Happy match day, Mane Landers! I hope your week has been better than mine. I had an unexpected surgery on Tuesday, so I will be watching the match from my bed this week. Nothing takes the pain of a bad week away like an Orlando City win though. The Lions take on the Chicago Fire at 1 p.m. But for now, here is what you came for — links from around the soccer world.
Lions-Fire Rematch Set for Today
It seems like just yesterday we were all watching Orlando debut its newest away kit at Soldier Field. Now, we will see the Lions play host to the Chicago Fire at Exploria Stadium today. Our friends at Hot Time In Old Town broke down their thoughts of what we can expect in the match. Their suggested lineup has Xhedran Shaqiri out with his recent injury.
“I don’t think there’s any point in rushing Xherdan Shaqiri back after he tweaked his hamstring early on in the Dallas match, plus Brian Gutierrez has been good and deserves some more playing time. If Shaq is fine, sure, play him. But if there’s a doubt, any doubt, start Guti.”
With just a few weeks of matches and film to look back on, it should be no surprise how Orlando is going to attack. The Lions play the wings with pace and try to pick out Alexandre Pato or Ercan Kara with a cross towards the box. Because of this, Chicago will have to be disciplined in the back and will look to counter.
“In order to win, the Fire are going to need to figure out a way to successfully counterattack. Whether that leaves an extra player up top to create a bigger numbers advantage to negate the speed deficit or play a more dangerous game of luring Orlando further in to give them a bigger head start, the Fire needs to figure out this counterattacking thing. Not just for this weekend, but going forward as well.”
Without Antonio Carlos leading the back line, we put faith in Rodrigo Schlegel to step up in key moments. The first match between the two clubs ended in a scoreless draw. Pato has since been finding the back of the net, but Kara has yet to open his MLS account. Hopefully, today will be his day.
As far as injuries are concerned, our match preview has all the details as well as our projected lineup and how to watch the match.
“In addition to Carlos being out, the Lions have Michael Halliday (left thigh) listed as questionable on the availability report. Chicago’s game notes show no one as out, with Rafael Czichos (health & safety protocols), Fabian Herbers (right hip), Miguel Navarro (left knee), and Xherdan Shaqiri (left calf) all listed as questionable.”
Florida Rivals Meet in U.S. Open Cup
Orlando City now knows that it will host longstanding rival Tampa Bay in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup. The match will be played Wednesday, April 20 at 7 p.m., but, unfortunately, it will be played at Osceola County Stadium. City fans who joined the support after the jump to MLS might not know why this I-4 Derby between the Lions and Rowdies is considered a rivalry.
“The history between the two clubs goes back to Orlando City’s USL Pro days, when the two teams faced off in the preseason I-4 Derby in 2013 and 2014. The teams played a two-legged preseason series in both years, with one at Al Lang Stadium and one at the Citrus Bowl. The Lions dominated the series, taking all four games.”
Orlando and Tampa Bay have played one competitive match which came in the 2014 U.S. Open Cup. Kevin Molino scored twice to see the Lions earn a 4-1 victory.
“In all, Orlando City has played 25 Open Cup games since 2011. The Lions have gone 13-9-3 in those games, with a home record of 7-3-1. Since joining MLS in 2015, the Lions are 5-5-3 in the Open Cup and 2-3-1 at home.”
The best Orlando City run in the tournament was the 2019 edition. Unlikely hero Adam Grinwis stepped up to stop two NYCFC penalties in the quarterfinal shootout that Orlando folklore knows as “The Running of the Wall.” The Lions later lost to Atlanta United 2-0 in the semifinal.
Orlando Foe Josef Martinez Undergoes Knee Surgery
Atlanta United will be missing a key part of its attack as Josef Martinez has needed additional surgery on his knee. In 2020, Martinez had ACL surgery on the same knee. His latest surgery has an estimated recovery time of 6-8 weeks. Atlanta currently sits in third place in the Eastern Conference, but without the team’s star striker and Designated Player the Five Stripes will need to find other ways to score goals.
If Atlanta’s depth at striker can’t perform, other Eastern Conference clubs could find themselves climbing the table for the time being.
Orlando City Soccer School-Seminole Yields 31 College Commits
Congratulations are in order for 31 players — representing both the men’s and women’s side — from the Orlando City Youth Academy attending the club’s soccer school location in Seminole. The Lions and Pride are celebrating 31 college commits from OCSS-Seminole. The club hosted a Senior Night for the 31 players receiving either partial or full scholarships at Exploria Stadium to celebrate their accomplishments. See the linked story for the full list of players.
- Gio Reyna left Dortmund’s match with yet another injury just minutes after it started.
