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Lion Links

Lion Links: 3/8/20



Happy Sunday, Mane Landers. Let’s begin by wishing the Orlando Pride’s Claire Emslie a special happy birthday! The Scottish phenom turns 26 years old today! She’s been in great form for her nation and she’s just now entering her prime, hopefully she brings her best to the Pride this season and helps the club return to form. We’re lucky to have you, Claire!

All right, on to today’s serving of Links. Enjoy!

Lions Fall Late to the Rapids

Following a draw against Real Salt Lake that the Lions could have easily won, the boys in purple traveled to Colorado to take on the Rapids last night. Despite the lads rocking the new Heart and Sol kit, it was hard for me to feel optimistic going into this one with the lineup that Oscar Pareja chose. The match was a back and forth affair, but I was pleasantly surprised by the Lions’ performance. I actually called the Chris Mueller sub and goal at halftime (ask our staff…), so his “super sub” label seems to be sticking around. It is what it is.

In the end, the Lions walked away with zero points and a 2-1 heartbreaking loss — yet the supporters, as well as myself, likely still feel like it was City’s match to win. What’s continuing to be painfully obvious is that the Lions are missing their offensive weapons. I sure hope this is remedied soon. Michael Citro has your match recap.

And check back later today when the bearded guy drops his five takeaways.

SeaWolves Drown in the Wave

The Orlando SeaWolves…well, they’ve endured a horrid season. Yesterday’s match, coupled with today’s rematch against the Wave, marks the final road trip that the SeaWolves will make this season. I’m sure the Orlando-based MASL club is more than ready to put this season behind it though, as a record of 1-18 — they lost this one 11-3 — has plagued the team and resulted in poor morale and chemistry. The Wave, to their credit, have been having a strong season and moved to 13-6 following yesterday’s drubbing of the SeaWolves. Today’s match should bring more of the same, but who knows, maybe the SeaWolves will ride the Wave into a second win…man, even the bad dad jokes won’t even cleanse the bad taste from my mouth when it comes to this season.

Cheers are in order for Piotr Sliwa, at the very least, as the man in goal is set to retire. Thanks for all of your hard work, Piotr. You will be missed.

How Nani Reached the Top

Having now officially served his two-match suspension, Lions captain Nani is raring to go, ready to return to the pitch, don the famous purple kit, and make an immediate impact. While the Portuguese legend will likely make an instant difference on the field, many may not know that the winger was not an instant success as a player.

The winger’s ascension to the top is, at this point, well documented, but I have to be honest; I had no idea just how much others around him wanted him to succeed, and how far they went to see just that. Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably one of the greatest players of all time (and most certainly one of the most divisive), even let Nani live with him at his home in Manchester following his move to Manchester United, providing the Portuguese up-and-comer with a comfortable place to grow while adapting to one of the most competitive leagues in the world. The Lions are lucky to have Nani and personally, I can’t wait to see the icon return to the pitch for the Lions.

SheBelieves Cup: Today’s Fixtures

The U.S. Women’s National Team opened the SheBelieves Cup tournament with a 2-0 win against a strong England side, and today face off against the Spanish national team. Meanwhile, the English women will play against Japan. Christen Press and Carli Lloyd both found the back of the net against England, and Spain should be an easier opponent (knock on wood), but don’t expect a rout from the women donning the Stars & Stripes. The Spanish are a rising side in women’s soccer and have played the USWNT close in their two previous meetings.

England should put away Japan, but I’ve come to realize over the years that you can never count out the Nadeshiko Japan, even though the USWNT beat them in convincing fashion in the 2015 World Cup, 5-2.

Free Kicks

  • Wait…you too, Josh Sargent! Take a bow! Americans abroad have been lighting it up as of late, particularly in the German Bundesliga. I love it!

  • Former Lion Dillon Powers is finding success at Dundee United, but sheesh, their social media manager produces some borderline cringe-worthy content. Regardless, Powers was the lone scorer in his club’s 1-1 draw with Partick Thistle yesterday in the top tier Scottish league.

  • Inter Miami scored the club’s first goal yesterday, and it came from Rodolfo Pizzaro, their marquee signing in their maiden voyage into MLS play. That’s cool, I guess.

