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Lion Links: 8/2/20



Happy Sunday, everyone. It’s understandable if you’re still hopped up from Friday night’s match and Orlando City getting past LAFC, but there’s a lot more work for the Lions to do this week and at least now they know who they’re working against. More on that below.

It’s Orlando Pride rookie defender Konya Plummer’s birthday today, so let’s all party like rock stars on her behalf. But first, on to the news of the day.

Dwyer Out 4-6 Months After Knee Surgery

Things went from bad to worse for Orlando City’s striker. Dom Dwyer left the MLS is Back bubble to have an MRI on his knee and the news couldn’t have been good because the club reported yesterday that the veteran forward underwent surgery on Friday to repair his patella tendon. Dwyer will miss four to six months during his recovery, so that puts his return to the field some time in 2021, which is after his current contract expires. Has Dom played his last game in purple? Time will tell, but we wish him a full and speedy recovery.

OCB Kicks Off 2020 Season, Falls 2-0

The Young Lions got their first chance to get on the pitch last night, traveling to South Georgia to play Tormenta FC. It was Marcelo Neveleff’s debut as OCB’s head coach and it didn’t go well. The Young Lions struggled in the attacking third to find each other and to put their shots on frame in a 2-0 road loss. In fact, OCB didn’t record a single shot on target.

The Young Lions looked better organized than last year but they also looked like a young team comprised of almost entirely new players that was playing its first game of the year against a more veteran team playing its third match of the season — which is exactly what was happening last night. This is essentially an expansion team of teenagers and young twenty-somethings and by the time they get in a groove, a good chunk of the 16-game 2020 season will likely be gone.

By the way, if you’re wondering how the club is approaching OCB this season, this story has you covered.

Orlando City Will See Familiar Faces in Semifinals

Once the Lions got past LAFC on Friday, it was almost inevitable that Minnesota United would be Orlando City’s opponent. Former OCSC gaffer Adrian Heath’s side scored twice in the early going and the Loons went on to beat the San Jose Earthquakes, 4-1.

Orlando will meet Heath and former Lions Kevin Molino and Jose Aja on Thursday night at 8 p.m. in the MLS is Back semifinals. Actually, Molino has been hampered by a knock, but Aja has played regularly and has a couple assists in this tournament. Heath, meanwhile, had a lot of success on the grounds of the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex while guiding the USL Lions. It’ll be the second straight game in the tournament for Orlando City against a team it has yet to beat.

In the late match last night, the Portland Timbers overcame a 1-0 deficit to eliminate New York City FC, 3-1, preventing all three Group A teams from advancing to the semifinals. Diego Valeri and Andy Polo scored in the second half off the bench to knock out the Pigeons.

Orlando City’s Success Has Come with New Approach

Jeff Carlisle of ESPN is asking the same question that many others are pondering: are the 2020 Lions for real? I’ll have a story on that later today, actually (so look for that here at TML), but for now it’s simply too early to tell. One thing that’s different this year is the team’s approach under Oscar Pareja.

What’s changed is that even with Pereyra in the fold, Pareja has opted for a more methodical approach in attack, using a steady build-up style through the use of outside backs Ruan and Joao Moutinho. Ruan in particular was effective in getting forward during the win over Montreal. The Brazilian was an effective weapon on Friday as well, winning a penalty that was ultimately saved by LAFC keeper Kenneth Vermeer.

There are risks to such an approach, of course, but forward Tesho Akindele, who also played under Pareja in Dallas, feels there is balance to the side in that the holding midfielders and center-backs are making sure they are in good spots, even when Orlando is in possession.

Orlando City’s Top 10 Wins?

Dylan Butler put together a list of Orlando City’s 10 biggest wins (in the MLS era) and interestingly the top three on the list were officially draws. I’m not sure how a draw can be one of your top two wins, or how a penalty shootout can count as one of your top wins, because there’s so much chance involved. OK, so the headline says wins while the story correctly says “results,” which makes way more sense.

One of my personal favorites was that first home MLS win vs. the LA Galaxy in 2015 — what a complete performance that was against the defending champs. What do you think of this list?

Free Kicks

  • Go inside the numbers of Orlando City’s quarterfinal match against LAFC.
  • The Orlando Pride are embracing their habitual jinxing of teams in the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup by offering this t-shirt.
  • Christian Pulisic scored for Chelsea but also left the FA Cup final loss to Arsenal shortly after halftime with an apparent hamstring injury that looked pretty serious.
  • Defender Luis Neto of Sporting CP reportedly turned down a transfer to New York City FC.
  • Those joining Konya Plummer with birthdays on this date include All in the Family star Carroll O’Connor (1924), actor Peter O’Toole (1932), filmmaker Wes Craven (1939), Blade Runner actor Joanna Cassidy (1945), singer/songwriter Andrew Gold (1951), former Rainbow and Deep Purple singer Joe Lynn Turner (1951), former Saturday Night Live actor Victoria Jackson (1959), progressive rock genius Neal Morse (1960), and actor/filmmaker Kevin Smith (1970).

