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Lion Links: 5/7/21

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How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope you all are keeping nice and cool out there as temperatures keep climbing. Make sure to stay hydrated so you can make the most out of what should be a sunny weekend. Before we hop into today’s links, let’s wish Orlando Pride forward Sydney Leroux a happy birthday! With her birthday today and Mother’s Day this Sunday, it should be a nice couple of days for her. Now, let’s get to the links!

Jordan Bender Loaned to the Charlotte Independence

Orlando City midfielder Jordan Bender is headed to the USL Championship, where he will join the Charlotte Independence on loan for the 2021 season. The move will be a good chance for the Homegrown Player to get some minutes and Orlando retains the right to recall him from the loan. Given Orlando’s depth at midfield, Bender’s absence won’t leave the team shorthanded while he’s in North Carolina with the Independence.

Orlando Prepares for Tough Test Against New York City FC

The Lions will welcome NYCFC to Exploria Stadium tomorrow evening at 6 p.m. for a match between two of the Eastern Conference’s stronger teams. Orlando is undefeated through three matches while NYCFC has won its past two games after starting the season with a loss. The last meeting between the two teams was in last year’s playoffs when the Lions won the penalty shootout in dramatic fashion for their first MLS postseason victory. Orlando midfielder Mauricio Pereyra isn’t getting caught up in the past though, as his attention is on the task ahead after making his season debut last week.

“I think the emotions we lived in the last year and the playoffs, they are already gone,” added Orlando City midfielder Mauricio Pereyra. “This is a new season, this is a new year and this is a different game. Those emotions we should keep in our memories, but we know that this is a different game. [NYCFC] are coming from good results and are playing good football and we are in the same spot.”

Pereyra’s words contrast those from NYCFC right back Anton Tinnerholm, who is on the hunt for vengeance after Orlando eliminated his club from the playoffs.

“All of us, we’re not really over last year,” Tinnerholm said. “It was a brutal game for all of us and how it ended. Especially for me, I was forced to be subbed off in overtime…We don’t have very good memories from that game, but now we’re stepping into the game on Saturday here to do something. We [have] some revenge to take. You’re going to see all the guys, they’re going to really want to win the game from the first minute. I can’t expect anything else.”

As long as it doesn’t get brutal on the pitch, this revenge storyline should make for an exciting game. Miguel Gallardo and Evan Weston are looking forward to it as well and discussed what to watch for.

Nani Wins MLS Goal of the Week

After finishing second last week for his backheel goal, Orlando’s Nani won MLS Goal of the Week on Thursday. Nani’s fancy footwork at the top of the box helped him shake a defender to then blast the ball past FC Cincinnati goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton for his second goal of the season.

Nani’s strike claimed 37.9% of the vote, with San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Jackson Yueill close behind in second with 30.1%. Orlando’s captain is off to a great start so far with two impressive goals in Orlando’s first three games this season.

Oscar Pareja Discusses Unrest in Colombia

Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja was born in Colombia and played for the national team for a few years before moving to the United States in 1998. Now, his home country is in the midst of conflict between protestors and riot police after a tax reform sparked unrest over human rights issues. Pareja has reached out to his friends and family in Colombia as he wishes for peace in Colombia during this difficult time.

“I just have the opportunity … to send the message to our people and ask them [to have] a lot of confidence in God that things will get better,” Pareja said. “But at the same times we have to be patient and not [get] so desperate and just take our frustrations towards other people or institutions. I think that will damage not just our image but most important that will damage ourselves.”

USWNT Will Play in Summer Series

The United States Women’s National Team will head to Texas for the 2021 WNT Summer Series against nations that did not qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. The USWNT’s first game will be against Portugal on June 10 and then it plays Jamaica on June 13, with both matches taking place at BBVA Stadium in Houston. The last match will be the first soccer game ever played at Austin FC’s new Q2 Stadium as the U.S. takes on Nigeria on June 16. The format should help USWNT Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski get the team prepared for the Olympics later this summer as he works on finalizing the 18-player roster.

As for how this news affects the Pride, Alex Morgan will likely make the trip to Texas. Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger may also head that way, but the exhibitions will be during a break in NWSL scheduling as the Pride play on June 6 and June 20.

Manchester United and Villarreal Reach Europa League Final

After winning the first leg 6-2, Manchester United went on the road and took care of business against AS Roma. Edinson Cavani scored in both halves for a brace as United lost 3-2 but advanced on aggregate to reach the Europa League final. In the other semifinal, Arsenal had a chance to mirror the Champions League’s all-English final but couldn’t score in a 0-0 draw with Villarreal and lost on aggregate.

It all sets up for a clash between United’s soaring offense and Villarreal’s smothering defense on May 26. United has scored 18 goals since joining the knockout stage while Villarreal has only conceded eight goals in the tournament, with three of those goals coming from one game in the group stage.

