Our City: Daniel Britt Forever A Lion
When you sign up to start blogging on your favorite football club, you don't ever think about moments like these. Sitting down to write a tribute for a fallen friend is just simply heartbreaking. I thought all week about what I wanted to say; whatever comes out won't do a man, a life, and his many friendships with the Orlando City community justice. This isn't an obituary, but just a remembrance for a friend and fellow Orlando City SC supporter, Daniel Britt.
I couldn’t tell you the exact game when I met Daniel. I know I met him through mutual friends because that’s pretty much how our de facto supporters group all met one another. What was a loose confederation of friends and friends of friends during Orlando City SC’s first season became a tight-knit unofficial supporters group going into this, our first year in MLS.
Daniel was crucial to our game-day experience, from the tailgate, to the post-game meet-up. He was a founding member of our unofficial supporters group.
We are the Olde South End, reflective of our connections to the Citrus Bowl's old Section 125, on the south side of the stadium. With our section moving for this season, and the uncertainty of where we will be in the new one, we wanted to remind ourselves where we met and where it all began.
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Daniel was just always there, no matter what game, rain or shine, weekend or weekday, friendly or league final. I counted on that when I knew I’d be heading up to the stadium by myself. He and I were the only ones of our group to make the U.S. Open Cup game, when we upset the Colorado Rapids, 3-1, in 2013. For last season’s games at Disney, where seating was harder to come by, Daniel made it a habit to go early and grab a section, so we could all still sit together. He was just that kind of guy.
He was quick to have the pregame tailgate plan and bring along whatever was needed. With burgers and Portobello mushrooms on the grill, he always caught me up on the most recent Orlando City and English Premier League gossip. Before MLS was a certainty, we would love to compare notes on Phil Rawlins' press conferences in an effort to glean just how much he knew, when he was so confident in MLS coming to Orlando.
Come game time, he was the best person to sit with. We compared notes on tactics and players. More than one article on this blog has its roots in those conversations. No matter where he was sitting in our group, every goal got a high-five, no matter how far away we were sitting.
The day I heard of Daniel's passing, I came home early and took a long walk with my girlfriend. She asked me about some of the finer points of Daniel's life. I told her, honestly, that I didn't know that much. On game days we weren't those things. For 90 minutes, we weren't students, employees, or professionals. We were just supporters. That is kind of the beauty of it.
The one thing Daniel always was, no matter what, was a father. His daughter, Alina, became a fixture of our group, along with her dad. Our group features a number of young Lions — Alina and the other kids loved celebrating goals with the confetti and streamers he would bring. Daniel was an active parent with the Orlando City Youth teams, where his daughter plays. Truth be told, she was always his favorite soccer player.
If Daniel had an inside scoop or track, he shared it with all of us. Thanks to him, our whole group became some of the earliest to secure our season tickets for 2014 and get high priority for future seasons. He was also the first to befriend our ticket sales rep, Brian Paul, somebody we now all consider a friend and honorary member of the Olde South End.
We talk a lot about the 'Orlando,' the 'City,' and the 'Soccer' parts of our team's name. We forget that last one, 'Club.' While other sports feature Vikings, Tigers, or vicious birds in their names, the tradition of the club survives into the modern era of soccer. The last week has reminded us just how strong that tradition is with OCSC.
Within hours of knowing about Daniel's passing, I had been contacted by the club directly, only to find out others in our group were in contact with other people at the club. Club Founder and President Phil Rawlins tweeted his condolences, a message that was passed along by fellow supporters, players, our supporter's groups, other MLS supporter's groups, the MLS official account, and national soccer media members.
We just heard the very sad news that @OrlandoCitySC lost one of its original and biggest fans Daniel Britt. RIP Daniel #ForeverALion
— philip rawlins (@OCPres) January 27, 2015
I'm just going to say, I think he probably would have thought that was pretty cool.
His impact on the Orlando City community extended past our supporters group. Daniel was active online through his fan blog, Penalty Kick Orlando, and his exceptionally active Twitter and Facebook accounts. Like many of you, I knew I could count on a comment from Daniel on any of my soccer rants. He was always quick to repost my articles, usually with a direct message to discuss points I'd made or just to encourage.
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I reached out to this extended community for remembrances of Daniel. The response was staggering.
They spoke of a man who loved his friends, his family, and his sports teams. Besides Orlando City, he was a devoted Liverpool and New England Patriots fan. We all remember his obsession with Mexican Coca-Cola. Comments all echoed his humor, his generosity, and his insight into soccer, music, and life.