  • Here’s a lesson for everyone: don’t speak poorly of your boss. AC Milan chief football executive, or former executive that is, Zvonimir Boban was fired following a “rogue interview” in which he criticized his club’s owner and CEO. Not a smart move, Boban. Not a smart move.
  • Since we mentioned Cristiano earlier in this serving of Links, why not end with his inevitable counterpart, the one who he’ll be forever compared to? Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest player to ever grace a pitch on this planet, scored five times in a Champions League match eight years ago yesterday. Sorry for the reminder, Bayer Leverkusen supporters.

Before I make my leave, I have to show you how awesome this young point guard makes his entrances, courtesy of his amazing father. I can’t express to you folks how much I love this, and how many times I watched it, with a happy tear forming in my eye.

Okay, now that I’ve left you just a tad emotional (if that doesn’t lift your spirits, you might be a monster), that’s all I’ve got for you, Mane Landers. Enjoy what’s left of your weekend (make sure your clocks are appropriately reset), and then have an excellent week!

Lion Links

Lion Links: 2/22/24

Orlando City beats Cavalry FC, Lions receive General Allocation Money for Junior Urso’s rights, USWNT gets ready for Argentina, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

How’s it going, Mane Landers? It’s nice to start the morning fresh off of a huge win and I’m hoping that becomes a regular occurrence this year. Hopefully the work week has been kind to you as we ride the high of the Concacaf Champions Cup into Orlando City’s first game of the MLS season this weekend. For now, let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world.

Lions Win in Concacaf Champions Cup Opener

Orlando City kicked off its Concacaf Champions Cup campaign with a solid 3-0 win against Cavalry FC in Canada. Some players did better playing on the turf of Starlight Stadium in British Columbia than others, but the Lions ultimately did well on the road to make things less stressful for themselves for the second leg on Tuesday in Orlando at 6 p.m. Orlando’s offense showed little rust and the defense did its part in its first competitive match of 2024. Before the match, Head Coach Oscar Pareja announced that Robin Jansson will serve as the team’s captain this year, so it’s nice to see his tenure start with a clean sheet.

Junior Urso Signs With Charlotte FC

Orlando City received $50,000 in 2025 General Allocation Money from Charlotte FC in exchange for Brazilian midfielder Junior Urso’s right of first refusal. This transaction cleared the way for Urso to sign with Charlotte, joining on a deal through 2024, with an option for 2025. The Bear became a Lion back in 2020 and was an integral part of Orlando’s transformation under Head Coach Oscar Pareja that included winning the 2022 U.S. Open Cup. The 34-year-old impressed as a trialist with Charlotte during the preseason and should give Dean Smith’s side a veteran presence both on and off the field. While it’s never fun seeing a fan favorite playing for another Eastern Conference foe, I wish nothing but the best for Urso and hope he gets a warm reception when Charlotte visits Orlando this season on Sept. 18.

MLS Coaching Changes for 2024

There was a considerable amount of coaching turnover in MLS since last season, adding some intriguing storylines for this year. After a rough time in Miami, Phil Neville has a chance at redemption with a Portland Timbers side that narrowly missed out on the playoffs last year. The Colorado Rapids’ Chris Armas, D.C. United’s Troy Lesesne, and the New England Revolution’s Caleb Porter are other familiar faces in new places who could impress. As for those new to the scene, Dean Smith joined Charlotte from England, while Sandro Schwarz is now at the helm of the New York Red Bulls after years in Germany and Russia. I’m also interested to see how long it takes for John Herdman to turn things around with Toronto FC.

Analyzing Argentina Ahead of USWNT Clash

After a dominant 5-0 win over the Dominican Republic, the United States Women’s National Team will take on Argentina tomorrow in the Concacaf W Gold Cup’s group stage. The U.S. has won the past four meetings between the past two nations, and Argentina is coming off of a scoreless draw with Mexico. The Orlando Pride’s Mariana Larroquette spearheads an Argentine attack that can be a bit inconsistent when it comes to creating chances. That being said, Vanina Preininger can pull strings from the midfield and Argentina has multiple players capable of scoring from distance. Laurina Oliveros will likely start in goal after her clean sheet in the opener, and the defense also includes Kansas City Current center back Sophia Braun.

