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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?

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  • 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: 6/9/23

Orlando City gets ready for the Colorado Rapids, OCB faces FC Cincinnati 2 on Sunday, U-20 World Cup final is set, and more.



How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this Friday finds you well as we gear up for a weekend filled to the brim with Orlando soccer. My friends are taking me out for teppanyaki and scorpion bowls tonight, so it should be a pretty nice day on my end. Hopefully your Friday goes smoothly as well. Now, let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world.

Orlando City Prepares for the Colorado Rapids

The Lions are on a five-game unbeaten run as they get ready for a home match tomorrow night against the Colorado Rapids. Facundo Torres scored twice in the team’s 3-0 win over the New York Red Bulls last weekend. Hopefully he can keep the momentum rolling against a Colorado team that’s allowed 25 goals this season and sits last in the league in points per game, with just two wins in 17 matches. Pedro Gallese also recorded his 26th clean sheet for Orlando in last week’s win, and could make his 100th appearance as a Lion tomorrow night. The Lions will have to keep an eye on Irish midfielder Connor Ronan, who has six assists in his first season with the Rapids.

Orlando City B Aims to Bounce Back at Home

After a 3-0 defeat to Toronto FC II in Canada this past weekend, Orlando City B will look to right the ship on Sunday at home against FC Cincinnati 2. The Young Lions are unbeaten at home this season, winning four of their six games at Osceola Heritage Park. The last time these two teams played was in August of last year, with Cincy winning in the penalty shootout following a 2-2 draw. Although he didn’t score in that match, OCB forward Jack Lynn scored three goals against Cincinnati last year and currently leads OCB with six goals this season. Sunday’s match should be a good opportunity for OCB’s offense to bounce back against a leaky Cincy defense.

USMNT Players Focused Despite Coaching Search

With European seasons over, American players who have been plying their trade abroad are back in the U.S. to prepare for the Concacaf Nations League and Gold Cup this month. The team will be coached by B.J. Callaghan in an interim capacity while the search for a head coach continues. Although not having a permanent head coach for these tournaments isn’t ideal, Nashville SC center back Walker Zimmerman spoke on how the team still knows how to get the job done.

“We’re a team that has a very strong team chemistry, strong culture within our group. And we know that for us, not much has changed right now,” said Zimmerman. “We know the same principles, style of play, expectations, accountability – all those things are the same. So I think that’s player-driven, to hold each other accountable to the standards that we’ve set over the past four years. BJ, he’s on top of it. He’s knowledgeable about what we want to do, how we’re going to go about these games.”

The roster includes many of the players who featured in the World Cup last year, but the striker position is one to watch due to the new faces involved. Folarin Balogun is with the team for the first time and it will be interesting to see how he measures up against Ricardo Pepi, Alex Zendejas, and Jesus Ferreira. We will get to see who spearheads the USMNT’s attack next Thursday, when the Yanks take on Mexico in Las Vegas.

Italy and Uruguay Reach U-20 World Cup Final

Only two teams remain in the U-20 World Cup after Italy and Uruguay each won their semifinals. Uruguay, which beat the U.S. in the quarterfinals, beat Israel 1-0, thanks to a goal in the second half from Anderson Duarte. In Italy’s semifinal against South Korea, Cesare Casadei’s terrific tournament continued as he gave Italy the lead in the 14th minute. South Korea equalized soon after with a penalty kick, but 17-year-old forward Simone Pafundi scored a nice free kick to send Italy into the final.

The final will take place on Sunday at 5 p.m., with the third-place match set for 1:30 p.m. It will be Italy’s first time playing in a U-20 World Cup final, while it will be Uruguay’s third time after losing in 1997 and 2013.

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That’s all I have for you today. Have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/8/23

Orlando Pride match postponed, Lionel Messi will join Inter Miami, West Ham wins Europa Conference League, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

It’s Thursday, which is a little worse than Friday, but still much better than Monday. I hope this week has been treating you well and that you have some fun to look forward to over the next few days. All three of Orlando’s soccer teams are in action this weekend as well. Let’s jump into today’s links!

Orlando Pride NWSL Challenge Cup Match Postponed

Wednesday’s NWSL Challenge Cup match between the Orlando Pride and NJ/NY Gotham FC had to be postponed due to poor air quality conditions in the New York metropolitan area. Wildfires in Canada were the cause of the hazy conditions that were expected to worsen when the match was set to take place. That match has now been postponed until Aug. 9, which is during the NWSL’s break for the Women’s World Cup. The Pride will be back in action this Sunday for a difficult match against the league-leading Portland Thorns.

