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Lion Links: 7/2/22

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Who doesn’t love a long holiday weekend? July 4 is my favorite holiday, so I’m gearing up for some pool time, grilling, and fireworks. Speaking of fireworks, let me know what your favorite one is in the comments below. I love a large willow effect slowly streaming down from the sky. This year the holiday will be even better as Orlando City looks for its second straight win in all competitions at Exploria Stadium when D.C. United visits.

There is a whole slew of Orlando and soccer news today, starting with the unfortunate news that the Orlando City U-17 team’s run is over. The squad fought to a 0-0 draw with the Columbus Crew’s academy kids but lost the ensuing shootout, 4-3.

Before we dive in, we want to wish a happy birthday to OCB players Brandon Hackenberg and Tahir Reid-Brown. Now, let’s get to today’s links.

Van der Water Transfers Home

Silvester van der Water has signed a three-year deal with an option year with SC Cambuur in the Eredivisie, the Dutch top flight. A promising talent on the wings, van der Water spent most of his time with Orlando City injured or integrating into the squad via late substitutions from the bench. In what has been a rather short spell with the Lions, van der Water was initially signed on Feb. 23, 2021 to a three-year deal with a club option. The transfer seems like an honest move to get the player back to his home of the Netherlands as he struggles to find minutes in MLS.

Van der Water appeared in 31 MLS games during his two seasons with the Lions, starting only 12 times for a total of 1,011 minutes. He leaves the club having scored three goals and added three assists. By transferring van der Water, Orlando City frees up an international slot and cap space that could be used to bolster the team.

Orlando Pride Add Haley Bugeja

The Pride have added to the attack with the signing of Maltese international forward Haley Bugeja through the 2023 NWSL season. As the Pride continue to rebuild this year, the 18-year-old fills a gap of need at striker.

Bugeja brings Serie A experience to the Pride. She finished in the top five goal scorers in the league during her first season and was named Best Young Player for the 2020-2021 season. Bugeja was in form with 15 goals in 36 games for Sassuolo before sustaining a long-term injury. She has also represented Malta 14 times and was recently involved in the team’s UEFA European qualifying campaign.

Orlando Pride Host Louisville in Daytona

The Orlando Pride will call the infield of the Daytona International Speedway home tomorrow night as they host Racing Louisville. The match is part of a one-of-a-kind, two-day festival that also features a freestyle soccer show, a men’s legends game, and performance from Chance the Rapper. Orlando Interim Head Coach Seb Hines has spoken on what the match and festival can bring for the Orlando Pride and NWSL as a whole.

“I think it’s great. It’s an opportunity for us to come out of our comfort zone a little bit … being the headline game can only help the league and women’s soccer move forward and bring bigger crowds to stadiums. It’s coming out of our comfort zone and really showing the world what we can do as a league.”

When preparing for a match that will be played next to a NASCAR pit row, Hines reiterated the difficulty of replicating such an environment. The players have also taken a week off to reflect after their latest loss of 6-0 to the Portland Thorns and find a mentality to bounce back.

“There’s been a different mindset in training sessions. Our fundamentals need to be better, but the players have shown this since coming back from the break. I’m really excited for the game; it’s going to be a great event for everyone and looking to get three points and technically get our first win at home.”

For those who can’t make the drive over to Daytona, the match will be kicking off at 8 p.m. on the CBS Sports Network. Here’s a look at the pitch:

U-20 USMNT Qualifies for Olympics

Orlando City’s Michael Halliday started again for the U-20 USMNT at right back as the team defeated host Honduras 3-0 in Estadio Francisco Morazán. Having already secured a FIFA U-20 World Cup berth, the team was able to additionally make claim to a spot in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. With the win, the United States will have reached its is first appearance at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament since Beijing 2008 and now has the opportunity to win its third-straight Concacaf U-20 Championship. The United States will take on Dominican Republic tomorrow at 8 p.m. in the final.

Rapinoe to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Joe Biden has chosen USWNT and OL Reign captain Megan Rapinoe to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor that can be bestowed in the United States. The award is given out by the President to recognize individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the United States, world peace, or other significant societal, public or private endeavors. Rapinoe is the first soccer player to be so honored.

