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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: 6/20/24

Orlando City draws against Charlotte FC, Wilfredo Rivera joins first team, Ally Watt speaks on Black Women’s Player Collective, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B / Mark Thor

How’s it going, Mane Landers? Last night’s Orlando City match featured plenty of ups and downs, but it was a pretty exciting way to spend a Wednesday night. Hopefully the Cardiac Cats weren’t too hard on your heart. Before we dive into today’s links, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride defender Celia!

Orlando City Draws Against Charlotte FC

The Lions went on the road for a match against Charlotte FC and earned a point with a 2-2 draw. Matches between the two teams are usually close affairs and this one was no different, as neither team did enough to claim victory. One one hand, equalizing twice on the road against a stingy defense isn’t the worst outcome for Orlando. On the other hand, Charlotte played most of the match a man down and a win was definitely in the cards for the Lions. Hopefully Orlando can break this five-game winless streak when it hosts the Chicago Fire on Saturday.

Wilfredo Rivera Available for the First Team

Orlando City B midfielder Wilfredo Rivera is with the first team this week after signing a short-term agreement with Orlando City. He was an unused substitute in Wednesday’s match in Charlotte and will be available for selection in Orlando’s match against the Chicago Fire on Saturday. The 20-year-old signed a similar agreement in March of this year, but has yet to make his MLS debut. Rivera came off the bench in OCB’s match against Chattanooga FC on Thursday and scored a brace earlier this month while on international duty with Puerto Rico. The signing was necessary as Ramiro Enrique is on an excused absence for a personal matter.

Ally Watt Discusses Black Women’s Player Collective

Orlando Pride forward Ally Watt talked about her role as the team’s representative for the Black Women’s Player Collective, which is a non-profit organization created by Black players in the NWSL. Watt spoke on how the collective allows her and other players to provide opportunities for young girls that they didn’t have. One such initiative is the creation of mini-pitches to give more safe and equitable spaces for Black girls to play soccer.

Copa America is Upon Us

This year’s Copa America, which will pit the top 16 nations in the Western Hemisphere against each other, kicks off tonight. Here’s a great guide to each team’s notable players and chances to win the tournament. Orlando City goalkeeper Pedro Gallese was noted as the star to watch on Peru’s squad. He has his work cut out for him though in a group that includes Argentina, Canada, and Ecuador. As for the U.S., Christian Pulisic and Giovanni Reyna are key players for the team’s aspirations at a deep run.

Chuck Booth over at CBS Sports also ranked each team heading into the tournament, placing the U.S. fifth on the list. Argentina tops the rankings, and I was a bit surprised to see Brazil in fourth. Peru is last, but hopefully Gallese and Wilder Cartagena can help prove the doubters wrong.

Germany Advances in Euro 2024

Germany followed up its opening win against Scotland with a 2-0 win over Hungary to become the first team to clinch a spot in the knockout round of Euro 2024. In the other Group A matchup, Switzerland and Scotland battled to a 1-1 draw that included a great goal from Xherdan Shaqiri after a bad giveaway by Scotland.

It looked like Albania was headed towards another frustrating loss after giving up the lead in the second half, but a late strike by Klaus Gjasula salvaged a 2-2 draw against Croatia. Today’s slate of matches features a showdown between Spain and Italy, along with Denmark’s clash with England. We also may get to see Orlando City center back David Brekalo take the field in Slovenia’s match against Serbia.

Free Kicks

  • Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Ryan Gauld won MLS Goal of the Matchday for his strike in stoppage time against the New England Revolution.
  • FC Cincinnati’s Luca Orellano scored one of the best goals of the season with a pinpoint strike from downtown.
  • NJ/NY Gotham FC extended its unbeaten streak to nine games, with rookie Maycee Ball scoring a late winner to beat the San Diego Wave 2-1.

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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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/19/24

Orlando City needs to score, Duncan McGuire in demand, Orlando City B match postponed, and more.



Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

Happy Juneteenth, Mane Landers. It is a day to celebrate the end of chattel slavery in the United States and the progress of the Black community in this country. There is always more work to be done, but celebrating the progress to date is worthwhile. Today is also a match day for Orlando City, but for now let’s get to the links.

Scoring Goals is Important

Former Orlando City gaffer Adrian Heath is known for saying that goals change games. Orlando City has not scored many goals this season, making it hard for the club to change games and get results. Head Coach Oscar Pareja is taking the positives from the last match, but he will need to turn things around in Orlando’s attack if he’s to snap the club’s four-game winless streak. The first opportunity is tonight against Charlotte FC.

Competition Grows for Duncan McGuire’s Services

Following the Blackburn Rovers debacle in the last transfer window, we know that Duncan McGuire has interest in moving abroad. If not for incompetence on Blackburn’s part he would already be in Europe. The other interested party in that saga was Sheffield Wednesday, a club that is reportedly still interested in signing the young striker. Now, the English club may have some competition from Torino in Serie A, with other Serie A clubs interested as well. Hopefully, Orlando City will be able to secure McGuire’s services, though I expect he wants to go abroad.

