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Lion Links: 11/20/21

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Hello there, Mane Landers. The weekend is here and you know what that means — it’s time to kick back, relax, and enjoy some club soccer as it returns from the international break. There will be action throughout out the day, but first let’s get right into the soccer news of the day.

USA Today Not Sold on Orlando City

USA Today has come out with its rankings of the teams in the 2021 MLS playoffs, and it seems the folks there don’t fancy our Lions’ chances.

This team has been an enigma all season. Orlando needed a win at Montreal on Decision Day to squeak into the postseason field. Now, Orlando will need big performances by players such as Nani and Daryl Dike to make any sort of playoff run. (Playoffs Round 1: at Nashville SC, Tuesday)

Orlando City being pegged as an “enigma” might be a stretch to those of us that follow this club closely and know that it has been affected quite clearly by obstacles such as injuries, suspensions, a loan spell by a main part of the offense in Daryl Dike, and various international duties. Although this is true for almost all teams in MLS, to call Orlando City’s situation an enigma is a bit much. One thing they do seem to get right is that Orlando City is going to need big performances by players like Nani and Dike. It is true that your top players need to shine on the biggest stages, and with most Orlando City’s players getting some much-needed rest during this international break, our boys in purple will be looking to do just that. 

Sydney Leroux’s Mother Explains Why She Chose USWNT

In a telling interview with Sydney Leroux’s mother, Sandi, she looks back on what their family had to go through dealing with the widespread abuse and toxic environment within the Canadian U-20 women’s team from as early as 2004. Most of the struggles stem from then-head coach Bob Birarda, who was released from the role of both the Vancouver Whitecaps and Canada U-20 women’s teams. Sandi Leroux recalls Birarda’s shouting and aggressive behavior, along with a chilling experience of a training trip in Texas with the Canada U-20 team from Sydney herself. This is an intense account of what the family had to withstand that eventually led to the path of joining the United States Women’s National Team. This story of bravery to take a chance in a new country is a real eye-opener to what was really going on during that time in their lives.

USMNT Gets a Boost in Latest FIFA Rankings

Following the USMNT performances in World Cup qualifying in matches against Mexico and Jamaica, FIFA has released its latest rankings, and it seems the Red, White & Blue has earned itself a lift in the rankings. Although it may not be as large of a rise as you might think, it does make the USMNT the highest-ranked side in Concacaf after a slide from rival Mexico. This is a step in the right direction for Gregg Berhalter’s squad and a stark contrast to where the USMNT once was in the 2018 qualifying stage. As long as the Yanks can keep up this run of form and brush up in a few areas, the USMNT should have few issues qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

MLS Releases Off-season Calendar

Just as the MLS playoffs are about to begin today, MLS has announced its off-season calendar for player movement. If you thought you would get a break after the MLS Cup final on Dec. 11, the league will be right back to it with the MLS Expansion Draft just three days later on Dec. 14 for Charlotte FC. Then, the opening of free agency is right after on the 15th. There is a lot to look forward to in terms of players moving to new clubs and questions to be answered as to who will be staying and who will be going. We will see what Orlando City decides to do with its own players as the Lions will have to come up with a protected players list for the expansion draft and if they choose to add any players that are looking for a new club in free agency. It will be an exciting time as our team will look to strengthen the squad during this window.

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That will be all from me today, Mane Landers. I hope everyone has a great Saturday and weekend of sports viewing.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 7/12/24

Orlando City prepares for the New England Revolution, Summer Yates signs new contract, USWNT faces Mexico on Saturday, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! I’m working for most of the weekend but am still looking forward to a smorgasbord of soccer over the next few days. I’m also hoping to get some reading done, as I’ve fallen a bit behind in my reading goals for the year during this summer. But for now, let’s dive into today’s links from across the soccer world!

Orlando City Prepares for the New England Revolution

The Lions are on the road this weekend for a tough match against the New England Revolution on Saturday. It will be a clash between Eastern Conference teams that have clawed their way back up the table after slow starts to the season. Orlando has won three of its past four games, while the Revolution have won five of their last seven. While Orlando’s offense may be finding its groove this summer, the Lions have never won at Gillette Stadium in the eight games they’ve played there. No team has scored fewer goals this season than New England, which has scored 20 goals in 20 games.

