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Lion Links

Lion Links: 1/28/20



Happy Tuesday, Mane Landers! That’s weird for me to type, as I usually dish out Links on Sundays, but here we are. We have a full plate today, so let’s skip that small talk and hop right into it, shall we?

Orlando City Honors the Black Mamba

As we all know by now, in a cruel, sudden, and tragic event, basketball icon Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna Bryant, Sarah and Payton Chester, John, Keri, and Alyssa Altobelli, and Ara Zobayan all passed away following a helicopter crash on Sunday. I grew up watching the Black Mamba, admiring his tenacity and prowess both on and off the court, so this news hit me like a brick to the face as I was walking into Camping World Stadium to catch the NFL Pro Bowl. Truthfully, I couldn’t enjoy the event, because this was the only thing on my mind, but I was grateful that they acknowledged the tragedy and held their own moment of silence. You could see the shock on the faces of the players. It was clear that some of them didn’t know until it was announced to a crowd of about 54,000 people. In a show of solidarity, support, love, and respect, Orlando City held a moment of silence for those affected by the horrific tragedy. I don’t know what else to say, quite frankly. Bryant was an inspiration to millions and I know his legacy will live on.

Lions Look to Improve Fitness, Chemistry in Mexico

Following their aforementioned moment of silence in honor of Kobe, the Lions got in one final training session before they jetted off to Mexico for a nine-day training camp. The club is hoping that this getaway will serve as a catalyst for the players in many ways — most notably in improving the overall fitness of the squad, and probably more importantly, helping the lads in purple jell as a team. The trip, which began yesterday, will include spending time in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and the Lions plan to use this trip as a primer for the 2020 campaign. New OCSC Head Coach Oscar Pareja made it clear that this isn’t a vacation; it’s a business trip.

“We’re going to overload the group,” Pareja said. “We’ll use this week to level many of the players who came in from the off-season. Preseason is like that. We have youngsters that this is going to be the first preseason that we’re very excited to bring on the trip, some others that already have many preseasons on their bodies and they know this time is to overload themselves.”

I’m coming off of a preseason with my own club team (Vamos Orlando United FC), and I can only imagine the difference between the levels of fitness training, quality, and competition for spots in the starting 11. Get ready, lads. It’s going to be a long nine days.

Orlando SeaWolves’ Tom Traxler: A Candid Interview

Let’s be painfully honest; it’s been a disaster for the SeaWolves so far this season. In 10 matches, the boys have only managed a single win, while putting up an embarrassing goal differential of -52. Ouch. But, we should keep in mind that this is a new franchise, and things take time. Tom Traxler, the head coach of the SeaWolves, sat down and explained to the fans what’s been going on behind the scenes with the club. It’s well worth a watch, and the insight does help me empathize with this struggling squad. Hopefully the SeaWolves get this season turned around, but if they don’t, at least it appears that Traxler is laying a foundation for success in the future (fingers crossed).

Gregg Berhalter Provides Updates

We all know that Christian Pulisic has been out for a few weeks now with a thigh injury that he picked up in London with Chelsea, but we haven’t heard much concerning when he’ll return. Fear not, for U.S. Men’s National Team manager Gregg Berhalter is here to provide us with some details. According to Berhalter, Pulisic and his club’s staff have worked closely with the USMNT staff to ensure a proper recovery, and neither expect the American dynamo to be out for an extended period of time (well, moving forward at least). Meanwhile, Zack Steffen’s knee held him out of Fortuna Dusseldorf’s first match back after the winter break, but Berhalter also stated that they’re working closely with his club, much like they are with Chelsea, to aid in the goalkeeper’s return. Keep an eye on that. Tyler Adams, recovering from a groin injury, has made his return, playing right back for Red Bull Leipzig. That’s interesting to say the least. And finally, and unfortunately, Josh Sargent hasn’t quite been up to snuff for Werder Bremen, last scoring in October of last year. I mean Werder Bremen hasn’t been up to snuff in general as they sit near the bottom of the Bundesliga table, but Sargent’s struggles have been well documented as of late. That’s another situation to keep an eye on as the Summer Olympics creep up on us.

