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Lion Links: 11/22/21



Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers! We are only one sleep away from Orlando City’s opening match of the 2021 MLS playoffs at Nashville SC. How are you feeling? Confident? Worried? I know I’m going to be a bit on edge for a day or so. The good news is that we don’t have to wait much longer. Before we get to today’s links, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride player Taylor Kornieck!

Orlando City Prepares for MLS Playoffs

The Lions made the MLS playoffs for the second year in a row, but this is not Óscar Pareja’s first or even second rodeo. Pareja has advanced 18 times in of 28 tries in the postseason (this includes draws followed by penalty shootout wins), including last year’s results during his first season in Orlando. Lions forward Daryl Dike and center back Robin Jansson spoke about the team’s mentality heading into Tuesday’s match.

The Lions have drawn Nashville in all three matches between the two teams this season. While that is still a possibility in the playoffs, only one team will advance. If the game does end level, Orlando City has some experience winning a shootout as you might remember from last year’s match with New York City FC, which happened one year and one day ago.

Home Teams Advance in MLS Playoff Games

Atlanta United traveled to Yankee Stadium to take on New York City FC. As is often the case, the postage stamp of a pitch helped the Pigeons and they defeated Atlanta, 2-0. Valentin Castellanos and Alexander Callens scored for NYCFC and Atlanta center back Alan Franco earned a red card in stoppage time. NYCFC will now travel to take on the waiting New England Revolution on Nov. 30. The Philadelphia Union won 1-0 against the New York Red Bulls thanks to a late strike from Jakob Glesnes. The result means that the Lions will not host a playoff game this postseason and will travel to Philadelphia if they advance.

In the Western Conference, Minnesota United FC took an early lead against the Portland Timbers, but was unable to hold on as the Timbers scored three goals to move on in the playoffs. Minnesota Head Coach Adrian Heath spoke about the inconsistency that plagued his club this season. Sporting Kansas City also won 3-1 against the Vancouver Whitecaps and will play the winner of tomorrow’s match between the Seattle Sounders and Real Salt Lake.

CF Montréal Claims a Concacaf Champions League Spot

Although Toronto FC and CF Montréal missed out on the MLS playoffs, they still had a match to play after Decision Day. The two squared off in the Canadian Championship final, with Romell Quioto’s second-half strike bringing home the hardware for Montréal. After the win, Montréal coach Wilfried Nancy pointed to the 2-0 loss to Orlando City and missing out on the playoffs as part of the motivation to win the domestic title. The victory is worth more than just bragging rights in Canada as Montreal secured a place in the Concacaf Champions League next year.

As for Toronto, reports surfaced following the loss that forward Jozy Altidore will leave the club. If true, it would be the end of an era and open up a Designated Player slot for Toronto heading into the off-season.

European Soccer Returns With Plenty of Changes

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer left his role as Manchester United’s manager following the club’s 4-1 loss to Watford on Saturday. Former player Michael Carrick, who was a part of Solskjaer’s staff, will take charge for the team’s match tomorrow against Villareal in the UEFA Champions League.

Speaking of managers, Xavi won his first match at the helm of FC Barcelona with a 1-0 win over Espanyol. Steven Gerrard also won in his managerial debut as Aston Villa beat Brighton and Hove Albion 2-0. Elsewhere, Lionel Messi scored his first goal in Ligue 1 for Paris Saint-Germain, Borussia Dortmund closed the gap between it and Bayern Munich, and Fiorentina won 4-3 against AC Milan in a thrilling match that featured forwards Dusan Vlahovic and Zlatan Ibrahimovic trading goals.

Free Kicks

  • The Orlando Pride’s Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris are doing their part to light the city purple in support of the Lions’ playoff campaign.

  • In the USL Championship semifinals, former Lion Santiago Patino converted his kick in the penalty shootout but his San Antonio FC side fell to Orange County SC. The Californian club will head to Florida for the final against the Tampa Bay Rowdies this Sunday and you can watch the game on ESPN.
  • The No. 1 Florida State Seminoles defeated No. 19 Pepperdine University to advance to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament. FSU will next play No. 9 Michigan this coming Friday in Tallahassee.
  • Don’t throw stuff from the stands. You think it wouldn’t be that hard to follow such a simple rule, but it wasn’t so easy for a supporter at the match between Lyon and Marseille. Someone threw a water bottle and hit Dimitri Payet in the head, prompting officials to abandon the match.

That will do it for today. Vamos Orlando!

Lion Links

Lion Links: 11/29/23

Orlando Pride players called up by Brazil, MLS announces 2023 Best XI, latest MLS roster moves, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers I hope all is well down in Florida. I’ve been very busy working throughout the holiday weekend at Under Armour. This week I’ll be working at Wrigley Field for Winterland while getting ready to cover high school wrestling tomorrow night. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Pride Players Called Up By Brazil for Friendlies

Orlando Pride defender Rafaelle and forwards Marta and Adriana have been called up to the Brazil Women’s National Team for its upcoming friendlies.

