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Lion Links: 1/12/20

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Happy Sunday, Mane Landers. Before I start my spiel, today is Cristian Higuita’s and Joao Moutinho’s birthday! You should probably go wish them a happy birthday on your social media of choice. Not probably, go do that after you make it through today’s Links. They deserve it.

Okay, to the spiel. I’m probably mid-match as you read this, as my club team Orlando United F.C. is having its final preseason match before the Central Florida Soccer Leagues (CFSL) spring season kicks off. I also helped my parents move into their new home yesterday (congratulations again, guys!), which means I’m already beyond exhausted. Hopefully I can power through, put in a good performance, and head into the week on a high. I hope you do, too. I have some pretty juicy Links for you today, so perhaps that’ll get your week started off on the right foot. Let’s do this.

Ashlyn and Ali: Grateful to Inspire

As you probably know, the Orlando Pride’s Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger are now married. The two tied the knot a couple of weeks ago, and have since become an inspiration to the LGBT community. As I’ve previously stated, I feel incredibly lucky to have these two in Orlando as role models, both on and off the pitch. The two, despite a private ceremony, have since spoken out about their beautiful wedding, relationship, and opportunity to show the world their life, love, and authentic selves. The two feared backlash, specifically on social media, but were brave in letting the world into their lives.

“I think for so long we were so worried about all the consequences and it took a lot of energy from us,” Harris said. “I think for so long, I had to make sure I was professional and this and that. I just felt I wasn’t doing myself justice or my relationship justice by hiding. It feels freeing and liberating just to be able to show up and truly be yourself. I feel like I finally can give my staff and my coaches and the players next to me all of me and not just a part of me.”

Kreiger also harbored fears.

“I really have opened myself up more,” Krieger said. “I feel more vulnerable than I used to — in a good way. I’m more of a private person. I like to keep a few things to myself and I like to share that just with Ash and our family at home. I’m surprised at how vulnerable I’ve become, but I think it’s healthy because people can relate more to you that way. I feel like I’m becoming my more true self.”

Cheers, again, to the both of these incredible women! We’re lucky you’re here, and even luckier that you are who you are.

Chicharito Set to Meet with LA Galaxy

The rich? They get richer. After falling short last season despite having one of the most iconic, and arguably best, strikers of all time in Zlatan Ibrahimović, the LA Galaxy are pursuing yet another marquee striker with word trickling out that the club is preparing to meet with Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez. The 31-year-old striker (I’m 28, and saying that just made me feel old) is reportedly close to penning a deal that would bring him to the same city where his Mexican compatriots, Carlos Vela and Jonathan dos Santos, also ply their trade. Chicharito has reportedly given the green light to the move, and the Galaxy are expected to fork over around $10 million to secure his services. Like I said previously, the rich get richer.

Pulisic: USMNT should have Qualified for the 2018 World Cup

The key word that I left out of that header? “Definitely.” The American and Chelsea playmaker spoke out recently, declaring that the U.S. Men’s National Team should have qualified for the last World Cup – I must say, I agree (duh).

“I definitely feel that we had a good enough team and definitely should have qualified, so that was tough for me…I think we had quality to [make a deep run],” Pulisic said. “I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t have. Once you get to those knockout stages, I think anything’s possible, I think anything could happen.”

Former head coach Jürgen Klinsmann also had some choice words on the topic (again, duh).

“The team belonged [in] Russia,” Klinsmann said. “They belonged in the World Cup. The qualification was pretty much done and then it happened, the big disaster in Trinidad which no one could ever have imagined. I’d take that team in Russia to the final eight, maybe even the final four because there was a building block there and there was a plan for it and the plan got interrupted and it got even more interrupted when the U.S. didn’t qualify for Russia.”

It sure is easy to look back and make such claims, but again, I can’t argue with either of the two. The USMNT failed miserably in its attempt to qualify in 2018, but the quality in the side was certainly enough to make it to Russia. All we can do now is shrug it off and look towards the next one.

Alphonso Davies Finding Success in Munich

As an avid FC Bayern Munich supporter and massive fan of Alphonso Davies, this news seriously warms my heart. The young Canadian winger, who transferred to Bayern from the Vancouver Whitecaps, was named Bayern Munich’s Player of the Month for December 2019. The agile and pacey winger notched four assists in the club’s 13 matches during that month. He also played the entirety of every single one of the those 13 matches. The 19-year-old has been a revelation for the Bundesliga giants, and as an MLS fan, Bayern supporter, and “Phonzie” fanatic, I just can’t get enough of this one. Congratulations, Phonzie!

Random Phonzie Fun Fact: He was the first player born in the 2000s to play in an MLS match.

Free Kicks

  • New York City FC has inked a deal with Gedion Zelalem, formerly of Arsenal fame as a potential future star. There’s no doubt in my mind that the 22-year-old will make an impact for the Pigeons, and in my eyes, this was a brilliant move. I wonder if he was on the Lions’ radar?
  • Zlatan, you monster! (Insert four decades’ worth of praise here).

  • Spanish powerhouse Barcelona reportedly is in the market for a striker following Luis Suarez’s recent knee injury, which is expected to keep the Uruguayan sidelined for at least three months. The club is also preparing to appoint former midfield dynamo Xavi as the next head coach.
  • Look away, Tottenham supporters. Not only is your main man Harry Kane out for a few months, but he had to watch his side fall to table-topping Liverpool, 1-0, during his first day of recovery following his hamstring surgery. Ouch.

  • To end, let’s all give Mr. Miura the credit he deserves. The 52-year-old striker (yep, you read that correctly), has extended his career yet again, preparing himself for his 35th season. One word: unbelievable.


All right, I think that about wraps it up. Be sure to catch the Orlando SeaWolves in action today at 3:05 p.m. against the Florida Tropics and then kick some ass this week, Mane Landers. I expect nothing less from you.

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. 

Free Kicks


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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