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Lion Links: 1/26/20



Happy Sunday, Mane Landers. For the first time in my life, after my club team’s preseason scrimmage (Vamos Orlando United!), I’ll be at the NFL Pro Bowl today in Camping World Stadium. Shout out to Luka, Dani, and Steph for making it happen! I know it’s only the Pro Bowl, but the prospect of watching some of my favorite athletes ply their trade in the casual atmosphere of beautiful, sunny Florida? I mean, c’mon, it’s going to be a blast. Maybe not as exciting (or depressing) as catching a City match, but it will certainly be a good time.

I’m interested in experiencing the difference between this and an MLS All-Star Game. I anticipate the intensity will be much lower, as football — American football that is — is much more prone to injuries on any given play. We’ll see, but if you’re going, drop a comment at the end and let’s meet up! I got some major love for our Mane Land family.

All right, I’m rambling, right? Let’s do this thing. Here’s your Sunday serving of Links. Bon appétit.

Júnior Urso: Inked with Purpose

Newly acquired midfielder Júnior Urso is covered in tattoos. For a professional athlete, this is actually quite common. What’s unique to Urso’s ink, however, is that it all has meaning. The midfielder is right-footed and reserves his right leg for only the most influential and important figures in his life. His mother, father, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King Jr. are just a few that garnish the new Lion’s leg. Why? Urso has been the victim of blatant racism in the world of soccer throughout his entire career. In the Bear’s own words:

“Things like that motivate me,” Urso said. “Together we can accomplish something that has never happened before.”

You see, Urso has been through the ringer when it comes to his profession and experiencing the dark realm of racism. It’s nothing new to him, but his desire to power through and not let these horrid events affect him is powerful, and is instrumental to his identity. We’re lucky to have you, Urso, and we can’t wait to see you take the pitch donning the famous purple kit.

(Mostly Young) Lions Start 2020 the Right Way

The Lions faced Stetson University yesterday, putting in a strong performance and walking away with not only a win, but a clean sheet to boot. A team stacked with young Lions took down Stetson, 3-0, and new Lion Daryl Dike got his name on the score sheet. Check out his goal in the video below, as well as some excellent technical skills shown by others. The result and general feel around the match is entirely positive. I can only hope that this means they put on a show and avoided any serious injuries. As I’ve always said, the future is purple.

Nani Enjoying Himself but 100% Focused

What can I say? I just love me some Nani. The man himself tweeted out yesterday that he’s having fun at work, but more importantly that he’s 100% focused on the new MLS season. I wrongly predicted the Lions breaking into the MLS playoff picture last year, so I won’t do that again, but damn, with a new No. 1 in between the sticks, a new midfielder with loads of experience, and the growth of players like Ruan, Chris Mueller, and Benji Michel? I’d be hard pressed not to beaming with optimism headed into the 2020 season. That said, I don’t want to curse the lads. Perhaps I should predict that they won’t win a single match. Sure, let’s try that and see what happens.

Berhalter Names his 22-Man Roster for Costa Rica

The list is out. Following a few weeks of training here in Florida, Gregg Berhalter is confident in his squad and expects a strong result to get 2020 off to a good start.

“It’s been a good few weeks in Florida. The guys have worked hard and have made progress in all aspects of our game model,” Berhalter said. “We’d like to thank Seattle Sounders and San Jose Earthquakes for their collaboration in releasing their players and wish them success at the start of their campaigns. We now turn our focus to preparing for Costa Rica and encouraging the players to take advantage of the opportunity and finish off the month with a positive result.”

The squad, unsurprisingly, does not include a single player from Orlando City, but it does contain exciting players like Ulysses Llanez of Germany’s Wolfsburg and Paul Arriola of D.C. United. While the squad doesn’t include the most notable players such as Christian Pulisic and DeAndre Yedlin, it certainly looks good on paper. Time will tell, but I have faith in this group, and even more so in Berhalter himself. 2020 will be a great year for the U.S. Men’s National Team. The Yanks face regional rival Costa Rica in the team’s opening match of 2020 on Saturday, Feb. 1 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, CA.

