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Lion Links: 5/4/22

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Hello, Mane Landers. I hope everyone is doing well down in Florida. I’m doing well up here in Chicago and looking forward to a much-needed vacation soon. There is plenty to cover today so let’s get to the links.

Lions Prepare for CF Montréal

Orlando City will be on the road this weekend when it takes on CF Montréal at Stade Saputo on Saturday afternoon. The Lions defeated Charlotte FC 2-1 this past weekend and remain one of the top three teams in the Eastern Conference. CF Montréal had a slow start to its season, as it balanced league matches with its run in the Concacaf Champions League. Since losing to Cruz Azul in the quarterfinals, CF Montréal has won four of its last six matches, including a 2-1 victory against Atlanta United this past weekend.

Midfielder Djordje Mihailovic has been in good form for Montréal with four goals and four assists in nine league games. Since 2019, the Lions haven’t lost on the road against CF Montréal, winning the past three away games without conceding a goal. Also, Orlando City has won its past two meetings with Montreal, knocking the Canadian club out of playoff contention on MLS Decision Day last year and winning the season opener between the two this year.

More Details Emerge Over Chris Mueller Deal

In the latest update on the Chicago Fire’s reported acquisition of former Lion Chris Mueller, The Athletic’s Paul Tenorio detailed what type of compensation Orlando City will receive.

That’s a great deal for Orlando City to get GAM and a future MLS SuperDraft pick next year, but I’m intrigued to find out which unnamed player those discovery rights are referring to. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

NWSL Challenge Cup Semifinals Begin Tonight

We have two NWSL Challenge Cup semifinals to watch tonight on Paramount+ as the tournament returns after the NWSL season openers this past weekend. The first match-up features the Washington Spirit taking on the OL Reign at Audi Field. These two sides just met on Sunday in a regular-season opener in which the Spirit beat OL Reign, 2-1. The Reign have made it this far in the Challenge Cup with 10 different goal scorers throughout the tournament, while the Spirit have had Ashley Sanchez, Trinity Rodman, and Andi Sullivan creating the chances and leading the attack.

The other match-up has the Kansas City Current hosting the North Carolina Courage at Children’s Mercy Park. Both teams are coming into this match after losses in their season openers and will be looking to bounce back. The Current’s Kristen Hamilton leads the team with four goals in the tournament while the North Carolina Courage's success has been moving the ball and maintaining a passing accuracy of 79.5%. The winners of each match will play in the NWSL Challenge Cup final on Saturday.

Sounders Take On Pumas in Champions League Final

The second leg of the Concacaf Champions League final will take place tonight when the Seattle Sounders host Pumas UNAM at Lumen Field. The final is tied 2-2 on aggregate going into tonight’s match and if the Seattle Sounders can pull out a win, they would be the first MLS club to win the tournament and qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup. This match will break the record as the highest-attended match in Concacaf Champions League history as the Sounders announced that over 67,000 fans are expected to be in attendance. Sounders General Manager and President Garth Lagerwey has experience leading teams to the final as he helped Real Salt Lake reach the Concacaf Champions League final against CF Monterrey in 2011. Lagerwey spoke to Extratime Radio and said the gap between MLS and Liga MX is narrowing and that the Sounders will be ready.

“I think you’re really seeing potentially a more competitive Liga MX-MLS interaction, and one of the things that’s really cool for our team, when you look at maybe how we’ve been doing this, we’ve beaten three Mexican teams in the last 12 months,” Lagerwey said. “If you look at [beating] Tigres and Santos Laguna and Leon between Leagues Cup and Champions League, those experiences didn’t happen five years ago, 10 years ago. So I think it’s pretty incredible that our guys are as well-prepared that they can be.”

You can watch tonight’s match at 10 p.m. on Fox Sports 1 or TUDN.

Liverpool Defeats Villarreal to advance to UEFA Champions League final

Liverpool turned it around in the second half after being down 2-0 to Villarreal at halftime to win 3-2 and advance on aggregate to reach the UEFA Champions League final. After winning the first leg 2-0 at Anfield, Liverpool quickly fell behind 2-0 to Villarreal in the first half and failed to get a shot on target. In the second half, Luis Diaz came off the bench and jumpstarted Liverpool’s attack. Fabinho, Diaz, and Sadio Mane all scored goals in the second half to end Villarreal’s run and book a spot in the final in Paris on May 28. Liverpool will await the winner of today’s second leg match-up at the Santiago Bernabeu as Real Madrid hosts Manchester City.

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

Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/13/24

Orlando City B hosts Chattanooga FC tonight, USMNT earns draw against Brazil, MLS’ Juneteenth celebrations, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

How’s it going, Mane Landers? Between my cat finally deciding I’m worth hanging out with and reading a pair of books that have been collecting dust on my shelf, I’ve been having a pretty good week. I’m looking forward to the feast of soccer both in Orlando and abroad over the next few days as well. But for now, let’s get this Thursday started with today’s links!

