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Lion Links: 11/29/20



Happy Sunday and conference semifinal match day, everyone. The Lions and Revolution will meet this afternoon in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Please pregame accordingly, but do so responsibly.

It seems like this is at least the fourth in a series of “biggest game in club history” matches in 2020. While this has been an interminably long and difficult year, the Lions have been a bright spot thus far, and hopefully that can continue for at least another week. We’ll find out more about that this afternoon. For now, let’s get to the news of the day.

“Never Tell Me the Odds!”

The folks over at FiveThirtyEight give Orlando City only a 14% chance to win MLS Cup, with two Western Conference teams atop the predictions, at 23% apiece. One of those teams with the best odds, per FiveThirtyEight, is Sporting Kansas City — a team Orlando beat on its own home field on Sept. 23. That win took place without Antonio Carlos, and with Chris Mueller, Mauricio Pereyra, and Daryl Dike starting on the bench. The best odds given to an Eastern Conference team is 17% to the Columbus Crew — these odds came out before the Ohio club reported four six seven players positive with COVID-19. You might recall the Lions beat the Crew 2-1 just 25 days ago while a man down for the final 40 minutes, after Nani was sent off in the 52nd minute.

You might think, “Well, to have lower odds than two teams Orlando has already proven it can beat, despite overcoming some obstacles, FiveThirtyEight must really think highly of New England.” Actually, they gave the Revs just a 7% chance to win MLS Cup, so…I don’t know what to make of how they arrived at their conclusions. For my money, Seattle looks like the team to beat on either side of the bracket with its postseason experience and trio of stars all playing in top form at the right time.

Seltzer Predicts Orlando City Win — Is That Bad?

If you’re like me, you never trust the writers at to say nice things about Orlando City. I mean, we’re not used to it after the last six years and I’ve come to mistrust it. So, it makes me extremely nervous that Greg Seltzer picked Orlando City in his conference semifinal MLS playoff predictions.

With the Revs playing their third game in 10 days, I reckon it will be Daryl Dike, Chris Mueller and Nani who spell the slim difference in this one. A 2-1 Orlando City triumph extends their magical season a little longer.

I don’t trust this. I don’t trust it at all. Is it a jinx? Is there such a thing as a jinx? I don’t know, honestly, but I’m not sure I’m ready for the folks who write for the MLS website to be jumping on the team purple bandwagon. It’s Orlando vs. everyone that feels more comfortable and, well, normal.

Pressing Questions Surrounding Orlando City vs. New England

In more normal coverage from the MLS website, Andrew Wiebe raises questions about today’s match. While the biggest one surrounds Orlando’s chances of moving on without Pedro Gallese and Ruan, Wiebe is curious to know whether Chris Mueller and Daryl Dike can rise to the occasion today. It’s a big moment for the two young players, and one that I contemplated on this week’s PawedCast. Neither Mueller nor Dike played like themselves last Saturday vs. New York City FC and it could be first-time MLS playoff jitters. With a match under their belts, will they shake off those jitters and perform against the Revs? On the other side of the ledger, Wiebe’s pressing question about New England is whether Adam Buksa and Gustavo Bou can benefit from the “Carles Gil effect.” We’re hoping, well, no.

Vanderbilt Goalkeeper Sarah Fuller Makes History

While Sarah Fuller is an outstanding soccer player, she made history in another sport on Saturday. Fuller became the first woman to appear in a Power 5 college football game as the placekicker for the Vanderbilt Commodores in a Southeastern Conference game against the Missouri Tigers. Vanderbilt’s special teams were decimated by COVID-19 positive tests, so coach Derek Mason reached out to the school’s soccer team for help. Fuller, who wore “Play Like A Girl” on the back of her helmet, entered the game officially at the start of the second half to handle the kickoff.

With what must have been an insane amount of nerves, and with her team trailing 21-0, she went out and did her job. Unfortunately, her team was so awful it couldn’t get into scoring position all day against a team that entered at 3-3 on the season, so she wasn’t able to attempt a scoring kick. Still, Fuller seemed upbeat after the game and had advice for young girls watching:

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  • Miggy sets the stage for today (and I’m always here for Anchorman clips.

