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USA vs. Brazil: Final Score 2-0 as Yanks Take Control of SheBelieves Cup



The United States Women’s National Team continued its lack of sharpness but did enough to dispatch Brazil 2-0 on Match Day 2 of the 2021 SheBelieves Cup at Exploria Stadium. Christen Press and Megan Rapinoe supplied the offense against a Brazilian side that looked dangerous throughout the match. With the win, the Yanks improved to 2-0-0 in the competition, with a +3 goal differential.

The U.S. improved to 6-0-0 at Exploria Stadium, outscoring opponents by a combined 16-0 in those matches. The Yanks also took control of the SheBelieves Cup standings, improving to six points to top the table over Brazil and Canada, on three points each. A draw or better for the USWNT on Tuesday would clinch the tournament title.

“I’m very happy that we’re creating chances and the fact that we’re doing it in a manner that is very creative with some good plays makes me happy and tells me that we’re moving in the right direction,” USWNT Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski said after the match. “Now, the fact that we’re not finishing is not disappointing, but it’s something that we definitely have to address.”

Andonovski rotated his squad for the game against Brazil, but not heavily, changing out only four starters from Thursday’s win over Canada. Alyssa Naeher started in goal behind a back line of Crystal Dunn, Becky Sauerbrunn, Abby Dahlkemper, and Emily Sonnett — who stepped in for Midge Purce. Rose Lavelle replaced Catarina Macario in the midfield alongside Julie Ertz and Lindsey Horan. Press and Alex Morgan started in place of Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd, respectively, with Lynn Williams returning to the right wing.

The U.S. started on the front foot and only a terrific save by Barbara kept Williams from scoring in the second minute. Press drew the defense inside and sent Williams in on the right but the Brazilian keeper was able to get a hand on the blast from the U.S. forward.

Morgan set up a chance for Lavelle in the eighth minute but the midfielder couldn’t get her shot on frame. Two minutes later, Ertz sent a rocket shot over the bar from long range. But the first goal came just seconds later.

Ertz sent a diagonal ball to the left for Horan, who slipped Press into the penalty area. Press cut in left to right and sent a perfect shot past Barbara and inside the back post for her 59th career goal, making it 1-0 in the 11th minute. It was her 59th career goal.

“Lindsey played me a great ball in on a diagonal, so I wasn’t in a crossing situation. I was actually able to cut in, and open up the angle of the goal,” Press said. “And that’s kind of like what I like to do. It’s my signature shot and my signature style so it was great to see it go in the back of the net.”

Brazil nearly pulled that goal right back. Ludmila came down the left for Brazil on a 2-v-1 break but tried to fire a shot rather than send a cross to an open teammate on the far post. The shot was blocked by Dunn and the chance evaporated. Andressa took a pass from Brazil captain and Orlando Pride star Marta, then put a shot just over the bar and onto the top of the net in the 17th minute as Brazil continued to press for an equalizer. Much of Brazil’s attacking success came down its left side, where Sonnett was defending.

The game settled in a bit after that, with neither side creating much danger. Press had a shot blocked in the 39th minute and her rebound took a deflection wide that made for an easy collection for Barbara. Lavelle had a chance in the 41st that was straight at the goalkeeper from outside the area. Morgan got her head to a Horan cross in the 43rd but couldn’t make good contact and sent the shot wide.

Brazil had the last decent chance to score on a 3-on-2 break but Ludmila’s cross for Debinha skipped through the six-yard box and over the line for a goal kick. The USWNT took its slim 1-0 lead into the half but both sides could have scored more goals.

“One thing that we know (is) if we give them a lot of space as a unit, they’re going to expose it, and I thought in the first half, we didn’t do a good enough job in closing the space and once again we were caught on the counter attack,” Andonovski said. “But in the second half, after we adjusted the structure a little bit, I thought we did an incredible job in defending their transition.”

The U.S. out-shot Brazil in the first half, 12-5 (4-1 on target) and won the possession battle, 59%-41%.