Gio Reyna was in tears after being forced off with an injury early in Dortmund's match pic.twitter.com/CmDjU7jnll
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) April 8, 2022
- The USWNT takes on Uzbekistan today at 5:30 p.m. in Columbus, OH. In preparation for the match, the Yanks were greeted by some furr-iends.
a RUFF day at the office 🐶 pic.twitter.com/3Zm7BeOcZn
— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) April 8, 2022
- Eight North American clubs are joining together under Common Goal’s Play Proud program to further LGBTQ+ training and education in a united effort to keep soccer for all.
- Massimiliano Allegri has updated Juventus and USMNT midfielder Weston McKennie’s return to the field for early May.
- As eyes are on Qatar for the 2022 World Cup, the U.S. labor union is already pushing FIFA to address concerns with labor rights as North America is set to host the 2026 World Cup.
The Lions are locked in and ready for the match. Get to the stadium early, grab a snack and a drink, and remember to stay hydrated. Vamos Orlando!
— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) April 8, 2022
Lion Links: 2/22/24
Orlando City beats Cavalry FC, Lions receive General Allocation Money for Junior Urso’s rights, USWNT gets ready for Argentina, and more.
How’s it going, Mane Landers? It’s nice to start the morning fresh off of a huge win and I’m hoping that becomes a regular occurrence this year. Hopefully the work week has been kind to you as we ride the high of the Concacaf Champions Cup into Orlando City’s first game of the MLS season this weekend. For now, let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world.
Lions Win in Concacaf Champions Cup Opener
Orlando City kicked off its Concacaf Champions Cup campaign with a solid 3-0 win against Cavalry FC in Canada. Some players did better playing on the turf of Starlight Stadium in British Columbia than others, but the Lions ultimately did well on the road to make things less stressful for themselves for the second leg on Tuesday in Orlando at 6 p.m. Orlando’s offense showed little rust and the defense did its part in its first competitive match of 2024. Before the match, Head Coach Oscar Pareja announced that Robin Jansson will serve as the team’s captain this year, so it’s nice to see his tenure start with a clean sheet.
Junior Urso Signs With Charlotte FC
Orlando City received $50,000 in 2025 General Allocation Money from Charlotte FC in exchange for Brazilian midfielder Junior Urso’s right of first refusal. This transaction cleared the way for Urso to sign with Charlotte, joining on a deal through 2024, with an option for 2025. The Bear became a Lion back in 2020 and was an integral part of Orlando’s transformation under Head Coach Oscar Pareja that included winning the 2022 U.S. Open Cup. The 34-year-old impressed as a trialist with Charlotte during the preseason and should give Dean Smith’s side a veteran presence both on and off the field. While it’s never fun seeing a fan favorite playing for another Eastern Conference foe, I wish nothing but the best for Urso and hope he gets a warm reception when Charlotte visits Orlando this season on Sept. 18.
MLS Coaching Changes for 2024
There was a considerable amount of coaching turnover in MLS since last season, adding some intriguing storylines for this year. After a rough time in Miami, Phil Neville has a chance at redemption with a Portland Timbers side that narrowly missed out on the playoffs last year. The Colorado Rapids’ Chris Armas, D.C. United’s Troy Lesesne, and the New England Revolution’s Caleb Porter are other familiar faces in new places who could impress. As for those new to the scene, Dean Smith joined Charlotte from England, while Sandro Schwarz is now at the helm of the New York Red Bulls after years in Germany and Russia. I’m also interested to see how long it takes for John Herdman to turn things around with Toronto FC.
Analyzing Argentina Ahead of USWNT Clash
After a dominant 5-0 win over the Dominican Republic, the United States Women’s National Team will take on Argentina tomorrow in the Concacaf W Gold Cup’s group stage. The U.S. has won the past four meetings between the past two nations, and Argentina is coming off of a scoreless draw with Mexico. The Orlando Pride’s Mariana Larroquette spearheads an Argentine attack that can be a bit inconsistent when it comes to creating chances. That being said, Vanina Preininger can pull strings from the midfield and Argentina has multiple players capable of scoring from distance. Laurina Oliveros will likely start in goal after her clean sheet in the opener, and the defense also includes Kansas City Current center back Sophia Braun.
- The Orlando Pride’s Rafaelle and Adriana both started in Brazil’s 1-0 win over Puerto Rico.
- The LA Galaxy signed Ghanaian winger Joseph Paintsil as their third Designated Player. The 26-year-old joins from Genk in Belgium and signed a contract with the Galaxy through 2027.
- The Revolution beat Panama’s Independiente 1-0 on the road in the Champions Cup opener for both teams.