  • U.S. midfielder Duane Holmes scored his first goal of the season for Derby County on Saturday. It turned out to be the winning goal in a 1-0 victory over Wycombe.

  • The Columbus Crew have confirmed seven total players have tested positive for COVID-19, and while they aren’t going to name those players, there are seven names on the “not medically cleared to play” list.

  • Apparently tired of taking beatings at the hands of the USWNT, England is planning its own version of the SheBelieves Cup.

  • Those born on this date include novelists Louisa May Alcott (1832), C.S. Lewis (1898), and  Madeleine L’Engle (1918), sportscaster Vin Scully (1927), legendary blues musician John Mayall (1933), Montrose founder and guitarist Ronnie Montrose (1947), wrestling commentator Jerry “The King” Lawler (1949), Gary Shandling (1949), original Boston guitarist Barry Goudreau (1951), actor Jeff Fahey (1952), director Joel Coen of Coen Brothers fame (1954), Howie Mandel (1955), 1980 U.S. hockey gold medalist Neal Broten (1959), “Brat Pack” actor Andrew McCarthy (1962), Don Cheadle (1964), U.S. soccer legend Kasey Keller (1969), baseball’s Mariano Rivera (1969), Ryan Giggs (1973), recently deceased Chadwick Boseman (1976), Anna Faris (1976), and American football’s Russell Wilson (1988) and Stefon Diggs (1993).

That’s all for me this morning. I’ll be back throughout the day with full coverage of Orlando City vs. the New England Revolution. If you’re going to the match, please be safe and wear a mask.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/23/22

Lions and Herons meet again, Carly Nelson is writing a book, NWSL free agency opens, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

Happy Founder’s Day, Mane Landers! It was on this day in 2014 that our fearless leader and Managing Editor Michael Citro started our first ever WordPress website. It’s safe to say that I’m sure The Mane Land has impacted your life as much as it has mine over the years, whether that be through daily reading or weekly podcasts. Cheers to Michael and all those who have come before me.

In my own personal news, I have been grinding away on the new EA FC 24 (the franchise formerly known as EA’s FIFA.) So far, the gameplay and updates have been great in my initial 15+ hours of play, and my online Ultimate Team is starting to really take its shape. I’m sure in a couple weeks that I’ll transition to a traditional Career Mode and take the Lions all the way to an MLS Cup and beyond.

Before we dive into today’s links, let’s all wish a very happy birthday to everyone’s favorite defensive midfielder, Wilder Cartagena!

Third Bout for Orlando City and Inter Miami

Orlando City and Inter Miami have already met twice this campaign. Sunday’s match will look to break the deadlock between the two rivals as both clubs have a victory to their name in this year’s series. In May, the Lions grabbed a 3-1 victory over the Fort Lauderdale-based club. The two sides met for a second time in the knockout round of Leagues Cup 2023 with Inter Miami taking the 3-1 result at DRV PNK Stadium. No matter the result this time around, Orlando City has already clinched a playoff spot, however, the Herons need every point they can get to attempt to do the same.

Carly Nelson, Goalkeeper and Author

It isn’t unheard of to learn that an athlete might have tried another sport before finding soccer, Orlando Pride goalkeeper Carly Nelson came from a background of gymnastics, tennis, basketball, and baseball before her father started a club soccer team with her in mind. While Nelson might have idolized USWNT legend Hope Solo as a child, she started her playing days as a forward, winger, and midfielder. Outside of protecting the Pride’s net, Nelson is spending time writing a book about her life growing up in Utah and the issues her family faced to hopefully help others that might find themselves in similar situations.

NWSL Opens 2024 Free Agency

The National Women’s Soccer League has officially opened the league’s unrestricted and restricted free agency periods. In accordance with the NWSL Players’ Association’s collective bargaining agreement, eligible free agents can begin negotiations for their 2024 Standard Player Agreements. Players eligible for unrestricted free agency include all who have at least five years of service within the NWSL and contracts expiring in 2023, while players eligible for restricted free agency include those who have at least three years of service. For the Orlando Pride, defender Kylie Strom is set to be an unrestricted free agent and midfielder Jordyn Listro is under restricted terms. Any club that currently holds the rights of a restricted free agent has a seven-day period to match an incoming offer from another club or else the player may sign with the new club under the terms of the offer.

