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Lion Links: 10/1/21



Welcome to October, Mane Landers. September certainly had its ups and downs in terms of Orlando soccer, but hopefully the month itself wasn’t too hard on you. October is filled with plenty of soccer to look forward to and both Orlando City and the Orlando Pride are in action tomorrow. For now, let’s get this month started with links from around the soccer world.

Lions Find Their Footing in Draw

Orlando City showed plenty of fight in a 2-2 draw on the road against Nashville SC. There were plenty of encouraging signs from the match as the Lions snapped a four-game losing streak. Orlando Head Coach Oscar Pareja made adjustments in the second half to get Daryl Dike more involved, which led to the forward drawing a penalty and converting it himself.

“I tried to use Daryl more in his battling one-on-one,” Pareja said. “He’s so strong. In the second half, the plan was trying to get him close to their center backs and using the power that he has. I think he did a great job.”

On Orlando’s equalizing goal in stoppage time, Nani delivered a corner kick that ended up as an own goal thanks to hard work from Benji Michel in the box. It was a great game from Dike and Nani and similar performances will be needed from the two for the Lions to claw their way back up the standings. However, Orlando’s defense allowed multiple goals for the sixth consecutive game. There is good news on the horizon though as all four starting members of Orlando’s back line should be available in tomorrow’s match against D.C. United at 7:30 p.m. in Exploria Stadium. (Although key backup Rodrigo Schlegel won’t be.) D.C. United is coming off an impressive win over Minnesota United, but has struggled on the road this season, with eight losses, while Orlando has only lost twice at home.

Orlando Pride Regroup Ahead of Important Match

With only four games left in their season, the Orlando Pride will travel to take on the Chicago Red Stars tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. It is the second meeting between the two sides this season as the Pride won 2-0 in Chicago on Aug. 8. Interim head coach Becky Burleigh is keeping a close eye on the fitness levels of each player to make sure they’re both rested and ready after a trip across the country last weekend that resulted in a 3-0 loss to OL Reign. It was a tough loss, but Burleigh is focused on having the team finish the season strongly.

“You can’t really change what you did yesterday and you can’t really affect tomorrow, but you can work on what you have right in front of you,” Burleigh said. “Right in front of us is a good day to get some training in. We’re trying to balance that with some recovery because it’s a really short turnaround.”

Courage Fire Paul Riley Amid Sexual Coercion Allegations

The North Carolina Courage have fired Paul Riley as their head coach and the United States Soccer Federation suspended his coaching license after The Athletic reported on accusations of sexual coercion over the span of the last decade. You will need a subscription to get past the paywall to view the full details of The Athletic’s investigation into Riley. Former National Women’s Soccer League players Sinead Farrelly and Meleana “Mana” Shim both went on the record to describe how Riley used his positions of power across multiple leagues and teams to coerce players into sex and also belittle them with inappropriate comments about their body and their sexual orientation.

Farrelly and Shim also detailed their efforts to report this behavior at the time, including confiding in former Portland Thorns teammate Alex Morgan for assistance. Morgan helped Shim report the misconduct in 2015 to the Portland Thorns and also helped organize a policy earlier this year to ensure a safe workplace for players in the league. NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird released a statement regarding the allegations, stating she was “shocked and disgusted” to read them and that a new anonymous reporting process will be implemented for players. Morgan responded to Baird’s statement and included emails between Farrelly and Baird about Riley’s behavior this past spring.

The NWSL Players Association is demanding disclosure from the league on how Riley was re-hired following his departure from the Thorns and for an independent investigation to be initiated. The Orlando Pride released a statement regarding the allegations as well and Pride General Manager Ian Fleming discussed the importance for those in positions of power in women’s soccer to protect players and staff.

