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Lion Links: 6/9/19

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Happy Sunday, Mane Landers. The Women’s World Cup is finally here! I hope you’ve all been soaking in the action and enjoying the beautiful game, I know I am. With that said, a lot of today’s news will naturally relate to the monumental tournament.

Let’s get straight to it, shall we?

Marta Set to Miss World Cup Opener

With the Women’s World Cup finally upon us, some unfortunate news has made its way out of the Brazil camp. Orlando Pride and Brazilian superstar Marta, a six-time winner of FIFA’s World Player of the Year award, will not be available for selection in today’s opener against Jamaica. The injury, a left thigh knock sustained on May 25 in training, will hold the iconic player out, which is extremely bad news for a Brazil side that has lost its last eight matches headed into the tournament. Keep a close eye on today’s result. A loss will almost certainly highlight her importance to the squad’s success. Marta has scored 15 times in five World Cup matches and the team will not only miss her goal-scoring prowess, but her technical skills on the ball, as well as her ability to make everyone around her better.

Hope Solo Calls Out Jill Ellis, USWNT Shifts Focus

Oh boy, here we go again. Embattled soccer personality and former world class goalkeeper Hope Solo has publicly called out head coach Jill Ellis ahead of the team’s first World Cup match against Thailand. Solo’s gripes stem from her opinion of Ellis’ lack of leadership.

“Jill is not the leader I wish her to be,” Solo said. “She relies heavily on her assistant coaches. She cracks under the pressure quite a bit. But often that doesn’t matter because the quality of the players on the U.S. team is superb. It doesn’t matter who is coaching us because we will find a way to win. The United States knows how to find a way to win in spite of who the coach is.”

Strange, huh? A goalkeeper taking shots instead of saving them.

Meanwhile, Ellis and her squad are focusing on shifting from World Cup preparations to World Cup performances. The opening match against Thailand, slated to kick off on Tuesday, June 11, at 3 p.m. EST, will certainly be one to watch after France trounced South Korea, making their presence loud and clear. If there’s one thing that I would bet the house on, it’s that this World Cup is going to be an exciting tournament.

Jonathan dos Santos Expecting Mexico vs. USA Gold Cup Final

I can’t disagree with the Los Angeles Galaxy and Mexico star, as the two countries are the clear favorites to progress through to the final. It wouldn’t be the first time the two have met each other in the final, as the rivalry has seen itself front and center on this stage five times since 1991. Dos Santos, a player with a rich history of playing for some of the world’s most reputable and famous clubs, believes that the U.S. isn’t too far behind Mexico in terms of quality, and has expressed publicly his respect for his country’s international rivals.

“I think the United States has a very good national team with talented and young players. I think they will do a great tournament, and it will certainly be between them and us on who will be crowned champion of the Gold Cup. I think as time passes, [the US is] getting close to Mexico.”

The Baby Nats Fall in Quarterfinals

After an incredible win against the powerhouse favorites France, the U-20 U.S. Men’s National Team failed to find the same success against Ecuador, losing 2-1 and subsequently being knocked out of the U-20 World Cup. The run this young team made was both promising yet disappointing, as the Baby Nats seemed to be making a strong run towards the final. Unfortunately, this loss after a big win isn’t a new trend to the country’s teams.

Regardless of the result though, it’s still a huge leap forward for our country and the growing interest of the sport in the States. If it tickles your fancy, have a look at the team’s player grades. Note: Paul’s tweet isn’t entirely factual as I think he may have forgotten about the USMNT’s success in the Gold Cup.

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  • Oh Toni, we love you so much, and we wish we could watch you play during this World Cup!

  • Tallahassee Soccer Club hosted the Gulf Coast Premier League’s defending champions, Port City FC in an exciting affair that saw the Battle Lions take down Port City, 3-1. The Battle Lions who found the back of the net included Michael Seng, Daniel Villa, and Boneco Bazil.

  • The CFSC Panthers, Orlando’s National Premier Soccer League team, traveled down south to take on the defending national champions, Miami United FC. The Panthers held strong and went into the half only trailing by one, but fell victim to excellent play from an incredibly strong Miami side and ultimately lost 5-0.
  • You can’t see it, but I’m giving a standing ovation to Phoenix Rising right now. The club made the admirable decision to sell beer at a dollar apiece in recognition of their club’s incredible 11-match winning streak. Bravo, Phoenix. Bravo. And hey Orlando…take note.
  • FIFA has handed out a lifetime ban to ex-Afghan football chief Keramuudin Karim and issued a $1 million dollar fine after they received multiple complaints of sexual assault from players that represent the country on the international stage. Personally, assuming the allegations are true, I don’t think this is a severe enough punishment.
  • I’m a huge Bayern Munich fan, for those that may not know, and I’m also a huge Manuel Neuer fan (I had the privilege of sitting in his locker at Allianz Arena in Munich last November, too). Here’s one of the many reasons why he’ll go down as one of the best goalkeepers to have ever graced a pitch:

  • Now that you’ve seen the quality and touch of Neuer, have a quick gander at the lack of quality and touch from San Jose’s Mario Daniel Vega. Sorry, Mr. Vega.


