Lion Links: 1/4/22
Happy Tuesday, everyone. Soccer never sleeps and it’s actually sped back up a little after La Liga’s return from its winter break and the upcoming returns of Serie A and the Bundesliga later this week. We’ll also likely be getting news about who will be included in the United States Men’s National Team’s January camp, so keep an eye out for that. In the meantime, let’s get into the links.
MLS Coaching Vacancies Filled
Two of the coaching vacancies in Major League Soccer have been filled. First up is probably the biggest vacancy of the offseason, the LAFC job. Steve Cherundolo has become the second ever coach for LAFC, after coaching the team’s USL Championship affiliate, the Las Vegas Lights, during the 2021 season. Cherundolo replaces the team’s first head coach, Bob Bradley, who departed at the end of the season and subsequently became coach of Toronto FC.
The second job to be filled is that of the Houston Dynamo, who officially hired Paulo Nagamura to the top job after that had been reported before the end of the year. Nagamura was previously the head coach at Sporting Kansas City II from 2018-2021, and like Cherundolo, he had a lengthy career in MLS. He will be tasked with rejuvenating a Houston franchise that has not made the playoffs since 2017.
James O’Connor’s New (Interim) Role
In the wake of Brad Estes departing his role as the president of Louisville City SC, former Orlando City head coach James O’Connor will be stepping into the job on an interim basis. O’Connor has been the executive vice president of Soccer Holdings LLC since 2020, a job that he stepped into after departing from Orlando City at the end of the 2019 season. In his role at Soccer Holdings he was involved in the roster construction of NWSL side Racing Louisville and the formation of the club’s youth academy. The club did not specify if there’s a possibility he will take on the job full time in the future, only that he would be taking on the duties during the transition.
Recent MLS Transfers Continue Pattern
The recent big money transfers to Europe by Daryl Dike and Ricardo Pepi shouldn’t have taken anyone by surprise. While the respective fees in the neighborhood of the reported $9.5 million and $20 million would have once been considered the exception instead of the rule, that’s no longer the case. It used to be once in a blue moon that someone like Jozy Altidore or Miguel Almiron would command a double-digit fee. Now though, Dike and Pepi are only following in the footsteps of players like Brenden Aaronson and Bryan Reynolds, whose transfers will both likely be worth double digits once incentives and various clauses kick in. It isn’t likely to stop either. While young American players are especially en vogue at the moment, the world seems to be waking up to the fact that MLS is becoming more comfortable as a selling league, which can be a pretty good niche to slide into.
Transfer Rumor Roundup
The big transfer wheel in the sky continues to turn as 2022 kicks off and there are a few important rumors to cover. First up, in a move that is no longer a rumor, Ricardo Pepi officially completed his move to FC Augsburg from FC Dallas.
Moving firmly into the realm of rumors, Manchester United is said to be considering making a bid for Declan Rice, and are prepared to pay West Ham’s £100 million asking price. There are also reports that United would block a move to West Ham for Jesse Lingard as they don’t want to sell him to a rival for a spot in the top four.
Elsewhere, Newcastle United reportedly is interested in acquiring Atletico Madrid’s Kieran Trippier as the Magpies look to strengthen their back line.
- Alex Ring signed a new deal at Austin FC, keeping him on as a Designated Player for 2022 and 2023, with option years in 2024 and 2025.
- FC Dallas is in the midst of an important transition with Pepi, Reynolds, and Tanner Tessman all departing recently and a new head coach coming in after the 2021 season; here’s what comes next.
- Argentine DJ Fer Palacio has defended himself against accusations that he gave Lionel Messi COVID-19, which is a slightly absurd sentence to write.
- Romelu Lukaku is expected to be back in the Chelsea squad for tomorrow’s Carabao Cup game after a positive talk with Thomas Tuchel and club leadership yesterday.
That does it for me today. Y’all stay safe out there.
Lion Links: 6/3/23
The Orlando Pride hit the road, OCB players called up, USMNT U-20 squad can make history, and more.
Merry match day morning, Mane Landers! I hope you have multiple screens ready as both Orlando City and the Orlando Pride are in action this evening. Hopefully, it will be a weekend of better results for the clubs, as both are coming off difficult results. It’s been a busy week for me already and it won’t slow down anytime soon, so enjoying matches is a nice break. Let’s get to the links.
Orlando Pride Start a Busy Stretch
The Orlando Pride are heading west to play the Houston Dash tonight, followed by an NWSL Challenge Cup match against NJ/NY Gotham FC on Wednesday, and then back to Exploria Stadium to host the Portland Thorns next Sunday. Three games in nine days will test the club’s depth and it’s reasonable to expect a heavily rotated side in the Challenge Cup match. The Pride enter tonight looking for a second straight win over the Dash. To make that a reality the Pride will need to create and this time convert on the chances on goal.
