How’s it going, Mane Landers? I feel like I’m finally able to catch my breath after all of the soccer so far this summer. This weekend I’ll be dragged to the beach by some friends and it should be a nice time to get some reading done. Hopefully the work week hasn’t been too hard on you these past few days and you can also unwind a bit this weekend. Let’s get this Friday started with some links from around the soccer world.
Nani Named to MLS Team of the Week Bench
Orlando City’s Nani made the bench of the MLS Team of the Week after midweek matches throughout the league. The Lions’ captain had an assist late in the first half of Orlando’s 1-1 draw with Inter Miami. It was Nani’s sixth assist of the season, tying him at third-most in the league and just one behind Orlando teammate Mauricio Pereyra. Both trail Carles Gil, who has 15 assists this year and is currently out due to injury. Nani has been in fine form for the Lions as of late, with two goals and three assists in his past four appearances.
Pereyra has also done well for the Lions recently after a slow start to the season and showcased his ability in Orlando’s midweek result. Suspensions and injuries have limited Pereyra’s impact this year, but he weighed in on how he’s finding his groove in the offense again.
“In my case, I think the most important is to be healthy physically and in a good condition,” Pereyra said. “Because after this is giving you more confidence when you can run when, when you are not held and when you are 100%, healthy, then, of course, you should show your skills. You can have mistakes and you can have answers but in the most important for the team is to have the whole players in good shape and in good condition and this is what we are working on now.”
MLS Clubs Were Busy for Transfer Deadline Day
Although the Lions didn’t make much noise, it was a hectic day for MLS clubs as the summer transfer window closed. The LA Galaxy officially signed Serbian forward Dejan Joveljić from the Bundesliga’s Eintracht Frankfurt to a deal through 2025. The 21-year-old scored 20 goals in 46 appearances while on loan with Wolfsberger AC in Austria. I’m personally glad he’s in the Western Conference. In fact, many teams out west landed players on deadline day as the Seattle Sounders added Brazilian attacker Leo Chu from Gremio, Sporting Kansas City signed former AC Milan midfielder Jose Muari to a deal through 2022, and the Vancouver Whitecaps acquired 19-year-old Ecuadorian midfielder Pedro Vite to a contract through 2025.
As far as departures go, two young Americans are headed to Europe. SKC’s Gianluca Busio is officially headed to Serie A’s Venezia FC while Colorado Rapids left back Sam Vines will join Royal Antwerp in Belgium. The New England Revolution agreed to a deal in principle with Belgium’s Club Brugge for Tajon Buchanan, but the deal isn’t finalized. The Chicago Fire dealt Przemyslaw Frankowski to RC Lens of France’s Ligue 1 for a transfer fee around $3 million.
Some trades were also completed as Jeremy Ebobisse was officially traded from the Portland Timbers to the San Jose Earthquakes, while FC Cincinnati nabbed New York Red Bulls midfielder Florian Valot in exchange for an initial $50,000 in General Allocation Money. That amount could double if Valot reaches certain performance metrics.
USWNT Wins First Bronze Medal
The United States Women’s National Team will leave Tokyo with a bronze medal after beating Australia 4-3. This match was a stark contrast to the scoreless draw the two countries shared in the group stage. For the second time in her career, Megan Rapinoe scored an Olimpico at the Olympics. She bent a corner kick into goal in the eighth minute to get the scoring started and then scored on the volley in the 21st minute for an early brace. Carli Lloyd also had a brace and broke Abby Wambach’s record to become the USWNT’s leading scorer in the Olympics with 10 goals. She hunted a hat trick throughout the match but wasn’t able to find a third goal. Australia’s Sam Kerr, Caitlin Foord, and Emily Gielnik all scored to keep the game fairly competitive. The Orlando Pride’s Alex Morgan came on in the 81st minute for Lloyd and had to exit due to an injury in stoppage time. Morgan was pleased that the USWNT was able to end its Olympic campaign with a win.
Coming home with that fresh Bronze and couldn't be more proud of this team! Battling until the end it's been 40 days on the road and ending on a high makes it all worth it!! https://t.co/GV55i264Ie
— Alex Morgan (@alexmorgan13) August 5, 2021
As for the gold medal game between Canada and Sweden, it was moved to this morning at 8 a.m. Both nations expressed concerns about the intense heat in Japan during the original set time for the match and this should allow the players to compete at their best. Although she’s not likely to play in this match, Pride goalkeeper Erin McLeod will earn a medal as she was included on Canada’s roster for its win over Chile in the group stage.
Lionel Messi Will Leave FC Barcelona
It’s the saga that has dominated the soccer world for quite some time, but Messi’s time at Barcelona seems to be over. The La Liga giant announced that an agreement was reached between Messi and the club, but league regulations and financial issues prevented it from being a reality. Paris Saint-Germain is eager to swoop in for the Argentine legend while Manchester City is likely out of the running after officially signing Jack Grealish for a hefty fee. Only time will tell if Messi’s reign at Barcelona is officially over, but this could be another step towards him eventually playing in MLS further down the line in his career.