Summer Yates Signs New Contract

The Orlando Pride have signed midfielder Summer Yates to a new contract that will keep her in the City Beautiful through the 2025 season, with an option for 2026. Yates fell farther than expected in the 2023 NWSL Draft and the Pride selected her in the fourth round. It’s proven to be a major steal for the Pride, as Yates has scored four goals in 15 appearances this year. She’s filled the shoes of some of the team’s best attacking midfielders and I’m glad she will be staying in Orlando beyond this year. The Pride also signed Cori Dyke to a new contract earlier this week, so it’s clear the Pride are looking ahead to the future during a historic season.

USWNT Plays Mexico On Saturday

The United States Women’s National Team will play the first of two friendlies before the Olympics when it takes on Mexico on Saturday at Red Bull Arena. The last time these two teams squared off was back in February in the inaugural Concacaf W Gold Cup, with Mexico winning 2-0. That loss raised plenty of eyebrows, but the USWNT went on to win the tournament and hasn’t lost since. The U.S. staff and team that won the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup Team will also be honored prior to the match for the 25th anniversary. The USWNT will take on Costa Rica on Tuesday in its final game before the Olympics.

Jurgen Klopp Reportedly Declines USMNT Job

There wasn’t much time for fans to get hopeful about reports that U.S. Soccer had reached out to former Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp to replace Gregg Berhalter, as more reports surfaced that Klopp turned down interest in the job. It’s not too surprising considering how Klopp has spoken in the past about wanting a break from soccer after leaving Liverpool this year. While I’m obviously interested in who will fill the role, I’m also hoping this search reveals how appealing the job is to other candidates around the world. I don’t think Klopp turning this down particularly means much in the grand scheme of things though, beyond U.S. Soccer doing its due diligence.

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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 7/11/24

Cori Dyke signs new contract with Orlando Pride, Barbra Banda leads NWSL MVP race, Gregg Berhalter fired, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

How’s it going, Mane Landers? It’s been a fairly busy week for me, and I’m looking forward to some upcoming time off from work. I’m also looking forward to the conclusion of international tournaments this weekend. It should be a nice next few days. For now, let’s dive into today’s links!

Cori Dyke Signs New Contract With the Pride

The Orlando Pride have signed rookie midfielder Cori Dyke to a new contract through the 2025 season, with an option for 2026 as well. She has found her footing with the team and in the NWSL, making 11 appearances so far this season. The Pride selected her with the No. 22 overall pick of the 2024 NWSL Draft, signing her to a one-year contract back in March. She’s one of many versatile midfielders added this past off-season, and she’s done well providing relief where needed as a substitute.

NWSL MVP Race Heats Up

ESPN‘s Jeff Kassouf updated the rankings of NWSL MVP candidates for this season and Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda remains at the top. Kansas City forward Temwa Chawinga moved up a spot to second, and she and Banda currently lead the league with 12 goals each. Both players scored on Saturday, and I’m expecting a close MVP and Golden Boot race over the next few months.

Pride defender Emily Sams deservedly moved up in the rankings and is now in seventh. She’s been phenomenal as the anchor of the Pride’s league-leading defense and it’s great to see her garner more recognition as the season goes on. Marta is on the list for the first time this season, ranking 13th for her prominent role in the Pride’s undefeated season so far.

Gregg Berhalter Out as USMNT Head Coach

It’s the end of an era for the United States Men’s National Team, as Gregg Berhalter was relieved of his duties as head coach. This decision comes after a disappointing Copa America run that ended in the group stage after losses to Panama and Uruguay. There’s certainly been success for the USMNT under Berhalter, particularly against Mexico, as he led the team to two Nations League titles and the 2021 Gold Cup trophy. But it never felt like the USMNT was playing to its full potential and could win against the top 10 teams in the world. Hopefully this search for who will replace Berhalter will go better than the last one, and a new coach can come in and take the team to the next level in time for the 2026 World Cup.

England Claims Spot in Euro 2024 Final

This year’s Euro final is set, with Spain and England set to clash in Berlin on Sunday at 3 p.m. England booked its ticket after another dramatic finish in a 2-1 win against the Netherlands. Aston Villa forward Ollie Watkins gave England the winning goal in the 90th minute after coming on as a substitute. I would love to know how many minutes England has been in the lead this tournament, as there have been many late comebacks along its path to the final. Meanwhile, Spain has beaten Germany and France en route to the final after winning a group that included Italy and Croatia. The final should be a good one and I’m looking forward to it.

