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Lion Links: 9/1/21

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Hello, Mane Landers. I hope everyone is doing well down in Florida as we enter September. It’s going to be busy this week with World Cup qualifiers and then Orlando City and the Orlando Pride in action this weekend. Before we jump into today’s links from around the soccer world, lets all wish a happy birthday to former Orlando City player and head coach James O’Connor!

Orlando City Prepares for the Columbus Crew

The Lions will take on the Columbus Crew on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Exploria Stadium. Orlando is second in the Eastern Conference standings while Columbus sits in eighth. This will be the first of two meetings between the two clubs this season, with the Lions set to play in Columbus on Oct. 27. The Crew are coming off of a 3-2 win over FC Cincinnati that snapped a six-game losing streak. As for the Lions, they will be without Peruvian goalkeeper Pedro Gallese and Ecuadorian midfielder Sebas Mendez as both players are in South America for World Cup qualifiers.

Nani Reflects on His Time Playing With Ronaldo

With Cristiano Ronaldo back with Manchester United, Orlando City captain Nani discussed what it was like to have him as a teammate. Nani joined United in 2007 just as Ronaldo was proving himself to be one of the top players in the world. The two Portuguese teammates lived together and Nani pushed himself to improve while playing in Ronaldo’s shadow. When Ronaldo left the club in 2009, Nani stepped up to become one of the team’s more dangerous players on offense. Now in MLS, Nani is still scoring great goals and using years of experience to become a leader for the Lions.

“The experience of different challenges over the years at different clubs, you take a little bit from each experience you have in your career and put it all together. That’s what helps me lead the team,” Nani says.

“I have respect from the club and all my team-mates, and I feel at home. The responsibility I have is good for me to give me the motivation I need every single day to continue to work hard and improve and make sure I can help the players around me develop.” 

Racing Louisville FC Fires Its Head Coach

Christy Holly had his contract terminated by Racing Louisville. The reasoning for Holly’s firing was not given in the club’s statement and the head of Soccer Holdings’ youth academy system, Mario Sanchez, will serve as the team’s interim head coach.

Holly’s firing is the latest in many coaching changes during this NWSL season. NJ/NY Gotham FC announced that Scott Parkinson will become its next head coach to replace Freya Coombe. Parkinson was an assistant coach for Utah Royals FC and the Chicago Red Stars and former NWSL player Beverly Goebel Yanez will join the club as an assistant coach as well.

Transfer Deadline Day Wraps Up

Europe’s transfer window closed in exciting fashion as clubs raced to finalize deals and add players. The biggest news was FC Barcelona loaning Antoine Griezmann to Atletico Madrid for the rest of the La Liga season. There were reportedly discussions of swapping Griezmann for Atletico’s Joao Felix, but the Portuguese forward will remain in Madrid. Atletico also loaned midfielder Saul Niguez to Chelsea for the rest of the season.

Paris Saint-Germain rejected Real Madrid’s advances and decided not to sell forward Kylian Mbappe. It’s a bold move from the French club considering Mbappe could leave for free in the future, but PSG will preserve the trio of Mbappe, Neymar, and Lionel Messi for now. Real Madrid did manage to acquire one of the top young talents in Europe by signing 18-year-old midfielder Eduardo Camavinga from Rennes.

Ronaldo’s move to Manchester United from Juventus was finalized and his contract will last two years with an option for a third. With Jadon Sancho and Ronaldo now in Manchester, the club dealt winger Daniel James to Leeds United.

Americans on the Move

Europe’s biggest names weren’t the only players moving to new clubs in Europe as multiple Americans joined new teams as well. Forward Matthew Hoppe is leaving Schalke 04 to join RCD Mallorca in La Liga. Tottenham Hotspur loaned defender Cameron Carter-Vickers to Celtic FC in a move that will certainly help the 23-year-old receive some playing time.

The Philadelphia Union loaned Jack de Vries to Serie A’s Venezia FC and the 19-year-old will play for the Italian side’s U-19 squad. Chris Richards’ contract with Bayern Munich was extended through 2025 and the center back will go back on loan with Hoffenheim after a successful spell there last season. Erik Palmer-Brown was loaned out by Manchester City to Troyes in France’s Ligue 1 as well.

Colorado Rapids midfielder Cole Bassett turned down a deal that would’ve landed him with Benfica in Portugal. Instead, Bassett chose to stay with the Rapids for the time being as he wants to help his hometown club win silverware.

Free Kicks

  • Although the free tickets may be claimed by the time you’re reading this, tickets are discounted for the Pride’s match against the Houston Dash this Sunday. With the season entering its final stretch, now’s a great time to come out and support Ashlyn Harris and the rest of the Pride.