Tonight’s Orlando City B Match Postponed

Orlando City B was set to take on New York City FC II today, but the match has been postponed. The new date and kickoff time have not yet been announced.

It’s not the first time this game’s date has been changed, as it was originally set for June 29 when the season’s schedule was announced. The Young Lions may not be complaining much about not having to play on the road on relatively short rest. As it stands, OCB’s next match will now be against Atlanta United 2 on June 26.

Hines Remembers Match After Pulse Shooting

It’s been a week since the eighth anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub tragedy. Yesterday, it was eight years since Orlando City played the San Jose Earthquakes in the first Orlando City match following the shooting. Orlando Pride Head Coach Seb Hines was a starting center back for the Lions in that match. He remembers the emotions of that day. Hines spoke on how it felt to get up for a match, but also taking time in the 49th minute to honor the 49 people whose lives were taken away too soon. He still has the rainbow sweatbands from that match that he was wearing when he scored a header for Orlando City. Hines remembers the good and the bad, and so should we.

Upgrading the NWSL Match Experience

NWSL clubs are trying to improve the matchday experience for their fans. That looks different everywhere, but at Inter&Co Stadium that experience includes local food vendors as a part of the “Orlando Made” initiative by Orlando City and the Orlando Pride. Of course, great food will only get attendance to a certain level. The real crowd pleaser is winning, and the Pride have been doing a lot of that so far this season.

Free Kicks

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the match tonight. As always, Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/18/24

Euro 2024 roundup, MLS transfer happenings, U.S. stars on Copa America prep, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Tuesday, everyone. It was a mixed bag for Orlando’s soccer teams over the weekend, as none of Orlando City, the Orlando Pride, or Orlando City B managed to win, with a loss and two draws. The only way out is through though, and there are plenty of chances to get back to winning ways this week. Before we get to today’s links, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Pride defender Rafaelle!

Euro Results Roundup

It was another pulsating day of action at Euro 2024, with the theme of early goals and exciting contests continuing. The early contest saw Romania beat Ukraine 3-0 with a trio of very well-taken goals. Nicolae Stanciu opened the scoring in the 29th minute and a pair of second-half goals just four minutes apart sealed Romania’s first win at the Euros in 24 years. In the second game of the day, Slovakia grabbed a goal in the seventh minute courtesy of an ill-advised Belgian attempt to play out of the back, and managed to hang on for a 1-0 win. The game wasn’t without controversy, as Romelu Lukaku missed several excellent chances, and also had two goals correctly ruled out by video review. The last game of the day saw France beat Austria 1-0 courtesy of an own goal in the first half, but the biggest talking point was Kylian Mbappe’s broken nose that will reportedly require surgery.

MLS Transfer Happenings

We have several important MLS transfers to catch up on this morning. First, the Houston Dynamo have broken the club’s transfer record to sign Argentine striker Ezequiel Ponce from Greek club AEK Athens. The 27-year-old will be a Designated Player, and although he can’t play for Houston until the secondary transfer window opens on July 18, he should help a Dynamo team that’s scored the fewest goals in the Western Conference. Moving to the Eastern Conference, the Columbus Crew are reportedly closing in on a trade to acquire Aziel Jackson from St. Louis City in exchange for $650,000 of General Allocation Money, in addition to other incentives.

Finally, Tom Bogert has identified Brighton and Hove Albion’s Marc Leonard as a player who could move stateside this summer. His loan spell at Northampton Town last season saw him named the club’s player of the year.

U.S. Players Speak About Copa America Prep

The Copa America kicks off on Friday, and Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams recently spoke about how they and the rest of the United States Men’s National Team have been preparing for the tournament. McKennie spoke on how this team has never been in camp for this long before, and that the extra time is helping them iron out little issues. He also talked about his willingness to fill in wherever needed on the field, something that could be relevant for both him and Adams given the injury to Sergino Dest. For his part, Adams discussed how a bright spot to missing so much time last year due to injury was that it allowed him to spend plenty of time with his newborn son.

UEFA Investigating Racism at Euro Match

UEFA is probing an alleged incident of racial abuse that took place in the match between England and Serbia. While the complaint did not come from the English Football Association, UEFA released a statement that it was investigating Serbia for objects that were thrown and the “transmission of a provocative message.” If the charges are proven, then Serbia could face sanctions from UEFA.

Free Kicks

  • The sensor placed inside the ball was instrumental in overturning what would have been an equalizing goal for Belgium.
  • Polish television is doing some very cool things with its soccer coverage.
  • An English fan woke up still in the stadium well after his team’s win over Serbia.

That does it for me this morning. Vamos Orlando!

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