Free Kicks

  • This is bigger news than I think people will give credit to, but the Montreal Impact completed a signing yesterday, permanently acquiring Canadian international Zachary Brault-Guillard from Lyon, following a successful loan spell in 2019. The defender should continue to provide defensive support for the Impact, who will look to rebound following a lackluster 2019 campaign.
  • You’re not reading this, but I have a few (censored) words for the trash who were hurling racist chants at Bilbao’s Inaki Williams during a match. This needs to end. I have no words left. I’m sorry, Inaki. Not everyone on this beautiful planet are awful human beings.
  • Chelsea survived a scare against Hull City yesterday to keep their FA Cup run alive. They’ll want to keep that going, too, with the way the Reds have been looking. C’mon you Reds, you’ll never walk alone!
  • Meanwhile, Arsenal is reportedly close to securing the services of Spanish defender Pablo Mari from Brazilian side Flamengo. I’m not sure this is the signing that’ll turn the fortunes in London for Mikel Arteta, but adding a strong defender who is in his prime can’t hurt, right?
  • To end: Hala Madrid! Barcelona are in some trouble and they don’t have much time to turn things around under new manager Seiten. The Catalonian powerhouse side lost to Valencia yesterday, 2-0. Ah, how the mighty have, well, how the mighty can occasionally fall.

And we leave you today with some more good news from the academy side.

All right folks, that’s it from me for today. Like I mentioned previously, I’ll be at the Pro Bowl today. I mean it, drop me a comment, add me on your social media of choice, and let me buy you a drink. You deserve it.


Lion Links

Lion Links: 11/29/23

Orlando Pride players called up by Brazil, MLS announces 2023 Best XI, latest MLS roster moves, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers I hope all is well down in Florida. I’ve been very busy working throughout the holiday weekend at Under Armour. This week I’ll be working at Wrigley Field for Winterland while getting ready to cover high school wrestling tomorrow night. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Pride Players Called Up By Brazil for Friendlies

Orlando Pride defender Rafaelle and forwards Marta and Adriana have been called up to the Brazil Women’s National Team for its upcoming friendlies.

Brazil will play two matches against Japan on Nov. 30 and Dec. 3 in Sao Paulo before playing Nicaragua on Dec. 6 at Estadio Fonte Luminosa in Araraquara.

MLS Announces the 2023 Best XI

Major League Soccer announced its 2023 Best XI, recognizing the league’s top players at each position. There were no Orlando City players selected for the team and eight players received the honor for the first time. Those players are St. Louis City’s Roman Burki and Tim Parker, FC Cincinnati defender Matt Miazga, Atlanta United duo Thiago Almada and Giorgos Giakoumakis, Houston Dynamo midfielder Hector Herrera, LAFC’s Denis Bouanga, and Columbus Crew forward Cucho Hernandez. Nashville SC’s Hany Mukhtar made the Best XI for the third consecutive time, while teammate Walker Zimmerman was named to it for the fifth time. MLS MVP Luciano Acosta of FC Cincinnati rounds out the list.

Latest MLS Off-season Roster Moves

The Colorado Rapids announced their latest roster changes as they prepare for the the 2024 season under new Head Coach Chris Armas. The club exercised its options for defender Andrew Gutman, midfielder Ralph Priso, and forward Calvin Harris. The Rapids declined contract offers to seven players, with the most notable names being defender Steven Beitashour and goalkeeper William Yarbrough, although the Rapids are in discussions about re-signing Yarbrough. Elsewhere, the New England Revolution exercised the permanent transfer option on forward Tomas Chancalay, signing him to a Designated Player contract through 2026, with a club option for the 2027 season.

