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Lion Links: 1/22/21

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How’s it going, Mane Landers? Personally, this week felt like an eternity and I’m glad the weekend is right around the corner. I don’t really have any plans for it beyond work, but hopefully the next few days go smoothly. Now, let’s hop into today’s links from around the soccer world.

Orlando City Selects Four Players in MLS SuperDraft

Before the draft got started, Orlando forked over a total of $100,00 in General Allocation Money (GAM) to the Portland Timbers to move up to the eighth pick in the draft. With that pick, the Lions selected forward Derek Dodson, who scored 30 goals and had 11 assists across three seasons at Georgetown. With Dom Dwyer no longer with the team and Daryl Dike getting attention in Europe, Dodson helps give the offense some depth and won’t be thrown to the wolves from the start. Given Orlando’s track record with forwards whose first and last names both start with the letter D, I like the pick.

Later in the first round, Orlando strengthened its defensive depth by selecting Georgetown’s Rio Hope-Gund and Penn State’s Brandon Hackenberg with the 19th and 22nd picks, respectively. The pair of center backs helps replace the departures of both Alex De John and Kamal Miller and shore up part of the back line.

The Lions ended their draft day by selecting Wake Forest goalkeeper Andrew Pannenberg in the second round. Although there is still uncertainty regarding Brian Rowe’s future with Orlando, Pannenberg would likely be with Orlando City B if the team plays in 2021 or he could be loaned out.

Alex Morgan Back in Training as USWNT Prepares for Friendly

United States Women’s National Team Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski confirmed that Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan is back in training after recovering from COVID-19. Morgan won’t be playing in the USWNT’s friendly against Colombia today at Exploria Stadium, but it’s nice knowing she’s back on the field. As for today’s match, the Pride’s Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris could both play as Andonovski spoke about “significant” rotation to the roster and neither played in the previous match between the two nations earlier this week.

Krieger has fought hard to earn her spot on the USWNT roster and use her position to speak out against social injustice. Andonovski is focused on improving the USWNT’s defense and Krieger is making the most of her training at the January camp.

“It’s been a breath of fresh air honestly,” Krieger said. “I’ve learned a lot, even at my age and with my experience. I try to get better every single day and improve to help this team be successful. I really cherish the time that I’ve been able to be in camp and learn new things.”

How the Rest of the SuperDraft Shook Out

Austin FC selected Virginia Tech midfielder Daniel Pereira with first overall pick, a move that even surprised Pereira. Clemson midfielder Philip Mayaka was largely expected to be chosen first but went to the Colorado Rapids with the third pick after FC Cincinnati selected Wake Forest forward Calvin Harris with the second. In back-to-back picks after a trade with Atlanta United, D.C. United chose Clemson forward Kimarni Smith and Wake Forest defender Michael DeShields to round out the top five picks of the draft.

Make sure to check out the rest of the draft results and MLSsoccer.com’s Travis Clark took a stab at grading each club’s draft, although he gave Orlando a C+ for taking Dodson “too high” while the Philadelphia Union received an A+ for trading all their picks away. What do you all think about Orlando’s 2021 draft class? I’m personally a fan of selecting the players you want and not worrying about reaching or when players “should” be drafted.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber Pens Letter to Fans

Prior to this year’s draft, Garber released a “letter to fans” regarding the past season and the year ahead. Garber congratulated the Columbus Crew and thanked fans for their support during a difficult season due to the pandemic. Looking forward, he talked about the effect the pandemic will have on the upcoming season as well as the negotiations between the league and the MLS Players Association.

A good portion of the letter is spent talking about the proposal the league gave the MLSPA and future meetings to reach an agreement. Garber noted the difficulties players faced with last year’s condensed schedule and being away from their families, but also spoke about the financial losses MLS ownership had and made sure to point out the league has been awaiting a response to a proposal made two weeks ago. The MLSPA had its own response to the letter and the not-so-subtle jab about the lack of response so far.

Conflicting Reports Arise About the Olympics

You’ll need to get past the paywall for all of the details, but the Tokyo Olympics may be canceled due to COVID-19 according to The Times. This news conflicts with a statement made by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, who had the following to say on Kyodo News in Japan about the reports of cancellation.

“We have at this moment, no reason whatsoever to believe that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will not open on the 23rd of July in the Olympic stadium in Tokyo,” Bach said. “This is why there is no plan B and this is why we are fully committed to make these games safe and successful.”

While it would be disappointing for the Olympics not to take place for the second-straight year, at least the Orlando Pride wouldn’t be as shorthanded during the summer. If the Olympics are indeed cancelled, it will be interesting to see if that will affect the summer scheduling for sports leagues across the country.

