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Lion Links: 3/13/21

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Happy Saturday, everyone. It’s inching closer and closer to the 2021 MLS and NWSL season and our teams are gearing up for what will hopefully be a great year. The Pride are in action today against Florida State and, while we’re not going to be in Tallahassee to see it today, we eagerly await news that the team is scoring goals again. It should be interesting to see who plays today with another preseason friendly tomorrow against Flagler College.

Let’s get to the news of the day.

Orlando City Reportedly Turned Down $10 Million for Dike

This one goes out to the “but it’s not a $20 million buyout!” crowd. The BBC reported Friday that Orlando City had turned down a purchase bid of $10 million from a “big six” Premier League club for striker Daryl Dike, who is currently on loan with Barnsley FC. Further, Orlando Sentinel reporter Julia Poe reported that a source confirmed that the bid was made and that it included the same retention of 20% of the sell-on fee that was included in the purchase option in Dike’s loan to Barnsley. Poe’s story, as well as the BBC’s, both reiterated that the loan to Barnsley has a $20 million purchase price.

What this all means is that the club places a great deal of faith in Dike’s continued development and, so far, Luiz Muzzi has earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to personnel decisions. The club wants Dike to stay in Orlando a while longer, continue to grow as a player, and then wish him well and sell him on to a European side for a large sum. A $10 million sale seems hard to turn down and I’m sure the club had to think long and hard before doing so. It would be — by far — a club record sale. So, to turn that down is an indicator of what Orlando City thinks Dike will become. Gifted strikers bring good financial returns and the Lions are betting on making bank on Dike down the road. Atlanta sold Miguel Almiron to a non-big six club for $21 million. Dike’s sale could bring in more than that if he keeps filling the goal.

The Duck Migrates to Orlando

Brazilian forward Alexandre Pato has arrived. Orlando City released comments from Pato and photos of ‘The Duck’ at Exploria Stadium, showing off his new purple ‘Thick N Thin’ No. 7 kit on Friday. Pato seems excited to be here and to play for Oscar Pareja.

“He’s like a father,” Pato said. “He loves you, but sometimes he knows [you] need a push. … I will give everything for him. From the first impression, he’s amazing.”

“I’m so empowered now,” Pato said. “My mentality is empowered. I understand what I need to do to enjoy my work. I need to work hard. You get some things important in your life, you need to work hard. So that’s my challenge when I accept[ed] to come to Orlando.”

Orlando Stepping Up as Soccer Destination

We’ve been saying for years that Orlando is the soccer capital of the south and we will continue to irrationally believe that until the sun explodes, but the soccer world really has made its home in Central Florida since the pandemic began.

At a time when sports events closed down, Orlando hosted a combined 94 matches at Exploria Stadium and ESPN Wide World of Sports — only nine of which were closed to fans.

The ability to host games helped to absorb a year of loss for a city dependent on tourism and potentially bolstered Orlando’s bid to become a World Cup host city in 2026.

“I think that in tough times like these, it could have exposed weaknesses and instead just the opposite happened,” Greater Orlando Sports CEO Jason Siegel said. “It showed our true character. I believe that’s the reason that our community was able to come together and start the process of recovering.”

Pulling off events like the MLS is Back Tournament, the Concacaf Champions League, the SheBelieves Cup, international friendlies, and MLS and NWSL Fall Series matches during such a crazy time can only improve Orlando’s chances of becoming a World Cup host city.

Ex-Lion Alex De John Signs with Atlanta United

Like many of you, I was surprised to see that former Orlando City defender Alex De John had signed with Atlanta United on Friday. After all, De John just signed with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds a month ago and seemed poised to get a lot of playing time in the USL Championship. It turns out that the Riverhounds are magnanimous folks who apparently just let their players walk away. Pittsburgh released De John from his contract so he could sign with the Five Stripes. Pittsburgh released a statement yesterday about it.

Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC has released defender Alex De John from his contract with the club after De John was offered an opportunity to sign with Major League Soccer’s Atlanta United FC.

“We were excited to have Alex’s USL rights for the 2021 season, but we were very clear with him and his agent prior to signing that we would not stand in his way if an MLS opportunity presented itself,” Riverhounds Head Coach Bob Lilley said. “Although we are disappointed to lose his services, we wish Alex success moving forward with Atlanta.”

It’s unclear if the Riverhounds received anything for De John’s rights from Atlanta, but if they did not, they are now on our Arya Stark list of names for letting him go to Atlanta. This should only add some more spice to the growing rivalry.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City is among the MLS teams with the highest percentages of returning minutes played (88%) from a year ago, which is a sharp rise from the transition from 2019 to 2020, when the club returned below 75% of its minutes played.