Free Kicks

  • Former UCF Knight and Jamaican National Team captain Konya Plummer, only 22 years of age, helped her country reach its first World Cup in 2019, and she believes that the experience gained during that triumphant appearance will push the Reggae Girlz even further. Keep an eye on these ladies. Something tells me they’re on the come up.
  • We heard rumblings of how much allocation money the Pride used in the deal that sent Rachel Hill to Chicago and brought back the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft. Now the NWSL has (correctly) made the amounts public and will do so moving forward in the name of transparency. It’s a good decision by the league and the only one that should have been considered. The Pride parted with $50,000 in the aforementioned deal.

  • Speaking of the Pride…in case anyone was wondering, yes, Alex Morgan is still putting her boots on and getting training in while pregnant, much like Sydney Leroux did last year. If yesterday’s session was anything like the last one we saw via social media, then she’s still burying balls into the upper 90. Sheesh.

  • Fanendo Adi is headed from southwest Ohio to central Ohio, where he’ll reunite with his former head coach, Caleb Porter.
  • I touched on this on Sunday, but I need to give props where they’re due — Espanyol, a club with supporters who hurled racist insults at Inaki Williams of Athletic Bilbao, has identified nine “club members” who will immediately be punished for their part in this disgusting incident. Good on you, Espanyol, and let this be a lesson to others who have sadistic urges to spew racist garbage from their face holes.
  • In closing, I don’t often feel old — I’m only 27. But this? This made me feel old.

All right, that’s about it from me today, folks. Have yourselves an excellent day, and enjoy the USWNT match tonight. I fully expect a rout (no offense, Haiti).

Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/12/24

Leagues Cup forgets Orlando’s U.S. Open Cup win, USMNT U-23 loses to Japan, NWSL expansion options, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. The USMNT plays tonight in Orlando, and I hope that you have tickets. If not, we can still watch as we wait for the Orlando City and Orlando Pride matches this Saturday. On a personal note, this Friday will mark my ninth anniversary with The Mane Land. It’s been a heck of a ride, and I’m glad you’ve been there with us. Here’s to many more years to come. Let’s get to the links.

Leagues Cup Forgets Orlando’s U.S. Open Cup Win

Orlando City is playing in the Leagues Cup starting at the end of July and here’s a nice guide to Orlando’s group for the tournament. Of course, the Leagues Cup organizers want you to be pumped so that you watch and buy tickets. I think that is something we should do simply to support the club. However, I don’t think they went about promoting the competition in quite the right way. In a tweet that has since been deleted, the tournament’s social media team stated the Leagues Cup would be Orlando’s chance to win its first trophy. Did you catch the mistake? Taylor Twellman did.

Good on you, Taylor. Facundo Torres was indeed brilliant in that match, as was Benji Michel. Of course, there were others that caught the faux pas as well.

I think we should also be mentioning the USL Championships, but what do I know? Evidently, more than the Leagues Cup’s social media team.

USMNT to Honor Pulse Victims

There’s plenty of fake, corporate shows of support for Pride Month , but in general I think that the USMNT and USWNT have done a good job of being legitimate allies to the LGBTQIA+ community. Tonight, the USMNT will play a friendly against Brazil at Camping World Stadium on the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting. The players will be wearing Pride jerseys to honor those that lost their lives so senselessly eight years ago.

In terms of the game, the USMNT will be without Josh Sargent for the match, and Tyler Adams will only get limited minutes if he plays, as both are coming back from injuries. Get well before the Copa America, lads.

Lions on International Duty

The United States U-23 Men’s National Team lost 2-0 to Japan in its final friendly match before the Olympics. Orlando City’s Duncan McGuire found himself on a bit of an island up top as the U.S. had difficulty moving the ball through the midfield. Hopefully, the U.S. got such play out of their system heading into the Olympics.