OCB Venezuelan Call-ups
Goalkeeper Javier Otero and fullback/winger Moises Tablante have been called up to the Venezuelan National Football Team for a pair of friendlies this month (translate). Venezuela will face Honduras on June 15 in Washington, D.C. and Guatemala at Rentschler Field on June 18 in East Hartford, Connecticut.
Orlando City B may only be without them for one match, but the team will certainly miss the pair during the time they are on international duty. Otero has been very good in goal, and Tablante has been contributing to the attack. Of course, it is an honor for both to represent their national team and we wish them well.
Pride Month Kicks Off
Both Orlando City and the Orlando Pride are celebrating Pride Month with logo changes for both squads. The Pride will be hosting the “Pride in our City” match against the Portland Thorns on June 11 in tribute to the victims of the Pulse Nightclub tragedy.
The Lions and the Pride are only two of many other sports teams to recognize and celebrate the LGBTQIA+ communities in June. Other teams include the Wilf-owned Minnesota Vikings and Florida-based Major League Baseball club, the Tampa Bay Rays.
USMNT U-20 Opportunities
When the U-20 USMNT squad meets Uruguay on Sunday there is the possibility that some of the players will also make an appearance for the senior squad in the 2026 World Cup. It’s also possible that this team can advance, possibly to the final. If so, they will make history. If the team makes it past Uruguay either Brazil or Israel will await in the semifinal. Of course, the U.S. is not the only team in Argentina with a path to the trophy.
- Orlando City’s match against the New York Red Bulls is a must watch for the faithful of the two clubs, but evidently not anyone else. Some feel that it is a must-watch in the way a car wreck is. Personally, I think that the way the Red Bulls play contributes to the ugliness way more than Orlando City does, but I am biased. Feel free to check out one of the more “watchable” matches on Saturday night if you want, but I’ll be tuning in to watch our Lions.
- Dallas United was removed from The Soccer Tournament (TST) by tournament officials on the basis of racial slurs made in the team’s match against West Ham United players. Such comments violated the code of conduct for the competition and the West Ham players walked off in protest. Do better, Dallas United.
- The MLS Disciplinary Committee dealt out several fines to some players and one suspension to DC United’s Lewis O’Brien for a serious foul against CF Montreal. Miraculously, no Orlando City players were fined.
- On a happier note, the MLS All-Star week kicks off on July 15. Here is a list of the events for the week. The Leagues Cup follows soon after, with Orlando City starting things off with a match against the Houston Dynamo.
- Members of the USMNT will be playing for their clubs this weekend, including Folarin Balugon in likely his last match for Reims.
- Sergio Ramos will play his last match for Paris Saint-Germain today. Ramos’ contract was not renewed, and he will be available on a free transfer.
- Daniel Farke is out at Borussia Mönchengladbach after just one season. Farke did manage wins against both Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, but finished in 10th place in the Bundesliga standings.
- Colin Smith is leaving his role as the chief operating officer in charge of the World Cup division for FIFA. He oversaw the upcoming 2023 Women’s World Cup and the planning of the 2026 World Cup in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The departure is amicable and mutually agreed upon.
- If you’re like me, you’ve never heard of the tech brand, Oppo. It is a partially-state owned Chinese company, and does not sell its product in the U.S. Of course, I’m certain you are familiar with former Orlando City player, Kaká. It turns out that he is a “Global Brand Ambassador” for Oppo, and recently made a trip to Indonesia in that role as a part of the company’s partnership with the 2023 UEFA Champions League. This was the welcome he received.
That will do it for today. Check back for our coverage of both Orlando City and the Orlando Pride. Vamos Orlando!
Lion Links: 6/2/23
Orlando City prepares for the Red Bulls, Pride focused on bouncing back, Inter Miami and Phil Neville part ways, and more.
I hope this Friday finds you well as we all get ready for another weekend of Orlando soccer. Tomorrow is my birthday and I’m looking forward to battling the eternal march of time with some watermelon mojitos and a cheeseburger. It should be a nice weekend. Hopefully the next few days go smoothly for you as well. Now, let’s get this Friday started with today’s links!
Orlando City Prepares for the New York Red Bulls
Orlando City is back in action tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. in a road match against the New York Red Bulls. The Lions have not lost in their past four matches against the Red Bulls, including a 1-0 win at home in this year’s season opener. Plenty has changed for the Red Bulls since that match, with Troy Lesesne now at the helm after the dismissal of Gerhard Struber last month. The Lions catch the Red Bulls just a few days after they beat Inter Miami 1-0 on the road. Orlando is currently on a four-game unbeaten streak, but two of the draws were due to allowing late equalizers at home. Captain Mauricio Pereyra talked about the team’s need for consistency throughout a match.