“In that moment I spoke to the President, I was, and still am, totally overwhelmed,” said Rapinoe. “I just think of all the people who I feel deserve a part of this medal, from my family to current and former teammates, all the women of the U.S. Women’s National Team throughout our history, to Colin Kaepernick, the three woman who founded Black Lives Matter – Opal, Alicia and Patrisse – to Marsha P, Sylvia and Billie Jean, the Williams sisters, of course my fiancé Sue Bird, and so many more. I am humbled and truly honored to be chosen for this award by President Biden and feel as inspired and motivated as ever to continue this long history of fighting for the freedoms of all people. To quote Emma Lazarus, ‘Until we are all free, we are none of us free.’”

Rapinoe is among 17 others to be honored at the ceremony. Prior to this year, just 647 people have received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the past 59 years since the award was first given out in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy.

OCB Falls 3-2 at Rochester

The Young Lions of Orlando City B could not overcome a three-goal deficit against Rochester New York FC. Jack Lynn once again found the net and Neicer Acosta added to the tally, but it was not enough as the final whistle blew at 3-2. The starting lineup had a splash of senior squad players as the club continues to try to find minutes for those looking to break into the lineup and garner competitive experience. Orlando City senior squad and backup keeper Adam Grinwis found another start with OCB, as did Thomas Williams and Joey DeZart. Our Sean Rollins has your match recap.

Free Kicks


Well, that’s a wrap. There is no Orlando soccer today, but don’t forget to head over to Daytona tomorrow as the Pride play at “home.” Have a safe holiday weekend. Look out for each other, drink plenty of water, and don’t let children shoot fireworks. Vamos Orlando!

Lion Links

Lion Links: 2/29/24

Lions reportedly won’t play in U.S. Open Cup, Cavalry FC reflects on its defeat, gauging the USWNT’s panic meter, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Leap Day, Mane Landers! It’s the rarest day of the year, as we all lean into our procrastination a bit and collectively tell March that we’ll get to it tomorrow. It’s been a pretty busy week for me, but knowing the MLS season is in full swing has helped fuel me a bit. Let’s dive into today’s links!

Orlando City Reportedly Won’t Play in 2024 U.S. Open Cup

The latest reports involving Major League Soccer’s participation in this year’s U.S. Open Cup indicate that Orlando City, along with a majority of MLS teams, won’t be playing their first teams in the tournament. According to ESPN‘s Jeff Carlisle, the Houston Dynamo and the seven best teams from last season that aren’t taking part in the Concacaf Champions Cup will have their first teams take part. The format will reportedly be announced soon and we’ll see if Orlando City B and other MLS NEXT Pro teams will be in the tournament.

It will be pretty disappointing if Orlando’s first team doesn’t end up playing. Even though the Lions suffered an early exit last year, they won in 2022 and Head Coach Oscar Pareja has a penchant for excelling in the U.S. Open Cup.

Cavalry FC Reflects on Loss to Orlando City

Although Cavalry FC lost in both legs against Orlando City in its first Concacaf Champions Cup campaign, the Canadian club can hold its head high. Cavalry Head Coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. spoke on the team’s tactics in the second leg in Orlando to overcome the hefty aggregate deficit.

“Strategically, we wanted to frustrate them in the first half with an extra defender, and often at times we were in a back five,” Wheeldon said. “And second half, we wanted to unleash with more attackers and have a go, because it was 0-0. We thought … one, we wanted to make history with our first goal, and two, we wanted to get a result here.”

That first goal did come with Myer Bevan making some history for his team to take back to Canada. All in all, Cavalry did pretty well as the underdog and it’s unfortunate it didn’t get a true home game in Calgary. Cavalry’s defense is the real deal and I doubt this is the last time it makes an appearance in the Champions Cup.

Assessing the Fallout From the USWNT’s Defeat

The United States Women’s National Team suffered a shocking defeat to Mexico earlier this week that’s brought on varying levels of panic. The clock is ticking before the Olympics and the USWNT struggled to bounce back after trailing in the first half and had difficulties on both sides of the ball. While the issues at center back will likely be solved once Naomi Girma and Tierna Davidson play, the midfield has plenty of question marks and a weird balance of youth and experience. It’s an awkward stage for the USWNT, as Emma Hayes doesn’t arrive until May and won’t have much time to get the team ready for Paris. Of course, the USWNT could still win this tournament and the return of Mallory Swanson may heal most wounds this summer, leaving this loss as just a minor blemish when the year is up. Only time will tell and the USWNT has plenty of opportunity to right the ship.