OCB’s Wilfredo Rivera made the most of his time playing in Puerto Rico’s World Cup qualifier against Anguilla, scoring a brace in the 8-0 victory. This win comes after a scoreless draw with El Salvador last week and Puerto Rico’s remaining group games during this round of qualifying will be next June.

Exploring NWSL Expansion Options

The NWSL will be expanding to 16 teams in 2026 with many cities vying for the next franchise. The leaders include Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Minneapolis. Atlanta, Denver, and Jacksonville are potential choices as well. If it was to be given to either Atlanta or Jacksonville they would be regional rivals for the Orlando Pride. The league is expected to make a decision by the fourth quarter of 2024.

Free Kicks

  • Congratulations to the United States U-15 Women’s National Team, which won 4-0 over Germany.
  • Did you ever have one of those dreams that was a little scary, but also absolutely hilarious? This preview of Inter Miami’s new mascot is a bit like that. To misquote Jaws: “Ever seen an Inter Miami mascot’s eyes, Chief? He’s got lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eyes.”
  • The Cayman Islands Men’s National Football Team forfeited its match against Cuba because many of its players are on visas in the United States. If those players were to travel to Cuba, the U.S. may have canceled those visas due to travel restrictions.
  • This is one of the most ridiculous no-calls I’ve ever seen. India got royally hosed.

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the Orlando City and Orlando Pride matches this Saturday night. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/11/24

Julie Doyle up for Goal of the Week, scouting Brazil ahead of USMNT match, Valencia fans convicted of racial abuse, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Tuesday, everyone. After a brief break, Orlando City will be back in action when it takes on LAFC at home on Saturday. The Orlando Pride will visit a struggling North Carolina Courage side on the same day, while Orlando City B will have an oddly placed Thursday match against Chattanooga FC. With such a busy week ahead of us, it’s little surprise that we have a lot to talk over this morning. Let’s get into it.

Julie Doyle Up for Goal of the Week

Pride forward Julie Doyle has been nominated for NWSL Goal of the Week for her strike against the San Diego Wave during Friday’s 1-1 draw. Doyle opened the scoring in the 36th minute with an extremely well taken goal that came from a Barbra Banda assist. The Zambian forward made a run down the right wing and crossed for Doyle, but the ball was a little behind her and the chance looked to have gone. It hadn’t though, because Doyle contorted her body, hung out a foot, and let the momentum from the ball carry it into the back of San Diego’s net. Make sure you go vote for her to win!

Brazil Scouting Report

The United States Men’s National Team will play its final friendly before Copa America tomorrow at Camping World Stadium, right here in Orlando. The idea of any USMNT game is slightly nauseating after the Yanks were throttled 5-1 by Colombia on Saturday, but the fact that they’ll square off against a loaded Brazil side means things aren’t going to be any easier. While Brazil has struggled early on in World Cup qualifying, it will likely run out a front three of Rodrygo, Vinicius Jr., and Raphina that’s capable of causing plenty of damage. Brazil prefers to control the ball and build from the back with short passing movements, but has no qualms about ceding possession and breaking on the counter, something that caused no shortage of issues for the U.S. against Colombia.

Valencia Fans Convicted of Racial Abuse

A trio of Valencia fans will serve eight months in prison after being convicted of racially abusing Vinicius Jr. Additionally, they are barred from entering soccer stadiums for two years and will pay for court proceedings. The convictions are the first for racism in professional soccer in Spain, and a case was opened after the fans made monkey noises and gestures during a game in May of 2023. The Brazilian forward in particular has faced racial abuse during his time playing in Spain, but he’s far from the only player, as the trial for a fan accused of abusing Inaki Williams during a match in 2020 has still yet to even begin.

The Soccer Tournament Concludes

The Soccer Tournament wrapped up last night with a pair of engrossing championship matches. In the women’s bracket, US Women defeated the North Carolina Courage by a score of 6-3, with Talia Dellapuerta scoring the winning goal. US Women featured United States Women’s National Team greats Heather O’Reilly and Ali Kreiger, and the team won the first women’s edition of the tournament and the $1 million prize that comes with it.