- Here’s a nice refresher on the upcoming Leagues Cup. It’s a single-elimination tournament and Orlando City will take on Liga MX’s Santos Laguna at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in Exploria Stadium.
- Before that cup match, Orlando will hit the road for a match against Cincinnati tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. and the Lions are already hard at work in preparation.
— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) August 6, 2021
- FIFA wants Uruguay and kit sponsor Puma to remove two of the four stars on the team’s jersey. Two of the stars are there to recognize Uruguay’s Olympic gold medals won in 1924 and 1928, which were considered world championships at the time.
- We’ll end our links with a speed walking competition from the Pride. In case you didn’t know, the primary rule that differentiates speed walking from other races is that one foot must always be in contact with the ground. The result is basically the kind of walk you do when someone holds the door open for you even though you’re far away.
#Tokyo2020 is missing out on some great speed walkers 😂
Which Pride player would take the🥇? pic.twitter.com/U6REvLAYJf
— Orlando Pride (@ORLPride) August 5, 2021
That’s going to be it for today. I hope you all have a wonderful Friday and rest of your weekend. Go Orlando!
Lion Links: 2/23/24
Orlando Pride’s Megan Montefusco placed on season-ending injury list, Orlando City’s chances to win it all, USWNT plays Argentina tonight, and more.
Happy Friday! It’s the final Friday before we spend pretty much every weekend screaming our hearts out for Orlando’s soccer teams. Although I won’t be in Orlando for tomorrow’s game, I’ll be cheering along from Tampa and am looking forward to a strong start to the season from the Lions. Before we get into today’s links, let’s all wish a happy birthday to our favorite octopus, Pedro Gallese!
Megan Montefusco Placed On Season-Ending Injury List
The Orlando Pride suffered a blow to their defense as center back Megan Montefusco was placed on the season-ending injury list after undergoing surgery on her right foot. Montefusco joined the Pride through a trade before the 2022 season and did well coming off the bench last season to keep Orlando’s defense strong as the year wore on. The Pride have options to fill the void, as Carrie Lawrence is back in the fray after missing last season due to injury and Tori Hansen will be back once her time on loan in Australia is up. Orlando could also go out and bring in a veteran to replace Montefusco or sign Cori Dyke, who was drafted by the Pride in the second round. Regardless, losing Montefusco is rough, considering Rafaella will likely be with Brazil for the Olympics this summer.
Orlando City’s Championship Credentials
Joseph Lowery of MLSsoccer.com detailed the strengths and weaknesses of each MLS team in terms of having what it takes to win it all this year. Orlando City followed up a pretty stellar off-season with a nearly perfect preseason. Head Coach Oscar Pareja, winger Ivan Angulo, and midfielder Wilder Cartagena are all sticking around, while Robin Jansson, Facundo Torres, and the front office brain trust of Luiz Muzzi and Ricardo Moreira were locked down as well. Additions of David Brekalo, Luis Muriel, and Nico Lodeiro also ensured this team has few holes. There’s concern that there are too many mouths to feed though, and that no single player can take the reins of the offense. I disagree on that being much of an issue though, as the attack is fluid enough to beat different teams in different ways. The Lions may go without All-Star representation as a result, but they should rack up plenty of points spreading the wealth on offense.
USWNT Takes on Argentina Tonight
The United States Women’s National Team will face Argentina tonight at 10:15 p.m. in its second game of the inaugural Concacaf W Gold Cup. The U.S. did well in its 5-0 win over the Dominican Republic, but there were opportunities to score even more. Since there will be reseeding for the knockout stages, scoring plenty of goals will benefit the USWNT. Midge Purce was excellent in the opener and the USWNT will need to be sharper at putting away good service from the wings. Argentina held Mexico to a scoreless draw in its opener and will likely be hungry to score its first goal of the tournament.
Keeping Up With the Europa League
The first round of the Europa League’s knockout stage came to a close after a drama-filled day of soccer. Only one game went to penalty kicks, as AS Roma beat Feyenoord after a 1-1 draw thanks to two saves from Mile Svilar in the shootout. There was a thriller in Azerbaijan as well. A red card reduced Qarabag FK to 10 men and Braga took full advantage, scoring twice to send the game into extra time. They then traded goals until 19-year-old winger Nariman Akhundzade gave Qarabag the winner in stoppage time. In Germany, SC Freiburg came back from a two-goal deficit to beat Lens in extra time as well.
