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Lion Links: 4/8/22



How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this Friday finds you well as we get ready for the weekend. I have tomorrow off from work so I’m looking forward to sleeping in, making French toast, and enjoying some reading before Orlando City takes on the Chicago Fire at 1 p.m. But for now, let’s enjoy these links from around the soccer world.

Antonio Carlos Out for Three to Four Months

Orlando City announced that center back Antonio Carlos will not require surgery for a hamstring injury and he will be sidelined for three to four months. Carlos sustained the injury in Orlando’s loss to LAFC this past weekend, exiting the match on a stretcher. It is a tough blow to Orlando’s back line as Carlos may not return to action until August, or possibly even September, but at least he would be available for a playoff push once he returns to game fitness. Rodrigo Schlegel is a solid replacement and will fill in for Carlos, but there’s not much depth at the position beyond 17-year-old Homegrown Player Thomas Williams. Suspensions or further injuries could put Orlando’s defense in a tight spot over the next few months.

Orlando’s Offense Faces a Tough Test Tomorrow

Orlando City’s attack is finding its footing as new players like Facundo Torres and Ercan Kara continue to build chemistry with the team’s other playmakers such as Alexandre Pato, Mauricio Pereyra, and Joao Moutinho. Miguel Gallardo and Evan Weston provided analysis on how Orlando’s attack is coming together as the team prepares for its match tomorrow.

The Fire are one of three MLS teams still undefeated this season, thanks in large part to its defense that has only allowed one goal and 11 shots in five games this season. However, center back and team captain Rafael Czichos is out as he undergoes MLS’s health and safety protocols. Swiss star Xherdan Shaqiri is day-to-day due to a calf injury and Fire Head Coach Ezra Hendrickson is exercising caution regarding his return.

“We want to be careful, because he’s a very important player for us,” Hendrickson said. “So, we don’t want to rush that back too soon. We’re monitoring that, and he’s day-to-day right now.”

Shaqiri’s absence would take some of the bite out of a Chicago attack that’s been shut out three times this year, but Polish striker Kacper Przybylko has done well against the Lions in the past.

Orlando City Learns First U.S. Open Cup Opponent Today

With the second round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup done and dusted, 17 MLS clubs will now join the tournament for the third round and the draw takes place today. Orlando City did well in 2019 as it reached the semifinals in a deep tournament run that included the Running of the Wall as Orlando advanced past New York City FC in a penalty shootout. Orlando Head Coach Oscar Pareja won the U.S. Open Cup in 2016 with an FC Dallas team that included current Lion Tesho Akindele. He also led Dallas to deep runs in 2017 and 2014, so he knows what it takes to find success in the tournament while also managing regular season games.

Orlando will face a lower-division team in its geographic region as the draw aims to limit travel. The Tampa Bay Rowdies and Miami FC are the remaining Floridian clubs from lower divisions while Inter Miami joins the action this round as well. There is plenty to play for as the tournament champion qualifies for the 2023 Concacaf Champions League and wins $300,000 in prize money, along with the U.S. Open Cup trophy.

OCB Faces Inter Miami II on Sunday

Orlando City B’s road match with Inter Miami II this Sunday at 5:30 p.m. will be the MLS NEXT Pro Game of the Week, meaning viewers can enjoy multiple camera angles during the match. It is the first-ever meeting between the two sides and could be the start of a rivalry between the two Floridian clubs. The season is young, but the Young Lions are undefeated with five points from their first two matches. 2022 MLS SuperDraft pick Jack Lynn has two goals and an assist so far this season, while academy product Javier Otero has made 17 saves in goal, and made two big stops in a penalty shootout against New York City FC II. As for Miami, Romeo Beckham (David Beckham’s 19-year-old son) has three assists and can give Orlando issues from set piece situations. It all sets up for an exciting match in Fort Lauderdale so make sure to tune in and lend your support to the Young Lions.