On the men’s side, former Orlando City player Nani and his team Nani FC fell to La Bombonera, which scored mere minutes into the match and never looked back on its way to a convincing 4-0 win. La Bombonera becomes the second team to win it all following Newtown Pride FC’s victory in last year’s inaugural tournament.

Free Kicks

That’s all I have for you this morning. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/10/24

Facundo Torres and Cesar Araujo won’t play for Uruguay in Copa America, Pride and OCB draw, USMNT drilled by Colombia, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Alex Corrie

Hello, Mane Landers! I hope all is well down in Florida. I was busy at Under Armour all weekend and managing the broadcast operations for the NISA league’s matches last night. The Lions were off this weekend, but we had the Orlando Pride and OCB in action. We’ve got plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links. 

Torres and Araujo Not On Uruguay Squad for Copa America

Uruguay National Team manager Marcelo Bielsa confirmed his roster for the 2024 Copa America over the weekend, and Orlando City’s Facundo Torres and Cesar Araujo didn’t make the final roster.

Torres and Araujo played briefly in the second half in Uruguay’s 4-0 win over Mexico in a friendly match last week. Uruguay will now prepare for its upcoming group stage matches in the Copa America against Panama, Bolivia, and the United States. Torres and Araujo will be back with Orlando City this week to get ready for their upcoming matchup against LAFC on Saturday.

Orlando Pride, San Diego Wave Play to 1-1 Draw

The Orlando Pride drew 1-1 Friday against the San Diego Wave at Snapdragon Stadium and saw their NWSL record win streak end at eight matches. Julie Doyle scored the opener for the Pride, but the Wave were able to grab an equalizer in the second half as both sides got a point. The Pride remains unbeaten this season in the NWSL. After this weekend’s results across the league, Orlando and the Kansas City Current are tied with 28 points, but Kansas City is in first on goal differential. The Pride will be on the road again this weekend to take on the North Carolina Courage Saturday.

OCB Draws at Home vs. Carolina Core FC, Snags Shootout Point

On Friday, Orlando City B drew 2-2 against Carolina Core FC at Osceola County Stadium. The Young Lions were off to a poor start early in the match, trailing 2-0 in the first half. In the second half, OCB got things back on track with goals from Alex Freeman and Imanol Almaguer to tie the match. It went to penalties after finishing tied. OCB won the extra point with a 6-5 shootout win over Carolina. That result puts the Young Lions back in the playoff hunt in seventh in the Eastern Conference with 18 points. OCB will be back in action Thursday at home against Chattanooga FC.

Colombia Dominates USMNT in Friendly Action

The U.S. Men’s National Team fell 5-1 to Colombia Saturday at FedEx Field and suffered its heaviest defeat under Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. It wasn’t good from the start as the USMNT conceded two goals in the first 19 minutes of the match in the first half. Tim Weah pulled one back for the U.S. before Colombia added three more goals towards the end of the second half to seal the win. Colombia is on a seven-match winning streak and is unbeaten in 22 matches. The last time the USMNT gave up this many goals was in the 2009 Gold Cup final in a 5-0 defeat to Mexico. The U.S. needs to improve fast with its Copa America opener less than two weeks from now. It will be a quick turnaround for the Americans as they take on Brazil Wednesday at Camping World Stadium in their final friendly match before Copa America starts.

Free Kicks

  • FC Dallas has announced the departure of Head Coach Nico Estevez. Assistant Coach Peter Luccin will lead the team on an interim basis while the club begins its search for a new head coach. FC Dallas is 13th in the Western Conference with 14 points.
  • The Chicago Red Stars broke an NWSL attendance record in their match over the weekend as 35,038 fans showed up at Wrigley Field, but the Red Stars lost 2-1 to Bay FC.
  • Wrexham co-owner Rob McElhenney is renewing his efforts to lure former Real Madrid star Gareth Bale out of retirement to join the club. He also stated that the club’s offer is still on the table.
  • In Jesse Marsch’s second match as Canada’s head coach, Canada held France to a scoreless draw in a friendly match on Sunday.

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

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