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Lion Links: 1/3/21



Happy Sunday, everyone. A couple of days ago I told you how exhausting 2020 was and how we are a bit shorthanded in terms of both numbers and the commitment the staff writers we have can make for the site. As such, one of the first changes that might be coming soon is the elimination of Sunday Lion Links and possibly both weekend days. I’d like to keep them, so I’m not making a definitive decision on that yet, but if you don’t see this column on future Sunday mornings, you’ll know why.

So let’s get to the news of the day.

Key Soccer Dates for 2021

If you’re like me, you try to stay organized and plan things out. So it’s always good to know when things are going to happen well in advance, such as this helpful list of key soccer dates for the calendar year. Included within are:

  • NWSL Draft (Jan. 13)
  • MLS SuperDraft (Jan. 21)
  • FIFA Club World Cup (Feb. 1-11)
  • SheBelieves Cup (Feb. 8-25)
  • UEFA Champions League Final (May 20)
  • Concacaf Gold Cup (July 2 – Aug. 1)
  • Olympic soccer tournament (July 23 – Aug. 8)

A lot of these are still TBA, but it’s a good guide. I hope you find it as helpful as I did.

COVID-19’s Effect on the Upcoming NWSL Draft

The National Women’s Soccer League’s annual draft will be a strange one, as the pandemic has thrown a lot of uncertainty into the proceedings. The NCAA has allowed players to retain college eligibility while declaring for the draft but they have until a week after the draft to tell the teams drafting them whether or not they’ll forego that eligibility.

“I haven’t dealt with this before,” Red Stars coach Rory Dames said. “I think the fact that college players don’t have to let us know [if they’ll immediately forgo their college eligibility] until a week after the draft is a little bit backward, if I’m being honest. I’m not sure how much value the draft has this year because of that.”

Drafted players must decide by Jan. 22 if they’ll report to their team immediately or at the end of their spring college season (assuming it’s held). Dames said he thinks this could lead to players who dislike where they’ve been drafted choosing to re-enter the draft next year.

It will be an interesting winter and spring for the NWSL and for the Orlando Pride.

Soccer Putting Revenue Ahead of Safety

Speaking of the pandemic, Yahoo! Sports soccer writer Leander Schaerlaeckens says that soccer leagues (along with other sports leagues) are putting money ahead of more important issues.

The English Premier League, and every other major league for that matter, is taking the money. And it is doing so at the expense of its own competition. 

But in spite of these issues and indiscretions, the Premier League is determined to forge ahead, even as calls grow to interrupt the season while the United Kingdom deals with the worst of its second outbreak, with much of the country on strict lockdown. West Brom manager Sam Allardyce said publicly that he would back such a break. “I am 66 years old and the last thing I want to do is catch COVID,” he told Sky Sports. “I’m very concerned for myself and football in general.”

Still the league presses on. Just like all the other leagues.

While he’s not wrong, there are complications on how much revenue clubs and leagues can lose and survive, which of course affects the livelihoods of a lot of people who don’t make as much as the players and managers do. As usual, sports is a microcosm of society, and many of us have been dealing with these types of issues in our jobs and lives. We want to be safe and alive. We need money to secure food, shelter, and clothing. Sometimes those two conditions are at odds and there’s no easy choice.

Schalke Threatens Bundesliga Streak

It’s been 30 league games without a win for Schalke 04 and that’s just one shy of the Bundesliga record. You wouldn’t think a club would want such a mark, but fans of the current record holders, Tasmania Berlin, would like to see Schalke win to preserve the record.

Placards reading “That is our record! Ra-Ra-Ra Tasmania (The Original)” and “Save the record for Tas!” were laid out in front of Berlin’s Olympic Stadium before Schalke’s 3-0 defeat to Hertha Berlin on Saturday.

Schalke is on its fourth head coach of the season already. Meanwhile, Tasmania Berlin finds itself in the fifth division of German soccer.

Free Kicks

  • Sarah Rendell of NewsChain called Alex Morgan one of the top eight signings of the WSL season, even though the Orlando Pride star didn’t see a lot of game action with Spurs.
  • As has long been reported, PSG finally made it official and hired Mauricio Pochettino as head coach.
  • We probably drop too much Christian Pulisic info in these columns, but this one is a fun piece of fluff, where the USMNT and Chelsea star talks about things like his favorite Pennsylvanian gas station, his love for country music, and why he got rid of his beard.
  • Atletico Madrid defender Kieran Trippier’s 10-week suspension for a betting violation has been put on hold by FIFA.
  • Angel City FC updated fans on the club’s plans for 2021.
  • Those born on this date include Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien (1892), “fifth Beatle” George Martin (1926), Robert Loggia (1930), hockey’s Bobby Hull (1939), Stephen Stills (1945), Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones (1946), Victoria Principal (1950), basketball’s Cheryl Miller (1964), Formula One racing legend Michael Schumacher (1969), television producer Dan Harmon (1973), football’s Eli Manning (1981), and Greta Thunberg (2003).