USWNT Gets Ready for Pair of Friendlies

The United States Women’s National Team will take on Uzbekistan tomorrow and Tuesday in a pair of friendlies to prepare for the Concacaf Women’s Championship this summer. Tomorrow’s match will be the first meeting between the U.S. and Uzbekistan and will take place at 5:30 p.m. at Field in Columbus. All but two players on the USWNT’s roster play in the National Women’s Soccer League, with Olympique Lyonnais midfielders Catarina Macario and Lindsey Horan as the exceptions. Uzbekistan is coached by former Japanese player Midori Honda and 19 of the players on its roster play in the domestic league while four play in Turkey. Tuesday’s match will be played at Subaru Park in Chester, PA. at 7 p.m.

Europa League Quarterfinals Get Started

Only eight teams remain in the Europa League as the first legs of the quarterfinals got underway. On the road in Germany against Eintracht Frankfurt, FC Barcelona fell behind early in the second half but Ferran Torres equalized with a nice assist from Frenkie de Jong. A second yellow card to Frankfurt defender Tuta opened the door for Barcelona to push for a win but the game ended 1-1. In London, West Ham United had to play the second half a man down after Aaron Cresswell was shown a red card just before halftime in a 1-1 draw against Lyon. The match between RB Leipzig and Atalanta also ended 1-1, but SC Braga was able to win 1-0 over Rangers FC.

Slavia Prague has quietly been lighting it up in the Europa Conference League. The Czech Republic side has scored at least three goals in each of its games during the knockout stage and that trend continued in a 3-3 draw with Feyenoord, with Prague’s Ibrahim Traore equalizing in stoppage time with a backheel. Elsewhere, AS Roma fell 2-1 on the road to Bodo-Glimt, Leicester City and PSV Eindhoven battled to a scoreless draw in England, and Marseille beat PAOK 2-1 in France, thanks to a stunning goal from Dimitri Payet.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando Pride midfielder Gunny Jonsdottir scored a goal as Iceland’s captain in her team’s 5-0 win over Belarus.

That’s all I have for you today! Have a great Friday and make sure to stay hydrated out there.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/21/24

Facundo Torres earns praise, Orlando Pride play the Utah Royals tonight, FC Cincinnati linked with Weston McKennie, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! This weekend is what soccer fans dream of, with NWSL, MLS, Copa America, and Euro 2024 matches to enjoy. The Orlando Pride are in action tonight, Orlando City plays Saturday, and the U.S. begins its Copa America campaign on Sunday. But first, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter!

Facundo Torres Makes MLS Team of the Matchday Bench

Orlando forward Facundo Torres earned a spot on the bench of the MLS Team of the Matchday after providing a goal and an assist in Orlando’s 2-2 draw against Charlotte FC. Both contributions were crucial to Orlando getting a point on the road. It was only Torres’ third goal of the season, so hopefully this gets him going. If the Lions are to claw their way up the Eastern Conference table, they’ll need more performances like this from their talisman.

Orlando Pride Host the Utah Royals Tonight

The Orlando Pride will aim to get back in the win column tonight when they take on the Utah Royals at home. The last time these two teams squared off was on April 12, with Orlando winning 1-0 in the first of eight straight victories for the Pride. Another match with the Royals could be just what the doctor ordered for an Orlando side that’s been held to draws in its past two matches. While Utah is having a difficult season and sits last in the league standings, it did get its first road win on Sunday against Bay FC.

FC Cincinnati Reportedly Wants Weston McKennie

American midfielder Weston McKennie could be coming to the U.S., as FC Cincinnati has reportedly made an offer to sign him from Juventus. Cincinnati is willing to spend up to $15 million to bring McKennie on as a Designated Player. The 25-year-old has one year left on his contract with Juventus, but he’s likely leaving the Italian club this summer if reports are to be believed. McKennie was part of FC Dallas’ academy, but never actually played in an MLS game before heading to Europe.

Spain Wins to Advance in Euro 2024

Spain booked its spot in the knockout stage of Euro 2024 after beating Italy 1-0 in a match that didn’t quite live up to its billing. It does set up for an intriguing matchup between Italy and Croatia on Monday, though. England and Denmark traded first-half goals but neither team could find a winner in a 1-1 draw. In the other Group C match, Orlando City defender David Brekalo came on as a late substitute in Slovenia’s 1-1 draw against Serbia.