  • Those born on this date include singer/songwriter Neil Sedaka (1941), open-wheel racer Lyn St. James (1947), actor William H. Macy (1950), singer and actress Charo (1951), U2 bassist Adam Clayton (1960), Annabeth Gish (1971), actor/rapper Common (1972), racer Marco Andretti (1987), and basketball’s Tristan Thompson (1991).

That’s all for me this morning. Enjoy your weekend as we get closer and closer to meaningful OCSC games in 2021.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/30/24

Orlando City draws on the road, Duncan McGuire called up, Grace Chanda will reportedly sign with the Orlando Pride, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

For those of you who watched Orlando City’s game Wednesday night, I hope the universe repays you with good fortune in some way today. The week rolls on though, as we get ready for more Orlando soccer this weekend, along with international friendlies around the world to enjoy. For now though, let’s get to the links!

Orlando City Draws Against the Chicago Fire

The Lions went on the road and had to settle for a 1-1 draw against the Chicago Fire. Neither goal was anything to write home about in a match that was highlighted by sloppy play and yet another controversial refereeing decision the Lions had to deal with. A draw on the road while on short rest generally isn’t the worst result in the world, but it was a poor performance from the Lions. They’ll aim to get back in the winning column this Saturday when they travel to play the New York Red Bulls.

Duncan McGuire Called Up For Training Camp

Orlando City forward Duncan McGuire was one of 25 players called up for the United States Men’s Olympic Soccer Team’s training camp ahead of a friendly with Japan on June 11. McGuire has earned his spot on the team during a solid second season with the Lions that has included five goals. Columbus Crew goalkeeper Patrick Schulte, Koln forward Damion Downs, and LA Galaxy defender Jalen Neal are a few of the other notable players called up. Nashville SC center back Walker Zimmerman is the only player over 23 that was called up for this camp.

Grace Chanda Will Reportedly Join the Pride

An agreement was reportedly reached between the Orlando Pride and Zambian attacker Grace Chanda for her to join the club on a deal through 2025, with an option for 2026 as well. It would be a free transfer, but she would not join the Pride until after the Olympics. Chanda was named to the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations Best XI and was also on the shortlist for the 2022 Best CAF Women’s Player of the Year Award. The 26-year-old did not play in last year’s World Cup due to an illness, but has come off the bench in Madrid CFF’s past two games. The Pride are having a historic year and Chanda should help them push for a title if she does end up joining her international teammate, Barbra Banda.

Getting to Know Emily Sams

Pride defender Emily Sams is the latest player to field questions as part of the club’s video series for fans to learn more about the players. Sams spoke about the disappointment in how the team’s season ended last year after missing out on the playoffs on a goal differential tiebreaker. She also talked about the team’s aspiration to not only make the playoffs but contend for a title this year. It’s her second season with the Pride and she’s been a key reason why Orlando has done so well so far. Sams discussed what the team’s atmosphere is like, as well as how she likes to spend time outdoors exploring Orlando’s many lakes when not on the field.

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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: 5/29/24

Orlando City faces the Chicago Fire tonight, Kaká to be honored, Pride linked to Grace Chanda, and more.

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Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. It’s match day for Orlando City as the Lions travel to the Windy City to take on the Chicago Fire. Orlando City looks to get back to its winning ways in the midweek matchup and we will have all the coverage you need during the match on our Twitter account, and after the match right here at The Mane Land.

We would also like to wish Orlando Pride Head Coach Seb Hines a very happy birthday! Frankly, it’s the least we can do given everything he has done so far this NWSL season. For now, let’s get to the links.

Lions Prepare for the Fire

Orlando City faces the Chicago Fire tonight at 8:30 p.m. at Soldier Field. The Lions will look to extend a three-match winning streak over the Fire. Facundo Torres has been particularly effective against Chicago, so hopefully he can start scoring some more goals as well. We will have our match preview a little later today.

Kaká to Become First Member of Legends Terrace at Inter&Co Stadium

Orlando City and the Orlando Pride are creating a “Legends Terrace” at Inter&Co Stadium to permanently honor those who have made a lasting impact with either club. Unsurprisingly, the first inductee will be the one and only Kaká. The ceremony will take place following the July 6 match against D.C. United. There will also be a concert featuring Latin performer Jota Quest in the Publix Mane Street Plaza outside the stadium prior to the match.

Orlando Pride Linked With Grace Chanda

Do you like Barbra Banda and what she has done since joining the Pride? Do you find yourself wondering, “got anymore of those Zambian strikers?” Well, it just so happens that the Orlando Pride are reportedly interested in signing Zambian forward Grace Chanda. According to the report, the San Diego Wave, Racing Louisville, and the Pride are all interested in signing Chanda. Given the Pride are serious about contending for a title this season, adding another quality attacker is a good move. Let’s hope the rumor is true.

