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Lion Links: 7/15/21



Good morning, everybody, we’re over halfway done with this week. Maybe it’s just me, but this week is absolutely flying by. Wednesday was a relatively busy news day in our soccer sphere, so let’s dive in. But first, let’s all wish a very happy birthday to Orlando Pride defender Carrie Lawrence.

Orlando City Will Play In Toronto Saturday

Orlando City has its second road game against Toronto FC this season on Saturday, but it’s a much longer trip this time around. After months of sharing Exploria Stadium and setting up camp in Orlando, Toronto is back home and capable of hosting games at BMO Field. It’ll be Toronto’s first game in its home stadium since last September and first home game against an American team since last March, right before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the border. Saturday will also be Orlando’s first trip to Ontario since August 2019.

The situation with the Canadian teams is still complicated, but with increased vaccination rates amongst teams and staff league-wide and loosening restrictions in Canada, it was finally viable for Toronto, and CF Montreal to return to their home cities. As of now, only fully vaccinated players and staff can travel with a mandatory quarantine — all of Orlando City’s playing staff fall under that category — and their will be other COVID protocols, including mandatory tests.

MLS All-Star Voting Opens

Fan voting for the 2021 MLS All-Star game is now open. Unlike prior years, the lineup will be voted on in a 4-3-3 shape, with three forwards, two attacking midfielders, a defensive midfielder, and a back four with a left back, right back, and two center backs. An interesting array of Lions are available for selection. Most of the team can be picked with some interesting caveats. Only Mauricio Pereyra is listed in the “attacking midfielder” section, while all three of Junior Urso, Andres Perea, and Sebas Mendez are listed as a “defensive midfielder.” Defensively, both Joao Moutinho and Kyle Smith are listed at left back, while nobody is listed as a right back.

The voting system has also been overhauled. Outside of the formation change, it’s also weighted differently, with one third of the vote coming from fans, one third from media, and one third from players, similar to how the NBA decides All-Stars. A total of 12 players will be chosen through this voting, another 12 will be added by All-Star head coach Bob Bradley, and commissioner Don Garber will select two final players. Voting ends in just under a week at 11:59 on July 21. The All-Star game, against Liga MX All-Stars, is Aug. 25.

USMNT Faces Martinique Tonight

The U.S. Men’s National Team’s Gold Cup campaign continues with a group stage bout against Martinique. After a 1-0 win over Haiti, the MLS-heavy roster has another Caribbean challenge, and the Americans will hope for a more decisive scoreline tonight. Martinique is coming off a 4-1 loss to Canada, and the U.S. will be looking to match the Canadians. Daryl Dike could start in this game after coming in as a substitute against Haiti, potentially in place of Gyasi Zardes, with Zardes in a front two, or even on the wing with the lack of depth out wide. The game is set for 9:30 p.m. from Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, airing on Fox Sports 1.

Lionel Messi Set to Sign New Barcelona Contract

After over a year of speculation, FC Barcelona’s greatest ever player looks set to stay for the long term. ESPN reports that the diminuitive Argentine will sign a five-year extension to stay at the Camp Nou, and will take a “significant” pay cut to stay in Spain. Last summer, Messi nearly joined former manager Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and has also been linked to Paris Saint-Germain, as well as audacious rumors connecting him to MLS. Despite Barcelona’s serious financial crisis, new club president Joan Laporta was able to keep the club’s top asset, and make several other shrewd additions — though they still have to be active sellers to try to balance their finances.

Free Kicks

  • Daryl Dike and USMNT legend Damarcus Beasley shared their experiences with racism in soccer on Eurosport’s RAW podcast.
  • Here’s an update on Orlando Pride injuries.

  • Orlando Pride keeper Ashlyn Harris was featured in episode two of the ESPN+ original Abby’s Places.

  • The Leagues Cup final is set to be hosted in Las Vegas’s Allegiant Stadium this summer and next summer. This will be the second Concacaf final at the stadium, as the Gold Cup final will also be played in the massive indoor arena. Orlando City opens Leagues Cup play against Santos Laguna on Aug. 12.
  • Former England legend and Manchester United coach Casey Stone is set to become NWSL San Diego’s first head coach.
  • Former Lion Kevin Molino got the start in Trinidad & Tobago’s 2-0 loss to El Salvador in the Gold Cup. El Salvador clinched their place in the quarterfinal with the win.

That’s all for me today. Thank you all for reading. Have a fantastic Thursday.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/20/24

Orlando City draws against Charlotte FC, Wilfredo Rivera joins first team, Ally Watt speaks on Black Women’s Player Collective, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B / Mark Thor

How’s it going, Mane Landers? Last night’s Orlando City match featured plenty of ups and downs, but it was a pretty exciting way to spend a Wednesday night. Hopefully the Cardiac Cats weren’t too hard on your heart. Before we dive into today’s links, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride defender Celia!

