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Lion Links: 9/1/18

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Adios, August, and salud to you, September! As we turn the page on the calendar, there is renewed hope that Orlando City and the Orlando Pride can turn the page on their losing ways, find some hidden reserves of strength and fortitude, and give us a few more thrills before the long, dark tea-time of the off-season.

That page turn could start as early as tonight, as the Lions host the sizzling Philadelphia Union and their stingy defense that hasn’t allowed an opponent to score in three games. Orlando didn’t score the last time the teams met, in a 1-0 U.S. Open Cup loss. But that only makes tonight the rubber match as each team has conquered the other once this season.

Before we get to tonight, let’s wish Orlando City Head Coach James O’Connor a happy 39th birthday. Cheers, Gaffer!

OK, time to take a look at what’s going on.

Meram: Orlando Move Was Not a Mistake

Look, nobody wanted Justin Meram to work out in Orlando more than I did. I’ve enjoyed his game for years and I love his willingness to take on defenders and score stunning goals from outside the box. We saw flashes of that in 2018 but never got the full Meram experience and now he’s back in Columbus and headed for the postseason while the Lions are mired in last place.

Sam Stejskal over at mlsssoccer.com delved into Meram’s thought process from his decision to leave C-bus in the first place to his return to the Crew. The most interesting part of the story (to me, anyway) was that it wasn’t Meram who wanted time away from Orlando City. It was the club that decided he should step away for three days in late June.

“That kind of was the starting point,” he said. “And then having the club thinking it’s best to send me away for a couple days when the team headed to Atlanta, that was tough because you want to play the games and you want to find your level again and any game can change that moment for you, you know?

“So that was tough when the club asked, when the GM [Niki Budalic] and the interim coach [Bobby Murphy] thought it was best for me to just get away for a couple days. And then coming back, I came back to a new coach. So, there were just a lot of little things that kept adding up, adding up, adding up and it was more or less, kind of just, OK, maybe this isn’t working out.”

I get the thought behind sending him away to clear his mind but I’m not sure the club got this decision right. It seems it only alienated an already struggling player even more. In the end, everyone moves on and it’s just another disappointing chapter in four seasons full of them.

Fun Chicks No. 4: Pride Meet Pride

The Orlando Pride’s Christine Nairn and Haley Kopmeyer were joined for their fourth installment of Fun Chicks by teammates Shelina Zadorsky and Carson Pickett, as they shuffled over to Space Coast Stadium to hang out and play softball with the USSSA Pride, a pro team based in Viera, FL. After watching this, it seems like they probably picked the right sport.

Baby Lions are Dressed for Success

Newborns at Winnie Palmer Hospital will be sporting purple from the beginning. From now until the end of October, babies born at the facility will be given Orlando City or Orlando Pride onesies so they can begin their lives the right way.

USWNT Rolls Against Chile

The USWNT met Chile for the first time ever and it was an ugly, lopsided game. The Yanks won, 3-0, and it could have been worse. A penalty kick goal was wrongly disallowed, the referee and assistant both missed a ball crossing the line off a shot that hit underneath the crossbar, and two other goals were waved off, although for more reasonable reasons. Christen Press scored the team’s third goal in her 100th cap to finish off a special night in her hometown, after seeing her penalty kick wiped out.

Former USL Lion Sapong Turned Around His 2018 Season

When CJ Sapong played a few games on loan for Orlando City back in 2013 during the team’s USL days, we didn’t know he’d go on to score more than 50 career MLS goals. Sapong fell out of form and out of favor earlier this year as the striker of the Philadelphia Union, but he’s regrouped and has come back strong playing out on the wing.

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  • Here’s a story about Orlando City’s barber.
  • Former Orlando City center back Sean St. Ledger has been added to the coaching staff of Ireland’s U-15 team.
  • Christian Pulisic may not join the USMNT for upcoming friendlies as he’s experiencing “muscular problems.”
  • Usain Bolt made his A-League debut in a preseason match with the Central Coast Mariners, registering one shot on goal in about 20 minutes.
  • Those born on this date include The Munsters actress Yvonne De Carlo (1922), boxing legend Rocky Marciano (1923), Lily Tomlin (1939), eldest Bee Gee Barry Gibb (1946), Gloria Estefan (1957), basketball’s Tim Hardaway (1966), and former Miami Dolphins greats Zach Thomas (1973) and Jason Taylor (1974).

That’s all my time on this fine Saturday morning. Check back later for full coverage of Orlando City’s match tonight against Philadelphia!

Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/30/24

Orlando City draws on the road, Duncan McGuire called up, Grace Chanda will reportedly sign with the Orlando Pride, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

For those of you who watched Orlando City’s game Wednesday night, I hope the universe repays you with good fortune in some way today. The week rolls on though, as we get ready for more Orlando soccer this weekend, along with international friendlies around the world to enjoy. For now though, let’s get to the links!

Orlando City Draws Against the Chicago Fire

The Lions went on the road and had to settle for a 1-1 draw against the Chicago Fire. Neither goal was anything to write home about in a match that was highlighted by sloppy play and yet another controversial refereeing decision the Lions had to deal with. A draw on the road while on short rest generally isn’t the worst result in the world, but it was a poor performance from the Lions. They’ll aim to get back in the winning column this Saturday when they travel to play the New York Red Bulls.

Duncan McGuire Called Up For Training Camp

Orlando City forward Duncan McGuire was one of 25 players called up for the United States Men’s Olympic Soccer Team’s training camp ahead of a friendly with Japan on June 11. McGuire has earned his spot on the team during a solid second season with the Lions that has included five goals. Columbus Crew goalkeeper Patrick Schulte, Koln forward Damion Downs, and LA Galaxy defender Jalen Neal are a few of the other notable players called up. Nashville SC center back Walker Zimmerman is the only player over 23 that was called up for this camp.

Grace Chanda Will Reportedly Join the Pride

An agreement was reportedly reached between the Orlando Pride and Zambian attacker Grace Chanda for her to join the club on a deal through 2025, with an option for 2026 as well. It would be a free transfer, but she would not join the Pride until after the Olympics. Chanda was named to the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations Best XI and was also on the shortlist for the 2022 Best CAF Women’s Player of the Year Award. The 26-year-old did not play in last year’s World Cup due to an illness, but has come off the bench in Madrid CFF’s past two games. The Pride are having a historic year and Chanda should help them push for a title if she does end up joining her international teammate, Barbra Banda.

Getting to Know Emily Sams

Pride defender Emily Sams is the latest player to field questions as part of the club’s video series for fans to learn more about the players. Sams spoke about the disappointment in how the team’s season ended last year after missing out on the playoffs on a goal differential tiebreaker. She also talked about the team’s aspiration to not only make the playoffs but contend for a title this year. It’s her second season with the Pride and she’s been a key reason why Orlando has done so well so far. Sams discussed what the team’s atmosphere is like, as well as how she likes to spend time outdoors exploring Orlando’s many lakes when not on the field.

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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: 5/29/24

Orlando City faces the Chicago Fire tonight, Kaká to be honored, Pride linked to Grace Chanda, and more.

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Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. It’s match day for Orlando City as the Lions travel to the Windy City to take on the Chicago Fire. Orlando City looks to get back to its winning ways in the midweek matchup and we will have all the coverage you need during the match on our Twitter account, and after the match right here at The Mane Land.

We would also like to wish Orlando Pride Head Coach Seb Hines a very happy birthday! Frankly, it’s the least we can do given everything he has done so far this NWSL season. For now, let’s get to the links.

Lions Prepare for the Fire

Orlando City faces the Chicago Fire tonight at 8:30 p.m. at Soldier Field. The Lions will look to extend a three-match winning streak over the Fire. Facundo Torres has been particularly effective against Chicago, so hopefully he can start scoring some more goals as well. We will have our match preview a little later today.

Kaká to Become First Member of Legends Terrace at Inter&Co Stadium

Orlando City and the Orlando Pride are creating a “Legends Terrace” at Inter&Co Stadium to permanently honor those who have made a lasting impact with either club. Unsurprisingly, the first inductee will be the one and only Kaká. The ceremony will take place following the July 6 match against D.C. United. There will also be a concert featuring Latin performer Jota Quest in the Publix Mane Street Plaza outside the stadium prior to the match.

Orlando Pride Linked With Grace Chanda

Do you like Barbra Banda and what she has done since joining the Pride? Do you find yourself wondering, “got anymore of those Zambian strikers?” Well, it just so happens that the Orlando Pride are reportedly interested in signing Zambian forward Grace Chanda. According to the report, the San Diego Wave, Racing Louisville, and the Pride are all interested in signing Chanda. Given the Pride are serious about contending for a title this season, adding another quality attacker is a good move. Let’s hope the rumor is true.

