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Lion Links: 2/24/20

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Happy Monday, Mane Landers. I’m going to start with a personal shout out to my Sunday league team, Orlando United FC, which held a clean sheet yesterday while scoring three times. It was an impressive showing from the boys, so congratulations are in order.
I managed to put a spot kick right down the center and the keeper saved it, but I did score a header off of a corner kick. Embarrassing is an understatement and I’m my biggest critic, so it’ll be on my mind until I bury the next one. But hey, even the greats miss on occassion (I’m looking at you, Lionel Messi, Sergio Ramos, and David Beckham).

Okay, enough about me. These links are for you! Welcome to a special serving of Monday links since I usually serve you on Sundays. Bon appétit.

A Beautiful Reunion: Tesho and Óscar

Some may already know, but Óscar Pareja drafted Tesho Akindele in 2014 in a surprise move with the sixth overall draft pick. For Akindele, this was a massive surprise as he expected to be drafted in the second round by the LA Galaxy. Akindele, who plied his trade in college’s D2 scene, was elated to be under Pareja and Pareja was happy to work with him for the first five years of his professional playing career. Flash forward to now and a beautiful reunion is upon us as the two both represent the purple Orlando City crest. Akindele’s learned a lot from Pareja and relishes the opportunity to work under his former gaffer for a second spell.

“It’s one of those lead-by-example things because you have no excuse not to be working hard if the boss is working hard,” Akindele said. “He can demand that his players work hard because he’s like, ‘I am putting in these hours; I have the receipts to show you I’m here all the time. I’m working as hard as anyone.’ So it just is it kind of a top-down mentality from there.”

2020: Year of the Foreign Coaches?

MLS has its nuances. It’s a tough league, historically, on foreign mangers that come from outside of the United States and Canada. This has changed in recent years though. Foreign head coaches are finding increased support and success in MLS, with coaches such as Tata Martino, who brought success to Atlanta United, ushering in a new era of management. Of the seven new coaches hired this off-season, six come from outside of the U.S. and Canada, including Orlando’s Pareja. Of those seven, four have no prior MLS experience.

A few years ago, the perception of these moves would be much different than they are now, as some seasoned coaches with ample experience in various leagues around the world failed to live up to club expectations. Now, the expectations remain high, but Tata and a few others have proven that foreigners can truly find success in MLS.

MLS’ Top Players

Are you kidding me, Greg Seltzer? How is Nani not a top winger in your list of the top five MLS players at each position? Given the captain’s 2019 season, I’m surprised but I’m sure he will use it as motivation this year. Orlando City, according to Seltzer, doesn’t have a single player noted on the list. I can’t argue too much, but Pedro Gallese certainly could be a top goalkeeper in the league once he gets going this seaso.

Ruan is also a borderline top right back in my eyes. Other than that, it’s tough to argue that the Lions have any top players. But Nani not being a top winger in the league disqualifies this list as rubbish in my opinion. Meanwhile, rookie Daryl Dike didn’t make it into the top 10 young players to watch in 2020. I’ve had enough, let’s move on to the next link.

MLS Clubs Sharing Fields

This isn’t an entirely new concept, as many MLS clubs share their home grounds with franchises in other sports, but this year is a bit different. The normal suspects remain the same with Atlanta’s soccer and football teams sharing the same turf and the same goes in Chicago, Cincinnati, Houston, New England, Toronto, Nashville, Vancouver, and Seattle. New York’s soccer team and the better baseball team also share a home field.

This year, we can add a few more clubs to that list with Los Angeles and D.C. now sharing their fields with newly-formed XFL teams. Seattle also has an XFL team joining the fray. So if the pitches look a bit strange this season, you’ll now know why. Thankfully, we have a beautiful stadium and pitch here in Orlando that is free from the XFL. Exploria Stadium is amazing and this makes me that much more grateful that we get to attend matches in it.

Free Kicks

  • I’m sure most of us are already well-versed, but in case you’re not, here’s an update on the rule changes coming to MLS for the 2020 season.
  • Four stars? Check. A champion’s badge? Check. That is all.

  • Meanwhile in Rio de Janeiro, Marta is rightfully being worshipped.

  • The San Jose Earthquakes requested permission to rename one of the streets near the stadium to “Wondo Way” as a nod to Chris Wondolowski and his legendary MLS career. Personally, I love this gesture and hope the request is granted.
  • Eden Hazard suffered an injury in Real Madrid’s shocking 1-0 loss at Levante yesterday. This comes just weeks after the 29-year-old Belgian icon returned from a different injury. Get well soon, Hazard!
  • In Paris, Edison Cavani continues to score. I can see Kylian Mbappe beating this record, but I think it’s far more likely that he leaves the club before doing so.

  • And to end our links, the notorious coronavirus has impacted even Barcelona ahead of tomorrow’s Champion’s League round of 16 tie against Napoli. The virus recently broken out in Italy and caused Serie A matches to be canceled. This prompted the Catalan club to go through tests today to ensure that they aren’t infected.

Mane Landers, that’s it for today. Enjoy your Monday and kick some butt this week. I believe in you just as much as Lebron James believes in Jayson Tatum. Go Celtics.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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