  • Marta was called up for Brazil’s matches against Argentina later this month. She likely won’t miss any matches for the Pride as a result due to an international break, with the Pride facing OL Reign on the road on Sept. 26.

  • After a 0-0 draw against Inter Miami this past weekend, Orlando City SC dropped one spot to seventh in the MLS power rankings.
  • The United States Men’s National Team begins its World Cup qualifying campaign tomorrow night in El Salvador. Midfielders Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams are determined to not only qualify for the World Cup, but also to show that the USMNT is the top team in Concacaf.

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

Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/27/24

Orlando City loses to the Crew, Pride and OCB win, Southampton seals return to Premier League, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

Happy Memorial Day, Mane Landers! I hope you all had a good holiday weekend. I worked at Under Armour all weekend while wrapping up my high school sports coverage for the spring season. It was a mixed weekend for our teams. Orlando City lost, but both the Pride and OCB won their matches. We’ve got plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links. 

Lions Lose at Home to Columbus Crew

Orlando City lost 2-0 to the Columbus Crew on Saturday at Inter&Co Stadium and saw its three-match unbeaten streak end. The match’s first goal was controversial as the referee, Jair Marrufo, initially awarded the Lions a penalty late in the first half but went to the monitor and reviewed a play at the other end of the pitch. He instead awarded Columbus a penalty kick. Diego Rossi scored from the spot to put the Crew ahead 1-0 before halftime. Columbus extended its winning streak to three matches. Orlando has struggled at home, going just 1-3-4 so far this season. The Lions have not scored a goal at home since April 27. Despite the loss, the Lions still remain in 10th in the Eastern Conference with 16 points. Next up for Orlando is a pair of road matches this week, starting Wednesday at the Chicago Fire, followed by a Saturday night matchup against the New York Red Bulls. 

Pride Win at Home Over Portland Thorns

The Orlando Pride won their record-setting eighth straight match with a 2-1 victory at Inter&Co Stadium against the Portland Thorns Friday. Barbra Banda scored two goals in the first half to give the Pride a 2-0 lead going into halftime. Portland pulled one back, but the Pride held on for the victory and claimed three points. Orlando remains undefeated in league play after 11 matches, and the Pride stay atop the NWSL table with 27 points. The Pride are off this week but will return to action on the road next Friday, June 7, against the San Diego Wave.

OCB Win at Home against Huntsville City FC

On Sunday, Orlando City B bounced back with a season-high five goals in a 5-0 win over Hunstville City FC at Osceola County Stadium. Jhon Solis, Yutaro Tsukada, and Shak Mohammed put OCB ahead 3-0, while Yeiler Valencia scored his first two OCB goals to seal the win for the Young Lions. OCB is now in sixth in the Eastern Conference with 16 points. Meanwhile, Huntsville City FC remains winless through 10 matches and stays at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. OCB’s next match will be on the road Sunday at Inter Miami CF II. 

Southampton Clinches Promotion to Premier League

Southampton booked its return to the Premier League with a 1-0 over Leeds United in the EFL Championship playoff final at Wembley Sunday. Adam Armstrong scored the lone goal in this match as the Saints returned to the top flight after being relegated the previous season. Southampton joins Leicester City and Ipswich Town, securing promotion to the Premier League. Despite finishing third in the table, Leeds’ playoff woes continue as this is the sixth time it missed out on securing promotion and finished its season with only one win out of its last six matches. 

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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/24/24

Orlando City prepares for the Crew, Barbra Banda an NWSL MVP favorite, Orlando Pride announce sleeve sponsor, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! The gauntlet of Orlando soccer home games starts tonight when the Orlando Pride take on the Portland Thorns in a clash of win streaks. I’m working for most of the weekend, but am looking forward to watching some soccer and playing my way through the Ace Attorney games during my spare time. For now though, let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world.

Orlando City Gets Ready to Host the Crew

Orlando City is on a three-game unbeaten run and will take on the Columbus Crew Saturday night in an Eastern Conference showdown. The last time these two sides met was in the 2023 Eastern Conference semifinals with the Crew winning in extra time to eliminate the Lions. It’s the third consecutive road game for the Crew after winning 3-1 against both CF Montreal and the Chicago Fire. Saturday’s match is also the Crew’s last match before the Concacaf Champions Cup final on June 1. Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja spoke on how the Lions will be up to the task regardless of which players take the field for Columbus. Pareja also spoke about how Duncan McGuire is working his way back from the injury he suffered last week.

Barbra Banda Named MVP Frontrunner

ESPN updated its rankings of players in contention to be named NWSL MVP this season and Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda tops the list. The Zambian forward hasn’t been with the Pride for long, but she has scored six goals in six games to help the Pride win seven straight games. Opposing defenses haven’t figured out a way to stop her, and it’s fair to think of her as an MVP favorite alongside fellow attackers in the league like Sophia Smith and Temwa Chawinga. Pride defender Emily Sams also earned herself a spot on the list, ranking 11th. It’s nice to see her get some deserved recognition for her role in the Pride’s stellar defense this year.