That’s all my time for this morning. Enjoy what’s left of your weekend and/or holiday break.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/17/24

Orlando City rises in power rankings, Orlando Pride waive two players, Champions League results, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. Time to start your day with some tasty links. It’s shaping up to be an exciting weekend with Orlando City, the Orlando Pride, and Orlando City B all playing. Last week, Orlando’s teams ended up with seven out of nine possible points. Here’s hoping we see nine out of nine this weekend. Let’s get to the links.

Orlando City Moving On Up

Starting the season 0-3-1 is a good way to be in the cellar of the utterly meaningless power rankings. Orlando City is now starting to climb up the rankings thanks to three straight results. The Lions moved up four spots to 21st after the 3-2 victory over DC United. It was Duncan McGuire’s goal that secured the win, and his performance off the bench was a talking point for this week as well.

Farewell Kaylie Collins and Tori Hansen

The Orlando Pride announced that goalkeeper Kaylie Collins and defender Tori Hansen were waived on Tuesday. Both players were on loan in Australia’s A-League Women ,with Collins at Western Sydney Wanderers FC and Hansen with Melbourne Victory FC. Collins and Hansen were both NWSL draft picks for the Pride, though neither saw significant minutes with the club.

Barbra Banda Begins Training

Barbra Banda participated in her first training with the Pride Tuesday. It’s uncertain how much playing time she may get this week, but it’s possible she makes her first appearance against the San Diego Wave this Friday. Please remember that it sometimes takes new players time to get used to a new club, a new city, and a new league. Of course, I’m still hoping she comes on and scores a brace against the Wave.

Wild Matches in Champions League Quarterfinals

Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund both overcame deficits in the first leg to advance to the UEFA Champions League semifinals. PSG dropped four goals on Barcelona to win 6-4 on aggregate. Barcelona scored first, but made things hard on itself when Ronald Araújo was sent off.

Borussia Dortmund also scored four goals, defeating Atletico Madrid 5-4 on aggregate. Dortmund gave up an own goal, but battled back to take the lead in the match and then the lead in the tie thanks to goals scored in the 71st and 74th minutes. It was a wild, fun match to watch. Dortmund and PSG will meet in the semifinals.

Free Kicks

  • MLS will now start implementing the new rules for off-field treatments, timed substitutions, and in-stadium VAR announcements. The idea is to maximize effective match time.
  • The International Football Association Board (IFAB) will test new time limit rules during the 2024-2025 season for how long keepers can hold the ball with potential consequences including giving the opposing team a corner or a throw-in.
  • Finally, our thoughts are with the friends and family following the passing of Joel McKell.

That will do it for today. Check back later in the week as we get you ready for the Orlando City, Orlando Pride, and OCB matches this weekend. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/16/24

Nico Lodeiro earns recognition, Marta up for Goal of the Week, MLS stock watch, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I hope you had a good weekend and got your taxes filed correctly and on time. It was a good weekend for Orlando soccer, as the Orlando Pride, Orlando City B, and Orlando City went undefeated and picked up seven of the nine points on offer. As always, we have a lot to talk through today. Before we get into today’s links, let’s all wish Luis Muriel a happy birthday!

Nico Lodeiro Makes Team of the Matchday Bench

Midfielder Nico Lodeiro has earned recognition for his part in Orlando City’s 3-2 win over D.C. United, making the bench of the latest edition MLS Team of the Matchday. The Uruguayan entered the fray in the 72nd minute and helped OCSC come back and take all three points. He took the corner kick that David Brekalo equalized from, (even though he was not initially credited with the assist) and provided an outstanding through ball for Duncan McGuire’s game-winner. Sean Rollins graded him a 6.5/10 and named him Man of the Match in his player grades as well. Here’s hoping he keeps up the good work!

Marta’s Goal Nominated

Marta’s game-winning strike during Friday’s contest against Utah Royals FC has been nominated for NWSL Goal of the Week. On the road and in the game as a substitute, it didn’t take long for the Brazilian to make her mark on the match. She was barely on the field for five minutes when she met a ball that was rolling across the box with a first-time strike that she powered in off the back post. It proved to be the game’s only goal and was enough to give the Pride their first win of the season. Make sure you vote for her to win this week’s honor!

MLS Stock Watch

The fortunes of Major League Soccer teams are in constant flux, and it’s always nice to keep track of how your enemies are doing. Former Lion Sacha Kljestan weighed in on which clubs’ stock went up and which went down after the weekend’s games. We start on a good note, as a resilient performance from Orlando City saw the good guys pick up their second win of the season. The LA Galaxy hammered the Vancouver Whitecaps by a score of 3-1, and proved that their place atop the Western Conference standings is no fluke. On the other side of the coin, Toronto FC has given up 10 goals in its last three matches, and Jon Herdman needs to find a way to keep things from getting worse until the Reds’ group of injured players can return to the field.