Raphael Wicky Out as Chicago Fire Head Coach

The Chicago Fire officially parted ways with Raphael Wicky as head coach of the club, with assistant coach Frank Klopas stepping in as interim head coach. Wicky ends his tenure as head coach with a 12-25-14 record as the Fire missed the playoffs by one point last season and are well out of the playoff race this year. Reports of Wicky’s dismissal surfaced late Wednesday night following the Fire’s 2-0 win at home over New York City FC.

Chicago Fire Sporting Director Georg Heitz discussed the decision to part ways with Wicky at this time, with Wicky’s family’s medical situation taken into account. Both Heitz and Wicky joined the club after its 2019 campaign and the team’s three Designated Players have been underwhelming over the past two seasons as well. Wicky’s departure marks the seventh coaching change in MLS this season and the Fire will begin their search for his replacement.

Free Kicks

  • Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris claimed another NWSL Save of the Week for her diving save to deny Rose Lavelle.

  • In Europa League action, West Ham United, Olympique Lyonnais, and Lazio all won while Napoli and Leicester City both lost. Marseille and Galatasaray battled to a scoreless draw in France but it was far from a quiet match as opposing fans fired flares at one another in the crowd.

  • The Europa Conference League also continued this week as AS Roma went on the road and won 3-0 over Zorya Luhansk and Harry Kane had a hat trick in Tottenham Hotspur’s 5-1 win against NŠ Mura.
  • FC Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman’s fate is all but sealed as Barcelona reportedly sorts out the financial side of sacking him while finding a replacement. Belgium manager Roberto Martinez is a candidate for the job alongside Andrea Pirlo, Xavi Hernandez, and River Plate’s Marcelo Gallardo.

That’s going to be it from me today. Have a great Friday and rest of your weekend!

Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/13/24

Orlando City B hosts Chattanooga FC tonight, USMNT earns draw against Brazil, MLS’ Juneteenth celebrations, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

How’s it going, Mane Landers? Between my cat finally deciding I’m worth hanging out with and reading a pair of books that have been collecting dust on my shelf, I’ve been having a pretty good week. I’m looking forward to the feast of soccer both in Orlando and abroad over the next few days as well. But for now, let’s get this Thursday started with today’s links!

Orlando City B Hosts Chattanooga FC Tonight

In an enticing midweek match tonight at 7 p.m., Orlando City B will take on Chattanooga FC at Osceola Heritage Park. If not heading to watch OCB in person, you can catch the game on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+. The last time these two teams squared off was on May 4, with Chattanooga winning the penalty shootout for an extra point after a 1-1 draw in Tennessee. The Young Lions are coming off of a 2-2 draw with one of the league’s worst teams this season, Carolina Core FC, but winning the shootout after a late rally could give them the kind of momentum needed to take down Chattanooga. Beating one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference would be quite the statement from OCB during what’s been a middling season so far.

USMNT Draws With Brazil in Orlando

Playing in Orlando at Camping World Stadium, the United States Men’s National Team drew 1-1 against Brazil in a friendly billed as the Continental Clasico. Brazil scored first, but Matt Turner and the USMNT didn’t collapse under the pressure and earned the team’s first ever draw against the South American powerhouse. All in all, it was a much better result than the USMNT’s 5-1 loss to Colombia on Saturday. This was the USMNT’s final match until Copa America later this month. The Yanks will start their campaign against Bolivia on June 23 before playing Panama on June 27 and Uruguay on July 1.

MLS Announces Initiatives for Juneteenth

In partnership with Black Players for Change and Adidas, MLS announced some of the ways the league will be celebrating Juneteenth. Pre-match shirts acknowledging the change players can provide will be worn during warm-ups and fans can buy their own shirts as well, with a portion of the proceeds going toward organizations focused on racial equity and social justice. There will also be a campaign highlighting the connection between professional and academy players, as well as educational content across the league’s social media to raise awareness of the holiday.

