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Lion Links: 5/30/19



Happy Thursday, everyone. It’s been a while since I last did Lion Links but here I am, writing them up to drop on the morning of my 16th wedding anniversary (happy anniversary, Jamie!). While we wait for the end of the week to see what fate awaits our teams (OCB on the road Friday at FC Tucson, Orlando City at Montreal on Saturday, and the Pride at home Saturday night against the Courage), here’s some reading material to help you start your day.

There’s a lot to get to, so let’s get started.

Marcelo Neveleff Hired to Lead Orlando City Academy, OCB

On what turned out to be an extremely busy Wednesday for news out of Orlando City SC, one of the biggest items was the hiring of Argentine coach Marcelo Neveleff. The former New England Revolution assistant coach is the new OCSC Academy Director. Neveleff will report directly to Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi and will also oversee OCB’s operations.

During his time in New England, Neveleff worked with U.S. Soccer as both a technical advisor for the Boys’ Development Academy and as an assistant for the U-20 Men’s National Team. In 2017, he was part of a staff that helped lead the U-20s to win the CONCACAF U-20 Championship.

Neveleff has a lot of developmental experience, having served as technical director for powerhouse South Florida youth club Weston FC from 2009 to 2015. On the surface, this looks like an excellent hire by Muzzi and the club.

If you are, like me, wondering what this means for OCB GM Mike Potempa, well, I should be talking with Muzzi in the next couple of days and I’ll be asking about that and lots of other stuff, so stay tuned.

Lions, OCB, and Development Academy All Moving to Osceola Heritage Park

At the end of the 2019 season, Orlando City SC will be moving its MLS side, USL League One team, and development academy all to the club’s new training facility. The two professional teams will move from their current locations at Sylvan Lake Park and Montverde Academy after conclusion of the 2019 season. The academy will relocate at the start of the 2019-2020 academic year. The new facility at Osceola Heritage Park will feature four soccer fields — three natural grass and one artificial turf. The MLS side will use two of the grass fields, with OCB and the academy sharing the other grass pitch and the turf field.

“We are very excited and appreciative that the club has decided to increase its already considerable investment in the new training complex, showing its commitment to the development of our youth players and the future of Orlando City. The move to Osceola is a huge step for this club,” Orlando City EVP of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi said. “I think it’s a huge step for the club, for the first team, for the youth, for OCB and for the whole development pyramid of the club. It gives us the ability to bring the youth together under the same roof – seeing the first team, interacting with the first team and why not training with the first team?”

This total integration of the club has Muzzi’s fingerprints all over it and it should make for a more competitive atmosphere and provide the players at all level with a feeling of connectivity.

Orlando Pride Will Also Get New Customized Training Facility

The facility news doesn’t stop with the academy, OCB, and the MLS side. The club’s NWSL side, the Orlando Pride, will get a new, customized training facility at Sylvan Lake Park after 2019. The club is calling it the “first training facility in the NWSL that is tailored to and used only by a women’s team.”

“I think this [move] is building the sustainability of the club and of the franchise and it shows that, you know what, we’re here to stay,” Orlando Pride General Manager Erik Ustruck said. “We’re showing a commitment to Seminole County, we’re showing a commitment to the Pride and that vision becomes global. This isn’t only for the immediate future and the current team, but it’s also to become a destination for the future of the club, for the future of the franchise and to be able to attract top-class players from around the world and within the NWSL.”

The Pride will have access to the same perks that the MLS team has — two grass fields, a gym, a meal room, a film room, a players’ lounge, and a locker room “designed to replicate the team’s locker room at Orlando City Stadium.”

This is a big upgrade over the team’s current home at Seminole Soccer Complex, a fantastic bit of news for Pride fans, and a great recruiting tool to land players in the City Beautiful.

Nani Would Rather Talk About the Next Game than the Playoffs

Orlando City captain and leading scorer Nani said he gets asked a lot about the playoffs but he wants the focus to be on winning the next match.

“I’ve been learning a lot since I arrived,” Nani, 32, told Omnisport. ”We are ambitious and we want to be more ambitious every season. We want to achieve better goals. ”We want to be among the best teams in the league. But every time I’ve been doing interviews, everyone asked if it’s possible to reach the play-offs. I don’t think it’s a good conversation at the moment because it hasn’t helped until now.