USMNT’s Tyler Adams Nearing Return

Tyler Adams will not make his Bournemouth debut this weekend, but he could return as early as next week. Bournemouth’s manager, Andoni Iraola, provided a positive update on the U.S. Men’s National Team captain as he finishes up rehabbing a long-term hamstring injury.

“He has started this week at least to train partially with the group, so probably we can have a chance of having him next week or two weeks, something like this. Tyler is really close because once you start training partially with the group, it’s a matter of sensations, and if you are physically good enough. He has a very good physical base. So I think it will take not a long time to see Tyler with the team.”

Adams has not played since March after having a hamstring surgery. Even with a known injury, the 24-year-old still completed a move from Leeds United to Bournemouth following Leeds’ relegation to keep him in the top flight.

MLS Weekend Preview

Aside from the Florida derby, there are plenty of matches to be excited about around the league this weekend. Personally, I’m looking forward to catching a bit of the D.C. United and New York Red Bulls match. Manager Wayne Rooney’s club is right on the bubble in a tight Eastern Conference race while the Red Bulls can do themselves a huge service and come back into the playoff picture with a win. Out in the Western Conference, there is a real buzz around a Portland Timbers squad after a manager sacking. It could be a huge win for the Timbers and likely push them above the play-in round should they find a result against the Colorado Rapids.

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That’s all I have for you today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a fantastic Saturday. Be safe on Sunday at the match. Stay hydrated and look out for those around you. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/22/23

Orlando City prepares for Inter Miami, MLS NEXT Pro Decision Day is Sunday, USWNT wins against South Africa, and much more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! It’s been a pretty busy week of apartment hunting and work for me, so I’m looking forward to some rest and relaxation this weekend. I don’t have many plans, but I did make sure to carve out a few hours to make a drink and get some reading done. My book club is fairly low maintenance, but I’ll be behind if I don’t finish Fourth Wing before the second book in the series comes out in November. Let’s get into today’s links!

Orlando City Takes On Inter Miami This Weekend

Following a 2-0 loss on the road to New York City FC earlier this week, Orlando City will aim to bounce back when it hosts rival Inter Miami this Sunday. Orlando has a chance to set club records for the most wins and points in a season since it joined MLS in 2015. It will be the third meeting between the two clubs this season, with Orlando beating Miami 3-1 in May before falling 3-1 in the Leagues Cup’s knockout stage. Although Miami will be without Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba according to Head Coach Tata Martino, the Herons still have plenty of attacking talent in the form of Sergio Busquets, Leonardo Campana, and Josef Martinez.

Orlando City B Readies for MLS NEXT Pro Decision Day

Sunday will also be the final day of the MLS NEXT Pro regular season, with nearly every team in action. Here’s everything you need to know about Decision Day across the league, with playoff spots still up for grabs. Orlando City B has already clinched its spot in the postseason, but can secure fifth in the Eastern Conference when it takes on FC Cincinnati 2. However, the difference between fifth and a lower seed won’t matter too much due to a new rule this year where the second and third seed in each conference choose which lower seed it wants to host in the playoffs. The Golden Boot race is competitive as well, with OCB’s Jack Lynn tied at the top with New York City FC II’s Matt Myers. We’ll see if Lynn takes part in Sunday’s match after giving the first team needed depth last weekend.

USWNT Beats South Africa in Julie Ertz’s Finale

The United States Women’s National Team won 3-0 against South Africa in the first of two friendlies this month. All three of the USWNT’s goals came in the first half, with Lynn Williams bagging a brace. In her final USWNT game, Julie Ertz started and earned plenty of applause from the crowd at TQL Stadium when she was subbed off in the 36h minute. M.A. Vignola made her USWNT debut in the match as well, coming on at halftime. The two nations will play again on Sunday in what will be forward Megan Rapinoe’s last game with the USWNT.