FA Cup Quarterfinals Are Set

It was a pretty wild day in the FA Cup, with some of England’s top teams fighting their way into the quarterfinals. Chelsea needed a late winner from Conor Gallagher to beat Leeds United 3-2 at Stamford Bridge. Manchester United’s match against Nottingham Forest also had a dramatic finish, as United’s Casemiro scored the game’s only goal in the 89th minute. Wolverhampton ousted Brighton thanks to an early goal, and Liverpool got the job done against Southampton.

In the quarterfinals, Newcastle will travel to take on Manchester City, Wolverhampton will host the second division’s Conventry City, Chelsea will take on Leicester City, and Manchester United will face off against Liverpool. All four matches will take place on March 16.

Free Kicks

  • After getting married, Orlando Pride defender Emily Madril will have a new name on the back of her jersey this season.
  • Former Pride midfielder Becky Edwards is an assistant coach at the University of Tennessee and shared details about her time as both a player and coach with the U.S. U-20 team.
  • Enjoy this captured moment of Orlando midfielder Wilder Cartagena being awesome.
  • LAFC forward Mateusz Bogusz’s strike against the Seattle Sounders won the first MLS Goal of the Matchday of the season, claiming 35.4% of the vote.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a pretty great Leap Day and that the rest of the week goes smoothly.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 2/28/24

Orlando City moves on in Champions Cup, Orlando Pride unveil new kits, USMNT to play Brazil in Orlando, and more.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope you all enjoyed watching Orlando City’s win Tuesday night in the Concacaf Champions Cup. I’ve been staying busy at Under Armour, while wrapping up covering high school basketball playoff action with the state championship this weekend. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Orlando City Defeats Cavalry FC in Concacaf Champions Cup

The Lions took care of business on Tuesday, defeating Cavalry FC 3-1 at Inter&Co Stadium to advance 6-1 on aggregate and reach the round of 16 in the Concacaf Champions Cup. Forward Luis Muriel got his first start as a Lion, and there was plenty of rotation from the lineup Head Coach Oscar Pareja used against CF Montreal this past weekend. It was Orlando’s first home win in the continental tournament and the Lions will face Tigres in the next round in a rematch of their series in last year’s Concacaf Champions League. The first match will be in Orlando on Tuesday, with the second leg taking place in Mexico on March 12.

Orlando Pride Unveil New Phoenix and Citrus Kits

The Orlando Pride unveiled two new kits on Tuesday as part of the NWSL’s league-wide kit reset ahead of the upcoming season. The first kit is called the Phoenix kit, which features the Pride’s two recognizable colors, purple and blue. The Phoenix kit also features a two-toned purple gradient that goes from the top right to bottom left on the jersey.

The secondary Citrus Kit is an all new color scheme that pays tribute to Florida’s citrus industry. The Citrus Kit features a new orange and iced-out green color scheme with oranges and leaves, while the letters and numbers have the same green coloring. The socks have “Pride” handwritten on the back, while a stylized “OP” is on the lower end of the jersey.

Both kits will be unveiled during the kit party at the Orlando Regional History Center later today. Fans can purchase replicas of the two new jerseys at ShopOrlandoPride.com, in the Den at Inter&Co Stadium, and on NWSLShop.com.

Philadelphia Union Advance Past Deportivo Saprissa

The Philadelphia Union survived a wild match against Deportivo Saprissa at Subaru Park, securing a 3-3 draw to advance to the next round on aggregate. There were four goals in the first 30 minutes of the match, and Mariano Torres gave Saprissa a needed third goal in the second half to send the game to extra time. Despite playing a man down after defender Jack Elliot was sent off, the Union’s Mikael Uhre scored in extra time and the defense held on to advance. There is more Concacaf Champions League action tonight, as FC Cincinnati takes on Cavalier SC, already up 2-0 on aggregate, while Nashville SC faces Moca FC with a 3-0 aggregate lead. The New England Revolution will host Independiente tomorrow.