Brazil will play two matches against Japan on Nov. 30 and Dec. 3 in Sao Paulo before playing Nicaragua on Dec. 6 at Estadio Fonte Luminosa in Araraquara.

MLS Announces the 2023 Best XI

Major League Soccer announced its 2023 Best XI, recognizing the league’s top players at each position. There were no Orlando City players selected for the team and eight players received the honor for the first time. Those players are St. Louis City’s Roman Burki and Tim Parker, FC Cincinnati defender Matt Miazga, Atlanta United duo Thiago Almada and Giorgos Giakoumakis, Houston Dynamo midfielder Hector Herrera, LAFC’s Denis Bouanga, and Columbus Crew forward Cucho Hernandez. Nashville SC’s Hany Mukhtar made the Best XI for the third consecutive time, while teammate Walker Zimmerman was named to it for the fifth time. MLS MVP Luciano Acosta of FC Cincinnati rounds out the list.

Latest MLS Off-season Roster Moves

The Colorado Rapids announced their latest roster changes as they prepare for the the 2024 season under new Head Coach Chris Armas. The club exercised its options for defender Andrew Gutman, midfielder Ralph Priso, and forward Calvin Harris. The Rapids declined contract offers to seven players, with the most notable names being defender Steven Beitashour and goalkeeper William Yarbrough, although the Rapids are in discussions about re-signing Yarbrough. Elsewhere, the New England Revolution exercised the permanent transfer option on forward Tomas Chancalay, signing him to a Designated Player contract through 2026, with a club option for the 2027 season.

UEFA Champions League Roundup

Champions League action returned in Europe, as we get close to wrapping up the group stage in a couple of weeks. Manchester City overcame a two-goal deficit to beat RB Leipzig 3-2 and win Group G. Newcastle United had a chance to qualify for the round of 16 but gave up a late penalty to Paris Saint-Germain, which Kylian Mbappe converted to end the match in a 1-1 draw. Borussia Dortmund beat AC Milan 3-1 to book its spot in the knockout stage. PSG, Newcastle, and AC Milan are all still alive in Group F heading into the final matchday in December. Shakhtar Donetsk won 1-0 against Royal Antwerp and also still has a shot to advance on the final matchday. Lazio, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, and Young Boys all won their respective matches as well. Today’s matches include Manchester United on the road against Galatasaray, Real Madrid taking on Napoli, and Sevilla facing off with PSV Eindhoven.

Free Kicks

  • Concacaf has announced that BMO Stadium, Dignity Health Sports Park, Shell Energy Stadium, and Snapdragon Stadium will be the four venues that will host matches for the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup.
  • Barcelona midfielder Gavi will be sidelined for up to 10 months after undergoing knee surgery after suffering a torn ACL in his right knee.
  • The International Football Association Board approved a trial for sin bins, meaning players punished for dissent or specific tactical offense would be temporarily removed from the match for a set amount of minutes.
  • You have got to see this goal from Cwrt Rawlin FC in the Welsh seventh division.

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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 11/28/23

Luciano Acosta named MVP, Americans in action, scheduling news for U.S. national teams, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Tuesday, everyone. I’m dragging a little today after having an extended period of time off for the Thanksgiving holiday, but there’s no rest for the wicked and the only way out is through. With that being the case, let’s get into today’s news.

Luciano Acosta Wins MLS MVP

In a piece of news that plenty of people likely saw coming from several miles away, Luciano Acosta has been named Major League Soccer’s Most Valuable Player. Acosta racked up 34 goal contributions during the regular season, finishing the 2023 campaign with 17 goals and 14 assists as the driving force behind his team’s run to the Supporters’ Shield. He was voted the best player in the league by quite some margin and won the award in a landslide, taking 60.37% of the votes to Denis Bouanga’s 14.97% and Thiago Almada’s 6.46%.

American Stars in Midweek Action

There are a number of United States Men’s National Team players that will be in action this week, with several UEFA Champions League clashes highlighting the viewing slate. Christian Pulisic, Yunus Musah and AC Milan will face Giovanni Reyna’s Borussia Dortmund today in a game with huge ramifications for both teams. Malik Tillman, Ricardo Pepi, and Sergino Dest may play in PSV Eindhoven’s match with Sevilla tomorrow, and a win would likely go a long way to securing a place in the Round of 16. Additionally on Wednesday, Brenden Aaronson and Union Berlin have a chance to make a big move towards a place in the Europa League, as a win over Braga would leapfrog the German club into third place in Group C.

