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Lion Links: 8/13/21



How’s it going, Mane Landers? It’s Friday the 13th, so make sure to avoid broken mirrors and black cats today. I’m not usually superstitious, but Friday the 13th brings out some additional caution in me. I wish you the best of luck today and the rest of your weekend. For now, let’s get things started with some links from around the soccer world.

Orlando City Loses Leagues Cup Match

The Lions’ first taste of an international tournament was a bitter one as they fell 1-0 to Santos Laguna in the Leagues Cup quarterfinals. Juan Otero was able to find space and fire a shot towards the bottom left corner that Mason Stajduhar couldn’t keep out, his attempted save sending the ball into the roof of the net. Orlando had its chances in the match, but was only able to put two of its 13 shots on target. It’s a frustrating result for Orlando, but there’s at least time to rest before hitting the road for a match against Nashville SC on Aug. 18.

The Orlando Pride Await Alex Morgan’s Return

Although the Olympics may be over, the Orlando Pride won’t have United States Women’s National Team forward Alex Morgan available when they take on the Portland Thorns tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Exploria Stadium. Morgan picked up what looked to be an ankle injury in the last few minutes of the bronze medal match and plans to return to market on Aug. 18. Interim Head Coach Becky Burleigh will be able to come up with a timetable for recovery once she sees Morgan, but it may take some time until she’s able to play for the Pride. Burleigh is undefeated in two matches and is keeping track of what she sees in training that will help the Pride moving forward.

“It’s not always tactical things,” Burleigh said. “Sometimes it is, but it’s also some of the human-related issues that we see with our team — both positive and negative, but mostly positive — so that we can highlight those things. I think when you’re trying to create an identity, we want to try and remember those situations and go back and find them on the practice film and be able to highlight those to our team.”

Lions Will Feature in MLS Skills Challenge

Orlando City’s Nani and Pedro Gallese will both take part in the MLS All-Star Skills Challenge on Aug. 24. Nani won the 2019 edition of the event alongside Chris Mueller and Sebas Mendez, hitting the crossbar at the last second (which was a good thing in that competition). He will be joined by the LA Galaxy’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, LAFC’s Carlos Vela, and other playmakers known for their accuracy from distance. New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner and Gallese will also be participating, although the extent of what they’ll be doing isn’t clear just yet.

The MLS squad will compete against Liga MX’s, which is headlined by French striker Andre-Pierre Gignac. Free kick specialist Rubens Sambueza and Balón de Oro 2021 winner Jonathan Rodríguez will also be competing, so it should be an exciting match-up for bragging rights.

Atlanta United Names Gonzalo Pineda as New Head Coach

After parting ways with Gabriel Heinze last month, Atlanta United named Gonzalo Pineda as its next head coach. Pineda played for 13 years and joins Atlanta in the middle of his fifth season as an assistant coach with the Seattle Sounders under Brian Schmetzer. He will be Atlanta’s first head coach with previous MLS experience and a change of pace compared to Heinze and Frank de Boer. Former Lion Rob Valentino will remain on Atlanta’s coaching staff and will serve as interim coach for Atlanta’s next two games, a pair of home matches against LAFC and Toronto FC.

USMNT Reaches Top Ten in Latest FIFA Rankings

The United States Men’s National Team rose 10 spots in the newest FIFA rankings to reach 10th, its highest ranking since 2006. Winning both the Concacaf Nations League and Concacaf Gold Cup certainly helped boost the Yanks in the rankings, although they sit just under ninth-place Mexico. Canada jumped 11 spots in the rankings, sliding into 59th overall to surpass Concacaf opponents Honduras (63rd) and El Salvador (64th). Belgium still holds the top spot in the rankings, followed by Brazil, France, England, and Italy for the top five spots.

Free Kicks

  • Former Lion and MLS Rookie of the Year Dillon Powers was signed by Orange County SC in the USL Championship.
  • The Philadelphia Union lost 2-0 to Club America in the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League semifinals. While not an ideal result for the lone MLS club remaining in the tournament, at least it took place in Mexico. The second leg will take place in Philadelphia on Sept. 15.
  • D.C. United added Argentine forward Ramon Abila off waivers. Abila is on loan from Boca Juniors and will help bolster United’s attack heading into the second half of the season.
  • Union midfielder Paxten Aaronson won MLS Goal of the Week for his strike against the New England Revolution. It was the 17-year-old’s MLS debut and he made quite the first impression, rocketing the ball into the top corner.
  • On top of Pineda’s appointment in Atlanta, the Sounders are also losing assistant coach Djimi Traore, who is heading to an unnamed European club.
  • Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku is returning to Chelsea FC on a five-year deal. Needless to say, Chelsea is excited to have him back.

  • Austin Bold FC of the USL Championship is exploring options for its future due to a decrease in attendance now that Austin FC is playing in MLS. A move to the Fort Worth area may be in the cards following the 2021 season.