It seems like we all went to him for advice on something. I was reminded of a time he promised to bring cookies to one of our cookie-and-beer tailgates last season at Disney. Daniel and Alina didn't bother finding any old cookie recipe. They found the scientifically proven "perfect" cookie recipe. That was our experience with Daniel — if it is worth doing, get the most out of it and enjoy it totally.
Talking about all the good memories and great things Daniel was is the easy part. Thinking about the future without our friend is the hard one. None of us can imagine going to a game without Daniel being there, not to mention Orlando City's first MLS game.
The tailgate, the game, meeting up after the game, and the post-game banter with the Orlando City community on Twitter will all feel a little emptier without Daniel around. He's a founding member, a stalwart, and forever a friend for all of us from the Olde South End, as well as a blogger, a pundit, a fan, and a friend to anybody willing to strike up a conversation in the Orlando City family.
Daniel you'll forever be a Lion. Don't worry, we will save you a seat this time, my friend.
A fund has been set up in Daniel Britt's honor to help support his young daughter, Alina. If you are able, please consider donating through PayPal (Click the "send" tab and send donations to [email protected]).
The Mane Land Announces Membership Program
Maximize your Mane Land experience with our new TML membership program while supporting our independent efforts.
Hello, readers of The Mane Land and listeners of our podcasts. Before you start reading this, please note that the most important part of this post is at the end. So, don’t stop until you get to the bottom.
You may recall that when we left SBNation to become independent, we really weren’t sure the best way to go about that. Many of our readers and listeners generously offered to help us make that transition, but we still weren’t sure the best path forward, so we took a poll.
The poll was pretty much split down the middle between those who preferred a one-time, Kickstarter-style campaign (which we did, and those of you who stepped up to help completely blew us away!) and those who favored a Patreon-style, subscription-based membership with extra perks. In fact, the member subscriptions option got a few more votes in our poll.
The folks who took part in our GoFundMe fundraiser were fantastic and are now immortalized on this very site on the “Our Founders” page. But we had always planned to give folks the option to choose whichever method of support they preferred and we tried to communicate that throughout the process. It took a little longer than expected to get up and running, but our membership subscription program is now in place! (You may notice the fancy new banner ad about it on the home page, echoed below.)
Part of that delay was thinking up something that didn’t encroach on the benefits we gave our Founders. Those folks helped us get started and deserve the exclusivity of the perks they got. The other part of the delay is that there just aren’t enough hours in the day. (However, for you guys, I’m willing to be cloned.)
We have utilized the popular Buy Me a Coffee platform to run this program. You can find the basics here. The Mane Land premium membership program includes three tiers of membership, as well as the option to click on the “Support” tab for those who just want to help us out whenever, without joining the program or adding any recurring “appointment-based” payments to their budgets. We love that feature of Buy Me a Coffee (or “Buy Us a Beer” in our case…you drink what you like).
For those who do choose to become members, we hope we have provided value and we are planning to add benefits along the way, in addition to providing special giveaways, events, etc. (more on that below). We have also provided subscription options — with monthly or annual memberships. The annual cost essentially gives you 12 months for the price of 10.
The current membership benefits depend on which level of support you choose — Homegrown Player, TAM Player, or Designated Player level. Each level includes all benefits from the lower tiers, with additional benefits for each higher level.
Homegrown Player: This is a basic set-it-and-forget-it level of support for The Mane Land, providing a way for our readers and podcast listeners to contribute to the success of TML‘s independence goals. We want to compensate our current volunteers, replace lost income of those who previously received small stipends from being part of the SBNation network, add photographers, attract new writers, and expand our coverage. Additionally, each Homegrown Player Level member will be recognized in a Lion Links column, which is still typically our most widely read post of each day and one of the top daily links columns among soccer sites. Homegrown Player Level members will also be included in any future prize drawings we have or events we host and may be subject to future benefits as they are added.
TAM Player: In addition to Homegrown Player benefits, TAM Players will receive a new weekly e-newsletter in their inbox (unless you opt out…some people hate email). These will be informal missives from myself, other TML writers, or a combination, discussing what’s on our mind regarding Orlando City, the Pride, OCB, or soccer in general. Think of it as an extra post from our site that may cover multiple topics. Additionally, you’ll get a 10% discount from our web shop items that we control (presently, that means everything except our listed MLS Shop items). We will definitely have more benefits coming for this level soon and will look for opportunities to include additional benefits as they become available.