Free Kicks

  • Daryl Dike is one of four finalists for the English Football League Championship Player of the Month. In April, Dike scored four goals in six games to help book Barnsley FC a spot in the Championship playoffs.
  • In some happy news, Tesho Akindele’s family will be welcoming a new addition in the future.

  • The schedule for CONMEBOL qualifiers in June was released. Pedro Gallese and Peru will take on Colombia on June 3 while Sebas Mendez and Ecuador will face Brazil on June 4. Then Peru will play Ecuador on June 8.


That’s going to be it for today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a great Friday and rest of your weekend.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/27/24

Orlando City loses to the Crew, Pride and OCB win, Southampton seals return to Premier League, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

Happy Memorial Day, Mane Landers! I hope you all had a good holiday weekend. I worked at Under Armour all weekend while wrapping up my high school sports coverage for the spring season. It was a mixed weekend for our teams. Orlando City lost, but both the Pride and OCB won their matches. We’ve got plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links. 

Lions Lose at Home to Columbus Crew

Orlando City lost 2-0 to the Columbus Crew on Saturday at Inter&Co Stadium and saw its three-match unbeaten streak end. The match’s first goal was controversial as the referee, Jair Marrufo, initially awarded the Lions a penalty late in the first half but went to the monitor and reviewed a play at the other end of the pitch. He instead awarded Columbus a penalty kick. Diego Rossi scored from the spot to put the Crew ahead 1-0 before halftime. Columbus extended its winning streak to three matches. Orlando has struggled at home, going just 1-3-4 so far this season. The Lions have not scored a goal at home since April 27. Despite the loss, the Lions still remain in 10th in the Eastern Conference with 16 points. Next up for Orlando is a pair of road matches this week, starting Wednesday at the Chicago Fire, followed by a Saturday night matchup against the New York Red Bulls. 

Pride Win at Home Over Portland Thorns

The Orlando Pride won their record-setting eighth straight match with a 2-1 victory at Inter&Co Stadium against the Portland Thorns Friday. Barbra Banda scored two goals in the first half to give the Pride a 2-0 lead going into halftime. Portland pulled one back, but the Pride held on for the victory and claimed three points. Orlando remains undefeated in league play after 11 matches, and the Pride stay atop the NWSL table with 27 points. The Pride are off this week but will return to action on the road next Friday, June 7, against the San Diego Wave.

OCB Win at Home against Huntsville City FC

On Sunday, Orlando City B bounced back with a season-high five goals in a 5-0 win over Hunstville City FC at Osceola County Stadium. Jhon Solis, Yutaro Tsukada, and Shak Mohammed put OCB ahead 3-0, while Yeiler Valencia scored his first two OCB goals to seal the win for the Young Lions. OCB is now in sixth in the Eastern Conference with 16 points. Meanwhile, Huntsville City FC remains winless through 10 matches and stays at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. OCB’s next match will be on the road Sunday at Inter Miami CF II. 

Southampton Clinches Promotion to Premier League

Southampton booked its return to the Premier League with a 1-0 over Leeds United in the EFL Championship playoff final at Wembley Sunday. Adam Armstrong scored the lone goal in this match as the Saints returned to the top flight after being relegated the previous season. Southampton joins Leicester City and Ipswich Town, securing promotion to the Premier League. Despite finishing third in the table, Leeds’ playoff woes continue as this is the sixth time it missed out on securing promotion and finished its season with only one win out of its last six matches. 

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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/24/24

Orlando City prepares for the Crew, Barbra Banda an NWSL MVP favorite, Orlando Pride announce sleeve sponsor, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! The gauntlet of Orlando soccer home games starts tonight when the Orlando Pride take on the Portland Thorns in a clash of win streaks. I’m working for most of the weekend, but am looking forward to watching some soccer and playing my way through the Ace Attorney games during my spare time. For now though, let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world.

Orlando City Gets Ready to Host the Crew

Orlando City is on a three-game unbeaten run and will take on the Columbus Crew Saturday night in an Eastern Conference showdown. The last time these two sides met was in the 2023 Eastern Conference semifinals with the Crew winning in extra time to eliminate the Lions. It’s the third consecutive road game for the Crew after winning 3-1 against both CF Montreal and the Chicago Fire. Saturday’s match is also the Crew’s last match before the Concacaf Champions Cup final on June 1. Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja spoke on how the Lions will be up to the task regardless of which players take the field for Columbus. Pareja also spoke about how Duncan McGuire is working his way back from the injury he suffered last week.

Barbra Banda Named MVP Frontrunner

ESPN updated its rankings of players in contention to be named NWSL MVP this season and Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda tops the list. The Zambian forward hasn’t been with the Pride for long, but she has scored six goals in six games to help the Pride win seven straight games. Opposing defenses haven’t figured out a way to stop her, and it’s fair to think of her as an MVP favorite alongside fellow attackers in the league like Sophia Smith and Temwa Chawinga. Pride defender Emily Sams also earned herself a spot on the list, ranking 11th. It’s nice to see her get some deserved recognition for her role in the Pride’s stellar defense this year.