That will do it for me today. I hope you all have a nice Friday and rest of your weekend. Go Orlando!

Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/17/24

MLSPA releases player salaries, Duncan McGuire discusses move to Blackburn, Orlando Pride prepare for the Seattle Reign, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Friday! The weekend is nearly here, with plenty of soccer both here in the domestic leagues and abroad. I have a pretty packed weekend but am looking forward to watching Orlando City and the Orlando Pride in action. It should be a nice next few days, so let’s get it started with today’s links!

MLSPA Releases Player Salaries

The Major League Soccer Players Association unveiled the base salary and guaranteed compensation information for every player under contract with the league as of April 25 — except Wilder Cartagena, apparently. Luis Muriel is the highest-paid Orlando City player, and his $4.3 million in guaranteed compensation is the 12th most in the league, while his base salary is just over $2.83. As for other Orlando newcomers, Nico Lodeiro’s compensation is $800,000 and David Brekalo’s is $683,000.

Lionel Messi predictably tops the list of all players with $20.4 million guaranteed for playing with Inter Miami. To put that number into perspective, it’s more than the compensation of every team in the league except his own team (Miami), Toronto FC, Nashville SC, and the Chicago Fire. Orlando City is 22nd in the league in compensation, clocking in at $15.07 million.

Duncan McGuire Weighs In on Moving to Blackburn

Orlando City forward Duncan McGuire had a hurricane of an off-season due to a transfer saga that nearly saw him join Blackburn Rovers in England. An administration error by Blackburn prevented the move from going through, and McGuire ultimately returned to Orlando. In the time since, there have been reports that Orlando offered him a new contract and that Blackburn still wants him to join in the summer. McGuire spoke about whether he is still interested in a move to Blackburn after the difficult experience.

“It’s tough to say,” McGuire told GOAL.”That was a pretty bad mistake, a pretty bad mistake by them. I’d be open to maybe having a conversation but it would have to be a lot to get me to go back there. On the plane ride back, I just felt like my tail was between my legs. I asked my agent how often this happens and he was like ‘This doesn’t happen’.

“I didn’t burn bridges with my teammates or have it be like ‘Oh you wanted to leave and now you’re back’. When I got back, it was like I never left.”

Orlando Pride Prepare for the Seattle Reign

The Orlando Pride will take their six-game win streak on the road for a match against the Seattle Reign Sunday night. The Reign are coming off of a 4-0 loss to the Portland Thorns in their sixth defeat of the season, but Pride Head Coach Seb Hines discussed how the Reign played better in that match than the score suggests. The Pride have also never won in Washington, and the turf and atmosphere of Lumen Field could give Orlando some trouble after a long trip. Injuries, particularly to the midfield, have made things difficult for the Pride, but midfielder Morgan Gautrat detailed how the team’s chemistry has helped them get results despite the adversity.

Nashville SC Fires Gary Smith

Nashville SC has parted ways with Gary Smith, who had been the club’s only head coach while in MLS. Smith joined Nashville back in 2018, coaching the team for two seasons in the USL Championship before. With a defensive style, Smith led the team to MLS playoff appearances in all four years but couldn’t put together a deep run. Nashville is currently 10th in the Eastern Conference and Rumba Munthali will serve as the club’s interim head coach while the club searches for a new permanent coach.

Charlotte FC Transfers Enzo Copetti Out

Another Designated Player is leaving Charlotte FC, as the club transferred Enzo Copetti to Rosario Central in Argentina’s top flight. The forward recorded eight goals and three assists across all competitions while with Charlotte, and has played less than 500 minutes this season. Copetti is the latest Designated Player transferred out since Dean Smith took over as Charlotte’s head coach, with Kamil Jozwiak sent to Granada and Karol Swiderski loaned to Hellas Verona. Despite the turnover, Charlotte sits fifth in the Eastern Conference and could make some noise this season if it brings in the right players in the summer transfer window.

Free Kicks

  • Former Lion Miguel Gallardo spoke with the folks over at The Blazing Musket about the New England Revolution and the art of goalkeeping.
  • Our condolences go out to the friends and family of Derek Sanderson, who played for many teams across many leagues back in the 1980s, including the American Soccer League’s Orlando Lions.

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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/16/24

Orlando City draws with Inter Miami, Orlando City B loses in Ohio, Austin awarded 2025 MLS All-Star Game, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

I hope you’re all having a nice and easy start to your Thursday morning. Orlando City’s match Wednesday night could’ve gone worse, but could’ve gone better as well. As far as rivalry games go, it probably won’t be all too memorable, but I still hope you enjoyed yourself if you went to the game. Let’s dive into today’s links!

Orlando City Draws Inter Miami at Home

The Lions hosted rival Inter Miami and had to settle for a scoreless draw that featured solid chances for both sides. Orlando remains shorthanded defensively, but Pedro Gallese and the back line of Rodrigo Schlegel, Wilder Cartagena, and David Brekalo did well to get a clean sheet against a Miami side that leads the league in goals by a wide margin. Familiar attacking struggles plagued the Lions though with many chances going unfinished. The Lions will now turn their attention to a trip across the country for a match with the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.