UEFA Champions League Roundup

Champions League action returned in Europe, as we get close to wrapping up the group stage in a couple of weeks. Manchester City overcame a two-goal deficit to beat RB Leipzig 3-2 and win Group G. Newcastle United had a chance to qualify for the round of 16 but gave up a late penalty to Paris Saint-Germain, which Kylian Mbappe converted to end the match in a 1-1 draw. Borussia Dortmund beat AC Milan 3-1 to book its spot in the knockout stage. PSG, Newcastle, and AC Milan are all still alive in Group F heading into the final matchday in December. Shakhtar Donetsk won 1-0 against Royal Antwerp and also still has a shot to advance on the final matchday. Lazio, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, and Young Boys all won their respective matches as well. Today’s matches include Manchester United on the road against Galatasaray, Real Madrid taking on Napoli, and Sevilla facing off with PSV Eindhoven.

Free Kicks

  • Concacaf has announced that BMO Stadium, Dignity Health Sports Park, Shell Energy Stadium, and Snapdragon Stadium will be the four venues that will host matches for the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup.
  • Barcelona midfielder Gavi will be sidelined for up to 10 months after undergoing knee surgery after suffering a torn ACL in his right knee.
  • The International Football Association Board approved a trial for sin bins, meaning players punished for dissent or specific tactical offense would be temporarily removed from the match for a set amount of minutes.
  • You have got to see this goal from Cwrt Rawlin FC in the Welsh seventh division.

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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 11/28/23

Luciano Acosta named MVP, Americans in action, scheduling news for U.S. national teams, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Tuesday, everyone. I’m dragging a little today after having an extended period of time off for the Thanksgiving holiday, but there’s no rest for the wicked and the only way out is through. With that being the case, let’s get into today’s news.

Luciano Acosta Wins MLS MVP

In a piece of news that plenty of people likely saw coming from several miles away, Luciano Acosta has been named Major League Soccer’s Most Valuable Player. Acosta racked up 34 goal contributions during the regular season, finishing the 2023 campaign with 17 goals and 14 assists as the driving force behind his team’s run to the Supporters’ Shield. He was voted the best player in the league by quite some margin and won the award in a landslide, taking 60.37% of the votes to Denis Bouanga’s 14.97% and Thiago Almada’s 6.46%.

American Stars in Midweek Action

There are a number of United States Men’s National Team players that will be in action this week, with several UEFA Champions League clashes highlighting the viewing slate. Christian Pulisic, Yunus Musah and AC Milan will face Giovanni Reyna’s Borussia Dortmund today in a game with huge ramifications for both teams. Malik Tillman, Ricardo Pepi, and Sergino Dest may play in PSV Eindhoven’s match with Sevilla tomorrow, and a win would likely go a long way to securing a place in the Round of 16. Additionally on Wednesday, Brenden Aaronson and Union Berlin have a chance to make a big move towards a place in the Europa League, as a win over Braga would leapfrog the German club into third place in Group C.

USMNT & USWNT Scheduling News

The USMNT will open its 2024 slate of games with a match against Slovenia on Jan. 20 in San Antonio. The match will fall outside of an international window, meaning that the January camp roster will largely be made up of domestic-based players. The USMNT has faced Slovenia twice before, with the most recent time being a 3-2 win in Ljubljana courtesy of a Jozy Altidore penalty kick.

While we already knew that the United States Women’s National Team would play China PR on Dec. 5 in Frisco, we now know that one of the team’s legends will be honored before the game. The U.S. Soccer Federation has announced that former Orlando Pride defender Ali Krieger, who stated in March that she will retire following the NWSL season, will be honored before the match. Krieger played 108 games for the USWNT and is a two-time World Cup winner with the team.

Notable Women’s Players to Miss International Matches

A pair of high profile women’s players will miss upcoming international games. First up, Sam Kerr will not feature in Australia’s back-to-back friendlies against Canada due to a foot injury. Kerr has struggled with injuries this year and her availability was limited during this summer’s World Cup.