All right Mane Landers, that’s all I’ve got for you today. Enjoy the World Cup while you can, have a great Sunday, and have an even better week. Much love!

Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/27/24

Orlando City loses to the Crew, Pride and OCB win, Southampton seals return to Premier League, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

Happy Memorial Day, Mane Landers! I hope you all had a good holiday weekend. I worked at Under Armour all weekend while wrapping up my high school sports coverage for the spring season. It was a mixed weekend for our teams. Orlando City lost, but both the Pride and OCB won their matches. We’ve got plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links. 

Lions Lose at Home to Columbus Crew

Orlando City lost 2-0 to the Columbus Crew on Saturday at Inter&Co Stadium and saw its three-match unbeaten streak end. The match’s first goal was controversial as the referee, Jair Marrufo, initially awarded the Lions a penalty late in the first half but went to the monitor and reviewed a play at the other end of the pitch. He instead awarded Columbus a penalty kick. Diego Rossi scored from the spot to put the Crew ahead 1-0 before halftime. Columbus extended its winning streak to three matches. Orlando has struggled at home, going just 1-3-4 so far this season. The Lions have not scored a goal at home since April 27. Despite the loss, the Lions still remain in 10th in the Eastern Conference with 16 points. Next up for Orlando is a pair of road matches this week, starting Wednesday at the Chicago Fire, followed by a Saturday night matchup against the New York Red Bulls. 

Pride Win at Home Over Portland Thorns

The Orlando Pride won their record-setting eighth straight match with a 2-1 victory at Inter&Co Stadium against the Portland Thorns Friday. Barbra Banda scored two goals in the first half to give the Pride a 2-0 lead going into halftime. Portland pulled one back, but the Pride held on for the victory and claimed three points. Orlando remains undefeated in league play after 11 matches, and the Pride stay atop the NWSL table with 27 points. The Pride are off this week but will return to action on the road next Friday, June 7, against the San Diego Wave.

OCB Win at Home against Huntsville City FC

On Sunday, Orlando City B bounced back with a season-high five goals in a 5-0 win over Hunstville City FC at Osceola County Stadium. Jhon Solis, Yutaro Tsukada, and Shak Mohammed put OCB ahead 3-0, while Yeiler Valencia scored his first two OCB goals to seal the win for the Young Lions. OCB is now in sixth in the Eastern Conference with 16 points. Meanwhile, Huntsville City FC remains winless through 10 matches and stays at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. OCB’s next match will be on the road Sunday at Inter Miami CF II. 

Southampton Clinches Promotion to Premier League

Southampton booked its return to the Premier League with a 1-0 over Leeds United in the EFL Championship playoff final at Wembley Sunday. Adam Armstrong scored the lone goal in this match as the Saints returned to the top flight after being relegated the previous season. Southampton joins Leicester City and Ipswich Town, securing promotion to the Premier League. Despite finishing third in the table, Leeds’ playoff woes continue as this is the sixth time it missed out on securing promotion and finished its season with only one win out of its last six matches. 

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That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Monday and I’ll see you next time.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/24/24

Orlando City prepares for the Crew, Barbra Banda an NWSL MVP favorite, Orlando Pride announce sleeve sponsor, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! The gauntlet of Orlando soccer home games starts tonight when the Orlando Pride take on the Portland Thorns in a clash of win streaks. I’m working for most of the weekend, but am looking forward to watching some soccer and playing my way through the Ace Attorney games during my spare time. For now though, let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world.

Orlando City Gets Ready to Host the Crew

Orlando City is on a three-game unbeaten run and will take on the Columbus Crew Saturday night in an Eastern Conference showdown. The last time these two sides met was in the 2023 Eastern Conference semifinals with the Crew winning in extra time to eliminate the Lions. It’s the third consecutive road game for the Crew after winning 3-1 against both CF Montreal and the Chicago Fire. Saturday’s match is also the Crew’s last match before the Concacaf Champions Cup final on June 1. Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja spoke on how the Lions will be up to the task regardless of which players take the field for Columbus. Pareja also spoke about how Duncan McGuire is working his way back from the injury he suffered last week.

Barbra Banda Named MVP Frontrunner

ESPN updated its rankings of players in contention to be named NWSL MVP this season and Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda tops the list. The Zambian forward hasn’t been with the Pride for long, but she has scored six goals in six games to help the Pride win seven straight games. Opposing defenses haven’t figured out a way to stop her, and it’s fair to think of her as an MVP favorite alongside fellow attackers in the league like Sophia Smith and Temwa Chawinga. Pride defender Emily Sams also earned herself a spot on the list, ranking 11th. It’s nice to see her get some deserved recognition for her role in the Pride’s stellar defense this year.