Andonovski said that at halftime had Ertz drop deeper and had the fullbacks not both commit forward at the same time to prevent Brazil’s dangerous counter attacks. For the most part it worked, but Brazil fashioned some opportunities through sheer determination and quality on the ball.

The United States looked set to take control in the opening moments after the break when Press weaved through seemingly the entire Brazilian team to get to goal but then passed off and it was deflected away.

Horan’s free header on a Sonnett cross in the 56th should have doubled the lead but she couldn’t keep her shot down and it sailed over the goal. Five minutes later, Morgan’s pass unlocked the defense and sent Williams in behind the defense but the North Carolina Courage star slowed down after collecting the ball, allowing the defense to close her down from behind. In the end, she got only a weak shot off and it was deflected.

Lavelle curled a shot wide in the 71st minute and it started to look like the USWNT would have to settle for its lone goal. Lavelle had a couple of other opportunities in the attack where she tried to finesse through multiple players rather than play in a teammate.

Debinha should have tied the game in the 82nd minute. Sonnett got beat to give Brazil a numbers advantage and Marta — who played a terrific game for the Brazilians — found Debinha right in front but her shot skipped just wide.

A minute later, Ludmila dribbled around Dunn and crossed in a ball that deflected off Marta and out for a goal kick.

“As soon as they can get a touch on the ball, they’re running down your throat,” Press said of the Brazilians.

“Part of the reason why Brazil had more of the game is because that’s what we wanted to do, where you know we dropped off a little bit,” Andonovski said. “Eventually (we) went with five in the back, so that was the thing that we went to just close the game down.”

Second-half sub Sophia Smith had an opportunity in the 87th when fellow substitute Lloyd played her in but she took way too many touches and got dispossessed in the area without even getting a shot off.

However, the Yanks got their insurance goal a minute later. Horan made a run down the right side and crossed into the area where Rapinoe swept home a shot that hit Barbara but went in anyway, giving the USWNT some breathing room in the 88th minute. It was Rapinoe’s 55th career goal with the U.S.

The U.S. held on from there, winning another hard-fought match in the tournament against FIFA’s eighth-ranked team. The U.S. ended with a 17-10 advantage in shot attempts and a 5-2 edge in shots on target on a wasteful afternoon.

The United States improved to 30-3-5 in the all-time series against Brazil and has now gone 36 games without a loss (33-0-3) and has scored in 65 consecutive matches — the team’s longest ever streak.

Naeher posted her 10th consecutive clean sheet, which is a USWNT record streak. It was also her 40th career shutout.

“I’m really proud of the team actually,” Dunn said. “It’s funny because I think every time I’m on this team wearing this jersey, I feel like everyone expects us to never have a shot on goal against us or, you know, no team to ever create a chance, and I can sit here and say I think we played a great game.”

Canada 1-0 Argentina

In the late match, a late scramble off a set piece broke Argentinian hearts, snapping a scoreless tie in the second minute of stoppage time. Sarah Stratagakis got on the end of a ball ping-ponging around the Argentina penalty area and poked it home to lift the Canadians to their first ever SheBelieves Cup win, eliminating Argentina from contention.

Orlando Pride midfielder Jordyn Listro got her first career cap for Canada. Former Pride defender Shelina Zadorsky also started for the Canadians.

Canada was on the back foot in the opening moments after a pair of back-to-back giveaways by Sophie Schmidt but after that, most of the game took place in Argentina’s end. Despite that, the Canadians created very few clear-cut chances, coming closest 23 minutes in when a poor clearance resulted in a chance in front but a deflection sent the ball skipping just wide of the net.

Just past the half-hour mark, Argentina nearly opened the scoring off a corner kick. The delivery found the head of Soledad Jaimes, but her shot went straight at Canadian goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe.

Schmidt sent a free kick just wide in the 35th minute, as Canada continued to threaten the Argentine goal. Jessie Fleming then found herself alone with the ball in front of goal moments later but slotted her shot wide of the target. That was it for the first-half chances and the teams went to the break scoreless.