”We must start focusing on each game, play our best because we have a good team. We showed already we can do it. I think it’s better to take some pressure off our team and club and believe we can go far. Obviously, we will arrive there but if we take off this pressure, things will go much better during the season. It will be less stressful on the young players especially and this can help.”

Makes sense to me. If you keep winning the next game, then the next, the playoffs will eventually take care of themselves.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando Sentinel and writer Jordan Culver covered his last training session before moving on to a new chapter in his career. I’ve personally enjoyed working alongside Jordan — and his expansive bow tie collection — since he arrived on the Orlando City beat and it was good to see the club honor him.

  • It’s always nice to see the club doing great work in the community, so it was quite heartwarming to hear that members of Orlando City and the Pride paid a surprise visit to a local youth goalkeeper battling cancer.

  • Sports Illustrated is honoring the USWNT with six collectible covers in their World Cup preview issue. Grab yours before they’re gone.

  • MLS and Liga MX have announced the “Leagues Cup,” a new competition consisting entirely of meaningless friendlies that will further congest the fixture schedule.
  • Former Lion Jose Villarreal has landed with Las Vegas Lights FC.
  • Those born on this date include Loony Tunes cartoon voice actor Mel Blanc (1908), restaurant founder Bob Evans (1918), Chicago Bears legend Gale Sayers (1943), actor and podcaster Stephen Tobolowsky (1951), Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine actor Colm Meaney (1953), basketball coach Billy Donovan (1965), Idina “Elsa from Frozen” Menzel (1971), baseball’s Manny Ramirez (1972), NASCAR’s Clint Bowyer (1979), and Steven Gerrard (1980).

That’s all my time for this morning. Enjoy your Thursday, everyone!

Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/25/23

Orlando City draws with Inter Miami, Viviana Villacorta out for the season, OCB wins last game of the regular season, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Last night’s Orlando City match wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t the worst either. It’s a pretty fitting feeling on a Monday, as we all get back into the swing of the work week after a nice weekend of soccer. There are plenty of ups and downs from a rollercoaster Sunday, so let’s dive right into today’s links!

Orlando City Draws With Inter Miami

In the latest edition of the Tropic Thunder rivalry, Orlando City and Inter Miami split the points at Exploria Stadium in a 1-1 result. Miami struck first, but the Lions did well to find an equalizer, even though they couldn’t find a winner in the end. It wasn’t Orlando’s best game by any means, but it was a decent response to a 2-0 loss on the road to New York City FC. Orlando now has 51 points, tying its club record for the most points in a season, set in 2021. The Lions will have a chance to break that record on Saturday when they host CF Montreal.

Viviana Villacorta Out for the Season

Orlando Pride midfielder Viviana Villacorta will miss the remainder of the NWSL season after suffering an ACL tear in her left knee during training. The 24-year-old was selected with the ninth overall pick in the 2021 NWSL Draft, but was not able to make her debut until 2022 due to sustained an ACL tear in her right knee that kept her out for all of the 2021 season. This year, she has 21 appearances across all competitions for the Pride and notched the first assist of her career in a big road win against the San Diego Wave on April 29. This is a tough blow to the Pride’s midfield with just three games remaining as she has ended her season early due to injury for the third straight year. The Pride are only a point out of a playoff spot and are back in action on Oct. 2 against Angel City FC.

Orlando City B Wins On Decision Day

On the final day of the MLS NEXT Pro regular season, Orlando City B won 2-1 at home over FC Cincinnati 2. The Young Lions had already clinched a spot in the postseason heading into this match, but the win secured their spot as the fifth seed. Jack Lynn briefly held the Golden Boot lead after scoring, but ended up tied at 19 goals with New York City FC II’s Matt Myers and Colorado Rapids 2’s Remi Cabral. The trio ended in a three-way tie for the league’s Golden Boot honors. OCB will hit the road for its first MLS NEXT Pro playoff game, although the opponent is not yet known thanks to the new rule where higher seeds choose which team they want to face.

USWNT Wins in Megan Rapinoe’s Final Match

The United States Women’s National Team beat South Africa in a 2-0 win at Soldier Field. Trinity Rodman and Emily Sonnett scored and the defense did well to secure its second shutout against South Africa after a 3-0 win this past Thursday. This game also marked forward Megan Rapinoe’s final game with the USWNT, with the 38-year-old subbed off for the last time in the 54th minute. These were solid wins from the USWNT following the World Cup and it will aim to keep the momentum rolling next month in a pair of friendlies against Colombia.