Europa League Group Stage Kicks Off

The first round of Europa League group stage matches is over, with all 32 teams getting things started across Europe. Brighton & Hove Albion’s first Europa League match was a rough one, as the English club fell 3-2 at home against AEK Athens. The Spanish clubs also struggled, with Villarreal getting shut out 2-0 by Panathinaikos and Real Betis losing 1-0 to Rangers. Elsewhere, AS Roma beat Sheriff Tiraspol 2-1 thanks to a winner from Romelu Lukaku, Liverpool won 3-1 over Austrian club LASK after trailing early on, and Marseille drew 3-3 with Ajax in a thriller. West Ham, Atalanta, Bayer Leverkusen, and SC Freiburg also won their group openers.

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  • Enjoy the sights and sounds from the Orlando City Foundation’s annual celebrity golf and footgolf tournament.

That’s all I have for you today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/21/23

Orlando City clinches playoff berth despite loss, Eastern Conference standings remain close, USWNT plays South Africa tonight, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

How’s it going, Mane Landers? Last night’s result wasn’t the best outcome by any means, but losing on the road on short rest after a huge win isn’t the worst thing in the world. We’ll just have to shake that loss off and look forward to more soccer while we have it. Before we dive into today’s links, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Orlando City B midfielder Imanol Almaguer!

Orlando City Clinch Playoff Spot Despite Loss

The Lions weren’t able to put together a comeback in their 2-0 loss on the road to New York City FC. Playing at a narrow Citi Field, Orlando was not able to get much of anything going on offense and was shut out for the first time since July 8. The loss snapped Orlando’s six-game unbeaten streak in MLS play as well. Although the Lions are headed back to Florida emptyhanded, they did qualify for the playoffs due to other results in the league. Orlando will look to right the ship when it hosts Inter Miami this Sunday at 7:30 p.m.

Eastern Conference Remains Tight After Midweek Matches

Orlando wasn’t the only Eastern Conference team to clinch its spot in the playoffs after the latest midweek matches, with the Columbus Crew and Philadelphia Union both qualifying. Cucho Hernandez had a hat trick within the first 23 minutes of the Crew’s 3-0 win at home against the Chicago Fire. A penalty kick in stoppage time by Daniel Gazdag salvaged a point for the Union in a 2-2 draw with Charlotte FC. FC Cincinnati also needed a late equalizer from the penalty spot in its 1-1 draw with CF Montreal. As for how Orlando’s rivals fared, Atlanta United drew 1-1 with D.C. United and Miami beat Toronto FC, 4-0. Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba both exited in the first half and Miami Head Coach Tata Martino stated that neither will play against Orlando this weekend. Of course, that could just be misdirection. We’ll know for certain come Sunday.

USWNT Plays South Africa Tonight

The United States Women’s National Team will play its first match since the World Cup tonight when it faces South Africa tonight at 7:30 p.m. at TQL Stadium. Following Vlatko Andonovski’s departure last month, Twila Kilgore will coach the team for these friendlies. It will also be Julie Ertz’s final game after 10 years of playing for the USWNT. The 31-year-old announced her retirement last month and spoke more about her decision ahead of tonight’s match. After tonight, the USWNT will play South Africa again on Sunday at Soldier Field.

Champions League Group Stage Rolls On

More clubs got their first taste of this year’s Champions League action as the group stage kicked off this week. Arsenal’s campaign got off on the right foot, with a 4-0 win over PSV Eindhoven that put the English club at the top of its group after a 1-1 draw between Sevilla and Lens. Manchester United had a rougher time, falling 4-3 on the road to Bayern Munich. Goalkeeper Andre Onana struggled and blamed himself for the loss. Real Madrid needed a goal from Jude Bellingham in stoppage time to win 1-0 over Union Berlin at home, while Lautaro Martinez scored a late equalizer in Inter Milan’s 1-1 draw with Real Sociedad. Elsewhere, Napoli beat Braga 2-1, RB Leipzig won 2-0 against a Benfica side that was reduced to 10 men early on, and Galatasaray and Copenhagen split the points in a 2-2 result.

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That’s all I have for you today. Be like a goldfish and enjoy your Thursday!

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