Orlando City Draws Against Charlotte FC

The Lions went on the road for a match against Charlotte FC and earned a point with a 2-2 draw. Matches between the two teams are usually close affairs and this one was no different, as neither team did enough to claim victory. One one hand, equalizing twice on the road against a stingy defense isn’t the worst outcome for Orlando. On the other hand, Charlotte played most of the match a man down and a win was definitely in the cards for the Lions. Hopefully Orlando can break this five-game winless streak when it hosts the Chicago Fire on Saturday.

Wilfredo Rivera Available for the First Team

Orlando City B midfielder Wilfredo Rivera is with the first team this week after signing a short-term agreement with Orlando City. He was an unused substitute in Wednesday’s match in Charlotte and will be available for selection in Orlando’s match against the Chicago Fire on Saturday. The 20-year-old signed a similar agreement in March of this year, but has yet to make his MLS debut. Rivera came off the bench in OCB’s match against Chattanooga FC on Thursday and scored a brace earlier this month while on international duty with Puerto Rico. The signing was necessary as Ramiro Enrique is on an excused absence for a personal matter.

Ally Watt Discusses Black Women’s Player Collective

Orlando Pride forward Ally Watt talked about her role as the team’s representative for the Black Women’s Player Collective, which is a non-profit organization created by Black players in the NWSL. Watt spoke on how the collective allows her and other players to provide opportunities for young girls that they didn’t have. One such initiative is the creation of mini-pitches to give more safe and equitable spaces for Black girls to play soccer.

Copa America is Upon Us

This year’s Copa America, which will pit the top 16 nations in the Western Hemisphere against each other, kicks off tonight. Here’s a great guide to each team’s notable players and chances to win the tournament. Orlando City goalkeeper Pedro Gallese was noted as the star to watch on Peru’s squad. He has his work cut out for him though in a group that includes Argentina, Canada, and Ecuador. As for the U.S., Christian Pulisic and Giovanni Reyna are key players for the team’s aspirations at a deep run.

Chuck Booth over at CBS Sports also ranked each team heading into the tournament, placing the U.S. fifth on the list. Argentina tops the rankings, and I was a bit surprised to see Brazil in fourth. Peru is last, but hopefully Gallese and Wilder Cartagena can help prove the doubters wrong.

Germany Advances in Euro 2024

Germany followed up its opening win against Scotland with a 2-0 win over Hungary to become the first team to clinch a spot in the knockout round of Euro 2024. In the other Group A matchup, Switzerland and Scotland battled to a 1-1 draw that included a great goal from Xherdan Shaqiri after a bad giveaway by Scotland.

It looked like Albania was headed towards another frustrating loss after giving up the lead in the second half, but a late strike by Klaus Gjasula salvaged a 2-2 draw against Croatia. Today’s slate of matches features a showdown between Spain and Italy, along with Denmark’s clash with England. We also may get to see Orlando City center back David Brekalo take the field in Slovenia’s match against Serbia.

Free Kicks

  • Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Ryan Gauld won MLS Goal of the Matchday for his strike in stoppage time against the New England Revolution.
  • FC Cincinnati’s Luca Orellano scored one of the best goals of the season with a pinpoint strike from downtown.
  • NJ/NY Gotham FC extended its unbeaten streak to nine games, with rookie Maycee Ball scoring a late winner to beat the San Diego Wave 2-1.

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: 6/19/24

Orlando City needs to score, Duncan McGuire in demand, Orlando City B match postponed, and more.



Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

Happy Juneteenth, Mane Landers. It is a day to celebrate the end of chattel slavery in the United States and the progress of the Black community in this country. There is always more work to be done, but celebrating the progress to date is worthwhile. Today is also a match day for Orlando City, but for now let’s get to the links.

Scoring Goals is Important

Former Orlando City gaffer Adrian Heath is known for saying that goals change games. Orlando City has not scored many goals this season, making it hard for the club to change games and get results. Head Coach Oscar Pareja is taking the positives from the last match, but he will need to turn things around in Orlando’s attack if he’s to snap the club’s four-game winless streak. The first opportunity is tonight against Charlotte FC.

Competition Grows for Duncan McGuire’s Services

Following the Blackburn Rovers debacle in the last transfer window, we know that Duncan McGuire has interest in moving abroad. If not for incompetence on Blackburn’s part he would already be in Europe. The other interested party in that saga was Sheffield Wednesday, a club that is reportedly still interested in signing the young striker. Now, the English club may have some competition from Torino in Serie A, with other Serie A clubs interested as well. Hopefully, Orlando City will be able to secure McGuire’s services, though I expect he wants to go abroad.