“It’s the belief in the work that we are doing, because nothing is changed from this last game or even in Miami,” he said. “If we compare with the other games, I mean, it’s the same team with the same players and the same quality. The only thing that changed I think, is the mentality and the mindset that we had, that we believe that the work that we’re doing is correct. … Consistency is what we need during the tournament, we see more times during the game against Atlanta. But we have to do it in 90 minutes if you want to get results.”
Pereyra is in his fifth year with the Lions and would make his 100th start for Orlando should he do so tomorrow. Cesar Araujo has been a key part of Orlando’s success since joining the club and could make his 50th appearance in tomorrow’s match. Both midfielders could prove key for Orlando against Luquinhas and the rest of the Red Bulls.
Orlando Pride Aim to Bounce Back
Although they created plenty of chances and played well, the Orlando Pride’s four-game unbeaten run came to an end last weekend against the Chicago Red Stars. Capitalizing on those chances is a focal point for the Pride in training as they get ready for a road match against the Houston Dash tomorrow night at 8:30 p.m. It’s the first of three games in seven days for the Pride as they look to maintain their hunger to win despite the recent loss. Midfielder Erika Tymrak spoke on how the team is cultivating a winning culture this year.
“I think it starts in training and [the coaching staff] have created such a good training environment that when we do not get the result we wanted, we are upset, we’re disappointed,” Tymrak said, “We had a few off days after the game, and we just want to get back and play and get better. So I think it’s an important mentality to have and it’ll take us through the season.”
Orlando City B Heads North to Face Toronto FC II
After a May of mixed results, Orlando City B hits the road to take on Toronto FC II this Sunday at 8 p.m. It will be the second meeting between the two teams this season, with the Young Lions winning 3-2 at Osceola Heritage Park on April 30. The offense is trending in the right direction, with Jack Lynn scoring his fourth goal in three games and Alex Freeman tallying his fifth goal contribution of the season in OCB’s 3-2 win over New York Red Bulls II on Monday. Shak Mohammed, Orlando City’s 2023 MLS SuperDraft first-round pick, also scored his first goal of the season in that match, so hopefully he can build on that moving forward. OCB will face a Toronto side that has lost its past two matches, both on the road.
Phil Neville Fired By Inter Miami
Following its 10th loss in15 games this season, Phil Neville is no longer the head coach of Inter Miami. Neville was named head coach in January of 2021, and led the team to the playoffs last year. However, there’s been a lack of consistency for Miami during his tenure and no club has lost more games this season than the Herons. Miami also parted ways with former Orlando City head coach Jason Kreis, who was named as an assistant coach in March of 2021. Javier Morales will serve as interim head coach, with other coaches remaining in their existing roles, including former Orlando City academy director Darren Powell as an assistant coach.
USMNT Roster Announced for Concacaf Nations League
B.J. Callaghan, who became the interim head coach of the United States Men’s National Team earlier this week, called up 24 players for the training camp roster in preparation of the Concacaf Nations League later this month. Four goalkeepers made this roster before it gets trimmed down to 23 players, including Matt Turner and Maccabi Haifa’s Josh Cohen. Folarin Balogun committed to the U.S. just last month and will be on the team alongside fellow forwards Ricardo Pepi and Alex Zendejas. Tyler Adams is out due to injury, but the midfield is still filled with notable names such as Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah, and Giovanni Reyna. The U.S. will clash with Mexico on June 15 in Las Vegas, with the championship match taking place against either Canada or Panama on June 18.
- The Orlando Pride remained in ninth in CBS Sports‘ NWSL power rankings following their 1-0 road loss to the Chicago Red Stars.
- Angel City FC signed French midfielder Amandine Henry to a three-year contract. The 33-year-old joins Angel City after six seasons with Olympique Lyonnais in France.
- The Philadelphia Union have signed defensive midfielder Jose Martinez to a contract extension that will keep him in Philly through 2025, with an option for 2026 as well.
- The NWSL’s expansion team in San Francisco will be called Bay FC, which is an incredibly boring choice, in my opinion.
- American goalkeeper Zack Steffen underwent knee surgery and will reportedly be out for three to four months as a result.
- American defender John Brooks was named Hoffenheim’s Player of the Month. Brooks started in all four of the German club’s matches in May, helping Hoffenheim escape relegation.
- Qualification for next year’s U-20 Women’s World Cup is up for grabs today, as the U.S. takes on Costa Rica and Canada faces Mexico in the Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship semifinals.
- In the U-20 World Cup, Uruguay beat Gambia, 1-0, and will face the U.S. in the quarterfinals on Sunday.