As for today’s slate of games, Slovakia will face off against Ukraine, Poland plays Austria, and France takes on the Netherlands. We’ll see if Kylian Mbappe will play after breaking his nose in France’s opening match.

Latest FIFA Rankings Unveiled

Despite losing 5-1 to Colombia in a friendly, the U.S. didn’t drop enough points to be unseated from 11th in the latest FIFA rankings. The U.S. remains the highest-ranked Concacaf nation, and Mexico dropped to 15th after losing to both Uruguay and Brazil in friendlies. Argentina is still at the top of the rankings, while Brazil leapfrogged England for fourth place. The rankings usually don’t matter all too much, but they are used to determine pots for the World Cup. With Euro 2024 and Copa America going on, things could shake up a bit for some of the world’s best teams.

Free Kicks

  • Peter Musa was named MLS Player of the Matchday for his hat trick in FC Dallas’ 5-3 win against Minnesota United. It was the Croatian striker’s first hat trick since he joined Dallas this past off-season, and he now has eight goals this season.
  • Now with Cruz Azul, former Atlanta United forward Georgios Giakoumakis took some parting shots at MLS in regards to how losses are OK compared to Liga MX. I find it a pretty oblivious thing to say considering Atlanta fired its head coach a day after losing to Charlotte FC earlier this month.
  • Steve Cooper, who was sacked by Nottingham Forest six months ago, was hired as Leicester City’s new manager.
  • Of the 47 goals scored so far in Euro 2024, five have been own goals and only Germany’s Jamal Musiala has scored more than once. None of the goals have been scored from the penalty spot as well.
  • Burnley is reportedly in talks with Ruud van Nistelrooy to be the club’s next manager after Vincent Kompany’s departure.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend. Go Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/20/24

Orlando City draws against Charlotte FC, Wilfredo Rivera joins first team, Ally Watt speaks on Black Women’s Player Collective, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B / Mark Thor

How’s it going, Mane Landers? Last night’s Orlando City match featured plenty of ups and downs, but it was a pretty exciting way to spend a Wednesday night. Hopefully the Cardiac Cats weren’t too hard on your heart. Before we dive into today’s links, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride defender Celia!

Orlando City Draws Against Charlotte FC

The Lions went on the road for a match against Charlotte FC and earned a point with a 2-2 draw. Matches between the two teams are usually close affairs and this one was no different, as neither team did enough to claim victory. One one hand, equalizing twice on the road against a stingy defense isn’t the worst outcome for Orlando. On the other hand, Charlotte played most of the match a man down and a win was definitely in the cards for the Lions. Hopefully Orlando can break this five-game winless streak when it hosts the Chicago Fire on Saturday.

Wilfredo Rivera Available for the First Team

Orlando City B midfielder Wilfredo Rivera is with the first team this week after signing a short-term agreement with Orlando City. He was an unused substitute in Wednesday’s match in Charlotte and will be available for selection in Orlando’s match against the Chicago Fire on Saturday. The 20-year-old signed a similar agreement in March of this year, but has yet to make his MLS debut. Rivera came off the bench in OCB’s match against Chattanooga FC on Thursday and scored a brace earlier this month while on international duty with Puerto Rico. The signing was necessary as Ramiro Enrique is on an excused absence for a personal matter.

Ally Watt Discusses Black Women’s Player Collective

Orlando Pride forward Ally Watt talked about her role as the team’s representative for the Black Women’s Player Collective, which is a non-profit organization created by Black players in the NWSL. Watt spoke on how the collective allows her and other players to provide opportunities for young girls that they didn’t have. One such initiative is the creation of mini-pitches to give more safe and equitable spaces for Black girls to play soccer.

Copa America is Upon Us

This year’s Copa America, which will pit the top 16 nations in the Western Hemisphere against each other, kicks off tonight. Here’s a great guide to each team’s notable players and chances to win the tournament. Orlando City goalkeeper Pedro Gallese was noted as the star to watch on Peru’s squad. He has his work cut out for him though in a group that includes Argentina, Canada, and Ecuador. As for the U.S., Christian Pulisic and Giovanni Reyna are key players for the team’s aspirations at a deep run.

