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Lion Links: 12/30/18

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Happy final Sunday of 2018, Mane Landers! I hope that you’re all doing well with your plans, if that’s your thing, for the New Year’s Day festivities — if you’re hangin’ in for the evening, enjoy yourself! Relax, kick back, and ring in the new year the way you see fit. Just be safe no matter what you do. For now though, I’m here to feed you a nice heaping serving of Links…so, enjoy!

Report: Orlando City SC to Sign Homegrown Forward Benji Michel

The Lions will soon ink a Homegrown deal with Benji Michel, a forward that grew up training in the Lions’ youth system before moving on to play for the University of Portland, where he excelled, playing for three years and scoring 31 goals across 53 matches. Michel was named to the All-American Second Team in 2018, and also plied his trade in the Monteverde Academy. Hopefully, he can translate his college success to the next level and become a threat for the Lions in time, as he grows and adapts to a new league.

SeaWolves Drop First Indoor Florida Derby

The Orlando SeaWolves went on the road for the first time ever, shooting down I-4 to Lakeland to take on the Florida Tropics. It didn’t go well, as the SeaWolves fell behind 8-1 before clawing back to within two goals late. The Tropics finished them off, however, and Orlando fell, 9-6. Former Orlando City defender Tyler Turner scored his first indoor goal in the game.

Another Off-season, Another Overhaul

The characters were different, but we’ve heard this story before. With the sale of Yoshimar Yotún to Liga MX side Cruz Azul, the Lions have set themselves up, yet again, for an off-season of roster reconstruction. The good news? Head Coach James O’Connor and the front office have done an excellent job of clearing cap space for future additions, and they’ve clearly learned a lesson or two from last year’s acrimonious divorce with striker Cyle Larin, shown in their willingness to let Yotún leave for Mexico. The bad news? We all had to say farewell to one of the best and favorite players on the roster in Yotún. Hopefully, the off-season additions will help cover the team’s holes. We’re going to miss you, Yoshi. Here he is practicing with his new club:

Alphonso Davies is Here

I was actually present, in person, for Davies’ first training with the first team in Munich with Bayern Munich. It was as obvious then as it was when he was tearing up MLS and leaving defenders in his wake that he has the talent and composure required to make a huge impact at the next level. He’s impressed during his brief time in the German powerhouse too, leading manager Niko Kovac to go as far to say that he would consider deploying Davies in first team competitive matches as soon as the Bundesliga returns to play in late January.

“If I compare him with our U23s, then he is already ahead of the others,” Kovac said. “He has to acclimatize, that’s clear. But he has quality and we will not slow him down if he can help us.”

To top that off, Davies was also just named as Canada’s Postmedia Male Athlete of the Year – a recognition that had never before been awarded to a soccer player.

Joe Bendik, Columbus Crew, and the Heavy Competition for a Potential Backup Role

Now that the Crew have been saved, the front office can truly move forward and focus on their search for glory in 2019. A spot that they may address again, even after adding Orlando’s former No. 1 Joe Bendik for $50,000 in allocation money, is the goalkeeping role. With multiple other established professionals on the roster for the crew, including the club’s 2018 first-round draft pick Ben Lungaard, it will be tough for Bendik to win a backup role, let alone the starting job, once superstar Zack Steffen leaves for Manchester City in July. It’ll be an interesting situation to keep an eye on, and Columbus will be an interesting club to play against down the road considering the recent affairs of seasons past.

Free Kicks

  • MLS’s Charles Boehm released a list of what he thought were the top 10 MLS moments of 2018. Do you agree with his rankings? Here’s a little taste/spoiler: the Lions were included in the list twice, but not for their own accomplishments.
  • MLS’s Greg Seltzer also released a list, this one identifying who he thought could be the top 10 MLS players that he felt were poised for a breakout in 2019. Another little taste/spoiler? the Lions’ recently acquired Joao Moutinho ranked in at number five on the list!
  • Congratulations, Rangers supporters! #CurseBroken

  • Juventus is just on a different plane right now…but will it translate to European glory?


Well, that’s all that I’ve got for you this week folks. Like I said earlier, enjoy your New Year’s Day and stay safe! I’ll see you on the other side.

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.

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: 5/29/24

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.

Free Kicks


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

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