Elsewhere, a red card doomed Galatasaray as Sparta Prague rallied late to win, and AC Milan survived a hat trick from Rennes midfielder Benjamin Bourigeaud to advance on aggregate. Sporting CP, Marseille, and Benfica all booked their spot in the round of 16 as well, with the draw set for today.
- New food vendors will be available for fans at Orlando City and Orlando Pride home games this year, with Flippers Pizzeria Company now a permanent addition. New options for the rotating carts include Pardon My Cheesesteak and Omusubee Japanese Rice Balls.
- Congratulations to Pride defender Emily Madril on getting married!
- Former Barcelona right back Dani Alves was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison after being found guilty of sexual assault.
- Former Lion Greg Ranjitsingh has re-signed with Toronto FC through the 2024 season, with an option for 2025. The 30-year-old sticks around in Toronto’s goalkeeping corps, which also includes Sean Johnson and Luka Gavran.
- The Philadelphia Union loaned forward Joaquin Torres to Club Deportivo Universidad Catolica in Chile’s top flight.
- English goalkeeper Joe Hart will retire following this season with Celtic, ending a 20-year career.
- Luis de la Fuente’s contract as the manager of Spain’s men’s national team was extended through the 2026 World Cup.
That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!
Lion Links: 2/22/24
Orlando City beats Cavalry FC, Lions receive General Allocation Money for Junior Urso’s rights, USWNT gets ready for Argentina, and more.
How’s it going, Mane Landers? It’s nice to start the morning fresh off of a huge win and I’m hoping that becomes a regular occurrence this year. Hopefully the work week has been kind to you as we ride the high of the Concacaf Champions Cup into Orlando City’s first game of the MLS season this weekend. For now, let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world.
Lions Win in Concacaf Champions Cup Opener
Orlando City kicked off its Concacaf Champions Cup campaign with a solid 3-0 win against Cavalry FC in Canada. Some players did better playing on the turf of Starlight Stadium in British Columbia than others, but the Lions ultimately did well on the road to make things less stressful for themselves for the second leg on Tuesday in Orlando at 6 p.m. Orlando’s offense showed little rust and the defense did its part in its first competitive match of 2024. Before the match, Head Coach Oscar Pareja announced that Robin Jansson will serve as the team’s captain this year, so it’s nice to see his tenure start with a clean sheet.
Junior Urso Signs With Charlotte FC
Orlando City received $50,000 in 2025 General Allocation Money from Charlotte FC in exchange for Brazilian midfielder Junior Urso’s right of first refusal. This transaction cleared the way for Urso to sign with Charlotte, joining on a deal through 2024, with an option for 2025. The Bear became a Lion back in 2020 and was an integral part of Orlando’s transformation under Head Coach Oscar Pareja that included winning the 2022 U.S. Open Cup. The 34-year-old impressed as a trialist with Charlotte during the preseason and should give Dean Smith’s side a veteran presence both on and off the field. While it’s never fun seeing a fan favorite playing for another Eastern Conference foe, I wish nothing but the best for Urso and hope he gets a warm reception when Charlotte visits Orlando this season on Sept. 18.
MLS Coaching Changes for 2024
There was a considerable amount of coaching turnover in MLS since last season, adding some intriguing storylines for this year. After a rough time in Miami, Phil Neville has a chance at redemption with a Portland Timbers side that narrowly missed out on the playoffs last year. The Colorado Rapids’ Chris Armas, D.C. United’s Troy Lesesne, and the New England Revolution’s Caleb Porter are other familiar faces in new places who could impress. As for those new to the scene, Dean Smith joined Charlotte from England, while Sandro Schwarz is now at the helm of the New York Red Bulls after years in Germany and Russia. I’m also interested to see how long it takes for John Herdman to turn things around with Toronto FC.
Analyzing Argentina Ahead of USWNT Clash
After a dominant 5-0 win over the Dominican Republic, the United States Women’s National Team will take on Argentina tomorrow in the Concacaf W Gold Cup’s group stage. The U.S. has won the past four meetings between the past two nations, and Argentina is coming off of a scoreless draw with Mexico. The Orlando Pride’s Mariana Larroquette spearheads an Argentine attack that can be a bit inconsistent when it comes to creating chances. That being said, Vanina Preininger can pull strings from the midfield and Argentina has multiple players capable of scoring from distance. Laurina Oliveros will likely start in goal after her clean sheet in the opener, and the defense also includes Kansas City Current center back Sophia Braun.
- The Orlando Pride’s Rafaelle and Adriana both started in Brazil’s 1-0 win over Puerto Rico.
- The LA Galaxy signed Ghanaian winger Joseph Paintsil as their third Designated Player. The 26-year-old joins from Genk in Belgium and signed a contract with the Galaxy through 2027.
- The Revolution beat Panama’s Independiente 1-0 on the road in the Champions Cup opener for both teams.
