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Intelligence Report: Orlando City vs. Toronto FC

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Orlando City has had time to rest up and lick its wounds following two straight defeats. After a 10-day break in between games, the Lions will hit the road (for real this time) when they take on Toronto FC tomorrow at BMO Field.

In order to make sure we’re all up to date on Toronto, I spoke with Mitchell Tierney, one of the editors over at SBNation’s Waking the Red. Mitchell was kind enough to give us some great insight into TFC.

Toronto fired Chris Armas after a 7-1 loss to D.C. United, after which the Reds promptly turned around, went on the road and beat the best team in the Eastern Conference in its own building. How do you interpret that win? Was it the new manager bounce, the system employed by Javier Perez, a little bit of both, or something else entirely?

Mitchell Tierney: I think it is too early to tell. I do think Javier Perez lined up his team in a way far more suited to their abilities than Chris Armas did during the majority of his tenure. This is undoubtedly an incredibly talented roster, and it didn’t hurt that Designated Players Yeferson Soteldo and Alejandro Pozuelo were starting together for the first time. But it is just one win and a game where they still looked very shaky at times despite going up 3-0 early on in the game. It was a good win without question, but they are going to have to show a lot more defensively if they are to get themselves back in the playoff picture.

This is also going to be a tough stretch coming up in terms of player availability. They likely have four starters missing out through Gold Cup duty for at least this month, and 38% of the team’s goals this season between Jonathan Osorio and Ayo Akinola will be representing Canada. So it was definitely a win to build on, but it will be hard to know where they will go from here. 

After the performance Toronto put on to get that win over the New England Revolution, do you think Javier Perez will continue as the interim coach until a permanent solution is found, or do you see Toronto management going in another direction?

MT: Without question, Javier Perez has bought himself another few games with how the club performed against New England. But after the way things went with Armas, I don’t think the team is going to rush into anything in the short term. I think they evaluate on a game-by-game basis and if Perez can keep putting up good results then evidently he will remain coach. Management has said they don’t want to give him that “interim” tag just yet so as not to put too much pressure on him. I think they were really prepared to give Armas a long runway to integrate his new system so his replacement really, really wasn’t in the plans. But at the end of the day, they had no other choice, with the amount of money invested in this roster, the results just simply had to be better.  

With Armas gone, do you think that increases the possibility of Jozy Altidore returning from the wilderness and playing for Toronto again? Or has that ship sailed regardless of who’s coaching the team?

MT: I think it is definitely huge for the club. Much has been written about Altidore’s contract and declining play and how Toronto FC would probably be better served if that Designated Player spot was taken by someone else. With that being said, having him set out completely away from the team was literally the worst-case scenario. Even when he is injured, something that has unfortunately been frequent in recent seasons, Altidore has been a great servant to the club and his winning mentality is infectious, especially amongst the club’s young players.

Especially with Ayo Akinola out at the Gold Cup, Toronto FC needs what Altidore can do in front of the net as quickly as possible. Even with Akinola, the Reds have only scored 16 goals this season in 12 matches. Both Patrick Mullins and Dom Dwyer are decent bench options but have yet to show themselves as consistent goal threats in Toronto FC colours. Altidore is undoubtedly still the most talented and dangerous goal threat on the roster, so if he can return anywhere near his old form it will be a massive and much-needed boost for Toronto FC. 

Are there any injuries, suspensions, or call-ups that will keep players unavailable for selection? What is your projected starting lineup and score prediction?

MT: For once, Toronto FC is almost completely healthy, but they do have a lot of players missing at the Gold Cup. Akinola, Richie Laryea, and Jonathan Osorio are all with Canada, Kemar Lawrence is playing for Jamaica and Eriq Zavaleta with El Salvador. That’s arguably four starters missing for the Reds through international duty. 

Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Alex Bono; Chris Mavinga, Luke Singh, Omar Gonzalez, Auro; Michael Bradley, Marky Delgado; Yeferson Soteldo, Alejandro Pozuelo, Tsubasa Endoh; Dom Dwyer.

Score: 2-1 Orlando City SC. 


Big thanks again to Mitchell for the update on Toronto. Vamos Orlando!

Lion Links

Lion Links: 7/17/24

Orlando City’s attendance is up, Viviana Villacorta signs new contract, USWNT draws Costa Rica, and more.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane land

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. It’s match day for Orlando City as the Lions hit the road once again for a match against Eastern Conference foe Nashville SC. We will have your preview and full coverage of the match later today. To pass the time until then, please enjoy these links.

Orlando City Attendance on the Rise

So far in 2024, attendance at Orlando City matches has averaged 22,632, which is more than last season’s 20,804 average. That total is good enough to put the Lions at 11th best in MLS attendance this season. Attendance is up across the league this season, with some citing the Lionel Messi effect, but I’m partial to the idea that more people are simply finding out about the beautiful game. I also think that the last few successful seasons for Orlando City have much more to do with the increase at home.