USMNT & USWNT Scheduling News

The USMNT will open its 2024 slate of games with a match against Slovenia on Jan. 20 in San Antonio. The match will fall outside of an international window, meaning that the January camp roster will largely be made up of domestic-based players. The USMNT has faced Slovenia twice before, with the most recent time being a 3-2 win in Ljubljana courtesy of a Jozy Altidore penalty kick.

While we already knew that the United States Women’s National Team would play China PR on Dec. 5 in Frisco, we now know that one of the team’s legends will be honored before the game. The U.S. Soccer Federation has announced that former Orlando Pride defender Ali Krieger, who stated in March that she will retire following the NWSL season, will be honored before the match. Krieger played 108 games for the USWNT and is a two-time World Cup winner with the team.

Notable Women’s Players to Miss International Matches

A pair of high profile women’s players will miss upcoming international games. First up, Sam Kerr will not feature in Australia’s back-to-back friendlies against Canada due to a foot injury. Kerr has struggled with injuries this year and her availability was limited during this summer’s World Cup.

Alexia Putellas will miss Spain’s two Nations League matches against Sweden and Italy after picking up a left knee injury. Putellas had missed Euro 2022 due to an ACL tear, but was back to help her side win the World Cup several months ago. Fortunately for Spain, the team is well positioned atop its group and has enough players in the squad that it shouldn’t feel her absence too keenly.

Free Kicks

  • A pair of Willian penalties and an early Alex Iwobi goal helped Fulham beat Wolverhampton, with American defenders Antonee Robinson and Tim Ream also starting.
  • New York Red Bulls forward Tom Barlow is reportedly headed to the Chicago Fire.

That’s all I’ve got for you this morning. Y’all stay safe out there.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 11/27/23

Western Conference final is set, Jim Curtin wants Alejandro Bedoya to stay, action from top European leagues, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Monday, everyone. Orlando City’s season might not have ended the way any of us wanted, but 2023 was still a year with a lot to enjoy and be proud of for Lions fans. Before getting into today’s news, let’s wish Martin Ojeda a happy 25th birthday!

Western Conference Final is Set

The Western Conference final is now set, as the Houston Dynamo will be facing LAFC. Houston grabbed a 1-0 win at home over Sporting Kansas City in the first game of the night. Franco Escobar got the home team on the board in the 39th minute and that proved to be enough for Houston to book its ticket to the next round.

In the late kickoff, LAFC went on the road and got its own 1-0 win over the Seattle Sounders. Denis Bounga did what he does best and got the game’s only goal in the 30th minute, and LAFC was able to see out the remainder of the match. Seattle didn’t go down without a fight though, and Maxime Crepeau produced a string of outstanding second-half saves to deny the Sounders an equalizer.

Jim Curtin Wants Alejandro Bedoya Extended

Last month it was being reported that the Philadelphia Union were not planning on extending Alejandro Bedoya, whose contract expires now that the season is over. Following the Union’s exit from the playoffs, Jim Curtin did not mince words when expressing his belief that Bedoya’s time with the club should be extended, saying that Bedoya is bigger than anyone and that his work on the field speaks for itself. Things got really interesting when he appeared to take a shot at Philly’s front office, saying “I think anywhere in the world, the head coach would have a say in what’s up with this captain. I think there was a miscommunication for sure.”

Action Packed European Weekend

It was a busy weekend in the top European leagues, and there’s a lot to catch up on. We’ll start in the Premier League, where Aston Villa beat Tottenham 2-1 to hand a third straight loss to Spurs. The victory saw Villa leapfrog Tottenham into fourth place and only two points behind Arsenal at the top of the table.

In Italy, Juventus and Inter Milan battled to a 1-1 draw in a clash between the two teams at the top of the table. The result means that Inter maintains its spot in first place, and keeps a two-point lead over Juve, and a six-point gap between AC Milan in third.

Finally, Rodrygo scored a brace and Jude Bellingham got yet another goal as Real Madrid beat Cadiz 3-0 to retake first place in La Liga from Girona.

Transfer Rumor Roundup

As always, the transfer rumor mill is turning 24/7, and that means there are some interesting stories to cover today. First up, Victor Osimhen is reportedly Chelsea’s top transfer target during the upcoming January window. The Blues would likely need to break their transfer record to get the job done, but they’ve struggled to start the year and Todd Boehly isn’t shy about whipping out his checkbook.

Arsenal is said to be interested in signing Douglas Luiz in January, but Unai Emery has made it clear that Aston Villa want to keep him, which is unsurprising given how important he’s been for the team this season.

Finally, Steven Bergwijn says he’s happy at Ajax despite interest from West Ham and Saudi Arabia.

Free Kicks

  • Alejandro Garnacho scored a completely absurd goal to spark Manchester United’s 3-0 win over Everton.

That’s all I have for you this morning. Y’all stay safe out there.

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