- The new changes to MLS’ competitive rules, such as in-stadium VAR announcements and off-field treatments, have been postponed amid the league’s referee situation.
- The United Soccer League announced that all 47 of the teams under its umbrella will take part in this year’s U.S. Open Cup.
- Bayern Munich officially announced that Thomas Tuchel will leave once this season is over. Although Bayern is second in the Bundesliga standings, it’s lost its past three games, including a defeat to Lazio in the Champions League.
- Porto scored a stunning goal in stoppage time to shock Arsenal in the UEFA Champions League.
- Manchester United left back Luke Shaw may be done for the season due to a leg injury.
- In the Europa Conference League, Israeli club Maccabi Haifa secured a 1-1 draw with Belgium’s Gent to advance to the round of 16.
That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week!
Lion Links: 2/21/24
Orlando City takes on Cavalry FC tonight, Lions sign Jeorgio Kocevski, USWNT wins in Concacaf W Gold Cup, and more.
Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you in Florida as we get to watch the Lions in action tonight in the Concacaf Champions Cup. There’s not much new with me this week other than staying busy covering high school basketball and hockey. Let’s wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride forward Amanda Allen. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.
Orlando City Takes on Cavalry FC Tonight
Orlando City will be in action tonight in the first round of the Concacaf Champions Cup, as it takes on Cavalry FC at Starlight Stadium at 10 p.m. This matchup will be the Lions’ first competitive match of 2024, with their MLS season opener against CF Montreal set for Saturday. The Lions were knocked out by Tigres due to away goals in last year’s Concacaf Champions League. Cavalry FC will make its debut in this competition tonight and qualified by winning the 2023 Canadian Premier League Shield. The second leg between these two sides will be on Feb. 27 in Orlando.
Orlando City Signs First-Round Draft Pick Jeorgio Kocevski
Orlando City signed 2024 MLS SuperDraft pick Jeorgio Kocevski to a contract through the 2024 season with club options for 2025, 2026, and 2027. Kocevski scored the game-winning goal in stoppage time in Orlando’s final preseason match against the Colorado Rapids this past weekend. The midfielder was selected 21st overall in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft by the Lions in December. He played four years for Syracuse, recording seven goals and 18 assists in 71 matches. Kocevski is the only player the club has signed from the Lions’ 2024 draft class and will likely get some minutes with Orlando City B this season.
St. Louis City and Philadelphia Union Win in Champions Cup
Orlando City isn’t the only MLS team kicking off its Concacaf Champions Cup campaign this week. St. Louis City edged out the Houston Dynamo 2-1, with rookie Hosei Kijima scoring the winner in stoppage time. The Philadelphia Union were on the road in Costa Rica to face off against Deportivo Saprissa and won 3-2, thanks to a hat trick from Julian Carranza in the second half. As for other tournament matches this week, the New England Revolution face Independiente in Panama tonight, with Nashville playing Moca FC in the Dominican Republic and FC Cincinnati taking on Jamaica’s Cavalier SC tomorrow.
USWNT Beats the Dominican Republic in W Gold Cup
The United States Women’s National Team got its Concacaf W Gold Cup campaign off to a great start with a 5-0 win against the Dominican Republic in Group A. Olivia Moultrie scored her first USWNT goal to give her team an early lead, with Lynn Williams giving the U.S. another goal before halftime. Moultrie scored another in the second half to earn her brace, and Jenna Nighswonger converted a penalty for her first USWNT goal as well. Former Pride forward Alex Morgan replaced Mia Fishel on the roster due to injury and scored from the penalty spot in stoppage time. The USWNT’s next game will be against Argentina on Friday at 10:15 p.m.
UEFA Champions League Roundup
The UEFA Champions League had plenty of drama as the round of 16 continued. Inter Milan won 1-0 in its first leg against Atletico Madrid at home, with Mark Arnautovic scoring the only goal in the match. In the Netherlands, PSV Eindhoven and Borussia Dortmund played to a thrilling 1-1 draw. The second legs for both matchups will be played on March 13. There is more Champions League action today, as FC Porto hosts Arsenal while Napoli takes on Barcelona.
- The Orlando Pride’s Mariana Larroquette started in Argentina’s scoreless draw with Mexico in the Gold Cup.
- The latest MLS power rankings are out just before the regular season begins. Orlando City begins the season in the fifth spot.
- Orlando City and the Orlando Pride announced fan experience upgrades at Inter&Co Stadium featuring Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology in merchandise shops, stadium Wi-Fi upgrades, and a jersey history experience.
- The MLS Players Association released a statement on the ongoing referee lockout.
- Here is the list of MLS Season Pass commentator assignments for opening week.