Orlando Pride Announce Sleeve Sponsor

A partnership was announced between the Orlando Pride and Heart of Florida United Way, a charity that’s supported families in Central Florida for the past 85 years. As part of the partnership, Heart of Florida United Way will become the first sleeve sponsor for the Pride and its logo will be on the right sleeve of both of the Pride’s jerseys this year. A new ticket program is also being created for 50 tickets to be donated to a local charity for each Pride home game.

Orlando City Unveils Watch Party Schedule

The schedule for this Orlando City season’s watch parties is out, along with the lineup of this year’s included pubs. Each pub will have MLS Season Pass access for fans to watch Orlando’s games this year and there will be chances to win tickets and autographed items at the watch parties as well. There are three new pubs added to the lineup this year, including The Castle Irish Pub at College Park, Paddywagon Irish Pub in Dr. Phillips, and Winter Garden’s Hagan O’Reilly’s. The first watch party will be at The Hammered Lamb in Ivanhoe Village on June 1 when the Lions face off against the New York Red Bulls.

Free Kicks

  • Pride midfielder Evelina Duljan was called up to join Sweden’s U-23 team for the upcoming Four Nations Tournament.
  • NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman became the first woman to be named Sports Business Journal‘s Sports Executive of the Year.

That’s all I have for you this time around. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/23/24

Orlando Pride prepare for the Portland Thorns, Pride Brazilian trio called up, Atalanta wins Europa League, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this Thursday finds you well as we all get ready for a busy next few days of Orlando soccer to enjoy. It’s been a fairly busy couple of days for me, and I plan on knocking out a few errands before enjoying the upcoming matches. Until then, let’s enjoy today’s links!

Pride Prepare to Host the Portland Thorns

The Orlando Pride have a huge home game against the Portland Thorns tomorrow night. It will be a clash of win streaks, as the Pride have won their past seven games and the Thorns have won their last six. Pride Head Coach Seb Hines is well aware that Portland is a formidable foe with talented players such as Sophia Smith, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Sam Coffey. He spoke on how tomorrow will be a challenge, as well as how playing at home will give the Pride a boost during the game.

Pride Trio Called Up by Brazil

The Pride’s Marta, Rafaelle, and Adriana were all called up for Brazil’s pair of friendlies against Jamaica in Brazil on June 1 and June 4.

These matches will help Brazil prepare for a tough group in the Olympics against Spain, Japan, and Nigeria. Angelina, who featured for Brazil during the SheBelieves Cup, was not called up due to an injury sustained while with the Pride. Although these games will take place during an international break, the Pride do have a road game against the San Diego Wave on June 7, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Hines gives them some rest for that match.

Assessing Emma Hayes’ Time With Chelsea

It felt like forever ago that it was announced Chelsea’s Emma Hayes would leave the club to replace Vlatko Andonovski and coach the USWNT. A great article by ESPN broke down what USWNT fans can learn from her time with Chelsea, including how she’s dealt with the adversity she’s faced both on and off the field. Her impending exit put a spotlight on Chelsea’s season, and she still managed to secure the league title despite the pressure. Chelsea also announced that five members of the coaching staff will leave the club to join Hayes at the USWNT. It’s a new era for the USWNT, and Hayes brings plenty of experience and leadership to the position.

Atalanta Crushes Leverkusen to Win Europa League

Italian club Atalanta lifted the Europa League trophy after a 3-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen in Dublin. The day belonged to Nigerian winger Ademola Lookman, who scored a hat trick that included this stunner that doubled Atalanta’s lead in the first half.

It’s Atalanta’s second trophy in club history, and first in 61 years. It’s also the first trophy for manager Gian Piero Gasperini after coaching in Italy for 30 years. This result snapped Leverkusen’s remarkable unbeaten streak at 51 games, and ended the club’s bid at a treble. Bayer Leverkusen will aim to bounce back Saturday when it plays FC Kaiserslautern in the German Cup final.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City President of Business Operations Jarrod Dillon has issued a challenge to Orlando City fans for the upcoming trio of Orlando soccer home games, so it may be worth your while to get tickets for the Lions, Pride, and OCB this weekend.
  • Pride forward Amanda Allen placed 16th in ESPN‘s rankings of the 17 teenagers currently playing in the National Women’s Soccer League (the author deemed it unfair to assess Milly Clegg without seeing her on the field more). Allen mostly just hasn’t had much playing time, but that could change over the summer.
  • Former Pride player Camille Ashton (known as Cami Levin when she played in the Pride midfield in 2016 and 2017) has resigned as the general manager of the Kansas City Current.

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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