Orlando City B Falls On the Road

After earning its first home win last week, Orlando City B was handed its first road defeat of the season in a 4-3 loss against Columbus Crew 2. OCB was without Yutaro Tsukada, who made his debut with the first team, but the team still did well generating chances on offense. The Young Lions took the lead on two different occasions in the match, but they ultimately couldn’t hold on for a result in a rollercoaster of a match. There’s plenty of time for Head Coach Manuel Goldberg to get his team ready for its next match, which is set to take place at Osceola County Stadium on May 26 against Huntsville City FC.

Orlando City Fined After Match in Philadelphia

Following Orlando City’s win over the Philadelphia Union, the club and Head Coach Oscar Pareja have been issued fines by the MLS Disciplinary Committee for the team violating the mass confrontation policy for the second time this season. The violation took place in the 86th minute at Philadelphia, when the Union were awarded their second penalty of the game. Gallese, Nicolas Lodeiro, Ivan Angulo, and Duncan McGuire were issued fines for their role in things as well.

Luis Muriel was also fined an undisclosed amount for embellishment during an incident with Damion Lowe in the 81st minute of the match. You can judge for yourself if the MLS Disciplinary Committee got it right, but what’s not up for debate is that the Lions got the job done on the road and survived an obscene amount of stoppage time.

Austin Will Host 2025 MLS All-Star Game

MLS announced that next year’s MLS All-Star Game will take place at Q2 Stadium in Austin. It will be the first time the event is held there and the first time Texas has hosted it since Houston had it back in 2010. The official date, along with what team the MLS All-Stars will play against, will be announced at a later time. Austin FC entered the league in 2021 and every game played at Q2 Stadium has sold out. There is a strong soccer community there, and I’m glad it will get a chance to show the league what it is all about. I also really like the graphic promoting the event and feel it captures Austin fairly well.

Free Kicks

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: 5/15/24

Tropic Thunder is tonight, OCB plays away today, Americans playing abroad, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to Wednesday Mane Landers. The next installment of the Tropic Thunder rivalry between the good guys (Orlando City) and the bad guys (Inter Miami) is tonight. I hope you can make it out to the match since there will probably be a bunch of Lionel Messi fans there and more purple in the stands is needed. To get ready for the match, you can listen to the latest edition of The Mane Land PawedCast, and check out our match preview later today . For now, let’s get to the links.

Lions Host Tropic Thunder Tonight

I don’t know why others insist on calling matches between Orlando City and Inter Miami the “Florida Derby.” Our name for the match — Tropic Thunder — is just so much better. Regardless, the Lions host the Herons tonight at Inter&Co Stadium looking to avenge the 5-0 loss from earlier in the season. The spotlight might be on Miami, but the pressure is on Orlando City. The Lions surprised me with their win over the Philadelphia Union on Saturday. Let’s hope the club can keep the momentum going.

Miami May Be Without Messi Today

While I never want anyone to get seriously injured, I’m not sorry to hear that there is a chance Messi will be unavailable for tonight’s match. It seems that Miami’s magician picked up a minor knee injury in the match against CF Montreal on Saturday. Say what you want, but he is a competitor and could still take the field tonight. Hopefully, he remembers the welcome Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena gave him when he joined the league and decides it’s not worth aggravating the knee.

OCB Back in Action On the Road

The senior squad isn’t the only team playing today as Orlando City B is in Ohio to take on Columbus Crew II at Field. You’ll need to take a long lunch to watch this one because kickoff is set for noon. There will be plenty to watch since the two clubs are only separated by one point in the standings, with OCB sitting in sixth place (3-2-3, 13 points) and Crew II in eighth place (3-3-2, 12 points).

Keeping Up With Americans Abroad

Most of us know that Christian Pulisic had a great season with AC Milan after moving to the Serie A club from Chelsea. What I did not know is that Pulisic is the first AC Milan midfielder to score more than 10 goals in a season since former Orlando City star Kaká did it when he was there.

Things are not as bright for Giovanni Reyna at Nottingham Forest. He hasn’t played a ton of minutes for the Premier League side and hasn’t done much when he has played. It was a loan without a purchase option, but Forest is reportedly not interested in making an offer for him regardless.

Free Kicks

  • Let’s all give a big congratulations to Orlando City Vice President of Soccer Operations and Technical Director Ricardo Moreira. He was accepted into the third edition of the FIFA Diploma in Club Management.
  • We believe once a Lion, always a Lion, but I didn’t know MLS thought the same thing. Richie Laryea getting the biggest suspension is on brand for anyone related to Orlando City.

That will do it for today. Let’s hope that the Lions can get a second win in a row. Vamos Orlando!

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