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Lion Links: 7/2/22



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.

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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: 5/30/24

Orlando City draws on the road, Duncan McGuire called up, Grace Chanda will reportedly sign with the Orlando Pride, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

For those of you who watched Orlando City’s game Wednesday night, I hope the universe repays you with good fortune in some way today. The week rolls on though, as we get ready for more Orlando soccer this weekend, along with international friendlies around the world to enjoy. For now though, let’s get to the links!

Orlando City Draws Against the Chicago Fire

The Lions went on the road and had to settle for a 1-1 draw against the Chicago Fire. Neither goal was anything to write home about in a match that was highlighted by sloppy play and yet another controversial refereeing decision the Lions had to deal with. A draw on the road while on short rest generally isn’t the worst result in the world, but it was a poor performance from the Lions. They’ll aim to get back in the winning column this Saturday when they travel to play the New York Red Bulls.

Duncan McGuire Called Up For Training Camp

Orlando City forward Duncan McGuire was one of 25 players called up for the United States Men’s Olympic Soccer Team’s training camp ahead of a friendly with Japan on June 11. McGuire has earned his spot on the team during a solid second season with the Lions that has included five goals. Columbus Crew goalkeeper Patrick Schulte, Koln forward Damion Downs, and LA Galaxy defender Jalen Neal are a few of the other notable players called up. Nashville SC center back Walker Zimmerman is the only player over 23 that was called up for this camp.

Grace Chanda Will Reportedly Join the Pride

An agreement was reportedly reached between the Orlando Pride and Zambian attacker Grace Chanda for her to join the club on a deal through 2025, with an option for 2026 as well. It would be a free transfer, but she would not join the Pride until after the Olympics. Chanda was named to the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations Best XI and was also on the shortlist for the 2022 Best CAF Women’s Player of the Year Award. The 26-year-old did not play in last year’s World Cup due to an illness, but has come off the bench in Madrid CFF’s past two games. The Pride are having a historic year and Chanda should help them push for a title if she does end up joining her international teammate, Barbra Banda.

Getting to Know Emily Sams

Pride defender Emily Sams is the latest player to field questions as part of the club’s video series for fans to learn more about the players. Sams spoke about the disappointment in how the team’s season ended last year after missing out on the playoffs on a goal differential tiebreaker. She also talked about the team’s aspiration to not only make the playoffs but contend for a title this year. It’s her second season with the Pride and she’s been a key reason why Orlando has done so well so far. Sams discussed what the team’s atmosphere is like, as well as how she likes to spend time outdoors exploring Orlando’s many lakes when not on the field.

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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: 5/29/24

Orlando City faces the Chicago Fire tonight, Kaká to be honored, Pride linked to Grace Chanda, and more.



Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. It’s match day for Orlando City as the Lions travel to the Windy City to take on the Chicago Fire. Orlando City looks to get back to its winning ways in the midweek matchup and we will have all the coverage you need during the match on our Twitter account, and after the match right here at The Mane Land.

We would also like to wish Orlando Pride Head Coach Seb Hines a very happy birthday! Frankly, it’s the least we can do given everything he has done so far this NWSL season. For now, let’s get to the links.

Lions Prepare for the Fire

Orlando City faces the Chicago Fire tonight at 8:30 p.m. at Soldier Field. The Lions will look to extend a three-match winning streak over the Fire. Facundo Torres has been particularly effective against Chicago, so hopefully he can start scoring some more goals as well. We will have our match preview a little later today.

Kaká to Become First Member of Legends Terrace at Inter&Co Stadium

Orlando City and the Orlando Pride are creating a “Legends Terrace” at Inter&Co Stadium to permanently honor those who have made a lasting impact with either club. Unsurprisingly, the first inductee will be the one and only Kaká. The ceremony will take place following the July 6 match against D.C. United. There will also be a concert featuring Latin performer Jota Quest in the Publix Mane Street Plaza outside the stadium prior to the match.

Orlando Pride Linked With Grace Chanda

Do you like Barbra Banda and what she has done since joining the Pride? Do you find yourself wondering, “got anymore of those Zambian strikers?” Well, it just so happens that the Orlando Pride are reportedly interested in signing Zambian forward Grace Chanda. According to the report, the San Diego Wave, Racing Louisville, and the Pride are all interested in signing Chanda. Given the Pride are serious about contending for a title this season, adding another quality attacker is a good move. Let’s hope the rumor is true.