Free Kicks

  • Three Orlando City academy sides came up with shutout victories this weekend.
  • Before the USWNT’s friendly with South Africa, U.S. Soccer Sporting Director Matt Crocker stated that plans remain in place for a new head coach to be at the helm in time for the training camp in December
  • American midfielder Yunus Musah did well in his AC Milan debut, playing all 90 minutes in a 1-0 win over Verona.
  • A match in the Netherlands between Ajax and Feyenoord had to be abandoned due to fans throwing fireworks onto the field while Feyenoord led 3-0. According to police, tear gas had to be used to stop unrest outside the stadium after the match, and Ajax later fired Sven Mislintat, its director of soccer.
  • Newcastle became the first English Premier League team to have eight different players score in a match after crushing Sheffield United, 8-0.
  • Atletico Madrid ended Real Madrid’s perfect start to the season by beating its rival 3-1, with Alvaro Morata bagging a brace.

That’s all I have for you today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have an easy Monday and rest of your week!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/23/22

Lions and Herons meet again, Carly Nelson is writing a book, NWSL free agency opens, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

Happy Founder’s Day, Mane Landers! It was on this day in 2014 that our fearless leader and Managing Editor Michael Citro started our first ever WordPress website. It’s safe to say that I’m sure The Mane Land has impacted your life as much as it has mine over the years, whether that be through daily reading or weekly podcasts. Cheers to Michael and all those who have come before me.

In my own personal news, I have been grinding away on the new EA FC 24 (the franchise formerly known as EA’s FIFA.) So far, the gameplay and updates have been great in my initial 15+ hours of play, and my online Ultimate Team is starting to really take its shape. I’m sure in a couple weeks that I’ll transition to a traditional Career Mode and take the Lions all the way to an MLS Cup and beyond.

Before we dive into today’s links, let’s all wish a very happy birthday to everyone’s favorite defensive midfielder, Wilder Cartagena!

Third Bout for Orlando City and Inter Miami

Orlando City and Inter Miami have already met twice this campaign. Sunday’s match will look to break the deadlock between the two rivals as both clubs have a victory to their name in this year’s series. In May, the Lions grabbed a 3-1 victory over the Fort Lauderdale-based club. The two sides met for a second time in the knockout round of Leagues Cup 2023 with Inter Miami taking the 3-1 result at DRV PNK Stadium. No matter the result this time around, Orlando City has already clinched a playoff spot, however, the Herons need every point they can get to attempt to do the same.

Carly Nelson, Goalkeeper and Author

It isn’t unheard of to learn that an athlete might have tried another sport before finding soccer, Orlando Pride goalkeeper Carly Nelson came from a background of gymnastics, tennis, basketball, and baseball before her father started a club soccer team with her in mind. While Nelson might have idolized USWNT legend Hope Solo as a child, she started her playing days as a forward, winger, and midfielder. Outside of protecting the Pride’s net, Nelson is spending time writing a book about her life growing up in Utah and the issues her family faced to hopefully help others that might find themselves in similar situations.

NWSL Opens 2024 Free Agency

The National Women’s Soccer League has officially opened the league’s unrestricted and restricted free agency periods. In accordance with the NWSL Players’ Association’s collective bargaining agreement, eligible free agents can begin negotiations for their 2024 Standard Player Agreements. Players eligible for unrestricted free agency include all who have at least five years of service within the NWSL and contracts expiring in 2023, while players eligible for restricted free agency include those who have at least three years of service. For the Orlando Pride, defender Kylie Strom is set to be an unrestricted free agent and midfielder Jordyn Listro is under restricted terms. Any club that currently holds the rights of a restricted free agent has a seven-day period to match an incoming offer from another club or else the player may sign with the new club under the terms of the offer.

USMNT’s Tyler Adams Nearing Return

Tyler Adams will not make his Bournemouth debut this weekend, but he could return as early as next week. Bournemouth’s manager, Andoni Iraola, provided a positive update on the U.S. Men’s National Team captain as he finishes up rehabbing a long-term hamstring injury.