Americans in Midweek Action

There are two big matches featuring American players this week, so get them marked down on your calendar and don’t miss any of the action. Thursday sees Christian Pulisic, Yunus Musah, and AC Milan travel to the Italian capital to try to overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit to Roma in the Europa League quarterfinals. Musah started Sunday’s match against Sassuolo and Pulisic subbed on in the second half as Milan clawed its way back to a 3-3 draw. Friday then has Juventus and Weston McKennie traveling to Cagliari for a Serie A tilt. Juve is currently third in the league and needs to keep picking up results to secure a UEFA Champions League place for next season.

UEFA Champions League Preview

Speaking of the Champions League, the quarterfinals wrap up today and tomorrow and there are a number of storylines to keep an eye on. Luis Enrique is strong in his belief that Paris Saint-Germain can overcome a 3-2 loss in the first leg to advance past Barcelona. Xavi has promised that Barca will look to attack rather than sitting and protecting its lead. Elsewhere, Bayern Munich will be without the suspended Alphonso Davies and likely Kingsley Coman due to injury, and their replacements will be hard pressed to contain Ben White and Bukayo Saka. Finally, Edin Terzic’s substitutions gave Borussia Dortmund a spark in the team’s 2-1 loss to Atletico Madrid in the first leg, which means the coach may have a selection headache on his hands as he tries to lead his side to a comeback.

Free Kicks

That’ll do it for me this morning. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/15/24

Lions beat D.C. United, Pride pick up road win over Utah Royals, Barbra Banda arrives in Orlando, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. Orlando City and the Pride both won over the weekend, and there has been plenty of action in European soccer. Over the past week, I’ve been busy covering high school sports like lacrosse and softball. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Lions Top D.C. United

Orlando City overturned a late 2-1 deficit to win 3-2 against D.C. United at Audi Field over the weekend. David Brekalo scored the equalizer in the second half to tie the match at 2-2. Duncan McGuire came off the bench in the second half and scored in stoppage time, as the Lions beat D.C. United for the first time since Oct. 2, 2021. The Lions were 0-3-1 against D.C. United over the last two seasons prior to Saturday’s win. Orlando has now picked up points in each of the last three matches. Orlando City will be on the road again this weekend when it takes on CF Montreal on Saturday.

Orlando Pride Defeat Utah Royals; Help Arrives

The Orlando Pride got their first win of the 2024 NWSL last Friday with a 1-0 against the Utah Royals. Marta came off the bench in the second half and scored the lone goal to seal the win for Orlando. The Pride drew each of their first three matches to start the season against Racing Louisville, Angel City FC, and the Chicago Red Stars. Friday’s result means the Pride have six points through four league matches and are fifth in the NWSL table.

Despite needing four matches to pick up their first win of the year, the Pride are ahead of last year’s pace at the same point in the season, and remain undefeated (1-0-3) despite still waiting to play with this off-season’s marquee signing, Zambian international striker Barbra Banda. The new Pride forward arrived on Sunday to a warm welcome at Orlando International Airport.

It will be interesting to see how quickly Seb Hines can get Banda acclimated to the club and the league. Orlando could use Banda’s offensive firepower, as the club has struggled to score goals in the early part of the season. The Pride will be back in action against the San Diego Wave this Friday.

Bayer Leverkusen wins Bundesliga; Manchester City Leads EPL Title Race

Bayer Leverkusen cruised to a 5-0 win against Werder Bremen on Sunday to win its first ever Bundesliga title with five league matches left to spare. Xabi Alonso’s side won the league title by a 16-point margin, ending Bayern Munich’s 11-year run as title holders. Leverkusen is also unbeaten through 43 matches across all competitions. Meanwhile, in England, we have a new Premier League title race leader as Manchester City crushed Luton Town 5-1 on Saturday. On Sunday, Arsenal lost 2-0 to Aston Villa and Liverpool lost 1-0 to Crystal Palace. There are six match days remaining and this race could go down to the wire. Manchester City is at the top of the table with 73 points, while Arsenal and Liverpool remain two points behind in second and third, respectively, with 71 points.

Free Kicks

  • Houston Dash winger Maria Sanchez has reportedly requested a trade four months after signing a record-breaking deal in NWSL history in the off-season to remain with the club.
  • Manchester United edged Chelsea 2-1 to beat the Blues for the first time ever. Making the win even bigger was that it took place in the Women’s FA Cup semifinal. United will play Tottenham in the final at Wembley on May 12.
  • The EFL Championship is three weeks away from its finale, with a few clubs featureing Americans still in the mix for promotion. Josh Sargent’s Norwich City side holds the final playoff spot, while Haji Wright’s Conventry and Duane Holmes’ Preston North End in the hunt for a shot at promotion.
  • The AS Roma versus Udinese match was suspended after defender Evan Ndicka collapsed away from play and had to be stretchered off. The game was tied at 1-1 with about 20 minutes remaining when Ndicka went down. The club shared this update on social media.

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

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