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Florida Cup 2021: Everton Defeats Pumas, Nacional Edges Millonarios



Florida Cup’s second and final night came to Camping World Stadium tonight with a pair of friendlies. With Everton having already won the event with a penalty-kick shootout victory over Millonarios on Sunday — following the withdrawal of Arsenal and Inter Milan from the competition before it began, due to COVID-19 concerns — the event did well to add Pumas and Nacional to the lineup to fill out the second day.

But rather than rearrange the entire event to accommodate the last-minute additions, Florida Cup merely hosted the championship match on Sunday and a pair of friendlies tonight, rather than make the late additions part of the competition.

Everton of the English Premier League took on Pumas UNAM of Mexico’s Liga MX in the opening match, with Atletico Nacional and Millonarios taking part in a Colombian first division rivalry match in the nightcap.

Everton 1, Pumas 0

In the opening match, Everton got a first-half goal and that was enough to send Pumas home with a 1-0 loss. The goal came early in the match, with Moise Kean getting in behind in the 19th minute and hitting his shot at goalkeeper Julio Gonzalez. The keeper made the initial save but spilled it and left Kean with an easy tap-in to give the Toffees a 1-0 lead.

Everton should have had a chance from the penalty spot later in the half. Kean again was the danger man, trying an acrobatic shot on the volley and hitting the obviously outstretched arm of Ricardo Galindo in the penalty area. The arm was straight up and not even close to being in a natural position and may have prevented a goal. There was no penalty awarded and the Florida Cup does not have VAR.

The best chance for Pumas came in the 41st minute. Defender Nicolas Freire got his head to a corner kick cross. His shot deflected out off an Everton player and out for another corner.

Everton’s Alex Iwobi should have doubled the lead in first-half stoppage time. Iwobi broke down the right and fired a shot that skipped just inches wide of the left post.

That was it for the first half and the Toffees took their 1-0 lead into the break. Pumas had more shots (7-6) but Everton got more on target (4-2). Pumas earned more corners (3-1) but Everton held more possession (56.9%-43.1%) and passed more accurately (88.8%-81.8%).

Everton created some danger just two minutes after the restart, with Nathan Broadhead sending a cross through the box but none of his teammates could get onto it.

Three minutes later, Pumas got its first good look of the second half with Cristian Battocchio sending a shot just wide of the left post. Juan Ignacio Dinenno fired wide from the top of the area in the 58th minute for Pumas as the Mexican side continued to be wasteful with its chances.

Everton eventually got back on the front foot and finding space in the penalty area. In the 62nd minute, Anthony Gordon stung the palms of Gonzalez with a shot from the top of the area, but the keeper was able to make the save. Two minutes later, Abdoulaye Doucoure sent a shot just wide of the right post on a good opportunity.

Gonzalez then made an excellent save on James Rodriguez in the 68th minute off a cross from Gordon from the left.

Leonel Lopez tried his luck from distance in the 74th, sending a shot in that forced a diving save from substitute goalkeeper Joao Virginia. The Portuguese keeper made an even bigger stop a minute later on a second long-range attempt.

Jonjoe Kenny got in alone in the 82nd minute for the Toffees but Gonzalez made himself big and made a point-blank save.

That was the last good opportunity for either side, as Pumas tried to get forward for the equalizer but couldn’t connect the final pass in the attacking third. Everton held on for the win.

Pumas had more shot attempts (15-14), but Everton got more on target (7-4). Pumas earned more corners (5-2), while Everton held more possession (55.7%-44.3%) and more accurate passing (85.8%-83.9%).

“We were expecting that (Pumas) would play in another way,” Everton Manager Rafa Benitez said after the match. “We were watching some games and they changed the system. And that is good news for us because we were learning how to manage another way to attack and defend against a different system. And that is a great opportunity for us to grow, to improve. And I think that we did well in the end.”

Atletico Nacional 3, Millonarios 2

In the nightcap, the Colombian rivalry got spicy early. Just six minutes into the match, Nacional was pressing forward and creating problems. Jarlan Barrera broke down the middle of the box alone and scored the opening goal for the former club of Orlando City midfielder Andres Perea.

Four minutes later, Juan Carlos Pereira of Millonarios picked up a yellow card for a nasty-looking challenge in the center circle.

From there, the game simply exploded for the rest of the first half, with the teams trading goals and scoring chances. Millonarios sent a warning signal in the 18th minute when Fernando Uribe fired just wide from the top of the area. Seven minutes later, Millonarios leveled the match. David Silva’s shot took a deflection and the goalkeeper had no chance in the 25th minute.

Nacional nearly pulled that goal back in the 28th minute but Harrison Mojica hit the crossbar. However, his team regained the lead anyway in the 31st minute, when a through ball split the defense and Jonatan Alvez finished calmly to make it 2-1.

A minute later, Uribe smashed a header just wide for Millonarios and in the 33rd minute, Los Embajadores equalized again. Silva got his brace with another shot that took a slight deflection off a defender and beat Aldair Quintana to make it 2-2.

The teams traded chances again before Nacional went back in front. Alvez was left all alone at the back post on a corner kick and the ball deflected through and fell for him to finish in the 44th minute.

Alvez nearly completed a first-half hat trick in stoppage time, but Christian Vargas made a huge save on his shot from about seven yards out.

The teams finally got to take a breath and went to their locker rooms with Nacional holding a 3-2 edge. Nacional also led in shots (10-6), shots on target (5-2), corners (5-1), possession (55.1%-44.9%), and passing accuracy (87.6%-83.1%).

After such a crazy first half, it was a bit disappointing to see the match settle down in the second period, but neither team could find the net. There were a few good opportunities, but the score stayed right where it was.

Uribe sent his third shot of the game wide of the net two minutes after the restart, giving him a hat trick of near-misses for Millonarios.

In the 66th minute, Nacional nearly got an insurance goal from Baldomero Perlaza but Vargas made a massive save to keep it a one-goal game.

Millonarios created the best chance of the second half, nearly bagging an equalizer in the 85th minute. But Quintana made a fantastic diving save to keep it out and the match ended the same way the first half finished up.

Nacional led in shots (17-11), shots on target (8-3), corners (8-4), possession (55.7%-44.3%), and passing accuracy (86.4%-83.9%). Despite the statistical domination, Millonarios were inches from tying the match late and had Los Embajadores been a little sharper — especially Uribe — could have beaten their rivals from Medellin.

That will do it for the 2021 version of the Florida Cup. The event was fraught with challenges due to the pandemic and had done well to schedule a stellar lineup, only to have things go wrong practically on the eve of the tournament. Kudos to Florida Cup for making the most of a bad situation and hosting an exciting event. We’ll see if the competition returns to the winter in 2022 or remains a summer event.


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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Orlando City

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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