The second half picked up where the first left off. Canada kept the pressure on but struggled to find that last bit of connectivity in front. Labbe started straying further and further upfield. Argentina tried to punish her for it after a turnover but the shot from three-quarters of the field had neither the accuracy nor the distance to reach the net.

Zadorsky hit a volley right at goalkeeper Agustina Barroso in the 54th minute and Adriana Leon fired wide of the target from a good cross in the 55th as Canada continued to threaten to find an opening goal.

Jaimes had a chance to snatch a goal against the run of play in the 62nd minute when Labbe was caught out on a turnover but the shot was well wide of the far post. Canada was very lucky to escape an embarrassing goal. In the 66th, Jaimes headed a looping shot off the top of the crossbar off a set piece. Canada looked to get away with a handball in the box on the ensuing corner, but it also didn’t appear to be a corner as Labbe didn’t look to get a touch of the Jaimes header.

Most of the match consisted of Canada squandering balls into the area and setting up for set pieces. That finally proved to be the key to their success in finding the game’s only goal. In the second minute of stoppage time, Argentina failed to clear a service into the box and it bounced around before finding Stratagakis, who poked it past Barroso for the game’s only goal.

Canada saw out the final four minutes of stoppage time and held on for the win. Argentina was knocked out of contention with no points after two matches and a -4 goal differential. Canada stays in contention with three points and a an even goal differential, meaning the Canadians will need to beat Brazil on Wednesday, have the U.S. lose to Argentina in the late game, and make up several goals on the United States, which is +3 on six points after two matches.

The SheBelieves Cup concludes on Wednesday night after Canada meets Brazil in the early match at 4 p.m. and the USWNT faces Argentina in the nightcap at 7 p.m. The United States would win the tournament with a win or a draw.


Reflecting on Eight Years with The Mane Land

A look back over my time with The Mane Land (so far).



Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

As of last week, I have been a contributor at The Mane Land for eight years. That’s longer than I’ve ever been at any of my actual jobs in my life. There are literally only a couple of people who have been with the site longer, but I’m still amazed at how long it’s been. This is not to say I’m going anywhere, but rather I wanted to take the opportunity to look back at the past eight years, and look ahead to the future.

Unlike some, I didn’t come to be a supporter of Orlando City until it was announced that the club was joining MLS. At the time, I was contemplating picking a club to follow in MLS, but being in Tallahassee, there were no nearby options at that time. I considered FC Dallas and D.C. United, given the two were geographically closer in proximity to me than any others. Fortunately, it was literally while I was considering my options that the announcement was made regarding Orlando City’s jump to MLS. It was an easy decision.

As I do in many aspects of my life, I immediately started researching my new club, which led me to the content being produced by The Mane Land. There was also an article on the site titled “Join The Mane Land Staff.” I had often over the years internally bemoaned that I rarely used my Bachelor’s degree in English, and the desire to write welled up in me so much that I emailed the staff. 

In response, one of our former editors, Andrew Marcinko, contacted me and said “I think your voice would be a great fit on TML.” He asked me to submit a Fan Post (those went away with our presence on SBN), and then another piece for review. Following that, our founder and managing editor, Michael Citro, emailed me to welcome me to the staff. I had no idea at the time how big a part of my life this blog would become.

I started out writing Monday’s Lions Links — often one of the more difficult days to write — and a feature piece. It’s been many years gone by now, but there was a time when the feature piece was “Pride Pub,” an ongoing series that paired craft beer and good food based on Orlando City’s opponent. I can tell you that the research for that was very enjoyable, and I still use some of the recipes I found to this day.

Eventually, I started contributing more match coverage and analytical pieces. Staff came and went, but I never thought to leave since I was enjoying myself. Sometime after that, I was promoted to senior columnist, for which I’m grateful. I can without reservation say that I’m a better writer thanks to my time with the site, and from working with such excellent staff.