- The new changes to MLS’ competitive rules, such as in-stadium VAR announcements and off-field treatments, have been postponed amid the league’s referee situation.
- The United Soccer League announced that all 47 of the teams under its umbrella will take part in this year’s U.S. Open Cup.
- Bayern Munich officially announced that Thomas Tuchel will leave once this season is over. Although Bayern is second in the Bundesliga standings, it’s lost its past three games, including a defeat to Lazio in the Champions League.
- Porto scored a stunning goal in stoppage time to shock Arsenal in the UEFA Champions League.
- Manchester United left back Luke Shaw may be done for the season due to a leg injury.
- In the Europa Conference League, Israeli club Maccabi Haifa secured a 1-1 draw with Belgium’s Gent to advance to the round of 16.
That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week!
Lion Links: 2/21/24
Orlando City takes on Cavalry FC tonight, Lions sign Jeorgio Kocevski, USWNT wins in Concacaf W Gold Cup, and more.
Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you in Florida as we get to watch the Lions in action tonight in the Concacaf Champions Cup. There’s not much new with me this week other than staying busy covering high school basketball and hockey. Let’s wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride forward Amanda Allen. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.
Orlando City Takes on Cavalry FC Tonight
Orlando City will be in action tonight in the first round of the Concacaf Champions Cup, as it takes on Cavalry FC at Starlight Stadium at 10 p.m. This matchup will be the Lions’ first competitive match of 2024, with their MLS season opener against CF Montreal set for Saturday. The Lions were knocked out by Tigres due to away goals in last year’s Concacaf Champions League. Cavalry FC will make its debut in this competition tonight and qualified by winning the 2023 Canadian Premier League Shield. The second leg between these two sides will be on Feb. 27 in Orlando.
Orlando City Signs First-Round Draft Pick Jeorgio Kocevski
Orlando City signed 2024 MLS SuperDraft pick Jeorgio Kocevski to a contract through the 2024 season with club options for 2025, 2026, and 2027. Kocevski scored the game-winning goal in stoppage time in Orlando’s final preseason match against the Colorado Rapids this past weekend. The midfielder was selected 21st overall in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft by the Lions in December. He played four years for Syracuse, recording seven goals and 18 assists in 71 matches. Kocevski is the only player the club has signed from the Lions’ 2024 draft class and will likely get some minutes with Orlando City B this season.
St. Louis City and Philadelphia Union Win in Champions Cup
Orlando City isn’t the only MLS team kicking off its Concacaf Champions Cup campaign this week. St. Louis City edged out the Houston Dynamo 2-1, with rookie Hosei Kijima scoring the winner in stoppage time. The Philadelphia Union were on the road in Costa Rica to face off against Deportivo Saprissa and won 3-2, thanks to a hat trick from Julian Carranza in the second half. As for other tournament matches this week, the New England Revolution face Independiente in Panama tonight, with Nashville playing Moca FC in the Dominican Republic and FC Cincinnati taking on Jamaica’s Cavalier SC tomorrow.
USWNT Beats the Dominican Republic in W Gold Cup
The United States Women’s National Team got its Concacaf W Gold Cup campaign off to a great start with a 5-0 win against the Dominican Republic in Group A. Olivia Moultrie scored her first USWNT goal to give her team an early lead, with Lynn Williams giving the U.S. another goal before halftime. Moultrie scored another in the second half to earn her brace, and Jenna Nighswonger converted a penalty for her first USWNT goal as well. Former Pride forward Alex Morgan replaced Mia Fishel on the roster due to injury and scored from the penalty spot in stoppage time. The USWNT’s next game will be against Argentina on Friday at 10:15 p.m.
UEFA Champions League Roundup
The UEFA Champions League had plenty of drama as the round of 16 continued. Inter Milan won 1-0 in its first leg against Atletico Madrid at home, with Mark Arnautovic scoring the only goal in the match. In the Netherlands, PSV Eindhoven and Borussia Dortmund played to a thrilling 1-1 draw. The second legs for both matchups will be played on March 13. There is more Champions League action today, as FC Porto hosts Arsenal while Napoli takes on Barcelona.
- The Orlando Pride’s Mariana Larroquette started in Argentina’s scoreless draw with Mexico in the Gold Cup.
- The latest MLS power rankings are out just before the regular season begins. Orlando City begins the season in the fifth spot.
- Orlando City and the Orlando Pride announced fan experience upgrades at Inter&Co Stadium featuring Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology in merchandise shops, stadium Wi-Fi upgrades, and a jersey history experience.
- The MLS Players Association released a statement on the ongoing referee lockout.
- Here is the list of MLS Season Pass commentator assignments for opening week.
- Toronto FC has acquired center back Kevin Long from Birmingham City FC. The deal is through the 2024 season with an option for 2025.
That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Wednesday and I’ll see you next time.
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