Orlando City B Hosts Chattanooga FC Tonight

In an enticing midweek match tonight at 7 p.m., Orlando City B will take on Chattanooga FC at Osceola Heritage Park. If not heading to watch OCB in person, you can catch the game on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+. The last time these two teams squared off was on May 4, with Chattanooga winning the penalty shootout for an extra point after a 1-1 draw in Tennessee. The Young Lions are coming off of a 2-2 draw with one of the league’s worst teams this season, Carolina Core FC, but winning the shootout after a late rally could give them the kind of momentum needed to take down Chattanooga. Beating one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference would be quite the statement from OCB during what’s been a middling season so far.

USMNT Draws With Brazil in Orlando

Playing in Orlando at Camping World Stadium, the United States Men’s National Team drew 1-1 against Brazil in a friendly billed as the Continental Clasico. Brazil scored first, but Matt Turner and the USMNT didn’t collapse under the pressure and earned the team’s first ever draw against the South American powerhouse. All in all, it was a much better result than the USMNT’s 5-1 loss to Colombia on Saturday. This was the USMNT’s final match until Copa America later this month. The Yanks will start their campaign against Bolivia on June 23 before playing Panama on June 27 and Uruguay on July 1.

MLS Announces Initiatives for Juneteenth

In partnership with Black Players for Change and Adidas, MLS announced some of the ways the league will be celebrating Juneteenth. Pre-match shirts acknowledging the change players can provide will be worn during warm-ups and fans can buy their own shirts as well, with a portion of the proceeds going toward organizations focused on racial equity and social justice. There will also be a campaign highlighting the connection between professional and academy players, as well as educational content across the league’s social media to raise awareness of the holiday.

Euro 2024 Kicks Off on Friday

A loaded gauntlet of summer tournaments finally begins Friday, as Germany hosts Scotland for the first match of Euro 2024. From Cristiano Ronaldo’s potential swan song to a brutal group that includes Spain, Italy, and Croatia, storylines abound for the tournament and each team brings something worth watching to the table. For Orlando City fans, defender David Brekalo was called up by Slovenia, which was drawn in a group with England, Denmark, and Serbia. I’m looking forward to seeing which underdogs prevail and which players make a name for themselves in this tournament.

2026 World Cup Schedule Revealed

The full schedule for the 2026 World Cup was unveiled, which gives a slight glimpse at the paths each host nation could take in the tournament. If the U.S. wins Group D after matches in Los Angeles and Seattle, it will stay on the West Coast for a knockout game in San Francisco before a potential round of 16 game in Seattle and quarterfinal in Los Angeles. Mexico and Canada have similar incentives to win their groups, as they will then host in their country until heading to the U.S. for the quarterfinals, should they make it that far. Here in Florida, Hard Rock Stadium in Miami will serve as the venue for four group games, a round of 32 match on July 3, a quarterfinal on July 11, and the third-place match on July 18.

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  • Orlando Pride Assistant Coach Yolanda Thomas was announced as a panelist for the Black Soccer Coaches’ summer symposium on July 22. She will also have a field session at the event to discuss the role of the midfield when building out of the back.

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: 6/12/24

Leagues Cup forgets Orlando’s U.S. Open Cup win, USMNT U-23 loses to Japan, NWSL expansion options, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. The USMNT plays tonight in Orlando, and I hope that you have tickets. If not, we can still watch as we wait for the Orlando City and Orlando Pride matches this Saturday. On a personal note, this Friday will mark my ninth anniversary with The Mane Land. It’s been a heck of a ride, and I’m glad you’ve been there with us. Here’s to many more years to come. Let’s get to the links.

Leagues Cup Forgets Orlando’s U.S. Open Cup Win

Orlando City is playing in the Leagues Cup starting at the end of July and here’s a nice guide to Orlando’s group for the tournament. Of course, the Leagues Cup organizers want you to be pumped so that you watch and buy tickets. I think that is something we should do simply to support the club. However, I don’t think they went about promoting the competition in quite the right way. In a tweet that has since been deleted, the tournament’s social media team stated the Leagues Cup would be Orlando’s chance to win its first trophy. Did you catch the mistake? Taylor Twellman did.

Good on you, Taylor. Facundo Torres was indeed brilliant in that match, as was Benji Michel. Of course, there were others that caught the faux pas as well.

I think we should also be mentioning the USL Championships, but what do I know? Evidently, more than the Leagues Cup’s social media team.

USMNT to Honor Pulse Victims

There’s plenty of fake, corporate shows of support for Pride Month , but in general I think that the USMNT and USWNT have done a good job of being legitimate allies to the LGBTQIA+ community. Tonight, the USMNT will play a friendly against Brazil at Camping World Stadium on the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting. The players will be wearing Pride jerseys to honor those who lost their lives so senselessly eight years ago.