Designated Player: This limited availability level of support includes all perks from the Homegrown and TAM levels, but it goes beyond. Your discount at our webshop (for items we control) will be 15% off. Additionally, we’ll send you Zoom links to watch us “make the doughnuts” whenever we record the podcast. This includes when we interview guests. You’ll see how the sausage is made behind the scenes and everything that we say, some of which will end up on the cutting room floor before the final podcast is sent out. This includes both The Mane Land PawedCast and SkoPurp Soccer: An Orlando Pride PawedCast. And after two months of membership you can commission a bonus episode of either podcast simply by letting us know what topic you want us to cover. Think of this as an extended Ask Us Anything. We’ll do a whole show about your topic and you can even join us to discuss it if you wish.
The DP Level will certainly have additional benefits tacked on as we move forward. It is currently limited to 40 members but could be expanded slightly depending on demand and our Zoom attendance.
Future Benefits / Benefits Under Consideration
While we won’t be able to schedule these due to the random nature of items falling into our hands, there will be periodic prize giveaways in drawings that include all of our members, regardless of level. The catch is that you get one entry per level of support, meaning Homegrown Player Level members will get one entry per prize drawing, TAM Player Level members will get two entries per drawing, and Designated Player Level members get three entries for prize drawings. Some of the kinds of items we have come across in the past include match tickets, trinkets, posters, scarves, and so on.
We are planning to add a message board to our website, well…soon-ish is the word that comes to mind. The plan for the message board is to build our community and further the discussion about the club. As part of this, we’re planning an exclusive, members-only area of that message board that TAM and DP members can access. This will be a place our staff can share informational nuggets we can’t necessarily write stories about for various reasons and interact with our members on a daily basis.
Other things in the works include meet-and-greets/watch parties where you can chat with TML staff members and catch a road match with a bunch of like-minded Orlando City/Pride fans while we all cheer on the team together. There may also be other informal outings with one or more members of the staff, organized fantasy leagues, random Zoom calls for Q&A sessions, and perhaps even some organized group outings for Orlando City / Pride matches, national team games, etc.
The Most Important Part of This Post
Remember at the top of this post, when I said the most important part is at the bottom? Well, that seems like a long time ago, now, so it’s OK if you’ve already forgotten.
The most important part of our membership program is you. We want your feedback so we can make this program something that interests and excites you. We want to know what you like and dislike about this program. We want to know if there are some things we didn’t think of that interest you. If you like what we’re offering, tell us! If you hate what we’re offering, we want to know what you’d prefer instead or in addition. If you want to go drinking with Dave, we can probably arrange that, but it’ll be a unique tier and we’ll have to figure out the cost of that.
No idea is too crazy to suggest, even if it’s too insane for us to actually offer. Let us know what you want from your subscription and we’ll see if that’s something we can do. We’ll make it easy for you by putting the form right here below this post, which is now concluded.
Where do I even start? When we were told in January that SBNation was pulling its support of The Mane Land and other MLS and NHL blogs — and many podcasts — I was devastated. The site had become my new baby in September of 2014 and after eight and a half years, I wasn’t ready to let it go.
I was in a pickle. I couldn’t afford to lose the monthly stipend I had been getting from SBNation to manage the site and provide a steady stream of content. It wasn’t that it was a huge monthly sum, but it mostly covered my car payment. That car was purchased when my salary was higher. The pandemic hit my day job like it did to many, and after a four-month layoff, I got my old job back but not at the same rate. So, imagine taking a pay decrease at work and then, on top of that, losing the amount you spend per month on your car payment. There was simply no way to launch The Mane Land independently, I thought, because I simply couldn’t cover the startup costs. Even with some generous offers from the staff to pitch in, there simply wasn’t a way.
Once we took the news public, there was an outpouring of support on social media. We appreciated both the pledges to help out that we got from the community and the signal boosting that the national media gave blogs like ours. Those national folks rely on local reporting for background.
Encouraged by this outpouring of public support, I met with the TML staff and we threw some ideas around. We polled our Twitter followers to see how our community would prefer to show their support. We got pretty close to a 50/50 split between those who wanted to provide a one-time donation via a Kickstarter or GoFundMe crowdsourcing effort, and those who would prefer some sort of premium subscription add-on service like Patreon or Buy Me a Coffee.
We didn’t get a lot of responses to that poll, but we decided as a group that since the results were so similar, we would offer both and let the public choose one path, the other, or even both. (Stay tuned for news soon-ish on the premium subscription level, but rest assured, everything you’ve been getting for free at TML will remain free!)
I was, admittedly, skeptical that we could raise enough startup money to create a private business, pay for hosting a new site and two podcasts (having long wanted to give the Orlando Pride their own unique show), registering a domain, paying for some design work and consulting, and any unexpected expenses that might come up. However, I thought we’d at least give it a try.