Alexia Putellas will miss Spain’s two Nations League matches against Sweden and Italy after picking up a left knee injury. Putellas had missed Euro 2022 due to an ACL tear, but was back to help her side win the World Cup several months ago. Fortunately for Spain, the team is well positioned atop its group and has enough players in the squad that it shouldn’t feel her absence too keenly.

Free Kicks

  • A pair of Willian penalties and an early Alex Iwobi goal helped Fulham beat Wolverhampton, with American defenders Antonee Robinson and Tim Ream also starting.
  • New York Red Bulls forward Tom Barlow is reportedly headed to the Chicago Fire.

That’s all I’ve got for you this morning. Y’all stay safe out there.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 11/27/23

Western Conference final is set, Jim Curtin wants Alejandro Bedoya to stay, action from top European leagues, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Monday, everyone. Orlando City’s season might not have ended the way any of us wanted, but 2023 was still a year with a lot to enjoy and be proud of for Lions fans. Before getting into today’s news, let’s wish Martin Ojeda a happy 25th birthday!

Western Conference Final is Set

The Western Conference final is now set, as the Houston Dynamo will be facing LAFC. Houston grabbed a 1-0 win at home over Sporting Kansas City in the first game of the night. Franco Escobar got the home team on the board in the 39th minute and that proved to be enough for Houston to book its ticket to the next round.

In the late kickoff, LAFC went on the road and got its own 1-0 win over the Seattle Sounders. Denis Bounga did what he does best and got the game’s only goal in the 30th minute, and LAFC was able to see out the remainder of the match. Seattle didn’t go down without a fight though, and Maxime Crepeau produced a string of outstanding second-half saves to deny the Sounders an equalizer.

Jim Curtin Wants Alejandro Bedoya Extended

Last month it was being reported that the Philadelphia Union were not planning on extending Alejandro Bedoya, whose contract expires now that the season is over. Following the Union’s exit from the playoffs, Jim Curtin did not mince words when expressing his belief that Bedoya’s time with the club should be extended, saying that Bedoya is bigger than anyone and that his work on the field speaks for itself. Things got really interesting when he appeared to take a shot at Philly’s front office, saying “I think anywhere in the world, the head coach would have a say in what’s up with this captain. I think there was a miscommunication for sure.”

Action Packed European Weekend

It was a busy weekend in the top European leagues, and there’s a lot to catch up on. We’ll start in the Premier League, where Aston Villa beat Tottenham 2-1 to hand a third straight loss to Spurs. The victory saw Villa leapfrog Tottenham into fourth place and only two points behind Arsenal at the top of the table.

In Italy, Juventus and Inter Milan battled to a 1-1 draw in a clash between the two teams at the top of the table. The result means that Inter maintains its spot in first place, and keeps a two-point lead over Juve, and a six-point gap between AC Milan in third.

Finally, Rodrygo scored a brace and Jude Bellingham got yet another goal as Real Madrid beat Cadiz 3-0 to retake first place in La Liga from Girona.

Transfer Rumor Roundup

As always, the transfer rumor mill is turning 24/7, and that means there are some interesting stories to cover today. First up, Victor Osimhen is reportedly Chelsea’s top transfer target during the upcoming January window. The Blues would likely need to break their transfer record to get the job done, but they’ve struggled to start the year and Todd Boehly isn’t shy about whipping out his checkbook.

Arsenal is said to be interested in signing Douglas Luiz in January, but Unai Emery has made it clear that Aston Villa want to keep him, which is unsurprising given how important he’s been for the team this season.

Finally, Steven Bergwijn says he’s happy at Ajax despite interest from West Ham and Saudi Arabia.

Free Kicks

  • Alejandro Garnacho scored a completely absurd goal to spark Manchester United’s 3-0 win over Everton.

That’s all I have for you this morning. Y’all stay safe out there.

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