Euro 2024 Kicks Off on Friday

A loaded gauntlet of summer tournaments finally begins Friday, as Germany hosts Scotland for the first match of Euro 2024. From Cristiano Ronaldo’s potential swan song to a brutal group that includes Spain, Italy, and Croatia, storylines abound for the tournament and each team brings something worth watching to the table. For Orlando City fans, defender David Brekalo was called up by Slovenia, which was drawn in a group with England, Denmark, and Serbia. I’m looking forward to seeing which underdogs prevail and which players make a name for themselves in this tournament.

2026 World Cup Schedule Revealed

The full schedule for the 2026 World Cup was unveiled, which gives a slight glimpse at the paths each host nation could take in the tournament. If the U.S. wins Group D after matches in Los Angeles and Seattle, it will stay on the West Coast for a knockout game in San Francisco before a potential round of 16 game in Seattle and quarterfinal in Los Angeles. Mexico and Canada have similar incentives to win their groups, as they will then host in their country until heading to the U.S. for the quarterfinals, should they make it that far. Here in Florida, Hard Rock Stadium in Miami will serve as the venue for four group games, a round of 32 match on July 3, a quarterfinal on July 11, and the third-place match on July 18.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando Pride Assistant Coach Yolanda Thomas was announced as a panelist for the Black Soccer Coaches’ summer symposium on July 22. She will also have a field session at the event to discuss the role of the midfield when building out of the back.

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: 6/12/24

Leagues Cup forgets Orlando’s U.S. Open Cup win, USMNT U-23 loses to Japan, NWSL expansion options, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. The USMNT plays tonight in Orlando, and I hope that you have tickets. If not, we can still watch as we wait for the Orlando City and Orlando Pride matches this Saturday. On a personal note, this Friday will mark my ninth anniversary with The Mane Land. It’s been a heck of a ride, and I’m glad you’ve been there with us. Here’s to many more years to come. Let’s get to the links.

Leagues Cup Forgets Orlando’s U.S. Open Cup Win

Orlando City is playing in the Leagues Cup starting at the end of July and here’s a nice guide to Orlando’s group for the tournament. Of course, the Leagues Cup organizers want you to be pumped so that you watch and buy tickets. I think that is something we should do simply to support the club. However, I don’t think they went about promoting the competition in quite the right way. In a tweet that has since been deleted, the tournament’s social media team stated the Leagues Cup would be Orlando’s chance to win its first trophy. Did you catch the mistake? Taylor Twellman did.

Good on you, Taylor. Facundo Torres was indeed brilliant in that match, as was Benji Michel. Of course, there were others that caught the faux pas as well.

I think we should also be mentioning the USL Championships, but what do I know? Evidently, more than the Leagues Cup’s social media team.

USMNT to Honor Pulse Victims

There’s plenty of fake, corporate shows of support for Pride Month , but in general I think that the USMNT and USWNT have done a good job of being legitimate allies to the LGBTQIA+ community. Tonight, the USMNT will play a friendly against Brazil at Camping World Stadium on the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting. The players will be wearing Pride jerseys to honor those who lost their lives so senselessly eight years ago.

In terms of the game, the USMNT will be without Josh Sargent for the match, and Tyler Adams will only get limited minutes if he plays, as both are coming back from injuries. Get well before the Copa America, lads.

Lions on International Duty

The United States U-23 Men’s National Team lost 2-0 to Japan in its final friendly match before the Olympics. Orlando City’s Duncan McGuire found himself on a bit of an island up top as the U.S. had difficulty moving the ball through the midfield. Hopefully, the U.S. got such play out of its system heading into the Olympics.

OCB’s Wilfredo Rivera made the most of his time playing in Puerto Rico’s World Cup qualifier against Anguilla, scoring a brace in the 8-0 victory. This win comes after a scoreless draw with El Salvador last week and Puerto Rico’s remaining group games during this round of qualifying will be next June.

Exploring NWSL Expansion Options

The NWSL will be expanding to 16 teams in 2026 with many cities vying for the next franchise. The leaders include Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Minneapolis. Atlanta, Denver, and Jacksonville are potential choices as well. If it was to be given to either Atlanta or Jacksonville they would be regional rivals for the Orlando Pride. The league is expected to make a decision by the fourth quarter of 2024.

