host 2025 MLS All-Star Game

MLS announced that next year’s MLS All-Star Game will take place at Q2 Stadium in Austin. It will be the first time the event is held there and the first time Texas has hosted it since Houston had it back in 2010. The official date, along with what team the MLS All-Stars will play against, will be announced at a later time. Austin FC entered the league in 2021 and every game played at Q2 Stadium has sold out. There is a strong soccer community there, and I’m glad it will get a chance to show the league what it is all about. I also really like the graphic promoting the event and feel it captures Austin fairly well.

Free Kicks

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: 5/15/24

Tropic Thunder is tonight, OCB plays away today, Americans playing abroad, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to Wednesday Mane Landers. The next installment of the Tropic Thunder rivalry between the good guys (Orlando City) and the bad guys (Inter Miami) is tonight. I hope you can make it out to the match since there will probably be a bunch of Lionel Messi fans there and more purple in the stands is needed. To get ready for the match, you can listen to the latest edition of The Mane Land PawedCast, and check out our match preview later today . For now, let’s get to the links.

Lions Host Tropic Thunder Tonight

I don’t know why others insist on calling matches between Orlando City and Inter Miami the “Florida Derby.” Our name for the match — Tropic Thunder — is just so much better. Regardless, the Lions host the Herons tonight at Inter&Co Stadium looking to avenge the 5-0 loss from earlier in the season. The spotlight might be on Miami, but the pressure is on Orlando City. The Lions surprised me with their win over the Philadelphia Union on Saturday. Let’s hope the club can keep the momentum going.

Miami May Be Without Messi Today

While I never want anyone to get seriously injured, I’m not sorry to hear that there is a chance Messi will be unavailable for tonight’s match. It seems that Miami’s magician picked up a minor knee injury in the match against CF Montreal on Saturday. Say what you want, but he is a competitor and could still take the field tonight. Hopefully, he remembers the welcome Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena gave him when he joined the league and decides it’s not worth aggravating the knee.

OCB Back in Action On the Road

The senior squad isn’t the only team playing today as Orlando City B is in Ohio to take on Columbus Crew II at Field. You’ll need to take a long lunch to watch this one because kickoff is set for noon. There will be plenty to watch since the two clubs are only separated by one point in the standings, with OCB sitting in sixth place (3-2-3, 13 points) and Crew II in eighth place (3-3-2, 12 points).

Keeping Up With Americans Abroad

Most of us know that Christian Pulisic had a great season with AC Milan after moving to the Serie A club from Chelsea. What I did not know is that Pulisic is the first AC Milan midfielder to score more than 10 goals in a season since former Orlando City star Kaká did it when he was there.

Things are not as bright for Giovanni Reyna at Nottingham Forest. He hasn’t played a ton of minutes for the Premier League side and hasn’t done much when he has played. It was a loan without a purchase option, but Forest is reportedly not interested in making an offer for him regardless.

Free Kicks

  • Let’s all give a big congratulations to Orlando City Vice President of Soccer Operations and Technical Director Ricardo Moreira. He was accepted into the third edition of the FIFA Diploma in Club Management.
  • We believe once a Lion, always a Lion, but I didn’t know MLS thought the same thing. Richie Laryea getting the biggest suspension is on brand for anyone related to Orlando City.

That will do it for today. Let’s hope that the Lions can get a second win in a row. Vamos Orlando!

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