Pride’s Summer Cup Schedule Adjusted

The Olympics won’t be the only women’s soccer competition this summer, as the inaugural NWSL x LIGA MX Femenil Summer Cup will start on July 19. We have learned that the Orlando Pride match against C.F. Monterrey at Inter&Co Stadium has been moved up from Sunday, July 28 to Saturday, July 27. The move does not affect Orlando City’s schedule, as the Lions play a rare Friday match that week. You can check out more information on the competition here.

Free Kicks

  • I know that there are those who are upset with the Leagues Cup as it definitely impacted the U.S. Open Cup this year. However, if you do decide to go to a match, at least part of the ticket price will go to a good cause.
  • Congratulations to Felipe. That is a lot of matches and we appreciate him being with our beloved Orlando City.
  • Congratulations also go out to Orlando City academy player Camilio Guerrero for earning a call-up to a U.S. U-14 national talent identification camp.
  • USMNT winger Tim Weah is making money moves in the Big Apple.

That will do it for today. We will see you on the other side of the match tonight. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/28/24

Yutaro Tsukada earns recognition, Americans in midweek action, European coaching updates, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I hope you all had a restful holiday weekend, and if you didn’t, then I hope you’re well on the way to recovery. We’ve got an exciting schedule this week, with two Orlando City games before an Orlando City B game on Sunday. It’s also OCB forward Yeiler Valencia’s birthday today, so let’s wish him well and jump into today’s links!

Yutaro Tsukada Earns MLS NEXT Pro Honors

OCB winger Yutaro Tsukada was named MLS NEXT Pro Player of Matchweek 11 for his performance in the team’s 5-0 home win against Huntsville City FC. The 22-year-old provided the assist on OCB’s first goal after using some nice skill on the ball to shake his defender. Tsukada then scored a goal of his own off of a free kick in the second half. The rookie has been electric for the Young Lions this season, recording four goals and four assists so far. Hopefully he can keep the momentum rolling when OCB faces Inter Miami II this Sunday.

Major League Soccer Stock Watch

Every week gives us a better idea of each MLS team’s capabilities, so let’s check in on how things are looking following the latest matchday. LAFC is on a great trajectory, as it’s won three consecutive league games and five straight in all competitions. Elsewhere in the Western Conference, Real Salt Lake scored three goals in the final 30 minutes of play to stretch its unbeaten streak to 11 games, and Cristian Arango didn’t have to do all of the heavy lifting. At the other end of things, the New England Revolution have lost three straight games, and six of their last seven. Likewise, the shine looks to have worn off from St. Louis City’s expansion season, as the team has also lost three straight games and simply doesn’t look the same as last year.

Americans in Midweek Action

With most of the European club seasons having concluded, there aren’t as many United States Men’s National Team players in action during the working week, but there are still some important games to make note of. Chief among those is Venezia’s game against Cremonese on Thursday. Tanner Tessmann, Gianluca Busio and Venezia will take on Cremonese over two legs, with the winner gaining promotion to Serie A. Left back Jonathan Gomez may take the field tomorrow morning in Real Sociedad’s friendly against Tokyo Verde as well.

In a pair of friendlies on Friday, Mexico plays Bolivia and Uruguay takes on Costa Rica. With the USMNT set to face both Bolivia and Uruguay in group play of this summer’s Copa America, the two matches present a good chance to better gauge the Yanks’ opponents.

European Coaching Updates

Several notable European club teams have coaching vacancies to fill this summer, and there are some updates on a few of those positions. Chelsea has reportedly made an approach for Leicester City’s Enzo Maresca, and has requested permission to talk to the manager who guided the Foxes back to the Premier League in his first year with the club. Meanwhile, despite interest from Manchester United, Kieran McKenna is reportedly set to stay at Ipswich Town, and has had talks about extending his contract. Finally, Aston Villa has extended Unai Emery’s contract, with his new deal keeping him at the club until 2029.

Transfer Rumor Roundup

Transfer season is kicking into gear, and we have several rumors to sift through this morning. Up first, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich are reportedly all in hot pursuit of Stade Rennais winger Desire Doue. Casemiro reportedly has a deal lined up with a team in the Saudi Pro League, and may have played his last game for Manchester United. Newly promoted Southampton is reportedly interested in signing Adam Lallana as a free agent. Finally, Paris Saint-Germain is said to have entered the race to sign Bruno Guimaraes, and will face stiff competition from Manchester City and Arsenal.

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That’s all I have for you this morning. Vamos Orlando!

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