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Lion Links: 5/18/22

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Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. It’s finally feeling like spring up here in Chicago and I’ve been keeping myself busy at work as summer is nearly here. Before we dive into today’s links, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Orlando City B midfielder Favian Loyola!

Silvester van der Water May Miss Rest of the Season

Orlando City winger Silvester van der Water has been out since his injury in the Lions’ home match against Charlotte FC back on April 30. Van der Water reportedly could be out for the rest of the 2022 MLS season due to a fracture and muscle damage in his leg.

Although the recent addition of Jake Mulraney gives the Lions some reinforcements at the position, it will be interesting to see if the club makes moves in the summer transfer window for more depth.

The Pride Face the Courage Tonight

The Orlando Pride are on a two-match unbeaten streak and will look to extend it to three as they hit the road to take on the North Carolina Courage. The Pride played to a 2-2 draw in their last match this past Saturday against the Kansas City Current at Exploria Stadium. The last time the Pride went three straight games without a loss was last season from Aug. 29 to Sept. 11.

The Courage’s match against NJ/NY Gotham FC last week was postponed and they have not played since defeating the Washington Spirit on May 7 to win the NWSL Challenge Cup. Courage midfielder Debinha was the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup MVP and scored in five consecutive matches in the tournament. The Pride last played the Courage in the NWSL Challenge Cup earlier this year, with the Courage winning both match-ups against the Pride during the group stage.

Orlando City Academy Teams Make MLS NEXT Playoffs

Orlando City’s U-15 and U-17 academy teams have qualified for the MLS NEXT playoffs after winning their groups in the MLS NEXT Flex.

The U-15 team went undefeated in its group, drawing against the Players Development Academy and winning against the Colorado Rapids and Atlanta United. The U-17 team also went undefeated, with a draw against BW Gottschee Academy and wins over Albion SC San Diego and Sockers FC. The playoffs will take place in Texas and last from June 25 to July 3. We wish both teams the best of luck.

MLS Salary Information Released

The MLS Players Association released its salary data for all players under an MLS contract. Forward Ercan Kara is the top earner for the Lions with a guaranteed compensation of $1.86 million. Mauricio Pereyra is the second-highest for Orlando at $1.34 million while Facundo Torres is third with $953,200. U22 Initiative midfielder Cesar Araujo, who joined this off-season and claimed a starting spot in Orlando’s crowded midfield, has a guaranteed compensation of $261,000.

The highest-paid player in the league is the Chicago Fire’s Xherdan Shaqiri at $8.15 million. The LA Galaxy’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez was the second-highest earner at $6 million, with Inter Miami’s Gonzalo Higuain third at $5.79 million, Toronto FC’s Alejandro Pozuelo fourth at $4.69 million, and New England Revolution forward Jozy Altidore fifth at $4.26 million.

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  • The latest MLS power rankings have been released. The Lions moved up five spots to 10th after their 1-0 win against Toronto FC.
  • In CBSsports.com’s NWSL power rankings, the Pride moved up a spot to ninth after salvaging a draw against the Current.
  • Reports surfaced that Lionel Messi would acquire a 35% ownership stake with Inter Miami and join the club next summer. However, Inter Miami officials denied that Messi is set to join the club and his agent said the rumors are false and that Messi hasn’t decided on his future.
  • The U.S. Para Women’s National Team defeated Australia 4-2 to win the inaugural IFCPF World Cup.
  • Chicago Fire FC goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina, who is also eligible for the USMNT, was called up by Poland for UEFA Nations League matches in June.
  • PSG has reportedly given up on keeping Kylian Mbappe at the club as he is expected to announce his move to Real Madrid soon.
  • Liverpool rallied from a goal down to defeat Southampton 2-1. The result means the English Premier League title race between Liverpool and Manchester City will come down to this Sunday.
  • Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Brice Samba made three saves in a penalty shootout to help his team advance past Sheffield United. Nottingham will face off against Huddersfield on May 29 at Wembley Stadium with promotion to the Premier League on the line.

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

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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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/23/24

Orlando Pride prepare for the Portland Thorns, Pride Brazilian trio called up, Atalanta wins Europa League, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this Thursday finds you well as we all get ready for a busy next few days of Orlando soccer to enjoy. It’s been a fairly busy couple of days for me, and I plan on knocking out a few errands before enjoying the upcoming matches. Until then, let’s enjoy today’s links!

Pride Prepare to Host the Portland Thorns

The Orlando Pride have a huge home game against the Portland Thorns tomorrow night. It will be a clash of win streaks, as the Pride have won their past seven games and the Thorns have won their last six. Pride Head Coach Seb Hines is well aware that Portland is a formidable foe with talented players such as Sophia Smith, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Sam Coffey. He spoke on how tomorrow will be a challenge, as well as how playing at home will give the Pride a boost during the game.

Pride Trio Called Up by Brazil

The Pride’s Marta, Rafaelle, and Adriana were all called up for Brazil’s pair of friendlies against Jamaica in Brazil on June 1 and June 4.

These matches will help Brazil prepare for a tough group in the Olympics against Spain, Japan, and Nigeria. Angelina, who featured for Brazil during the SheBelieves Cup, was not called up due to an injury sustained while with the Pride. Although these games will take place during an international break, the Pride do have a road game against the San Diego Wave on June 7, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Hines gives them some rest for that match.

Assessing Emma Hayes’ Time With Chelsea

It felt like forever ago that it was announced Chelsea’s Emma Hayes would leave the club to replace Vlatko Andonovski and coach the USWNT. A great article by ESPN broke down what USWNT fans can learn from her time with Chelsea, including how she’s dealt with the adversity she’s faced both on and off the field. Her impending exit put a spotlight on Chelsea’s season, and she still managed to secure the league title despite the pressure. Chelsea also announced that five members of the coaching staff will leave the club to join Hayes at the USWNT. It’s a new era for the USWNT, and Hayes brings plenty of experience and leadership to the position.

Atalanta Crushes Leverkusen to Win Europa League

Italian club Atalanta lifted the Europa League trophy after a 3-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen in Dublin. The day belonged to Nigerian winger Ademola Lookman, who scored a hat trick that included this stunner that doubled Atalanta’s lead in the first half.

It’s Atalanta’s second trophy in club history, and first in 61 years. It’s also the first trophy for manager Gian Piero Gasperini after coaching in Italy for 30 years. This result snapped Leverkusen’s remarkable unbeaten streak at 51 games, and ended the club’s bid at a treble. Bayer Leverkusen will aim to bounce back Saturday when it plays FC Kaiserslautern in the German Cup final.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City President of Business Operations Jarrod Dillon has issued a challenge to Orlando City fans for the upcoming trio of Orlando soccer home games, so it may be worth your while to get tickets for the Lions, Pride, and OCB this weekend.
  • Pride forward Amanda Allen placed 16th in ESPN‘s rankings of the 17 teenagers currently playing in the National Women’s Soccer League (the author deemed it unfair to assess Milly Clegg without seeing her on the field more). Allen mostly just hasn’t had much playing time, but that could change over the summer.
  • Former Pride player Camille Ashton (known as Cami Levin when she played in the Pride midfield in 2016 and 2017) has resigned as the general manager of the Kansas City Current.

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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