That’s all my time for today. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and stay tuned to The Mane Land for the buildup to Thursday night’s match against Minnesota United.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/28/23

Ajax is reportedly scouting Facundo Torres, Orlando Pride focus on upcoming matches, Houston Dynamo win U.S. Open Cup, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this work week has gone smoothly for you as we get ready to bid farewell to September. It’s been a hectic week for me, but I started and then promptly devoured all of Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros. It was a nice read, albeit a bit intense at times. I’m not sure what I’ll read next as most of my reading list is packed up for a move, but if you have any recommendations then let me know in the comments below. Let’s dive into today’s links!

Ajax Reportedly Interested in Facundo Torres

Orlando City forward Facundo Torres has reportedly garnered the interest of Dutch club Ajax according to Fabrizio Romano.

It’s not too surprising that Ajax, which currently sits in 14th in the Eredivisie with just seven goals from five games, has scouts keeping tabs on Torres. The 23-year-old has scored 12 goals this season, powering Orlando to second in the Eastern Conference. It wouldn’t be the first time Torres has received attention from European clubs and likely won’t be the last as he continues to impress with the Lions

Orlando Pride Focus During Playoff Push

The Orlando Pride are back in action on Monday for a crucial road match with Angel City FC. Both teams have 25 points this season, one point from the sixth and final playoff spot currently held by the Washington Spirit. It will be the first of three remaining games for the Pride this season, with matches against fellow playoff hopefuls Racing Louisville and the Houston Dash set for later in October. As a result, there’s not much margin for error if the Pride wish to make the playoffs and Kylie Strom talked about how the team is focused for these games.

MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs Begin This Weekend

The first round of the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs kicks off this weekend with six matches that can all be watched on MLS Season Pass. Unlike last year, Orlando City B will be taking part and is set to face off with Columbus Crew 2 on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. Although the Young Lions have struggled on the road against Columbus, Jack Lynn and Shak Mohammed can make things difficult for the hosts. Hopefully we’ll see OCB make Columbus regret its choice of opponent in the postseason. I like the wrinkle and mind games to the playoffs the new rule gave and am interested to see which of the lower seeds plays with a chip on their shoulder. The playoffs begin on Friday when Sporting Kansas City II hosts Austin FC II in a battle between the third and fourth seeds of the Western Conference.

Houston Dynamo Win U.S. Open Cup

The Houston Dynamo have lifted the U.S. Open Cup trophy after winning 2-1 on the road against Inter Miami. A pair of goals in the first half were enough for Houston to win its second U.S. Open Cup title after also winning in 2018. A goal in stoppage time from Josef Martinez made things interesting, but the Dynamo defense did well to secure the win and deny Miami its second tournament title this year. It was a strong end to a solid tournament campaign from the Dynamo, as they beat four MLS sides before taking down Miami in the final.

Albertin Montoya Hired as Bay FC Head Coach

Ahead of its inaugural NWSL season next year, Bay FC named Albertin Montoya as the club’s first head coach. Montoya, who has lived in California for most of his life, served as the interim coach for the Washington Spirit in 2022 and also coached the U.S. U-17 women’s national team in 2011. Bay FC General Manager Lucy Rushton spoke on how Montoya’s name came up often while the club searched for a head coach, as well as how his skill at developing players will help build the club’s foundation.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja called for the supporters to continue filling Exploria Stadium and pushing the Lions forward for the team’s remaining home games this season.
  • St. Louis City midfielder Njabulo Blom won MLS Goal of the Week for his winner against Minnesota United. It was also the 23-year-old’s first professional goal.

That’s all I have for you today. Have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/27/23

Orlando City falls in power rankings, OCB will take on Columbus Crew 2 in MLS NEXT Pro playoffs, U.S. Open Cup final preview, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. There’s not much new with me, I’m just staying busy at work lately and hoping to catch some soccer this weekend. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Orlando City Drops Two Spots in Power Rankings

The latest MLS power rankings have been released and Orlando City fell two spots to fourth. The Lions lost their midweek matchup 2-0 on the road against New York City FC last Wednesday and closed out the weekend with a 1-1 draw against rival Inter Miami at Exploria Stadium. It wasn’t all bad this past week for the Lions, as Duncan McGuire scored his 11th goal of the year across all competitions. Despite losing to NYCFC a week ago, the Lions remain in second place in the Eastern Conference and are two points ahead of the Columbus Crew, Philadelphia Union, Atlanta United, and the New England Revolution.

OCB Will Take On Columbus Crew 2 in MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs

Orlando City B’s opponent for the first round of the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs was announced on Tuesday, as it will go on the road to take on defending champion Columbus Crew 2 on Oct. 1 at Historic Crew Stadium. As part of the new playoff format that lets higher seeds choose their opponents, Columbus chose to host OCB in the quarterfinals. The Young Lions closed out their regular season this past weekend with a 2-1 win against FC Cincinnati and finished fifth in the Eastern Conference. The Columbus Crew 2 finished its regular season with a 3-2 win against Atlanta United 2 to place third. The clubs split the regular season series, with OCB winning 4-1 on Aug. 27 and Columbus winning 4-0 on May 14. The conference semifinals will be on the following weekend, and the MLS NEXT Pro Cup final is set for Oct. 22.