Tonight’s Orlando City B Match Postponed

Orlando City B was set to take on New York City FC II today, but the match has been postponed. The new date and kickoff time have not yet been announced.

It’s not the first time this game’s date has been changed, as it was originally set for June 29 when the season’s schedule was announced. The Young Lions may not be complaining much about not having to play on the road on relatively short rest. As it stands, OCB’s next match will now be against Atlanta United 2 on June 26.

Hines Remembers Match After Pulse Shooting

It’s been a week since the eighth anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub tragedy. Yesterday, it was eight years since Orlando City played the San Jose Earthquakes in the first Orlando City match following the shooting. Orlando Pride Head Coach Seb Hines was a starting center back for the Lions in that match. He remembers the emotions of that day. Hines spoke on how it felt to get up for a match, but also taking time in the 49th minute to honor the 49 people whose lives were taken away too soon. He still has the rainbow sweatbands from that match that he was wearing when he scored a header for Orlando City. Hines remembers the good and the bad, and so should we.

Upgrading the NWSL Match Experience

NWSL clubs are trying to improve the matchday experience for their fans. That looks different everywhere, but at Inter&Co Stadium that experience includes local food vendors as a part of the “Orlando Made” initiative by Orlando City and the Orlando Pride. Of course, great food will only get attendance to a certain level. The real crowd pleaser is winning, and the Pride have been doing a lot of that so far this season.

Free Kicks

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the match tonight. As always, Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/18/24

Euro 2024 roundup, MLS transfer happenings, U.S. stars on Copa America prep, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Tuesday, everyone. It was a mixed bag for Orlando’s soccer teams over the weekend, as none of Orlando City, the Orlando Pride, or Orlando City B managed to win, with a loss and two draws. The only way out is through though, and there are plenty of chances to get back to winning ways this week. Before we get to today’s links, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Pride defender Rafaelle!

Euro Results Roundup

It was another pulsating day of action at Euro 2024, with the theme of early goals and exciting contests continuing. The early contest saw Romania beat Ukraine 3-0 with a trio of very well-taken goals. Nicolae Stanciu opened the scoring in the 29th minute and a pair of second-half goals just four minutes apart sealed Romania’s first win at the Euros in 24 years. In the second game of the day, Slovakia grabbed a goal in the seventh minute courtesy of an ill-advised Belgian attempt to play out of the back, and managed to hang on for a 1-0 win. The game wasn’t without controversy, as Romelu Lukaku missed several excellent chances, and also had two goals correctly ruled out by video review. The last game of the day saw France beat Austria 1-0 courtesy of an own goal in the first half, but the biggest talking point was Kylian Mbappe’s broken nose that will reportedly require surgery.

MLS Transfer Happenings

We have several important MLS transfers to catch up on this morning. First, the Houston Dynamo have broken the club’s transfer record to sign Argentine striker Ezequiel Ponce from Greek club AEK Athens. The 27-year-old will be a Designated Player, and although he can’t play for Houston until the secondary transfer window opens on July 18, he should help a Dynamo team that’s scored the fewest goals in the Western Conference. Moving to the Eastern Conference, the Columbus Crew are reportedly closing in on a trade to acquire Aziel Jackson from St. Louis City in exchange for $650,000 of General Allocation Money, in addition to other incentives.

Finally, Tom Bogert has identified Brighton and Hove Albion’s Marc Leonard as a player who could move stateside this summer. His loan spell at Northampton Town last season saw him named the club’s player of the year.

U.S. Players Speak About Copa America Prep

The Copa America kicks off on Friday, and Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams recently spoke about how they and the rest of the United States Men’s National Team have been preparing for the tournament. McKennie spoke on how this team has never been in camp for this long before, and that the extra time is helping them iron out little issues. He also talked about his willingness to fill in wherever needed on the field, something that could be relevant for both him and Adams given the injury to Sergino Dest. For his part, Adams discussed how a bright spot to missing so much time last year due to injury was that it allowed him to spend plenty of time with his newborn son.

UEFA Investigating Racism at Euro Match

UEFA is probing an alleged incident of racial abuse that took place in the match between England and Serbia. While the complaint did not come from the English Football Association, UEFA released a statement that it was investigating Serbia for objects that were thrown and the “transmission of a provocative message.” If the charges are proven, then Serbia could face sanctions from UEFA.

Free Kicks

  • The sensor placed inside the ball was instrumental in overturning what would have been an equalizing goal for Belgium.
  • Polish television is doing some very cool things with its soccer coverage.
  • An English fan woke up still in the stadium well after his team’s win over Serbia.

That does it for me this morning. Vamos Orlando!

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