- Toronto FC has acquired center back Kevin Long from Birmingham City FC. The deal is through the 2024 season with an option for 2025.
That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Wednesday and I’ll see you next time.
Lion Links: 2/20/24
The Wall sells out for opening night, Robin Jansson earns recognition, Concacaf W Gold cup preview, and more.
Happy Tuesday, everyone! We’re now just one day away from the first competitive Orlando City game of the year, and it can’t get here fast enough. As usual, we have plenty to cover this morning, so let’s jump straight into it.
The Wall Sells Out for Orlando City’s Season Opener
The Wall, the supporters’ section of Orlando City’s stadium, has sold out of single-match tickets ahead of Saturday’s home opener against CF Montreal. Limited tickets for the match are still available for the rest of the stadium, and hopefully it will fully sell out for the first match of the season. This Saturday will be the 10th consecutive time in which the Lions start their MLS season at home. It should be a great match and a chance for Orlando to get its season off to a good start between Concacaf Champions Cup matches against Cavalry FC.
Robin Jansson Praised as a Top Defender in MLS
Orlando City center back Robin Jansson was recognized as one of the best center backs in MLS by MLSsoccer.com‘s Joseph Lowery. The 32-year-old has been an integral part of Orlando’s defense since joining the league in 2019 and should continue anchoring the team’s back line this season. Not only is he excellent in terms of defense, but the Beefy Swede can also make an impact on offense with his passing and surprising runs up the field. Jansson is one of the most consistent defenders in the league and agreed to a new contract with the club earlier this month.
MLS Transfer News Roundup
The 2024 Major League Soccer season might kick off tomorrow, but transfers are still flying thick and fast, which means we have things to catch up on. We start with one of the teams opening the season tomorrow, Inter Miami, which has officially transferred midfielder Gregore to Botafogo in the Brazilian top flight. We move on to NYCFC, which has completed the signing of striker Jovan Mijatović from Red Star Belgrade. The 18-year-old Serbian youth international has inked a deal that runs through the 2028 season with an option year for 2029. We finish up with the Houston Dynamo, which has signed Coco Carasquilla to a contract extension. The Panamanian midfielder’s deal now runs through the 2025 season and has option years for 2026 and 2027.
Concacaf W Gold Cup Preview
The inaugural Concacaf W Gold Cup kicks off later today, so make sure you get up to speed on everything you need to know about the competition. The United States Women’s National Team has been grouped with Argentina, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico and will be looking for a strong showing following a disappointing campaign at last summer’s World Cup. The tournament will feature a total of 12 teams, with eight Concacaf representatives and four from CONMEBOL. The top two finishers in each of the three groups advance to the knockout round along with the top two third-place finishers. The USWNT begins play tonight against the Dominican Republican at 10:15 p.m. from Dignity Health Sports Park.
Americans in Midweek Action
With a number of American players taking part in games during the work week, get everything marked down on your calendar so you don’t miss anything. Things get started this afternoon with a huge game, as Malik Tillman, Ricardo Pepi, Sergino Dest, and PSV Eindhoven take on Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League. European competition continues on Thursday as well, with Christian Pulisc, Yunus Musah, and AC Milan facing Rennes in the Europa League play. Things finish out on Friday as the red-hot Brandon Vazquez and Monterrey face Juarez in Liga MX competition.
Minnesota United Close to Coaching Hire
A coaching search that will surely go down as one of the most thorough (or at least lengthy) in MLS history is nearing its conclusion, as Minnesota United is reportedly close to naming Manchester United assistant Eric Ramsay as the team’s new skipper. While nothing is official yet, Ramsay is said to be the leading candidate, and The Athletic‘s Tom Bogert says that the team is closing in on the hire. If he joins, Ramsay will become the youngest coach in league history at the tender age of 32, and he will also become Minnesota’s second coach following Adrian Heath’s departure in October of last year.
- Orlando City forward Luis Muriel thanked Atalanta fans who made a banner to bid him farewell this past weekend.
- The folks over at MLSsoccer.com have predicted Orlando City will finish third in the Eastern Conference this year.
- The U.S. Open Cup has reportedly gotten the green light to take place this year, although it will have a format different than in past years.
- Thorgan Hazard dedicated a goal celebration to his family’s parakeet that passed away.
- Crystal Palace has hired Oliver Glasner as the team’s new coach after Roy Hodgson stepped down from the role.
- Napoli announced the firing of Walter Mazzari just two days before the team’s Champions League tie against Barcelona, making him the second coaching casualty of the Italian champions’ campaign.
- Continuing the coaching carousel trend, Marseille has fired Gennaro Gattuso just five months into the job.
That’s all I have for this morning. Vamos Orlando!
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