In November of 2016, Michael asked if I wanted to give co-hosting The Mane Land PawedCast a try. My first recording was for Episode 71. We just recorded Episode 354, and with the exception of maybe two or three episodes, I have been on every single one of 283 episodes over the last six plus years. Michael and I have spent a lot of time talking on and off the podcast over the years, and I’m proud of what we have produced and to call him my friend.

We recently added an Orlando Pride-specific podcast called Skopurp: An Orlando Pride PawedCast. For years we wanted to give the Pride the time and attention the club deserves. Now, it is a reality, but one that I ask you to listen to and share. I’ll even put out that although Michael and I are the current hosts, we merely consider ourselves stewards and are hoping to get others to come onboard and eventually take it to the next level.

When I started with The Mane Land, the site had just made the move from a free WordPress site to the SBNation network. It was a big deal, and for many years it was a good partnership. Of course that all came to an end not too long ago, and our blog went the independent route thanks to the incredibly generous support of our readers and listeners. In fact, if you want to be one of those supporting our efforts, please go to our Buy Me A Coffee site to become a member. The move has allowed a flexibility we didn’t have before, but I really want others to have the same sense of joy and accomplishment that I have as a member of our staff. 

At one point we had nearly twice the staff that we do now, and as you know, many hands make light work. The opposite of that is also true. I genuinely believe that there must be others out there with the same passion for Orlando City as I have — with the same desire to have their voice heard, whether through the written word or on a podcast. I promise you there is an opportunity to contribute here with us. Our internal discussions are informative, engaging, and often funny. Please consider joining us, as I did eight years ago. I haven’t regretted it and I know you won’t either.

I want to thank all of those who contributed to The Mane Land over the years. There are many that I am still in touch with, though they are no longer a part of the staff. Of course, the current staff are a pleasure to work with, and I appreciate their dedication to what we are trying to do.

Finally, I want to thank the readers and listeners over the years. From those who regularly comment on our articles, to those that I’ve personally met at matches or even randomly on the street, you are a big reason that we do all of this. You are a big reason why I’ve been doing this for the better part of a decade. it is always a genuine pleasure hearing your thoughts or simply sharing a moment of joy together — U.S. Open Cup final, anyone?

So, thank you. I look forward to many more years of this journey together.

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The Mane Land Announces Membership Program

Maximize your Mane Land experience with our new TML membership program while supporting our independent efforts.



Hello, readers of The Mane Land and listeners of our podcasts. Before you start reading this, please note that the most important part of this post is at the end. So, don’t stop until you get to the bottom.

You may recall that when we left SBNation to become independent, we really weren’t sure the best way to go about that. Many of our readers and listeners generously offered to help us make that transition, but we still weren’t sure the best path forward, so we took a poll.

The poll was pretty much split down the middle between those who preferred a one-time, Kickstarter-style campaign (which we did, and those of you who stepped up to help completely blew us away!) and those who favored a Patreon-style, subscription-based membership with extra perks. In fact, the member subscriptions option got a few more votes in our poll.

The folks who took part in our GoFundMe fundraiser were fantastic and are now immortalized on this very site on the “Our Founders” page. But we had always planned to give folks the option to choose whichever method of support they preferred and we tried to communicate that throughout the process. It took a little longer than expected to get up and running, but our membership subscription program is now in place! (You may notice the fancy new banner ad about it on the home page, echoed below.)

Supporting TML helps build a better TML for you to enjoy, so you’re really subscribing to your own Orlando soccer fandom.

Part of that delay was thinking up something that didn’t encroach on the benefits we gave our Founders. Those folks helped us get started and deserve the exclusivity of the perks they got. The other part of the delay is that there just aren’t enough hours in the day. (However, for you guys, I’m willing to be cloned.)

We have utilized the popular Buy Me a Coffee platform to run this program. You can find the basics here. The Mane Land premium membership program includes three tiers of membership, as well as the option to click on the “Support” tab for those who just want to help us out whenever, without joining the program or adding any recurring “appointment-based” payments to their budgets. We love that feature of Buy Me a Coffee (or “Buy Us a Beer” in our case…you drink what you like).

