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Lion Links: 3/25/22

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How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope the work week has been treating you well as we get ready for a weekend filled with soccer. I’m looking forward to spending the next few days with my family and soaking up some sun. But for now, let’s enjoy these links from around the soccer world!

Orlando City Heads West Once More

For the second time this month, Orlando City will travel over 2,000 miles to the west coast as the Lions will take on the Portland Timbers in Providence Park this Sunday at 4 p.m. Orlando is coming off of a 1-0 win against the LA Galaxy that included Facundo Torres’ first goal in MLS and a record-setting clean sheet by Pedro Gallese. However, Torres, Gallese, and midfielder Sebas Mendez are all in South America for World Cup qualifying. Goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar will fill in for Gallese between the sticks and was unbeaten in the five MLS games he started last season.

Stajduhar will be supported by an Orlando back line that has only conceded twice so far this season. Center back Robin Jansson is only eight minutes away from breaking the club’s all-time minutes played record across all competitions that is currently held by Joe Bendik’s 8,248 minutes.

Orlando City B Announces 2022 Roster

The 23-player roster for Orlando City B’s first season in MLS NEXT Pro was announced. The roster includes 11 players on MLS NEXT Pro contracts and 12 on academy contracts as the reserve side aims to develop players for the first team. Draft picks Nick Taylor and Brandon Hackenberg were both signed to the team and join returning OCB players Javier Otero and Moises Tablante on the roster.

Academy player Ethan Subachan is also on the roster and recently scored in the U-17 team’s 2-2 draw with Inter Miami last weekend. Another forward to keep an eye out for this OCB season is Gonzalo Agustoni-Chagas, who won the Golden Ball during the 2020-21 MLS NEXT season at the U-17 level. The team will play its first match tomorrow against Chicago Fire II at Osceola County Stadium.

Exploria Stadium Will Host a Doubleheader in April

Orlando City and OCB will both play at Exploria Stadium on April 24 as part of a doubleheader. The first team will play the New York Red Bulls at 3 p.m. and fans can stick around for OCB’s match against New England Revolution II at 6:30 p.m. Tickets purchased for the MLS game will be valid for both matches.

“We are thrilled to provide our fans the opportunity to see both our First Team and MLS NEXT Pro side in action on the same day at Exploria Stadium,” said Orlando City SC President of Business Operations Jarrod Dillon. “The return of Orlando City B is an exciting moment for all of us at the Club and we look forward to watching the side take the pitch here in downtown Orlando.”

USMNT Draws With Mexico in World Cup Qualifier

The United States Men’s National Team drew 0-0 against Mexico in the Azteca. Giovanni Reyna impressed in his return to action, but the offense lacked the finishing touch to score. Regardless, it was a solid defensive effort for the USMNT and it still sits in second in the Concacaf World Cup qualifying standings. Timothy Weah and Deandre Yedlin both picked up yellow cards and won’t be available for Sunday’s crucial match against Panama at Exploria Stadium. The USMNT only needs a result against Panama to ensure a top-four finish and at least a spot in the qualifying playoff against the Oceanic representative.

Elsewhere in Concacaf, Mark-Anthony Kaye was sent off in the 35th minute as Canada fell 1-0 to Costa Rica. Honduras was able to mount a comeback on the road against Panama for a 1-1 draw.

Pair of Lions Qualify for the World Cup

Uruguay clinched its spot in the World Cup after a 1-0 win against Gallese and Peru. Torres was an unused substitute. The result also means Ecuador qualified for the World Cup despite a 3-1 loss to Paraguay and Orlando’s Sebas Mendez started for Ecuador in the match. The fifth spot is the only one still up for grabs, with Peru, Colombia, and Chile all in contention for it.

Italy will miss out on the World Cup yet again after a shocking 1-0 loss to North Macedonia. Despite 16 corner kicks and 32 shots, Italy wasn’t able to find the back of the net and Aleksandar Trajkovski scored the winner in stoppage time. North Macedonia will get a chance to qualify on Tuesday when it faces Portugal, which won 3-1 against Turkey. Sweden was able to score in extra time to win 1-0 over the Czech Republic and will play Poland on Tuesday. Gareth Bale scored two goals in Wales’ 2-1 win against Austria, including this stunning free kick.