Pride’s Summer Cup Schedule Adjusted

The Olympics won’t be the only women’s soccer competition this summer, as the inaugural NWSL x LIGA MX Femenil Summer Cup will start on July 19. We have learned that the Orlando Pride match against C.F. Monterrey at Inter&Co Stadium has been moved up from Sunday, July 28 to Saturday, July 27. The move does not affect Orlando City’s schedule, as the Lions play a rare Friday match that week. You can check out more information on the competition here.

Free Kicks

  • I know that there are those who are upset with the Leagues Cup as it definitely impacted the U.S. Open Cup this year. However, if you do decide to go to a match, at least part of the ticket price will go to a good cause.
  • Congratulations to Felipe. That is a lot of matches and we appreciate him being with our beloved Orlando City.
  • Congratulations also go out to Orlando City academy player Camilio Guerrero for earning a call-up to a U.S. U-14 national talent identification camp.
  • USMNT winger Tim Weah is making money moves in the Big Apple.

That will do it for today. We will see you on the other side of the match tonight. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/28/24

Yutaro Tsukada earns recognition, Americans in midweek action, European coaching updates, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I hope you all had a restful holiday weekend, and if you didn’t, then I hope you’re well on the way to recovery. We’ve got an exciting schedule this week, with two Orlando City games before an Orlando City B game on Sunday. It’s also OCB forward Yeiler Valencia’s birthday today, so let’s wish him well and jump into today’s links!

Yutaro Tsukada Earns MLS NEXT Pro Honors

OCB winger Yutaro Tsukada was named MLS NEXT Pro Player of Matchweek 11 for his performance in the team’s 5-0 home win against Huntsville City FC. The 22-year-old provided the assist on OCB’s first goal after using some nice skill on the ball to shake his defender. Tsukada then scored a goal of his own off of a free kick in the second half. The rookie has been electric for the Young Lions this season, recording four goals and four assists so far. Hopefully he can keep the momentum rolling when OCB faces Inter Miami II this Sunday.

Major League Soccer Stock Watch

Every week gives us a better idea of each MLS team’s capabilities, so let’s check in on how things are looking following the latest matchday. LAFC is on a great trajectory, as it’s won three consecutive league games and five straight in all competitions. Elsewhere in the Western Conference, Real Salt Lake scored three goals in the final 30 minutes of play to stretch its unbeaten streak to 11 games, and Cristian Arango didn’t have to do all of the heavy lifting. At the other end of things, the New England Revolution have lost three straight games, and six of their last seven. Likewise, the shine looks to have worn off from St. Louis City’s expansion season, as the team has also lost three straight games and simply doesn’t look the same as last year.

Americans in Midweek Action

With most of the European club seasons having concluded, there aren’t as many United States Men’s National Team players in action during the working week, but there are still some important games to make note of. Chief among those is Venezia’s game against Cremonese on Thursday. Tanner Tessmann, Gianluca Busio and Venezia will take on Cremonese over two legs, with the winner gaining promotion to Serie A. Left back Jonathan Gomez may take the field tomorrow morning in Real Sociedad’s friendly against Tokyo Verde as well.

In a pair of friendlies on Friday, Mexico plays Bolivia and Uruguay takes on Costa Rica. With the USMNT set to face both Bolivia and Uruguay in group play of this summer’s Copa America, the two matches present a good chance to better gauge the Yanks’ opponents.

European Coaching Updates

Several notable European club teams have coaching vacancies to fill this summer, and there are some updates on a few of those positions. Chelsea has reportedly made an approach for Leicester City’s Enzo Maresca, and has requested permission to talk to the manager who guided the Foxes back to the Premier League in his first year with the club. Meanwhile, despite interest from Manchester United, Kieran McKenna is reportedly set to stay at Ipswich Town, and has had talks about extending his contract. Finally, Aston Villa has extended Unai Emery’s contract, with his new deal keeping him at the club until 2029.

Transfer Rumor Roundup

Transfer season is kicking into gear, and we have several rumors to sift through this morning. Up first, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich are reportedly all in hot pursuit of Stade Rennais winger Desire Doue. Casemiro reportedly has a deal lined up with a team in the Saudi Pro League, and may have played his last game for Manchester United. Newly promoted Southampton is reportedly interested in signing Adam Lallana as a free agent. Finally, Paris Saint-Germain is said to have entered the race to sign Bruno Guimaraes, and will face stiff competition from Manchester City and Arsenal.

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

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