Free Kicks

  • The Orlando Pride’s Rafaelle and Adriana both started in Brazil’s 1-0 win over Puerto Rico.
  • The LA Galaxy signed Ghanaian winger Joseph Paintsil as their third Designated Player. The 26-year-old joins from Genk in Belgium and signed a contract with the Galaxy through 2027.
  • The Revolution beat Panama’s Independiente 1-0 on the road in the Champions Cup opener for both teams.
  • The new changes to MLS’ competitive rules, such as in-stadium VAR announcements and off-field treatments, have been postponed amid the league’s referee situation.
  • The United Soccer League announced that all 47 of the teams under its umbrella will take part in this year’s U.S. Open Cup.
  • Bayern Munich officially announced that Thomas Tuchel will leave once this season is over. Although Bayern is second in the Bundesliga standings, it’s lost its past three games, including a defeat to Lazio in the Champions League.
  • Porto scored a stunning goal in stoppage time to shock Arsenal in the UEFA Champions League.

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: 2/21/24

Orlando City takes on Cavalry FC tonight, Lions sign Jeorgio Kocevski, USWNT wins in Concacaf W Gold Cup, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you in Florida as we get to watch the Lions in action tonight in the Concacaf Champions Cup. There’s not much new with me this week other than staying busy covering high school basketball and hockey. Let’s wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride forward Amanda Allen. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Orlando City Takes on Cavalry FC Tonight

Orlando City will be in action tonight in the first round of the Concacaf Champions Cup, as it takes on Cavalry FC at Starlight Stadium at 10 p.m. This matchup will be the Lions’ first competitive match of 2024, with their MLS season opener against CF Montreal set for Saturday. The Lions were knocked out by Tigres due to away goals in last year’s Concacaf Champions League. Cavalry FC will make its debut in this competition tonight and qualified by winning the 2023 Canadian Premier League Shield. The second leg between these two sides will be on Feb. 27 in Orlando.

Orlando City Signs First-Round Draft Pick Jeorgio Kocevski

Orlando City signed 2024 MLS SuperDraft pick Jeorgio Kocevski to a contract through the 2024 season with club options for 2025, 2026, and 2027. Kocevski scored the game-winning goal in stoppage time in Orlando’s final preseason match against the Colorado Rapids this past weekend. The midfielder was selected 21st overall in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft by the Lions in December. He played four years for Syracuse, recording seven goals and 18 assists in 71 matches. Kocevski is the only player the club has signed from the Lions’ 2024 draft class and will likely get some minutes with Orlando City B this season.

St. Louis City and Philadelphia Union Win in Champions Cup

Orlando City isn’t the only MLS team kicking off its Concacaf Champions Cup campaign this week. St. Louis City edged out the Houston Dynamo 2-1, with rookie Hosei Kijima scoring the winner in stoppage time. The Philadelphia Union were on the road in Costa Rica to face off against Deportivo Saprissa and won 3-2, thanks to a hat trick from Julian Carranza in the second half. As for other tournament matches this week, the New England Revolution face Independiente in Panama tonight, with Nashville playing Moca FC in the Dominican Republic and FC Cincinnati taking on Jamaica’s Cavalier SC tomorrow.

USWNT Beats the Dominican Republic in W Gold Cup

The United States Women’s National Team got its Concacaf W Gold Cup campaign off to a great start with a 5-0 win against the Dominican Republic in Group A. Olivia Moultrie scored her first USWNT goal to give her team an early lead, with Lynn Williams giving the U.S. another goal before halftime. Moultrie scored another in the second half to earn her brace, and Jenna Nighswonger converted a penalty for her first USWNT goal as well. Former Pride forward Alex Morgan replaced Mia Fishel on the roster due to injury and scored from the penalty spot in stoppage time. The USWNT’s next game will be against Argentina on Friday at 10:15 p.m.

UEFA Champions League Roundup

The UEFA Champions League had plenty of drama as the round of 16 continued. Inter Milan won 1-0 in its first leg against Atletico Madrid at home, with Mark Arnautovic scoring the only goal in the match. In the Netherlands, PSV Eindhoven and Borussia Dortmund played to a thrilling 1-1 draw. The second legs for both matchups will be played on March 13. There is more Champions League action today, as FC Porto hosts Arsenal while Napoli takes on Barcelona.