“He has started this week at least to train partially with the group, so probably we can have a chance of having him next week or two weeks, something like this. Tyler is really close because once you start training partially with the group, it’s a matter of sensations, and if you are physically good enough. He has a very good physical base. So I think it will take not a long time to see Tyler with the team.”

Adams has not played since March after having a hamstring surgery. Even with a known injury, the 24-year-old still completed a move from Leeds United to Bournemouth following Leeds’ relegation to keep him in the top flight.

MLS Weekend Preview

Aside from the Florida derby, there are plenty of matches to be excited about around the league this weekend. Personally, I’m looking forward to catching a bit of the D.C. United and New York Red Bulls match. Manager Wayne Rooney’s club is right on the bubble in a tight Eastern Conference race while the Red Bulls can do themselves a huge service and come back into the playoff picture with a win. Out in the Western Conference, there is a real buzz around a Portland Timbers squad after a manager sacking. It could be a huge win for the Timbers and likely push them above the play-in round should they find a result against the Colorado Rapids.

Free Kicks

That’s all I have for you today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a fantastic Saturday. Be safe on Sunday at the match. Stay hydrated and look out for those around you. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/22/23

Orlando City prepares for Inter Miami, MLS NEXT Pro Decision Day is Sunday, USWNT wins against South Africa, and much more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! It’s been a pretty busy week of apartment hunting and work for me, so I’m looking forward to some rest and relaxation this weekend. I don’t have many plans, but I did make sure to carve out a few hours to make a drink and get some reading done. My book club is fairly low maintenance, but I’ll be behind if I don’t finish Fourth Wing before the second book in the series comes out in November. Let’s get into today’s links!

Orlando City Takes On Inter Miami This Weekend

Following a 2-0 loss on the road to New York City FC earlier this week, Orlando City will aim to bounce back when it hosts rival Inter Miami this Sunday. Orlando has a chance to set club records for the most wins and points in a season since it joined MLS in 2015. It will be the third meeting between the two clubs this season, with Orlando beating Miami 3-1 in May before falling 3-1 in the Leagues Cup’s knockout stage. Although Miami will be without Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba according to Head Coach Tata Martino, the Herons still have plenty of attacking talent in the form of Sergio Busquets, Leonardo Campana, and Josef Martinez.

Orlando City B Readies for MLS NEXT Pro Decision Day

Sunday will also be the final day of the MLS NEXT Pro regular season, with nearly every team in action. Here’s everything you need to know about Decision Day across the league, with playoff spots still up for grabs. Orlando City B has already clinched its spot in the postseason, but can secure fifth in the Eastern Conference when it takes on FC Cincinnati 2. However, the difference between fifth and a lower seed won’t matter too much due to a new rule this year where the second and third seed in each conference choose which lower seed it wants to host in the playoffs. The Golden Boot race is competitive as well, with OCB’s Jack Lynn tied at the top with New York City FC II’s Matt Myers. We’ll see if Lynn takes part in Sunday’s match after giving the first team needed depth last weekend.

USWNT Beats South Africa in Julie Ertz’s Finale

The United States Women’s National Team won 3-0 against South Africa in the first of two friendlies this month. All three of the USWNT’s goals came in the first half, with Lynn Williams bagging a brace. In her final USWNT game, Julie Ertz started and earned plenty of applause from the crowd at TQL Stadium when she was subbed off in the 36h minute. M.A. Vignola made her USWNT debut in the match as well, coming on at halftime. The two nations will play again on Sunday in what will be forward Megan Rapinoe’s last game with the USWNT.

Europa League Group Stage Kicks Off

The first round of Europa League group stage matches is over, with all 32 teams getting things started across Europe. Brighton & Hove Albion’s first Europa League match was a rough one, as the English club fell 3-2 at home against AEK Athens. The Spanish clubs also struggled, with Villarreal getting shut out 2-0 by Panathinaikos and Real Betis losing 1-0 to Rangers. Elsewhere, AS Roma beat Sheriff Tiraspol 2-1 thanks to a winner from Romelu Lukaku, Liverpool won 3-1 over Austrian club LASK after trailing early on, and Marseille drew 3-3 with Ajax in a thriller. West Ham, Atalanta, Bayer Leverkusen, and SC Freiburg also won their group openers.

Free Kicks

  • Enjoy the sights and sounds from the Orlando City Foundation’s annual celebrity golf and footgolf tournament.

That’s all I have for you today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!

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