USMNT to Play Brazil at Camping World Stadium

The United States Men’s National Team will play Brazil in the second edition of the Continental Clasico on June 12 at Camping World Stadium. Both teams will use this match to test themselves in preparation for the Copa America this summer. This will be the first meeting between these two sides since 2018, when the USMNT lost 2-0 to Brazil in a friendly at MetLife Stadium. In the first edition of the Continental Clasico last April, the USMNT played Mexico in a thrilling 1-1 draw. The USMNT has only beaten Brazil once in 19 matches, but its record in Orlando has been stellar, with a 7-2-0 record in recent years. The 2024 Copa America will kick off on June 20.

Free Kicks

  • The latest MLS power rankings have been released after opening week. Orlando City dropped three places to eighth after a scoreless draw against CF Montreal this past weekend.
  • The Orlando Pride’s Rafaelle started and scored a goal in Brazil’s win against Panama in the Concacaf W Gold Cup. Pride forward Adriana came off the bench for Brazil as well.
  • USMNT captain Tyler Adams is back at training with AFC Bournemouth. Adams has been sidelined since last September with a hamstring injury.

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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 2/27/24

Dagur Dan Thorhallsson named to Team of the Matchday, Orlando City hosts Cavalry FC tonight, USWNT loses to Mexico, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Happy Tuesday, everyone. Orlando City might not have gotten the result we were hoping for to start MLS play, but it’s a long season and it isn’t easy to play on two fronts when coming back from a long layoff. The Lions will get a chance to get back to winning ways tonight when they face Cavalry FC in Concacaf Champions Cup play. As usual, we have a lot to talk about, so let’s get after it.

Dagur Dan Named to MLS Team of the Matchday

Dagur Dan Thorhallsson has been recognized for his efforts in Orlando City’s opening game against CF Montreal with a place in the MLS Team of the Matchday. He got the start at right back and came on strong in the second half, completing three key passes and 88% of his passes on the night. He also completed a cross, a long ball, and took a team-high four shots, although he only put one on target. Sean Rollins gave him a grade of 6 out of 10 on the night, making him one of the highest-rated Lions not named Pedro Gallese.

Orlando City Chases History

Orlando City already made history last week when the team earned its first ever Concacaf Champions Cup victory with a 3-0 win over Cavalry FC. Tonight, the Lions are looking to make a little more history by earning the club’s first home victory in the competition, as well as advancing to the next round for the first time. OCSC put itself in a good position to do exactly that, as a win, draw, or a loss by two goals or fewer will be enough to see the good guys through to the next round. Orlando defender Kyle Smith shared his thoughts on tonight’s match.

The Calgary Herald provided an interesting look at tonight’s game from the view of the visitors as well. After falling at Starlight Stadium, the Canadian club heads to a tough environment in Orlando as the underdog.

USWNT Falls to Mexico

The United States Women’s National Team lost its final game of the Concacaf W Gold Cup group stage, falling 2-0 to Mexico. Lizbeth Ovalle gave Mexico the lead in the first half and Mayra Pelayo put the nail in the coffin with another goal in stoppage time. It was the USWNT’s first time losing at home against a Concacaf team in 23 years, and first time being beaten by Mexico since 2010. It was a rough game for the USWNT, as it struggled on both sides of the ball. As a result of this loss, the U.S. finish second in its group and will play in the quarterfinals this weekend.

Americans in Midweek Action

There are a number of United States Men’s National Team players taking part in games during the working week, so make sure you don’t miss any of the action. Tomorrow sees Gianluca Busio, Tanner Tessmann, and Venezia host Cittadella in Serie B action, while Giovanni Reyna, Matt Turner, and Nottingham Forest host Manchester United in the FA Cup. Things finish up on Friday, with Christian Pulisic, Yunus Musah, and AC Milan facing Lazio in Serie A, and Folarin Balogun and Monaco facing off against Paris Saint-Germain.

Free Kicks

  • Forward Luis Muriel is available for selection tonight and could make his Orlando City debut.
  • Orlando Pride forward Mariana Larroquette started and had an assist in Argentina’s 3-0 win over the Dominican Republic.

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

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