Pride’s Summer Cup Schedule Adjusted

The Olympics won’t be the only women’s soccer competition this summer, as the inaugural NWSL x LIGA MX Femenil Summer Cup will start on July 19. We have learned that the Orlando Pride match against C.F. Monterrey at Inter&Co Stadium has been moved up from Sunday, July 28 to Saturday, July 27. The move does not affect Orlando City’s schedule, as the Lions play a rare Friday match that week. You can check out more information on the competition here.

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  • I know that there are those who are upset with the Leagues Cup as it definitely impacted the U.S. Open Cup this year. However, if you do decide to go to a match, at least part of the ticket price will go to a good cause.
  • Congratulations to Felipe. That is a lot of matches and we appreciate him being with our beloved Orlando City.
  • Congratulations also go out to Orlando City academy player Camilio Guerrero for earning a call-up to a U.S. U-14 national talent identification camp.
  • USMNT winger Tim Weah is making money moves in the Big Apple.

That will do it for today. We will see you on the other side of the match tonight. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/28/24

Yutaro Tsukada earns recognition, Americans in midweek action, European coaching updates, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I hope you all had a restful holiday weekend, and if you didn’t, then I hope you’re well on the way to recovery. We’ve got an exciting schedule this week, with two Orlando City games before an Orlando City B game on Sunday. It’s also OCB forward Yeiler Valencia’s birthday today, so let’s wish him well and jump into today’s links!

Yutaro Tsukada Earns MLS NEXT Pro Honors

OCB winger Yutaro Tsukada was named MLS NEXT Pro Player of Matchweek 11 for his performance in the team’s 5-0 home win against Huntsville City FC. The 22-year-old provided the assist on OCB’s first goal after using some nice skill on the ball to shake his defender. Tsukada then scored a goal of his own off of a free kick in the second half. The rookie has been electric for the Young Lions this season, recording four goals and four assists so far. Hopefully he can keep the momentum rolling when OCB faces Inter Miami II this Sunday.

Major League Soccer Stock Watch

Every week gives us a better idea of each MLS team’s capabilities, so let’s check in on how things are looking following the latest matchday. LAFC is on a great trajectory, as it’s won three consecutive league games and five straight in all competitions. Elsewhere in the Western Conference, Real Salt Lake scored three goals in the final 30 minutes of play to stretch its unbeaten streak to 11 games, and Cristian Arango didn’t have to do all of the heavy lifting. At the other end of things, the New England Revolution have lost three straight games, and six of their last seven. Likewise, the shine looks to have worn off from St. Louis City’s expansion season, as the team has also lost three straight games and simply doesn’t look the same as last year.

Americans in Midweek Action

With most of the European club seasons having concluded, there aren’t as many United States Men’s National Team players in action during the working week, but there are still some important games to make note of. Chief among those is Venezia’s game against Cremonese on Thursday. Tanner Tessmann, Gianluca Busio and Venezia will take on Cremonese over two legs, with the winner gaining promotion to Serie A. Left back Jonathan Gomez may take the field tomorrow morning in Real Sociedad’s friendly against Tokyo Verde as well.

In a pair of friendlies on Friday, Mexico plays Bolivia and Uruguay takes on Costa Rica. With the USMNT set to face both Bolivia and Uruguay in group play of this summer’s Copa America, the two matches present a good chance to better gauge the Yanks’ opponents.

European Coaching Updates

Several notable European club teams have coaching vacancies to fill this summer, and there are some updates on a few of those positions. Chelsea has reportedly made an approach for Leicester City’s Enzo Maresca, and has requested permission to talk to the manager who guided the Foxes back to the Premier League in his first year with the club. Meanwhile, despite interest from Manchester United, Kieran McKenna is reportedly set to stay at Ipswich Town, and has had talks about extending his contract. Finally, Aston Villa has extended Unai Emery’s contract, with his new deal keeping him at the club until 2029.

Transfer Rumor Roundup

Transfer season is kicking into gear, and we have several rumors to sift through this morning. Up first, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich are reportedly all in hot pursuit of Stade Rennais winger Desire Doue. Casemiro reportedly has a deal lined up with a team in the Saudi Pro League, and may have played his last game for Manchester United. Newly promoted Southampton is reportedly interested in signing Adam Lallana as a free agent. Finally, Paris Saint-Germain is said to have entered the race to sign Bruno Guimaraes, and will face stiff competition from Manchester City and Arsenal.

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

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