For those who do choose to become members, we hope we have provided value and we are planning to add benefits along the way, in addition to providing special giveaways, events, etc. (more on that below). We have also provided subscription options — with monthly or annual memberships. The annual cost essentially gives you 12 months for the price of 10.

Current Benefits

The current membership benefits depend on which level of support you choose — Homegrown Player, TAM Player, or Designated Player level. Each level includes all benefits from the lower tiers, with additional benefits for each higher level.

Homegrown Player: This is a basic set-it-and-forget-it level of support for The Mane Land, providing a way for our readers and podcast listeners to contribute to the success of TML‘s independence goals. We want to compensate our current volunteers, replace lost income of those who previously received small stipends from being part of the SBNation network, add photographers, attract new writers, and expand our coverage. Additionally, each Homegrown Player Level member will be recognized in a Lion Links column, which is still typically our most widely read post of each day and one of the top daily links columns among soccer sites. Homegrown Player Level members will also be included in any future prize drawings we have or events we host and may be subject to future benefits as they are added.

TAM Player: In addition to Homegrown Player benefits, TAM Players will receive a new weekly e-newsletter in their inbox (unless you opt out…some people hate email). These will be informal missives from myself, other TML writers, or a combination, discussing what’s on our mind regarding Orlando City, the Pride, OCB, or soccer in general. Think of it as an extra post from our site that may cover multiple topics. Additionally, you’ll get a 10% discount from our web shop items that we control (presently, that means everything except our listed MLS Shop items). We will definitely have more benefits coming for this level soon and will look for opportunities to include additional benefits as they become available.

Designated Player: This limited availability level of support includes all perks from the Homegrown and TAM levels, but it goes beyond. Your discount at our webshop (for items we control) will be 15% off. Additionally, we’ll send you Zoom links to watch us “make the doughnuts” whenever we record the podcast. This includes when we interview guests. You’ll see how the sausage is made behind the scenes and everything that we say, some of which will end up on the cutting room floor before the final podcast is sent out. This includes both The Mane Land PawedCast and SkoPurp Soccer: An Orlando Pride PawedCast. And after two months of membership you can commission a bonus episode of either podcast simply by letting us know what topic you want us to cover. Think of this as an extended Ask Us Anything. We’ll do a whole show about your topic and you can even join us to discuss it if you wish.

The DP Level will certainly have additional benefits tacked on as we move forward. It is currently limited to 40 members but could be expanded slightly depending on demand and our Zoom attendance.

Future Benefits / Benefits Under Consideration

While we won’t be able to schedule these due to the random nature of items falling into our hands, there will be periodic prize giveaways in drawings that include all of our members, regardless of level. The catch is that you get one entry per level of support, meaning Homegrown Player Level members will get one entry per prize drawing, TAM Player Level members will get two entries per drawing, and Designated Player Level members get three entries for prize drawings. Some of the kinds of items we have come across in the past include match tickets, trinkets, posters, scarves, and so on.

We are planning to add a message board to our website, well…soon-ish is the word that comes to mind. The plan for the message board is to build our community and further the discussion about the club. As part of this, we’re planning an exclusive, members-only area of that message board that TAM and DP members can access. This will be a place our staff can share informational nuggets we can’t necessarily write stories about for various reasons and interact with our members on a daily basis.

Other things in the works include meet-and-greets/watch parties where you can chat with TML staff members and catch a road match with a bunch of like-minded Orlando City/Pride fans while we all cheer on the team together. There may also be other informal outings with one or more members of the staff, organized fantasy leagues, random Zoom calls for Q&A sessions, and perhaps even some organized group outings for Orlando City / Pride matches, national team games, etc.

The Most Important Part of This Post

Remember at the top of this post, when I said the most important part is at the bottom? Well, that seems like a long time ago, now, so it’s OK if you’ve already forgotten.

