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Lion Links: 9/6/21

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Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers! The weekend started out well with a win from Orlando City, but the rest wasn’t quite so good, despite neither the Orlando Pride nor the USMNT losing. I’m saying that I’ve had better weekends with one win and two draws. It was a busy weekend filled with plenty of soccer from around the world. Let’s get to the links!

Mason Stajduhar Has Successful Knee Surgery

Orlando City goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar underwent surgery to repair a left knee meniscus tear and a timeline for his recovery isn’t available at this time. The 23-year-old has played in five MLS games this season, filling in for Pedro Gallese and getting his first clean sheet in a 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire on Aug. 21.

With Gallese on international duty with Peru and Stajduhar recovering from injury, Orlando’s keeper pool isn’t the deepest at the moment. Adam Grinwis, who started in Orlando’s 3-2 win over the Columbus Crew, will play between the sticks until Gallese’s return, with Greg Ranjitsingh available as a backup if needed. The Lions take on Atlanta United on the road this Friday and Gallese isn’t likely to play since he will have a match for Peru the night before.

Joey DeZart is Making the Most of His Playing Time

Injuries and international call-ups have limited Orlando’s midfield as key players such as Mauricio Pereyra, Sebas Mendez, and Andres Perea have been unavailable in recent weeks. As such, Joey DeZart has started in the past four games and already has more minutes this season than he did in his rookie campaign last year. He’s also making better use of those minutes, as he’s become a steady player alongside Junior Urso in the midfield while other Lions recover. DeZart has certainly played himself into better form during the starts, boasting a 91% passing rate, and helping the Lions keep opponents off the score sheet. Depth is an important aspect for any team that hopes to challenge for titles, and DeZart is doing his part for Orlando City.

The Pride Draw With the Houston Dash

Things did not start well for the Orlando Pride when a poor pass by Ali Riley resulted in a goal by the Houston Dash’s Rachel Daly in the 10th minute. There was also a scary moment in the 60th minute when Ashlyn Harris went down after contact in front of the goal. The stretcher was brought on, but Harris walked off under her own power before heading to the locker room. Erin McLeod came on for Harris, and Taylor Kornieck came on for Phoebe McClernon. Five minutes later, Kornieck tied the game for the Pride to salvage a point at home in a 1-1 result. Although it was not the Pride’s best match, a point is better than nothing. With only six games left in the Pride’s regular season, they will need better results at home though to hold onto a spot in the playoffs.

USMNT Earns Another Draw

Former Lion Cyle Larin scored an equalizer in the 62nd minute to give Canada a point on the road against the United States Men’s National Team in a 1-1 draw. Yes, there are still plenty of matches to go, but winning at home is important in World Cup qualifying and the U.S. was unable to do so against Canada. Brenden Aaronson had a good match, scoring the USMNT’s goal in the 55th minute to give his side the lead.

Christian Pulisic, who didn’t feature in the USMNT’s scoreless draw in El Salvador this past Thursday, played the entire match for the U.S. However, right back Sergino Dest was forced off due to an injury in the second half. Giovanni Reyna didn’t play due to a hamstring injury and goalkeeper Zack Steffen tested positive for COVID-19. Midfielder Weston McKennie broke a team rule and wasn’t available for the match either as the USMNT sits fifth in the standings after two draws. The U.S. will now head to Honduras for a late 10:30 p.m. match this Wednesday.

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  • Gallese started in Peru’s 1-0 win against Venezuela. It was an important victory for Peru after a slow start to its qualifying campaign. Meanwhile, Mendez wasn’t included in Ecuador’s lineup in its 0-0 draw with Chile.
  • Setting a good example for the community, all Orlando City and Pride players have received the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine was provided by organization partner Orlando Health. The club and Orlando Health continue to host mobile vaccine sites in the Central Florida area.
  • Emiliano Martinez, Cristian Romero, and Giovani Lo Celso were all cleared to play for Argentina’s World Cup qualifier against Brazil despite accusations of them falsifying travel information regarding a mandatory quarantine for those visiting Brazil from the United Kingdom. Five minutes into the match, health officers and police came onto the pitch to detain the players. The match was halted and then officially suspended.
  • Former United States Women’s National Team head coach Jill Ellis was hired by FIFA as a lead advisor on the future of women’s soccer.

That will do it for today. The Lions face Atlanta this Friday, so get ready for a fun match-up. Vamos Orlando!

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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