Free Kicks

  • The latest MLS power rankings are out just before the regular season begins. Orlando City begins the season in the fifth spot.
  • Orlando City and the Orlando Pride announced fan experience upgrades at Inter&Co Stadium featuring Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology in merchandise shops, stadium Wi-Fi upgrades, and a jersey history experience.
  • The MLS Players Association released a statement on the ongoing referee lockout.
  • Here is the list of MLS Season Pass commentator assignments for opening week.

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: 2/20/24

The Wall sells out for opening night, Robin Jansson earns recognition, Concacaf W Gold cup preview, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Tuesday, everyone! We’re now just one day away from the first competitive Orlando City game of the year, and it can’t get here fast enough. As usual, we have plenty to cover this morning, so let’s jump straight into it.

The Wall Sells Out for Orlando City’s Season Opener

The Wall, the supporters’ section of Orlando City’s stadium, has sold out of single-match tickets ahead of Saturday’s home opener against CF Montreal. Limited tickets for the match are still available for the rest of the stadium, and hopefully it will fully sell out for the first match of the season. This Saturday will be the 10th consecutive time in which the Lions start their MLS season at home. It should be a great match and a chance for Orlando to get its season off to a good start between Concacaf Champions Cup matches against Cavalry FC.

Robin Jansson Praised as a Top Defender in MLS

Orlando City center back Robin Jansson was recognized as one of the best center backs in MLS by‘s Joseph Lowery. The 32-year-old has been an integral part of Orlando’s defense since joining the league in 2019 and should continue anchoring the team’s back line this season. Not only is he excellent in terms of defense, but the Beefy Swede can also make an impact on offense with his passing and surprising runs up the field. Jansson is one of the most consistent defenders in the league and agreed to a new contract with the club earlier this month.

MLS Transfer News Roundup

The 2024 Major League Soccer season might kick off tomorrow, but transfers are still flying thick and fast, which means we have things to catch up on. We start with one of the teams opening the season tomorrow, Inter Miami, which has officially transferred midfielder Gregore to Botafogo in the Brazilian top flight. We move on to NYCFC, which has completed the signing of striker Jovan Mijatović from Red Star Belgrade. The 18-year-old Serbian youth international has inked a deal that runs through the 2028 season with an option year for 2029. We finish up with the Houston Dynamo, which has signed Coco Carasquilla to a contract extension. The Panamanian midfielder’s deal now runs through the 2025 season and has option years for 2026 and 2027.

Concacaf W Gold Cup Preview

The inaugural Concacaf W Gold Cup kicks off later today, so make sure you get up to speed on everything you need to know about the competition. The United States Women’s National Team has been grouped with Argentina, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico and will be looking for a strong showing following a disappointing campaign at last summer’s World Cup. The tournament will feature a total of 12 teams, with eight Concacaf representatives and four from CONMEBOL. The top two finishers in each of the three groups advance to the knockout round along with the top two third-place finishers. The USWNT begins play tonight against the Dominican Republican at 10:15 p.m. from Dignity Health Sports Park.

Americans in Midweek Action

With a number of American players taking part in games during the work week, get everything marked down on your calendar so you don’t miss anything. Things get started this afternoon with a huge game, as Malik Tillman, Ricardo Pepi, Sergino Dest, and PSV Eindhoven take on Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League. European competition continues on Thursday as well, with Christian Pulisc, Yunus Musah, and AC Milan facing Rennes in the Europa League play. Things finish out on Friday as the red-hot Brandon Vazquez and Monterrey face Juarez in Liga MX competition.

Minnesota United Close to Coaching Hire

A coaching search that will surely go down as one of the most thorough (or at least lengthy) in MLS history is nearing its conclusion, as Minnesota United is reportedly close to naming Manchester United assistant Eric Ramsay as the team’s new skipper. While nothing is official yet, Ramsay is said to be the leading candidate, and The Athletic‘s Tom Bogert says that the team is closing in on the hire. If he joins, Ramsay will become the youngest coach in league history at the tender age of 32, and he will also become Minnesota’s second coach following Adrian Heath’s departure in October of last year.

Free Kicks

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

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