In terms of the game, the USMNT will be without Josh Sargent for the match, and Tyler Adams will only get limited minutes if he plays, as both are coming back from injuries. Get well before the Copa America, lads.

Lions on International Duty

The United States U-23 Men’s National Team lost 2-0 to Japan in its final friendly match before the Olympics. Orlando City’s Duncan McGuire found himself on a bit of an island up top as the U.S. had difficulty moving the ball through the midfield. Hopefully, the U.S. got such play out of its system heading into the Olympics.

OCB’s Wilfredo Rivera made the most of his time playing in Puerto Rico’s World Cup qualifier against Anguilla, scoring a brace in the 8-0 victory. This win comes after a scoreless draw with El Salvador last week and Puerto Rico’s remaining group games during this round of qualifying will be next June.

Exploring NWSL Expansion Options

The NWSL will be expanding to 16 teams in 2026 with many cities vying for the next franchise. The leaders include Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Minneapolis. Atlanta, Denver, and Jacksonville are potential choices as well. If it was to be given to either Atlanta or Jacksonville they would be regional rivals for the Orlando Pride. The league is expected to make a decision by the fourth quarter of 2024.

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  • Congratulations to the U-15 United States Women’s National Team, which won 4-0 over Germany.
  • Did you ever have one of those dreams that was a little scary, but also absolutely hilarious? This preview of Inter Miami’s new mascot is a bit like that. To misquote Jaws: “Ever seen an Inter Miami mascot’s eyes, Chief? He’s got lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eyes.”
  • The Cayman Islands Men’s National Football Team forfeited its match against Cuba because many of its players are on visas in the United States. If those players were to travel to Cuba, the U.S. may have canceled those visas due to travel restrictions.
  • This is one of the most ridiculous no-calls I’ve ever seen. India got royally hosed.

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the Orlando City and Orlando Pride matches this Saturday night. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links: 6/11/24

Julie Doyle up for Goal of the Week, scouting Brazil ahead of USMNT match, Valencia fans convicted of racial abuse, and more.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Tuesday, everyone. After a brief break, Orlando City will be back in action when it takes on LAFC at home on Saturday. The Orlando Pride will visit a struggling North Carolina Courage side on the same day, while Orlando City B will have an oddly placed Thursday match against Chattanooga FC. With such a busy week ahead of us, it’s little surprise that we have a lot to talk over this morning. Let’s get into it.

Julie Doyle Up for Goal of the Week

Pride forward Julie Doyle has been nominated for NWSL Goal of the Week for her strike against the San Diego Wave during Friday’s 1-1 draw. Doyle opened the scoring in the 36th minute with an extremely well taken goal that came from a Barbra Banda assist. The Zambian forward made a run down the right wing and crossed for Doyle, but the ball was a little behind her and the chance looked to have gone. It hadn’t though, because Doyle contorted her body, hung out a foot, and let the momentum from the ball carry it into the back of San Diego’s net. Make sure you go vote for her to win!

Brazil Scouting Report

The United States Men’s National Team will play its final friendly before Copa America Wednesday night at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. The idea of any USMNT game is slightly nauseating after the Yanks were throttled 5-1 by Colombia on Saturday, but the fact that they’ll square off against a loaded Brazil side means things aren’t going to be any easier. While Brazil has struggled early in World Cup qualifying, it will likely run out a front three of Rodrygo, Vinicius Jr., and Raphina that’s capable of causing plenty of damage. Brazil prefers to control the ball and build from the back with short passing movements, but has no qualms about ceding possession and breaking on the counter, something that caused no shortage of issues for the U.S. against Colombia.

Valencia Fans Convicted of Racial Abuse

A trio of Valencia fans will serve eight months in prison after being convicted of racially abusing Vinicius Jr. Additionally, they are barred from entering soccer stadiums for two years and will pay for court proceedings. The convictions are the first for racism in professional soccer in Spain, and a case was opened after the fans made monkey noises and gestures during a game in May of 2023. The Brazilian forward in particular has faced racial abuse during his time playing in Spain, but he’s far from the only player, as the trial for a fan accused of abusing Inaki Williams during a match in 2020 has still yet to even begin.

The Soccer Tournament Concludes

The Soccer Tournament wrapped up Monday night with a pair of engrossing championship matches. In the women’s bracket, US Women defeated the North Carolina Courage 6-3, with Talia Dellapuerta scoring the winning goal. US Women featured United States Women’s National Team greats Heather O’Reilly and Ali Kreiger, and the team won the first women’s edition of the tournament and the $1 million prize that comes with it.

On the men’s side, former Orlando City player Nani and his team, Nani FC, fell to La Bombonera, which scored mere minutes into the match and never looked back on its way to a convincing 4-0 win. La Bombonera becomes the second team to win it all following Newtown Pride FC’s victory in last year’s inaugural tournament.

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

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