Free Kicks

  • Congratulations to the U-15 United States Women’s National Team, which won 4-0 over Germany.
  • Did you ever have one of those dreams that was a little scary, but also absolutely hilarious? This preview of Inter Miami’s new mascot is a bit like that. To misquote Jaws: “Ever seen an Inter Miami mascot’s eyes, Chief? He’s got lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eyes.”
  • The Cayman Islands Men’s National Football Team forfeited its match against Cuba because many of its players are on visas in the United States. If those players were to travel to Cuba, the U.S. may have canceled those visas due to travel restrictions.
  • This is one of the most ridiculous no-calls I’ve ever seen. India got royally hosed.

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the Orlando City and Orlando Pride matches this Saturday night. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/11/24

Julie Doyle up for Goal of the Week, scouting Brazil ahead of USMNT match, Valencia fans convicted of racial abuse, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Tuesday, everyone. After a brief break, Orlando City will be back in action when it takes on LAFC at home on Saturday. The Orlando Pride will visit a struggling North Carolina Courage side on the same day, while Orlando City B will have an oddly placed Thursday match against Chattanooga FC. With such a busy week ahead of us, it’s little surprise that we have a lot to talk over this morning. Let’s get into it.

Julie Doyle Up for Goal of the Week

Pride forward Julie Doyle has been nominated for NWSL Goal of the Week for her strike against the San Diego Wave during Friday’s 1-1 draw. Doyle opened the scoring in the 36th minute with an extremely well taken goal that came from a Barbra Banda assist. The Zambian forward made a run down the right wing and crossed for Doyle, but the ball was a little behind her and the chance looked to have gone. It hadn’t though, because Doyle contorted her body, hung out a foot, and let the momentum from the ball carry it into the back of San Diego’s net. Make sure you go vote for her to win!

Brazil Scouting Report

The United States Men’s National Team will play its final friendly before Copa America Wednesday night at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. The idea of any USMNT game is slightly nauseating after the Yanks were throttled 5-1 by Colombia on Saturday, but the fact that they’ll square off against a loaded Brazil side means things aren’t going to be any easier. While Brazil has struggled early in World Cup qualifying, it will likely run out a front three of Rodrygo, Vinicius Jr., and Raphina that’s capable of causing plenty of damage. Brazil prefers to control the ball and build from the back with short passing movements, but has no qualms about ceding possession and breaking on the counter, something that caused no shortage of issues for the U.S. against Colombia.

Valencia Fans Convicted of Racial Abuse

A trio of Valencia fans will serve eight months in prison after being convicted of racially abusing Vinicius Jr. Additionally, they are barred from entering soccer stadiums for two years and will pay for court proceedings. The convictions are the first for racism in professional soccer in Spain, and a case was opened after the fans made monkey noises and gestures during a game in May of 2023. The Brazilian forward in particular has faced racial abuse during his time playing in Spain, but he’s far from the only player, as the trial for a fan accused of abusing Inaki Williams during a match in 2020 has still yet to even begin.

The Soccer Tournament Concludes

The Soccer Tournament wrapped up Monday night with a pair of engrossing championship matches. In the women’s bracket, US Women defeated the North Carolina Courage 6-3, with Talia Dellapuerta scoring the winning goal. US Women featured United States Women’s National Team greats Heather O’Reilly and Ali Kreiger, and the team won the first women’s edition of the tournament and the $1 million prize that comes with it.

On the men’s side, former Orlando City player Nani and his team, Nani FC, fell to La Bombonera, which scored mere minutes into the match and never looked back on its way to a convincing 4-0 win. La Bombonera becomes the second team to win it all following Newtown Pride FC’s victory in last year’s inaugural tournament.

Free Kicks

That’s all I have for you this morning. Vamos Orlando!

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