U.S. Open Cup Final Preview

The 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup will conclude tonight with the final at DRV PNK Stadium as Inter Miami takes on the Houston Dynamo. The match will kick off at 8:30 p.m. and you can watch the match on Paramount+ or CBS Sports Network. Inter Miami’s journey included edging out Nashville SC 2-1 in the Round of 16 and needing to go all the way to penalties to knock out FC Cincinnati after a thrilling 3-3 draw in the semifinals. The Houston Dynamo began their run with a pair of 1-0 wins against the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Sporting Kansas City. Since the Round of 16, the Dynamo cruised past Minnesota United, the Chicago Fire, and Real Salt Lake to get to the final. Houston was on a seven-match unbeaten run before losing to Sporting Kansas City this past weekend. The Dynamo will look to add another U.S. Open Cup title after winning it back in 2018. Lionel Messi will reportedly be a game-time decision for tonight’s final after he didn’t play in Miami’s draw with Orlando.

Spain Wins First Home Match Since World Cup Victory

Spain’s women’s national team won its first match since lifting the World Cup trophy last month, cruising to a 5-0 win against Switzerland in a UEFA Nations League matchup. After dealing with the fallout of former Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales and players boycotting call-ups to the national team before a deal was reached last week, the team wore wristbands that read “Se Acabo,” meaning “this is over,” and players from both teams held a banner with the same phrase before the match. Spain celebrated its win in front of a record-breaking crowd of 14,194 fans that came out to support the team at Nuevo Arcangel Stadium.

Free Kicks

  • Carrie Lawrence and the Orlando Pride were hard at work preparing for the match on Monday against Angel City FC.
  • Angel City exercised its club option to extend former Pride forward Sydney Leroux’s contract through the end of the 2024 NWSL season.
  • The Canadian Women’s National Team defeated Jamaica 4-1 on aggregate to book a spot in next summer’s Olympics.
  • The Seattle Sounders have unveiled their new crest for next year.

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: 9/26/23

Pedro Gallese honored, Orlando Pride and Lions celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, Campeones Cup preview, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Tuesday, everyone. I won’t lie to you, I’m dragging a bit to start this week. I’m still recovering from being sick and frankly had to fight the urge to take Monday off. I’m soldiering on though, and there’s plenty of soccer happening this week to help keep me entertained and in good spirits. Let’s have a look at today’s links.

Pedro Gallese Recognized

Pedro Gallese turned in another superb performance during Orlando City’s 1-1 draw with Inter Miami on Sunday, and he’s been rewarded with a place in the most recent edition of the MLS Team of the Matchday. El Pulpo made four saves on the night, including a fantastic stop on a header from close range, and helped the Lions stay in the game until they could find the equalizer. Congratulations to Pedro, and here’s hoping he keeps up the good work!

Orlando Pride and Orlando City Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, Orlando Pride defender Celia fielded questions for fans to learn more about both her and Spain. Celia is from Alicante, a port city in southern Spain, and shared her favorite food, music, and activity while in her home country. She also spoke on a common misconception about spices used in Spain being spicy.

Orlando City’s Facundo Torres also shared the meaning behind some of his tattoos, which include the Uruguayan flag and La Paz, the city he grew up in. Orlando City’s match with CF Montreal on Saturday will also be Hispanic Heritage Night at Exploria Stadium.

Campeones Cup Preview

You can be forgiven if you forgot that the Campeones Cup is still a thing, because I know I did. Here’s a little refresher on the annual match. It’s being played tomorrow night at BMO Stadium between LAFC and Tigres, the reigning MLS and Liga MX champions, respectively. The MLS representative has won three out of the four contests, with Tigres beating Toronto FC 3-1 in the first iteration of the competition in 2018. This match will also be a rematch of the 2020 Concacaf Champions League final, which saw Tigres emerge victorious 2-1 at Exploria Stadium.

Americans in Midweek Action

A number of Americans will be taking part in games for their clubs this week. Tim Weah and Weston McKennie’s Juventus will take on Lecce today in Serie A, while Chris Richards and Crystal Palace face Manchester United in the Carabao Cup. Christian Pulisic and Yunus Musah have a league match when AC Milan plays Cagliari tomorrow. PSV Eindhoven has a game against Go Ahead Eagles tomorrow as well, which means Ricardo Pepi, Sergino Dest and Malik Tillman could all be involved. Friday closes out the week with Hoffenheim taking on Borussia Dortmund, which could see John Brooks matched up against Gio Reyna depending on Reyna’s fitness.

Spanish Players Will Testify Against Rubiales

Alexia Putellas, Irene Paredes, and Misa Rodriguez have all been called to testify as witnesses in the case against Luis Rubiales. Jenni Hermoso’s brother and a friend of the player both testified on Monday afternoon, as Rubiales is facing charges of sexual assault and coercion. Rubiales has already testified and maintains he did nothing wrong amid uproar that has led to a number of Spanish players refusing to return to the team until changes are made, and a general overshadowing of Spain’s victory at the Women’s World Cup. Putellas, Paredes, and Rodriguez will testify next Monday.

Free Kicks

That’s all I have for today. Y’all stay safe out there!

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