Villacorta Signs New Contract

Haley Carter and the Orlando Pride front office continued their trend of locking down current players by extending Viviana Villacorta’s time in purple with a new contract through the 2025 season with an option for 2026. Villacorta has had a rough go of it due to injuries, but the talent is there for her to contribute to the project Seb Hines is building.

Pride Top the Olympic List

The NWSL will send 56 players to the Olympics, setting a record for most players from any women’s league in the world. The Orlando Pride tied NJ/NJ Gotham FC for the most players participating on the women’s side, with seven. The Pride players making the trip are Barbra Banda and Grace Chanda with Zambia, Emily Sams for the USWNT (as an alternate), and four of the Pride’s Brazilians — Marta, Adriana, Rafaelle, and Angelina (as an alternate). If seeing all of those excellent players compete against each other in the Olympics doesn’t get you excited, you should probably see a doctor.

Orlando City/Pride to Host Olympics Watch Parties

If you were wondering where to watch the Orlando City and the Orlando Pride players representing their individual nations, then wonder no more. Orlando City and the Orlando Pride are hosting watch parties in Orlando. If you want to support the club’s internationals, like Duncan McGuire for the USMNT U-23s, and all of the Pride players, you can do so with your fellow Orlando City and Orlando Pride supporters. There will be four watch parties in total. Check out the schedule and venues here.

USWNT Draws, U-20 USWNT Wins

The United States Women’s National Team played its final friendly before the start of the Olympics against a stubborn Costa Rica side at Audi Field in Washington, D.C. Despite having 80% possession and taking 26 shots — with 12 shots on target — the wasteful Yanks were unable to find the net, playing to a scoreless draw. Costa Rica’s low block was effective, as was goalkeeper Noelia Bermúdez, but the U.S. simply squandered too many opportunities. The USWNT will next play against Banda’s Zambian squad in the Olympics.

The U-20 USWNT defeated the U-20 Mexico Women’s National Team 3-0 at the Jack Turner Soccer Complex at the University of Georgia in Athens. Ally Sentnor provided a brace, and Riley Jackson added the third. The Pride’s Ally Lemos got the start in this match and played just over an hour after subbing on in the team’s most recent match on July 13.

Free Kicks

  • Gareth Southgate will torment England supporters no longer as he has stepped down, having failed to “bring football home.”

That will do it for today. Don’t forget to follow @themaneland on Twitter for updates during the match tonight. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 7/16/24

Facundo Torres named to Team of the Matchday, Colombian soccer president arrested, transfer rumor roundup, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Jeremy Reper

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I had a slightly subdued start to my week, as my beloved Colombia was unable to get past Argentina to win Copa America. Life goes on though, and with a pair of Orlando City games this week, as well as an Orlando City B match, things will continue to be very busy around here. As usual, we have a lot to talk about, so let’s get started on today’s links.

Facundo Torres Makes MLS Team of the Matchday

Facundo Torres’ efforts in Saturday’s victory were recognized with a place in the MLS Team of the Matchday, along with an MLS Goal of the Week nomination to boot. Torres gets the nod on the left wing following the brace he scored to help the Lions come back to win over the New England Revolution. His second goal was nominated for the best one of the matchday, as he beautifully curled a first-time strike into the side netting to double Orlando’s advantage. Here’s hoping this run of form continues.

Colombian Federation President Arrested

As if losing the Copa America final 1-0 to Brazil wasn’t painful enough, Ramon Jesurun, the president of the Colombian Football Federation, was arrested in the hours after the game ended. Jesurun faces three felony counts of battery on a specified official or employee. His son was also arrested, and faces the same charges in addition to a misdemeanor battery charge. The specified incidents seem to have occurred while the final was taking place, with the event as a whole being marred by massive security and overcrowding issues.

Transfer News Roundup

We’ve got plenty of transfer news to catch up on, and we’ll get started in Major League Soccer. The Colorado Rapids have sold goalkeeper Marko Ilic to Serbia’s Red Star Belgrade. Sticking with the Rapids, Tom Bogert reports that the team is in talks with Lyon over selling Canadian defender Moise Bambito to the French side. Moving to Europe, Everton has reportedly made contact with Juventus about signing Weston McKennie. Arsenal and Aston Villa are both reportedly interested in signing Mikel Merino from Real Sociedad following his strong Euro 2024 showing with Spain.