- French striker Karim Benzema will reportedly join Saudi Arabian club Al Ittihad when his contract with Real Madrid expires this month.
That’s all for now, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your week.
Lion Links: 6/1/23
MLS All-Star voting is underway, midweek MLS results, Sevilla wins Europa League, and more.
Welcome to June, Mane Landers! I hope May treated you well as we get ready for another month filled to the brim with soccer. The Florida summer is heating up, so make sure to stay hydrated out there as we break out the beach umbrellas and dust off the grills. But for now, let’s jump into today’s links!
MLS All-Star Voting Begins
Voting is underway for the 26 players who will be selected for the MLS All-Star Team this summer. Of those 26 players, 12 will be chosen from a combined vote from fans, media, and current players. Orlando City defensive midfielder Cesar Araujo was noted as a candidate who could make this year’s team. Personally, I think goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, center back Robin Jansson, and forward Ercan Kara have a real shot at playing in the All-Star Game if they keep up their form. This year’s MLS All-Star Game will take place against Arsenal in the nation’s capital, with D.C. United Head Coach Wayne Rooney at the helm.
MLS Midweek Action Brings Plenty of Goals
The Lions weren’t in action for this midweek round of games, but there was still plenty of soccer to enjoy from the other MLS teams. Atlanta United and the New England Revolution battled to a 3-3 draw at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Carles Gil and Bobby Wood gave the Revs a 2-0 lead heading into halftime. Atlanta then scored three times in the second half, only for Gil to find an equalizer in stoppage time. It wasn’t the only high-scoring game of the evening either, as the Columbus Crew won 3-2 over the Colorado Rapids thanks to a goal and two assists from midfielder Lucas Zelarayan. Elsewhere in the Eastern Conference, FC Cincinnati beat New York City FC 3-1 and D.C. United and CF Montreal played to a 2-2 draw. Orlando City’s next opponents, the New York Red Bulls, won 1-0 at Inter Miami.
Sevilla Wins Seventh Europa League Title
It took a penalty shootout to decide the winner of this year’s Europa League final, with Sevilla beating AS Roma in Budapest. It was the Spanish club’s seventh time lifting the Europa League trophy. This win salvaged a rough La Liga season for Sevilla and it will play in the Champions League next year. Paulo Dybala gave Roma the lead in the first half, but an own goal levelled things in the 55th minute. Chris Smalling nearly gave Roma the win in extra time, but his header hit the crossbar. It was Jose Mourinho’s first defeat in six European finals and Roma will aim to qualify for the Europa League again when it takes on Spezia in its final Serie A game of the season on Sunday.
More Teams Claim Spots in U-20 World Cup Quarterfinals
Host Argentina was bounced from the U-20 World Cup after a 2-0 loss to Nigeria in the U-20 World Cup. After a scoreless first half, Nigeria struck twice and will face either Ecuador or South Korea in the next round. The other South American nations in action fared a bit better than Argentina, with Brazil cruising past Tunisia, 4-1, in a match that included three goals in stoppage time, and Colombia beating Slovakia, 5-1. In a clash between European sides, Italy won 2-1 over England after Cesare Casadei scored from the spot in the 87th minute. In the quarterfinals, the U.S. will face the winner of today’s match between Gambia and Uruguay.
- Orlando City B moved up a spot to seventh in the MLS NEXT Pro power rankings.
- Orlando City’s U-12 team is returning to Orlando with some new silverware.
- St. Louis City midfielder Eduard Löwen won MLS Goal of the Matchday for his free kick goal against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
- Lesle Gallimore was named as OL Reign’s next general manager after serving as commissioner of the club’s girls academy since 2020.
- Rumors are swirling that Inter Miami and FC Barcelona will join forces to sign Lionel Messi, with Miami signing him as a free agent and then loaning him to Barcelona.
- Arsenal forward Beth Mead will not play for England in this summer’s Women’s World Cup as she continues to recover from her ACL injury.
- American coach Jesse Marsch, who was dismissed from Leeds United earlier this year, has been linked with a move to AS Monaco in Ligue 1.
- Dundee United announced that American midfielder Ian Harkes is one of six players who will leave the club after it was relegated. Harkes has played for the Scottish club since 2019, joining from D.C. United.
- The Soccer Tournament kicks off today and you can check out the full slate of games.
That’s all I have for today. I hope you all have a wonderful start to June!
Orlando City B vs. Toronto FC II: Final Score 3-0 as OCB Falls in Shortened Game
Orlando City at New York Red Bulls: Player Grades and Man of the Match
Orlando City vs. New York Red Bulls: Five Takeaways
Orlando City at New York Red Bulls: Three Keys to Victory
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