“Pride in Our City” Kicks Off This Weekend

Orlando City and the Orlando Pride are both playing at home this weekend in matches that will also celebrate the LGBTQ community and remember the 49 victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting. Players will wear jerseys with rainbow numbers, which is also available as a customization option when buying jerseys at The Den at Exploria Stadium and online. Both matches will feature national anthem and halftime performances by the Orlando Gay Chorus as well. Limited-time apparel, patches, and merchandise will be sold, with a portion of the proceeds going towards the Orlando City Foundation to support the LGBTQ community.

Lionel Messi Will Join Inter Miami

One of the greatest soccer players of all time is headed to MLS. Although not finalized yet, star forward Lionel Messi announced that he will join Inter Miami. There were many reported moving parts involved, including an option for part-ownership of the club, a cut of revenue from new MLS Season Pass subscribers, and a deal between Messi and Adidas. He joins a Miami side that sits last in the Eastern Conference and recently sacked Phil Neville. This does add an interesting layer to the reported talks between Miami and Tata Martino, who coached Messi during his time with Argentina and Barcelona.

It’s great to see MLS in a position to add one of the most sought-after free agents in the world, although I do wish he wasn’t playing for an Orlando rival. The Lions could face Messi for the first time when the two sides clash at Exploria Stadium on Sept. 24. Orlando updated the ticket information for that match as well, with priority access available starting today for new season ticket, group ticket, and match pack purchases. A limited number of single-game tickets will be made available as well, and season ticket members will receive pre-sale priority before the public.

West Ham Wins Europa Conference League

West Ham United lifted its first European trophy in 58 years by beating Fiorentina 2-1 in the Europa Conference League final in Prague. The two teams traded goals in the second half before Jarrod Bowen beat an offside trap to score the winner in the 90th minute. The win capped off a great tournament from the English club, which won 12 of its 13 games during the title-winning campaign. West Ham finished 14th in the English Premier League, but will play in the Europa League next season after this victory. Unfortunately, the match wasn’t without controversy, as Fiorentina captain Cristiano Biraghi was struck in the head by thrown objects that drew blood. Thankfully, he was able to get bandaged up to finish out the match.

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That’s all I have for you today. Make sure to hydrated out there as this summer heats up. Have a great Thursday!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/7/23

Orlando City moves up in MLS power rankings, Orlando Pride take on Gotham FC tonight, USMNT announces official Concacaf Nations League roster, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers. How is everyone doing so far this week? I’ve been doing well and keeping myself busy lately. I’ll be working the Dead & Company concert this weekend at Wrigley Field. There is plenty to get to today, so let’s get to the links.

Orlando City Moves Up in MLS Power Rankings

Orlando City moved up five spots to 10th in the latest MLS power rankings. The Lions defeated the New York Red Bulls 3-0 on the road this past Saturday. Ivan Angulo put together a stellar performance and Facundo Torres scored twice in the match to help the Lions extend their unbeaten run to five matches. Around the league, the Columbus Crew also moved up five spots, climbing to sixth after a 4-2 win against Charlotte FC. Cincinnati edged out LAFC for the top spot in the power rankings following its 1-0 shutout win against the Chicago Fire.

Orlando Pride Take on NJ/NY Gotham FC Tonight

The Orlando Pride will play NJ/NY Gotham FC tonight in their third group stage match of the 2023 NWSL Challenge Cup. The match kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at Red Bull Arena and you can watch it on CBS Sports Network or stream it on Paramount+. The Pride are at the bottom of their group following a draw and a loss so far in the competition. Ally Watt scored in those first two matches for the Pride, with Summer Yates providing the assists on both of those goals. Gotham is unbeaten in the Challenge Cup and leads the group with four points. The Pride are unbeaten in their last six matches on the road in all competitions against Gotham, including a scoreless draw last month in league play.

USMNT Announces 23-Man Roster for Concacaf Nations League

The U.S. Soccer Federation officially announced the 23-man roster for the U.S. Men’s National Team before the 2023 Concacaf Nations League.

Goalkeeper Josh Cohen, who plays for Maccabi Haifa in Israel, was the lone player dropped from the preliminary roster announced last week. The USMNT will play rival Mexico on June 15 in the Concacaf Nations League semifinals at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. If the U.S. prevails in that match, it will face the winner of the match between Canada and Panama. The final is set to take place in Las Vegas on June 18.

U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinals Begin

The quarterfinals of the 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup kicked off last night with two matches. FC Cincinnati defeated the Pittsburgh Riverhounds out of the USL Championship, 3-1, with Brandon Vazquez, Alvaro Barreal, and Santiago Arias all scoring in the second half. The Houston Dynamo also booked their spot in the semifinals after winning 4-1 over the Fire. Nigerian winger Ibrahim Aliyu had a brace for Houston in the road win. Today, we have two more matches to determine who else will move on to the semifinals. Birmingham Legion FC of the USL Championship will take on Inter Miami, while Real Salt Lake will face the LA Galaxy.

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  • In case you missed it, check out the sights and sounds of Orlando’s road victory at Red Bull Arena this past weekend.

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

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