Orlando Pride Announce Sleeve Sponsor

A partnership was announced between the Orlando Pride and Heart of Florida United Way, a charity that’s supported families in Central Florida for the past 85 years. As part of the partnership, Heart of Florida United Way will become the first sleeve sponsor for the Pride and its logo will be on the right sleeve of both of the Pride’s jerseys this year. A new ticket program is also being created for 50 tickets to be donated to a local charity for each Pride home game.

Orlando City Unveils Watch Party Schedule

The schedule for this Orlando City season’s watch parties is out, along with the lineup of this year’s included pubs. Each pub will have MLS Season Pass access for fans to watch Orlando’s games this year and there will be chances to win tickets and autographed items at the watch parties as well. There are three new pubs added to the lineup this year, including The Castle Irish Pub at College Park, Paddywagon Irish Pub in Dr. Phillips, and Winter Garden’s Hagan O’Reilly’s. The first watch party will be at The Hammered Lamb in Ivanhoe Village on June 1 when the Lions face off against the New York Red Bulls.

Free Kicks

  • Pride midfielder Evelina Duljan was called up to join Sweden’s U-23 team for the upcoming Four Nations Tournament.
  • NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman became the first woman to be named Sports Business Journal‘s Sports Executive of the Year.

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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/23/24

Orlando Pride prepare for the Portland Thorns, Pride Brazilian trio called up, Atalanta wins Europa League, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this Thursday finds you well as we all get ready for a busy next few days of Orlando soccer to enjoy. It’s been a fairly busy couple of days for me, and I plan on knocking out a few errands before enjoying the upcoming matches. Until then, let’s enjoy today’s links!

Pride Prepare to Host the Portland Thorns

The Orlando Pride have a huge home game against the Portland Thorns tomorrow night. It will be a clash of win streaks, as the Pride have won their past seven games and the Thorns have won their last six. Pride Head Coach Seb Hines is well aware that Portland is a formidable foe with talented players such as Sophia Smith, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Sam Coffey. He spoke on how tomorrow will be a challenge, as well as how playing at home will give the Pride a boost during the game.

Pride Trio Called Up by Brazil

The Pride’s Marta, Rafaelle, and Adriana were all called up for Brazil’s pair of friendlies against Jamaica in Brazil on June 1 and June 4.

These matches will help Brazil prepare for a tough group in the Olympics against Spain, Japan, and Nigeria. Angelina, who featured for Brazil during the SheBelieves Cup, was not called up due to an injury sustained while with the Pride. Although these games will take place during an international break, the Pride do have a road game against the San Diego Wave on June 7, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Hines gives them some rest for that match.

Assessing Emma Hayes’ Time With Chelsea

It felt like forever ago that it was announced Chelsea’s Emma Hayes would leave the club to replace Vlatko Andonovski and coach the USWNT. A great article by ESPN broke down what USWNT fans can learn from her time with Chelsea, including how she’s dealt with the adversity she’s faced both on and off the field. Her impending exit put a spotlight on Chelsea’s season, and she still managed to secure the league title despite the pressure. Chelsea also announced that five members of the coaching staff will leave the club to join Hayes at the USWNT. It’s a new era for the USWNT, and Hayes brings plenty of experience and leadership to the position.

Atalanta Crushes Leverkusen to Win Europa League

Italian club Atalanta lifted the Europa League trophy after a 3-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen in Dublin. The day belonged to Nigerian winger Ademola Lookman, who scored a hat trick that included this stunner that doubled Atalanta’s lead in the first half.

It’s Atalanta’s second trophy in club history, and first in 61 years. It’s also the first trophy for manager Gian Piero Gasperini after coaching in Italy for 30 years. This result snapped Leverkusen’s remarkable unbeaten streak at 51 games, and ended the club’s bid at a treble. Bayer Leverkusen will aim to bounce back Saturday when it plays FC Kaiserslautern in the German Cup final.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City President of Business Operations Jarrod Dillon has issued a challenge to Orlando City fans for the upcoming trio of Orlando soccer home games, so it may be worth your while to get tickets for the Lions, Pride, and OCB this weekend.
  • Pride forward Amanda Allen placed 16th in ESPN‘s rankings of the 17 teenagers currently playing in the National Women’s Soccer League (the author deemed it unfair to assess Milly Clegg without seeing her on the field more). Allen mostly just hasn’t had much playing time, but that could change over the summer.
  • Former Pride player Camille Ashton (known as Cami Levin when she played in the Pride midfield in 2016 and 2017) has resigned as the general manager of the Kansas City Current.

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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