International Retirements Abound

A number of high-profile players have retired from international play following the conclusion of this summer’s international tournaments. Olivier Giroud has called time on his international career, confirming what he had said before the start of the tournament. He retires as France’s all-time leading scorer, with 57 tallies in 137 matches. Xherdan Shaqiri has retired from playing for Switzerland, and he bows out as the only Swiss player to appear in seven major tournaments. Finally, like Giroud, Angel di Maria stuck to what he said prior to the start of Copa America, and has retired from playing for Argentina after winning the latest edition of the tournament.

Free Kicks

  • New Orlando Pride player Grace Chanda stopped by to take a look at her new home.
  • Orlando City rose one spot to 14th in ESPN‘s MLS power rankings.
  • Former Orlando Pride player Chioma Ubogagu has signed with USL Super League side Dallas Trinity.
  • Cristian Arango has been suspended four games for violating MLS’ Anti-Harassment Policy. He will serve one game of the suspension during the MLS All-Star Game, which is…weird.

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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 7/15/24

Lion Links: Orlando City tops New England, OCB wins shootout after Miami draw, Euro and Copa America champions crowned, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. I’ve been working at Under Armour all weekend and managing broadcast operations for tournament matches for the NISA Independent Cup.

Before we get started, let’s wish Orlando Pride defender Carrie Lawrence a happy birthday. We’ve got plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links. 

Lions Beat New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium

Orlando City overturned a poor first half and a 1-0 deficit to defeat the New England Revolution 3-1 and secure its first win at Gillette Stadium. All the Lions’ goals came in the second half, as Facundo Torres found the back of the net twice and Ramiro Enrique added one as well. Orlando won its third consecutive game and fourth in its past five matches. Orlando stays in seventh in the Eastern Conference with 30 points, while New England dropped to 13th with 22 points. The Lions will be on the road for a clash against Nashville SC on Wednesday at Geodis Park.

Barbra Banda, Anna Moorhouse named to NWSL Best XI

Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda and goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse were named to the NWSL’s Best XI for June. Banda scored three goals and added three assists in four matches. She also became the first player in league history to score 12 goals in her first 12 appearances. Moorhouse recorded 20 saves and only allowed one goal last month. She also has seven clean sheets this year and has tied the club record for most clean sheets in a single season. Orlando’s next match will be on the road on Saturday against the North Carolina Courage in the NWSL x Liga MX Femenil Summer Cup.

OCB Draws at Home Against Inter Miami CF II

Orlando City B and Inter Miami CF II battled to a 1-1 draw at Osceola County Stadium on Sunday. Inter Miami CF II struck first, but the Young Lions came up with a great Wilfredo Rivera goal to equalize and send the game to penalty kicks. In the shootout, OCB won 2-0 to grab the extra point. OCB remains 10th in the Eastern Conference with 23 points, and its next match will be on the road on Sunday against New York Red Bulls II.

USWNT Beats Mexico in Friendly

The U.S. Women’s National Team avenged its loss to Mexico in the Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup earlier this year with a 1-0 victory in a friendly at Red Bull Arena on Saturday. Sophia Smith scored the lone goal in the second half. The USWNT has not conceded a goal in its last three matches with Emma Hayes on the sidelines. Also, the USWNT that won the 1999 Women’s World Cup was honored before the match as it was the 25th anniversary. The USWNT will have one more match against Costa Rica on Tuesday before it travels to Paris for the Olympics.

Spain Wins Its Fourth European Championship

Spain edged past England 2-1 in the Euro 2024 final in Berlin to win its fourth European Championship. Nico Willams put Spain in front before Cole Palmer got an equalizer for England. It looked like we were about to go to extra time until Mikel Oyarzabal struck late in the second half to seal the win for Spain. This was Spain’s first major title since winning Euro 2012. Spain won all seven of its matches and is the first team to score 15 goals in a tournament. As for England, it has lost consecutive European Championship finals and extended its major trophy drought to 58 years.

Argentina Wins Copa America Final

This year’s Copa America also came to a close, with Argentina beating Colombia 1-0 to win its 16th title. It took extra time to determine a winner after a scoreless 90 minutes. Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez, who led the tournament in goals, came off the bench and scored the winner. The result snapped Colombia’s 28-game unbeaten streak and it was the first time Colombia was shut out in this tournament. Lionel Messi exited the game in the second half due to an apparent ankle injury as well.

Free Kicks

  • Former Orlando City defender Ruan scored the winning goal for CF Montreal against Atlanta United over the weekend.
  • Kickoff for the 2024 Copa America final was delayed after fans without tickets breached one of the security gates at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium. Police secured the gate, and kickoff for the match was delayed an hour and 20 minutes.
  • Celtic is reportedly close to an agreement to add former Leicester City, Nice, and Anderlecht goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
  • England manager Gareth Southgate stated he would discuss his future with the national team with important people behind the scenes, even though the English FA has indicated it prefers him to stay on. Southgate’s contract expires in December.

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

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