Chuck Booth over at CBS Sports also ranked each team heading into the tournament, placing the U.S. fifth on the list. Argentina tops the rankings, and I was a bit surprised to see Brazil in fourth. Peru is last, but hopefully Gallese and Wilder Cartagena can help prove the doubters wrong.

Germany Advances in Euro 2024

Germany followed up its opening win against Scotland with a 2-0 win over Hungary to become the first team to clinch a spot in the knockout round of Euro 2024. In the other Group A matchup, Switzerland and Scotland battled to a 1-1 draw that included a great goal from Xherdan Shaqiri after a bad giveaway by Scotland.

It looked like Albania was headed towards another frustrating loss after giving up the lead in the second half, but a late strike by Klaus Gjasula salvaged a 2-2 draw against Croatia. Today’s slate of matches features a showdown between Spain and Italy, along with Denmark’s clash with England. We also may get to see Orlando City center back David Brekalo take the field in Slovenia’s match against Serbia.

Free Kicks

  • Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Ryan Gauld won MLS Goal of the Matchday for his strike in stoppage time against the New England Revolution.
  • FC Cincinnati’s Luca Orellano scored one of the best goals of the season with a pinpoint strike from downtown.
  • NJ/NY Gotham FC extended its unbeaten streak to nine games, with rookie Maycee Ball scoring a late winner to beat the San Diego Wave 2-1.

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: 6/19/24

Orlando City needs to score, Duncan McGuire in demand, Orlando City B match postponed, and more.



Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

Happy Juneteenth, Mane Landers. It is a day to celebrate the end of chattel slavery in the United States and the progress of the Black community in this country. There is always more work to be done, but celebrating the progress to date is worthwhile. Today is also a match day for Orlando City, but for now let’s get to the links.

Scoring Goals is Important

Former Orlando City gaffer Adrian Heath is known for saying that goals change games. Orlando City has not scored many goals this season, making it hard for the club to change games and get results. Head Coach Oscar Pareja is taking the positives from the last match, but he will need to turn things around in Orlando’s attack if he’s to snap the club’s four-game winless streak. The first opportunity is tonight against Charlotte FC.

Competition Grows for Duncan McGuire’s Services

Following the Blackburn Rovers debacle in the last transfer window, we know that Duncan McGuire has interest in moving abroad. If not for incompetence on Blackburn’s part he would already be in Europe. The other interested party in that saga was Sheffield Wednesday, a club that is reportedly still interested in signing the young striker. Now, the English club may have some competition from Torino in Serie A, with other Serie A clubs interested as well. Hopefully, Orlando City will be able to secure McGuire’s services, though I expect he wants to go abroad.

Tonight’s Orlando City B Match Postponed

Orlando City B was set to take on New York City FC II today, but the match has been postponed. The new date and kickoff time have not yet been announced.

It’s not the first time this game’s date has been changed, as it was originally set for June 29 when the season’s schedule was announced. The Young Lions may not be complaining much about not having to play on the road on relatively short rest. As it stands, OCB’s next match will now be against Atlanta United 2 on June 26.

Hines Remembers Match After Pulse Shooting

It’s been a week since the eighth anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub tragedy. Yesterday, it was eight years since Orlando City played the San Jose Earthquakes in the first Orlando City match following the shooting. Orlando Pride Head Coach Seb Hines was a starting center back for the Lions in that match. He remembers the emotions of that day. Hines spoke on how it felt to get up for a match, but also taking time in the 49th minute to honor the 49 people whose lives were taken away too soon. He still has the rainbow sweatbands from that match that he was wearing when he scored a header for Orlando City. Hines remembers the good and the bad, and so should we.

Upgrading the NWSL Match Experience

NWSL clubs are trying to improve the matchday experience for their fans. That looks different everywhere, but at Inter&Co Stadium that experience includes local food vendors as a part of the “Orlando Made” initiative by Orlando City and the Orlando Pride. Of course, great food will only get attendance to a certain level. The real crowd pleaser is winning, and the Pride have been doing a lot of that so far this season.

Free Kicks

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the match tonight. As always, Vamos Orlando!

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