Japan booked its ticket to the World Cup after winning 2-0 against Australia thanks to a late brace from Kaoru Mitoma. Saudi Arabia also qualified for the World Cup after a 1-1 draw with China. Australia will play either Iran or the United Arab Emirates in the fourth round, with the winner of that match advancing to take on the fifth-placed finisher from South America for one of the final qualification spots.

Free Kicks

  • Former Lion Aurelien Collin has officially retired after 11 years in MLS. The defender was traded from Sporting Kansas City to Orlando ahead of the expansion club’s first MLS season in 2015. The club thanked Collin and provided a trip down memory lane.


That’s all I have for you today. Make sure to stay hydrated out there while you enjoy some soccer and sunshine. Have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/28/24

Yutaro Tsukada earns recognition, Americans in midweek action, European coaching updates, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I hope you all had a restful holiday weekend, and if you didn’t, then I hope you’re well on the way to recovery. We’ve got an exciting schedule this week, with two Orlando City games before an Orlando City B game on Sunday. It’s also OCB forward Yeiler Valencia’s birthday today, so let’s wish him well and jump into today’s links!

Yutaro Tsukada Earns MLS NEXT Pro Honors

OCB winger Yutaro Tsukada was named MLS NEXT Pro Player of Matchweek 11 for his performance in the team’s 5-0 home win against Huntsville City FC. The 22-year-old provided the assist on OCB’s first goal after using some nice skill on the ball to shake his defender. Tsukada then scored a goal of his own off of a free kick in the second half. The rookie has been electric for the Young Lions this season, recording four goals and four assists so far. Hopefully he can keep the momentum rolling when OCB faces Inter Miami II this Sunday.

Major League Soccer Stock Watch

Every week gives us a better idea of each MLS team’s capabilities, so let’s check in on how things are looking following the latest matchday. LAFC is on a great trajectory, as it’s won three consecutive league games and five straight in all competitions. Elsewhere in the Western Conference, Real Salt Lake scored three goals in the final 30 minutes of play to stretch its unbeaten streak to 11 games, and Cristian Arango didn’t have to do all of the heavy lifting. At the other end of things, the New England Revolution have lost three straight games, and six of their last seven. Likewise, the shine looks to have worn off from St. Louis City’s expansion season, as the team has also lost three straight games and simply doesn’t look the same as last year.

Americans in Midweek Action

With most of the European club seasons having concluded, there aren’t as many United States Men’s National Team players in action during the working week, but there are still some important games to make note of. Chief among those is Venezia’s game against Cremonese on Thursday. Tanner Tessmann, Gianluca Busio and Venezia will take on Cremonese over two legs, with the winner gaining promotion to Serie A. Left back Jonathan Gomez may take the field tomorrow morning in Real Sociedad’s friendly against Tokyo Verde as well.

In a pair of friendlies on Friday, Mexico plays Bolivia and Uruguay takes on Costa Rica. With the USMNT set to face both Bolivia and Uruguay in group play of this summer’s Copa America, the two matches present a good chance to better gauge the Yanks’ opponents.

European Coaching Updates

Several notable European club teams have coaching vacancies to fill this summer, and there are some updates on a few of those positions. Chelsea has reportedly made an approach for Leicester City’s Enzo Maresca, and has requested permission to talk to the manager who guided the Foxes back to the Premier League in his first year with the club. Meanwhile, despite interest from Manchester United, Kieran McKenna is reportedly set to stay at Ipswich Town, and has had talks about extending his contract. Finally, Aston Villa has extended Unai Emery’s contract, with his new deal keeping him at the club until 2029.

Transfer Rumor Roundup

Transfer season is kicking into gear, and we have several rumors to sift through this morning. Up first, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich are reportedly all in hot pursuit of Stade Rennais winger Desire Doue. Casemiro reportedly has a deal lined up with a team in the Saudi Pro League, and may have played his last game for Manchester United. Newly promoted Southampton is reportedly interested in signing Adam Lallana as a free agent. Finally, Paris Saint-Germain is said to have entered the race to sign Bruno Guimaraes, and will face stiff competition from Manchester City and Arsenal.

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

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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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