Colombia Holds On to Reach Copa America Final

The Copa America semifinal between Colombia and Uruguay was a tense affair and Colombia won 1-0. James Rodriguez provided his sixth assist of the tournament on the only goal of the game, but the game turned on its head when Daniel Munoz was sent off late in the second half. Colombia then had to spend the entire second half holding onto its lead and survived, despite good chances from Uruguay’s Darwin Nunez and Luis Suarez. There was mayhem after the match, as there was an altercation between fans and Uruguayan players in the stands.

Colombia has now extended its unbeaten streak to 28 games and will take on Argentina in the Copa America final on Sunday at 8 p.m. The last team that beat Colombia? Argentina back in 2022.

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That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a fantastic day and rest of your week.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 7/10/24

The Pride impress, Banda praised, Copa and Euro results, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers! We now have multiple weeks where the Orlando Pride will sit atop the NWSL table as we enjoy the Summer Olympics and the Summer Cup. Orlando City is on a bit of a roll as well, thanks to a resurging midfield. What I’m getting at is life is pretty good at the moment and we should enjoy it. While you bask in the soccer goodness, you can also check out today’s links.

Hines’ Tactics Beat Kansas City

If you didn’t get a chance to see the Orlando Pride’s victory over the Kansas City Current, stop reading and go watch it. Now that you’re back, you can read about Seb Hines’ adjustments when his squad went down a player following Carrie Lawrence’s sending off in the 42nd minute. This match lived up to the hype as the two undefeated teams clashed in what felt like a playoff match. Once again, the defense was the difference with the Pride now the only remaining undefeated club in the league.

Hayes Praises Banda

The USWNT opens the 2024 Summer Olympics with a match against Zambia. That means the Yanks will have their hands full with Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda to start things off. We’re not the only ones aware of how dangerous a striker Banda is, as USWNT Head Coach Emma Hayes called her the “best striker in the world right now.” It seems that Hayes respects Zambia’s ability to transition quickly from defense to offense, which is smart given how quick Banda is. The match will take place on Thursday, July 25 at 3 p.m.

A Tale of Two Coaches

There is plenty of blame to go around for the USMNT’s early exit from the Copa America, but the same can’t be said for the Canadian National Team. Jesse Marsch didn’t get the U.S. job when Berhalter was brought back, and Canada reaped the rewards in the Copa America, though the team’s journey came to an end last night in a 2-0 loss to Argentina in the semifinal match. Despite the loss, Canadian fans are certain to be happier with Marsch than U.S. fans are with Berhalter.

Spain Advances to the Final

Spain kept its championship hopes alive, defeating France 2-1 in the Euros semifinal match. France actually made Spain work for this one after Randal Kolo Muani scored France’s first goal by a French player in open play to put Les Bleus ahead in the eighth minute. Spain didn’t have to wait too long for the equalizer by Lamine Yanal in the 21st minute, nor for the winning goal by Dani Olmo in the 25th minute. Spain will now face either England or the Netherlands which play today.

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  • Former Orlando City defender RJ Allen is making a go of it as an assistant coach with New Jersey United of the NPSL. His squad is currently playing in the NPSL playoffs.
  • Orlando City’s Dagur Dan Thorhallsson earned an appearance in the MLS Skills of the Matchday highlight reel. You’ll find him at the 21-second mark.
  • The Orlando Pride’s Emily Sams is rocking the U.S. colors at her first (of hopefully many) USWNT camps.
  • U.S. Soccer has hired Catherine Newman as the new new chief marketing officer. If Gregg Berhalter remains as head coach, I know what Newman’s main marketing campaign will be about.
  • If you thought that Wrexham co-owner Ryan Reynolds was just a pretty face for publicity sake, you are very wrong. Reynolds takes an active part in all the players’ development, especially in their off-the-field endeavours.
  • D.C. United was so traumatized by Saturday’s loss to Orlando City that the club went out and signed a new midfielder. Okay, that isn’t the reason, but the signing still happened.

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the Orlando City match this weekend. Vamos Orlando!

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