The most important part of our membership program is you. We want your feedback so we can make this program something that interests and excites you. We want to know what you like and dislike about this program. We want to know if there are some things we didn’t think of that interest you. If you like what we’re offering, tell us! If you hate what we’re offering, we want to know what you’d prefer instead or in addition. If you want to go drinking with Dave, we can probably arrange that, but it’ll be a unique tier and we’ll have to figure out the cost of that.

No idea is too crazy to suggest, even if it’s too insane for us to actually offer. Let us know what you want from your subscription and we’ll see if that’s something we can do. We’ll make it easy for you by putting the form right here below this post, which is now concluded.

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Welcome Home!



Where do I even start? When we were told in January that SBNation was pulling its support of The Mane Land and other MLS and NHL blogs — and many podcasts — I was devastated. The site had become my new baby in September of 2014 and after eight and a half years, I wasn’t ready to let it go.

I was in a pickle. I couldn’t afford to lose the monthly stipend I had been getting from SBNation to manage the site and provide a steady stream of content. It wasn’t that it was a huge monthly sum, but it mostly covered my car payment. That car was purchased when my salary was higher. The pandemic hit my day job like it did to many, and after a four-month layoff, I got my old job back but not at the same rate. So, imagine taking a pay decrease at work and then, on top of that, losing the amount you spend per month on your car payment. There was simply no way to launch The Mane Land independently, I thought, because I simply couldn’t cover the startup costs. Even with some generous offers from the staff to pitch in, there simply wasn’t a way.

Once we took the news public, there was an outpouring of support on social media. We appreciated both the pledges to help out that we got from the community and the signal boosting that the national media gave blogs like ours. Those national folks rely on local reporting for background.

Encouraged by this outpouring of public support, I met with the TML staff and we threw some ideas around. We polled our Twitter followers to see how our community would prefer to show their support. We got pretty close to a 50/50 split between those who wanted to provide a one-time donation via a Kickstarter or GoFundMe crowdsourcing effort, and those who would prefer some sort of premium subscription add-on service like Patreon or Buy Me a Coffee.

We didn’t get a lot of responses to that poll, but we decided as a group that since the results were so similar, we would offer both and let the public choose one path, the other, or even both. (Stay tuned for news soon-ish on the premium subscription level, but rest assured, everything you’ve been getting for free at TML will remain free!)

I was, admittedly, skeptical that we could raise enough startup money to create a private business, pay for hosting a new site and two podcasts (having long wanted to give the Orlando Pride their own unique show), registering a domain, paying for some design work and consulting, and any unexpected expenses that might come up. However, I thought we’d at least give it a try.

Then the amazing Orlando City, Orlando Pride, and TML community got involved. You guys pushed us past our bare minimum goal in just four and a half hours when our fundraiser went live on March 1. We reset our goal and you met that by midnight. We reset our goal again, to the dream total we discussed on our initial staff Zoom chat and you met that by that first weekend.

Stunned. Humbled. Amazed. Touched. All of these words apply to how that made us feel, but they don’t quite cover it. I think we all felt an enormous responsibility, as well. We felt a mandate to provide you the best site and the best coverage we can.

We got everything we needed to run the site for two years, even if we don’t earn a penny after our launch — and we plan to try, via advertising, a Patreon (or similar) program, an online shop, affiliate links, and anything else we can think of. But we decided to leave the GoFundMe open through the end of March, just in case there were folks who wanted to contribute but needed to wait for payday, or if more people wanted to become founding members of this new site.

Now, here we are. You guys did this. We’re here because of you. And this site isn’t quite what it will become. I’m still learning my way around WordPress, after being away from it for years. There’s more to build, and some of the things you’re seeing on this site now will be improved in the future. We’ll continue to tweak it, add things, and upgrade as we go.

For now, I just want to welcome you to your new online home. On behalf of our entire staff, I thank our founding members, who are now immortalized on this site in our founders section. If you weren’t able to contribute to our transition from SBNation’s network to an autonomous and independent, new version of The Mane Land, you can thank the folks on our founders page, because without them, we wouldn’t be here. And if you still want to help out, we’ve got more things on the way.


Michael Citro
Managing Editor

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