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That’s going to do it for me, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a wonderful Friday and rest of your weekend.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/25/24

Duncan McGuire is an Olympic frontrunner, Orlando Pride get ready for the Washington Spirit, Colin Guske signs with Orlando City B, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this work week hasn’t been too stressful for you as we get ready for another weekend packed with Orlando soccer. All of the European soccer this week has been enjoyable as well, as teams fight for silverware and survival. It should be a fun next few days, although most of my match following will be digital. I’m hoping to get out to the stadium for a game or two over the next couple of months as well. But for now, let’s dive into today’s links!

Duncan McGuire Likely to Play in Olympics

Orlando City forward Duncan McGuire was listed as one of the frontrunners to join the U.S. for this year’s Olympics. It won’t be much of a shock if McGuire is in Paris this summer, as he’s been impressive in the time since being drafted sixth overall in the 2023 MLS SuperDraft by the Lions. The 23-year-old has followed up a strong rookie year with three goals and an assist so far this season. It will be interesting to see who McGuire could compete with for minutes in the Olympics, with Ricardo Pepi noted as another possible option up top for the U.S. Overall, it’s nice to see McGuire is doing what’s needed to stay in the contention for Paris. I think that staying in Orlando rather than going to England has definitely helped his case.

Orlando Pride Prepare for the Washington Spirit

The Orlando Pride are riding a five-game unbeaten streak and will take it to the nation’s capital for a difficult road match against the Washington Spirit Friday night. The Pride have won their past two games and will face a Spirit side that has won four of its five games this season. Both teams have been defensively sound, each conceding just four goals, so it may come down to moments of individual brilliance to make the difference. Pride Head Coach Seb Hines spoke about the difficulty of the matchup, Orlando’s grit this season, and the impact Barbra Banda had in her debut last weekend.

Orlando City B Signs Colin Guske

Midfielder Colin Guske, who joined Orlando City’s academy back in 2020, signed an MLS NEXT Pro contract with Orlando City B through this 2024 season. The 17-year-old made his OCB debut in the team’s season opener this year and scored the game-winning goal. He’s carved out a spot in OCB’s midfield this season, starting in four of the team’s five games. Guske has two brothers who have also gone through the club’s academy and played with OCB. A solid year with the Young Lions from Guske could result in a Homegrown Player contract for the senior team.

Columbus Crew SC Wins First Leg Against Monterrey

The Concacaf Champions Cup semifinals are here and the Columbus Crew are the only MLS team still in the tournament. They came up with a big 2-1 home win in the first leg of their matchup against Monterrey. Cucho Hernandez gave the Crew the lead in the first half and 21-year-old Jacen Russell-Rowe scored the winner in the second. An away goal by Monterrey could prove crucial though due to the tiebreakers, and the second leg will take place on May 1. The winner of this matchup will take on either Club America or Pachuca in the final on June 2.

Free Kicks

  • Former Lion Dom Dwyer is reportedly headed out west to sign with Oakland Roots SC in the USL Championship.
  • Toronto FC traded away $200,000 in 2025 General Allocation Money (GAM) to Atlanta United in exchange for winger Derrick Etienne Jr. The 27-year-old has not received much playing time this season, and Atlanta could earn another $175,000 in GAM if performance-based metrics are met.
  • The San Jose Earthquakes have reportedly signed Hernan Lopez from Godoy Cruz. It would give a-needed boost to the team, which has just three points from nine games this season.
  • St. Louis City winger Celio Pompeu won MLS Goal of the Matchday for his great strike from outside the box in his team’s 3-3 draw with Sporting Kansas City.

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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/24/24

Orlando City and Orlando Pride power rankings, USMNT player news, USWNT will host Costa Rica, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. It’s that time of the week for some tasty links. Two seven-point weekends for Orlando’s soccer teams is nothing to sneeze at, unlike the pollen that coats my hometown of Tallahassee. It’s the time of the year that I make my money back with the unlimited car wash next to my work. Enough with my weather-related car issues, let’s get to the links.

Lions Move Up (and Down) in Power Rankings

There’s nothing that shows the value of “power rankings” better than when you can compare two different ranking lists for the same week for any given club. We all know Orlando City is undefeated in its last four matches thanks to the late heroics of Ivan Angulo to draw CF Montreal over the weekend. But, did you know that was both good and bad?

In ESPN‘s MLS power rankings, Orlando City dropped a spot from 16th to 17th despite “treading water” with a point on the road in Montreal. Meanwhile, the Lions roared ahead three spots from 21st to 18th in MLSsoccer.com’s power rankings. So, do you like that Orlando is 17th in the ESPN piece despite the drop? Or do you prefer the positivity of a three-spot jump to 18th in the MLSSoccer.com rankings?