Orlando Pride Announce Sleeve Sponsor

A partnership was announced between the Orlando Pride and Heart of Florida United Way, a charity that’s supported families in Central Florida for the past 85 years. As part of the partnership, Heart of Florida United Way will become the first sleeve sponsor for the Pride and its logo will be on the right sleeve of both of the Pride’s jerseys this year. A new ticket program is also being created for 50 tickets to be donated to a local charity for each Pride home game.

Orlando City Unveils Watch Party Schedule

The schedule for this Orlando City season’s watch parties is out, along with the lineup of this year’s included pubs. Each pub will have MLS Season Pass access for fans to watch Orlando’s games this year and there will be chances to win tickets and autographed items at the watch parties as well. There are three new pubs added to the lineup this year, including The Castle Irish Pub at College Park, Paddywagon Irish Pub in Dr. Phillips, and Winter Garden’s Hagan O’Reilly’s. The first watch party will be at The Hammered Lamb in Ivanhoe Village on June 1 when the Lions face off against the New York Red Bulls.

Free Kicks

  • Pride midfielder Evelina Duljan was called up to join Sweden’s U-23 team for the upcoming Four Nations Tournament.
  • NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman became the first woman to be named Sports Business Journal‘s Sports Executive of the Year.

That’s all I have for you this time around. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/23/24

Orlando Pride prepare for the Portland Thorns, Pride Brazilian trio called up, Atalanta wins Europa League, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this Thursday finds you well as we all get ready for a busy next few days of Orlando soccer to enjoy. It’s been a fairly busy couple of days for me, and I plan on knocking out a few errands before enjoying the upcoming matches. Until then, let’s enjoy today’s links!

Pride Prepare to Host the Portland Thorns

The Orlando Pride have a huge home game against the Portland Thorns tomorrow night. It will be a clash of win streaks, as the Pride have won their past seven games and the Thorns have won their last six. Pride Head Coach Seb Hines is well aware that Portland is a formidable foe with talented players such as Sophia Smith, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Sam Coffey. He spoke on how tomorrow will be a challenge, as well as how playing at home will give the Pride a boost during the game.

Pride Trio Called Up by Brazil

The Pride’s Marta, Rafaelle, and Adriana were all called up for Brazil’s pair of friendlies against Jamaica in Brazil on June 1 and June 4.

These matches will help Brazil prepare for a tough group in the Olympics against Spain, Japan, and Nigeria. Angelina, who featured for Brazil during the SheBelieves Cup, was not called up due to an injury sustained while with the Pride. Although these games will take place during an international break, the Pride do have a road game against the San Diego Wave on June 7, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Hines gives them some rest for that match.

Assessing Emma Hayes’ Time With Chelsea

It felt like forever ago that it was announced Chelsea’s Emma Hayes would leave the club to replace Vlatko Andonovski and coach the USWNT. A great article by ESPN broke down what USWNT fans can learn from her time with Chelsea, including how she’s dealt with the adversity she’s faced both on and off the field. Her impending exit put a spotlight on Chelsea’s season, and she still managed to secure the league title despite the pressure. Chelsea also announced that five members of the coaching staff will leave the club to join Hayes at the USWNT. It’s a new era for the USWNT, and Hayes brings plenty of experience and leadership to the position.

Atalanta Crushes Leverkusen to Win Europa League

Italian club Atalanta lifted the Europa League trophy after a 3-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen in Dublin. The day belonged to Nigerian winger Ademola Lookman, who scored a hat trick that included this stunner that doubled Atalanta’s lead in the first half.

It’s Atalanta’s second trophy in club history, and first in 61 years. It’s also the first trophy for manager Gian Piero Gasperini after coaching in Italy for 30 years. This result snapped Leverkusen’s remarkable unbeaten streak at 51 games, and ended the club’s bid at a treble. Bayer Leverkusen will aim to bounce back Saturday when it plays FC Kaiserslautern in the German Cup final.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City President of Business Operations Jarrod Dillon has issued a challenge to Orlando City fans for the upcoming trio of Orlando soccer home games, so it may be worth your while to get tickets for the Lions, Pride, and OCB this weekend.
  • Pride forward Amanda Allen placed 16th in ESPN‘s rankings of the 17 teenagers currently playing in the National Women’s Soccer League (the author deemed it unfair to assess Milly Clegg without seeing her on the field more). Allen mostly just hasn’t had much playing time, but that could change over the summer.
  • Former Pride player Camille Ashton (known as Cami Levin when she played in the Pride midfield in 2016 and 2017) has resigned as the general manager of the Kansas City Current.

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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