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Intelligence Report: Orlando City vs. Montreal Impact

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Orlando did very well to get back to winning ways in what was ultimately convincing fashion against Atlanta United on Wednesday. Now, the club will try to put together another run of good results to close out the season, and the first barrier to doing so presents itself in the form of the Montreal Impact.

As usual before the Lions’ games with Montreal, I spoke to Paul Vance, managing editor of SBNation’s Mount Royal Soccer. As always, he gave us some great insight into how things have been going for Montreal since the two teams last met.

When we last spoke, Thierry Henry was just settling in to his new gig as the Impact’s head coach, which made it a bit tricky to properly evaluate him. Now that you’ve had some more time to assess him, what do you think?

Paul Vance: Thierry Henry has struggled with a squad probably not yet good enough for playoff football. Add to that the year we’ve just had with COVID-19, when Canadian clubs have had to domicile themselves in the U.S. for 2.5 weeks at a time, and (for the Impact) play home games at Red Bull Arena.

Upon returning to Canada they have not even been able to train, due to the need to stay in ‘the bubble.’

The injury list has been lengthy too, so it’s been the perfect storm.

It’s a little hard to judge Henry, who’s been frustrated for much of the season, mainly due to the reasons outlined and by his side giving away really poor goals at times, through what could be described only as individual howlers.

Next season will be the test for him and new Sporting Director Olivier Renard, who’s already been influential. Recruitment, with the additions of Romell Quioto, Luis Binks, and Victor Wanyama to name three, has been positive.

Henry has helped the side forge an identity of playing out from the back and being bolder and braver in possession. Neither the results nor the ultimate style he wishes to see the team play are there yet, but he has improved the football being played and helped others to further develop their game — most notably Sam Piette, who plays in a more advanced role than previously.

If the squad is strengthened over the close season as expected, 2021 will be a better time to judge Thierry Henry. I think, all things considered, he’s had a decent year.

There are a couple players who I’d like to know a little bit more about — Bojan and Lassi Lappalainen. What roles do they play for this team?

PV: Lassi Lappalainen will not be playing any role against OCSC. He’s recovering from recent shoulder surgery after an injury sustained in the victory at Columbus. But generally he’s a right-footed front man who plays wide on the left. Most of his goals have been from cutting in from the left wing and finishing with his right foot. Most of the frustration watching him concerns his inability to cross with his left, always having to check back in promising situations to transfer the ball to his better, right foot. He’s quick though, and young (21).

Bojan has possibly benefitted from the absence of Saphir Taider, now transferred to Al-Ain in Saudi Arabia, and has hit top form operating in the area of the field formerly occupied by the Algerian. That would be in a forward role, left of center. He’s technically among the very best players in MLS and likely to deliver if provided the service.

Great pedigree, brought up in the Barcelona way, and indeed won two European Champions Leagues with the Catalans, although he didn’t emerge from his place on the bench in either final (2009 & 2011).

Montreal is currently in ninth place in the East, and as long as the Impact can take care of business down the stretch, the Impact will be in the playoffs. What do you think this team is capable of in the postseason?

PV: Post-season capabilities — you just never know. If the squad gets a full bill of health it’s certainly capable of beating the best as Toronto and Columbus have found out in their own respective backyards, this season.

But they are equally adept at losing games they should win. Inconsistency is the call. They’ve not won back-to-back MLS games since June 2019, so most often a good result is followed by a flat one. So should they make it to the playoffs and win their first game, a follow-up win is probably unlikely. But you never know. Playoff football is often so predictable.

Can they win MLS Cup? I’d be amazed if they were to reach even the Eastern Conference final, let’s put it that way.

Are there any injuries or suspensions that will keep players unavailable for selection? What is your projected starting lineup and score prediction?

PV: Injuries? Rod Fanni (hamstring), Lappalainen (shoulder, season over), Mathieu Choiniere (long-term, season over). Steeven Saba, a Haitian semifinalist at the last Gold Cup has not yet played for the club, picking up an injury in training shortly after signing, but signs are that he’s almost healthy so he could feature against OCSC, as might Orji Okwonkwo, who we expected to see on the bench at Yankee Stadium, but suffered a late withdrawal after initially being named.

Starting lineup: GK – Clement Diop; DEF – Zachary Brault-Guillard, Luis Binks, Joel Waterman, Jukka Raitala (captain); MF – Samuel Piette, Victor Wanyama, Amar Sejdic, Romell Quioto; FOR – Bojan, Mason Toye.

Score prediction: 3-1 Orlando.


Big thank you as always to Paul for bringing us up to speed on the Impact.

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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