Orlando Pride Rise in Power Rankings

Forget everything I wrote up there regarding power rankings — at least as far as the Orlando Pride are concerned. After starting the season with three draws, the Pride now have two wins in a row. As such, ESPN moved the Pride up three spots from eighth to fifth in its NWSL power rankings. Their move up the list is entirely deserved and the writer was correct in their assessment. Of course, I’m kidding but it’s still nice to see the Pride get recognized for their results. Now, we just need the Pride to continue the winning streak.

Keeping Up With USMNT Players Abroad

As we shared yesterday, Sergino Dest will likely miss this summer’s Copa America thanks to a knee injury suffered during PSV Eindhoven training. That means the USMNT has a right back situation to address and there are quite a few well known candidates to step in for Dest.

Meanwhile, Weston McKennie has reportedly rejected Juventus’ latest extension offer. I can understand his decision given it doesn’t include any additional salary. McKennie has been very good for Juve, with 10 assists on the season. He’s not the only American making a difference, as Tim Weah provided the assist on Arkadiusz Milik’s goal to send Juventus to the Coppa Italia final.

USWNT Olympic Send-Off Match

The United States Women’s National Team will play a match against Costa Rica at Audi Field on July 16. It will be the final match for the USWNT prior to the Olympics that start nine days later against Zambia. New coach Emma Hayes will join the team on June 1, which isn’t a ton of time before the Olympics start, but she has been a part of the process for months.

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  • The New England Revolution have acquired veteran defender Xavier Arreaga from the Seattle Sounders for a 2025 international roster slot, and up to $75,000 in General Allocation Money depending on performance.
  • Inter Miami’s Jordi Alba will be out for several weeks due to a hamstring injury. Fortunately, he is expected to be back in time for the match against Orlando City on May 15. Where did I put the sarcasm font?

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the Pride’s match against the Washington Spirit this Friday, and Orlando City’s match against Toronto FC on Saturday. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/23/24

Ivan Angulo makes Team of the Matchday bench, Americans in action, Sergino Dest to miss Copa America, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It was an excellent weekend for Orlando’s soccer teams, as the three sides took seven of the nine points on offer. There’s no rest for the wicked this week as the Orlando Pride travel to play the Washington Spirit on Friday, Orlando City hosts Toronto FC on Saturday, and Orlando City B finishes things up at home against Toronto FC II on Sunday. Let’s take a look at today’s links.

Ivan Angulo Earns Recognition

Ivan Angulo has been named to the bench of the latest edition of the MLS Team of the Matchday. The Colombian got the start on Saturday up in Montreal, and had a good game, going the distance and completing 82% of his passes and putting one of his two shots on target. That shot was an important one, as it gave the Lions a late equalizer and helped them salvage a valuable point on the road. Sean Rollins gave him a grade of 6 in his player grades from the match, a rating that likely would have been higher had Martin Ojeda’s pass been accurate enough to allow Angulo to grab a possible winner just a few minutes after he equalized. Here’s hoping he keeps up the good work!

Americans in Midweek Action

There are a number of Americans taking part in big games this week, and the good people over at Stars and Stripes FC have you covered with the whole rundown. First up, Weston McKennie, Tim Weah, and Juventus will try to advance to the Coppa Italia final this afternoon, as they enter the second leg of the semifinal against Lazio with a 2-0 lead on aggregate. Tomorrow sees Monaco and Folarin Balogun meet Lille in Ligue 1 action, while Chris Richards and Crystal Palace host Newcastle United in the Premier League. Things wrap up on Friday in Serie B when Gianluca Busio, Tanner Tessman, and third-place Venezia face Cremonese as they try to overtake Como and finish in one of Serie B’s two guaranteed promotion places.

Sergino Dest Sidelined Long Term

Following up on a story from yesterday’s Lion Links, The Athletic is reporting that the knee injury suffered by Sergino Dest will keep him out of Copa America, and sideline him for the rest of the year. That would be a big blow for the United States Men’s National Team, as Dest has been the nailed-on starter at right back since winning a place in the team during the qualifying cycle for the 2022 World Cup. The Yanks aren’t without options at the position, as Joe Scally could step in for Dest, or Gregg Berhalter could try deploying Weah there, but neither of the two possesses Dest’s level of offensive threat.

Inter Milan Wins Serie A

Inter Milan dispatched rival AC Milan 2-1 guaranteed that Inter will win its 20th Serie A title in club history. Fikayo Tomori’s goal in the 80th minute was the closest Christian Pulisic and Yunus Musah’s club could get to leveling the score, and Inter is now a whopping 17 points clear of AC Milan with five games left to play. Inter has been imperious on its way to a 20th Scudetto, scoring the most goals in the league while also conceding the fewest and losing only once this season.

Free Kicks

  • The Orlando Pride and Orlando City hosted a clean-up effort in honor of Earth Day on Monday.

That’s all I have for you this morning. Vamos Orlando!

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