Then the amazing Orlando City, Orlando Pride, and TML community got involved. You guys pushed us past our bare minimum goal in just four and a half hours when our fundraiser went live on March 1. We reset our goal and you met that by midnight. We reset our goal again, to the dream total we discussed on our initial staff Zoom chat and you met that by that first weekend.
Stunned. Humbled. Amazed. Touched. All of these words apply to how that made us feel, but they don’t quite cover it. I think we all felt an enormous responsibility, as well. We felt a mandate to provide you the best site and the best coverage we can.
We got everything we needed to run the site for two years, even if we don’t earn a penny after our launch — and we plan to try, via advertising, a Patreon (or similar) program, an online shop, affiliate links, and anything else we can think of. But we decided to leave the GoFundMe open through the end of March, just in case there were folks who wanted to contribute but needed to wait for payday, or if more people wanted to become founding members of this new site.
Now, here we are. You guys did this. We’re here because of you. And this site isn’t quite what it will become. I’m still learning my way around WordPress, after being away from it for years. There’s more to build, and some of the things you’re seeing on this site now will be improved in the future. We’ll continue to tweak it, add things, and upgrade as we go.
For now, I just want to welcome you to your new online home. On behalf of our entire staff, I thank our founding members, who are now immortalized on this site in our founders section. If you weren’t able to contribute to our transition from SBNation’s network to an autonomous and independent, new version of The Mane Land, you can thank the folks on our founders page, because without them, we wouldn’t be here. And if you still want to help out, we’ve got more things on the way.
Intelligence Report: Orlando City vs. Philadelphia Union
It’s Matchday Eve once again, and Orlando City is looking to right the ship after a tough 2-1 loss to Charlotte FC last Saturday. This week the Lions will hit the road and take on the Philadelphia Union up in Pennsylvania.
A date with the Union means I caught up with Joe Lister, one of the writers over at Philadelphia Soccer Now, the new home of what was formerly SBNation’s Brotherly Game. As usual, Joe was extremely helpful in getting us up to speed on Philly.
One of the storylines in Orlando City’s off-season was Andres Perea’s departure for the Union. How has he performed so far?
Joe Lister: He’s done really well. Perea has sat behind Ale Bedoya thus far in the season, but as the Union’s captain exits matches a little earlier this year, Perea has stepped in well. He’s also seen significant minutes in Champions League play, and has been great in all competitions. He’s not fighting for a starting spot, but Perea is exactly what Philly needed: a role player.
Paxten Aaronson and Sergio Santos are no longer with Philly. How have they been replaced?
JL: Frankly, Santos and Aaronson have been the Union’s least important transfers of recent memory. The absence of Cory Burke is felt a little more in the first team, but it’s hard to say that Jim Curtin is regretting letting Santos and Aaronson walk.
In the larger picture of transfers, Philly brought in Perea and Joaquin Torres to boost the attack, and they’ve looked solid this far. Torres has demonstrated abilities at the No. 10 and the No. 9, and Perea, as you know, has huge upside at the No. 8.
Obviously, the Union are competing on two fronts to start the season, which can make it a bit tricky to judge performances when rotation is coming into the mix. With that being said, what are your early impressions of the team this year?
JL: The team is a little shaky. For some reason, the same starting XI that reached the MLS Cup final is struggling to gel.
The attack, more specifically, is having a rough go. It took some time to get forward Mikael Uhre going, but as soon as he did, Julian Carranza picked up a red card. It isn’t pretty right now, and the Union truly looks like a mid-table side in MLS action.
Are there any injuries, suspensions or call-ups that will keep players unavailable for selection? What is your projected starting lineup and score prediction?
JL: That Carranza red card will give him a suspension against Orlando, and goalkeeper Andre Blake may be missing the match due to a grade one adductor strain (though he could be cleared to play within the next few days). The Union will also be missing a bunch of players to international duty. Daniel Gazdag, Damion Lowe, Jose Martinez, Richard Odada, Quinn Sullivan, Brandan Craig, and Jack McGlynn will all be out. I’m no math major, but that adds up to nine absences.
Deep breath, here’s my lineup projection.
This isn’t gospel, but Curtin turned to a 4-3-2-1 when faced with injuries in 2021. My gut is that he’ll try something similar here.
Joe Bendik; Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, Olivier Mbaizo; Jesus Bueno, Leon Flach, Alejandro Bedoya; Joaquin Torres, Andres Perea; Mikael Uhre.
With all of that said, the Union just can’t pull this off. The team is missing too many players, and they just don’t look comfortable in MLS. This one goes to Orlando, 3-1.
Big thanks to Joe for getting us caught up on the Union. Vamos Orlando!
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