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Lion Links: 9/7/22



Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all of you are doing well and are excited for tonight’s U.S. Open Cup final against Sacramento Republic FC. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Lions Host Sacramento in U.S. Open Cup Final

Orlando City SC will take on Sacramento tonight at a sold-out Exploria Stadium in the 2022 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final. The Lions will aim for its first major trophy since the club moved to MLS in 2015, while the Republic will try to become the first lower-division side to win the cup since the Rochester Rhinos won it back in 1999. Tonight’s match kicks off at 8 p.m., and you can watch the match on ESPN+. What’s also at stake tonight is a spot in the 2023 Concacaf Champions League, which would be a first trip for either team. The road for the Sacramento Republic to get to the final was impressive, defeating three straight MLS opponents, including a dramatic penalty kick shootout win against Sporting Kansas City in the semifinals. The Lions’ path included back-to-back penalty shootout wins against Inter Miami and Nashville SC before a 5-1 win in their semifinal against the New York Red Bulls.

There is some unfortunate news surrounding the final though, as the United States Soccer Federation is looking into an Orlando City staffer allegedly spying on Sacramento’s training and refusing to leave for 30 minutes. ESPN’s Taylor Twellman first reported the news and The Athletic ($) reported on the matter as well.

Sacramento, which plays in the second-division USL Championship, was training in a public park in the Orlando area and spotted an Orlando City employee watching the practice session, sources with knowledge of the incident who were not authorized to speak publicly due to the ongoing investigation told The Athletic. Sacramento staff asked the Orlando City employee to leave and that employee refused to do so for 30-45 minutes, sources said.

Facundo Torres Recognized as a Top Young Player

Orlando City midfielder Facundo Torres was mentioned as one of the top young performers during Weeks 28 and 29 in league play. The Uruguayan winger put on a stellar performance for the Lions last week. Torres came on at halftime in the second half and engineered a comeback for the Lions after they were down 2-0 to the Seattle Sounders at halftime. Torres scored his sixth goal of the season and added an assist on Kyle Smith’s winner to help Orlando take all three points.

USWNT Gets Another Win Against Nigeria

The United States Women’s National Team won 2-1 against Nigeria for its 13th straight victory, although its nine-match shutout streak came to an end. The USWNT got an own goal early in the first half to lead 1-0 going into halftime. In the second half, Uchenna Kanu scored the equalizer for Nigeria to tie the match at 1-1 in the 50th minute. Rose Lavelle got the last word in, scoring the game-winning goal after a nice cross from Megan Rapinoe to seal the win for the USWNT in this second friendly against Nigeria. The victory also extended the USWNT’s unbeaten streak on American soil to 71 matches. The next match-up for the USWNT will be on Oct. 7 when it takes on England.

UEFA Champions League Returns

The UEFA Champions League kicked off yesterday, and there was plenty of drama in Europe’s top club competition. The marquee match-up was between Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus, with Kylian Mbappe scoring two goals for PSG in the first half. American midfielder Weston McKennie added one in the second half for Juve, but it wasn’t enough, as PSG won 2-1 at home. Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk went on the road and won 4-1 against RB Leipzig. In Croatia, Chelsea started its campaign with a 1-0 defeat on the road, with Mislav Orsic scoring the lone goal for Dinamo Zagreb. American midfielder Giovanni Reyna added two assists for Borussia Dortmund as the German club cruised to a 3-0 victory against FC Copenhagen. Elsewhere in Europe, RB Salzburg and AC Milan split the points in a 1-1 draw, while Manchester City and Real Madrid had shutout wins against Sevilla and Celtic, respectively. Today’s notable match-ups will see Inter Milan host Bayern Munich, Tottenham face off against Marseille, and Napoli take on Liverpool.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City and the Sacramento Republic joined forces to set up gardens in the community.

  • Looks like we have a bet on our hands between the mayors of Sacramento and Orlando for tonight’s match.

  • Former Lion and current Indy Eleven player Stefano Pinho was named USL Championship Player of the week and made the Team of the Week after his brace this past weekend. Former Lion Cam Lindley also made the team of the week for the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC.
  • Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson was arrested in Cobb County this past Saturday on a charge of misdemeanor theft.
  • Liverpool supporters in Naples for today’s UEFA Champions League match have been warned to stay in their hotel rooms and not to wear team colors when traveling to avoid being targeted.
  • Mbappe has reportedly said that French president Emmanuel Macron told him to stay with PSG rather than join Real Madrid this past summer.
  • French midfielder Paul Pogba could miss out on the World Cup in Qatar as he’ll need knee surgery after damaging his meniscus in training.
  • La Liga announced a deal to increase engagement with fans and help compete with the English Premier League by increasing its presence in the Middle East, North Africa, and India.

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

Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/17/24

MLSPA releases player salaries, Duncan McGuire discusses move to Blackburn, Orlando Pride prepare for the Seattle Reign, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Friday! The weekend is nearly here, with plenty of soccer both here in the domestic leagues and abroad. I have a pretty packed weekend but am looking forward to watching Orlando City and the Orlando Pride in action. It should be a nice next few days, so let’s get it started with today’s links!

MLSPA Releases Player Salaries

The Major League Soccer Players Association unveiled the base salary and guaranteed compensation information for every player under contract with the league as of April 25 — except Wilder Cartagena, apparently. Luis Muriel is the highest-paid Orlando City player, and his $4.3 million in guaranteed compensation is the 12th most in the league, while his base salary is just over $2.83. As for other Orlando newcomers, Nico Lodeiro’s compensation is $800,000 and David Brekalo’s is $683,000.

Lionel Messi predictably tops the list of all players with $20.4 million guaranteed for playing with Inter Miami. To put that number into perspective, it’s more than the compensation of every team in the league except his own team (Miami), Toronto FC, Nashville SC, and the Chicago Fire. Orlando City is 22nd in the league in compensation, clocking in at $15.07 million.

Duncan McGuire Weighs In on Moving to Blackburn

Orlando City forward Duncan McGuire had a hurricane of an off-season due to a transfer saga that nearly saw him join Blackburn Rovers in England. An administration error by Blackburn prevented the move from going through, and McGuire ultimately returned to Orlando. In the time since, there have been reports that Orlando offered him a new contract and that Blackburn still wants him to join in the summer. McGuire spoke about whether he is still interested in a move to Blackburn after the difficult experience.

“It’s tough to say,” McGuire told GOAL.”That was a pretty bad mistake, a pretty bad mistake by them. I’d be open to maybe having a conversation but it would have to be a lot to get me to go back there. On the plane ride back, I just felt like my tail was between my legs. I asked my agent how often this happens and he was like ‘This doesn’t happen’.

“I didn’t burn bridges with my teammates or have it be like ‘Oh you wanted to leave and now you’re back’. When I got back, it was like I never left.”

Orlando Pride Prepare for the Seattle Reign

The Orlando Pride will take their six-game win streak on the road for a match against the Seattle Reign Sunday night. The Reign are coming off of a 4-0 loss to the Portland Thorns in their sixth defeat of the season, but Pride Head Coach Seb Hines discussed how the Reign played better in that match than the score suggests. The Pride have also never won in Washington, and the turf and atmosphere of Lumen Field could give Orlando some trouble after a long trip. Injuries, particularly to the midfield, have made things difficult for the Pride, but midfielder Morgan Gautrat detailed how the team’s chemistry has helped them get results despite the adversity.

Nashville SC Fires Gary Smith

Nashville SC has parted ways with Gary Smith, who had been the club’s only head coach while in MLS. Smith joined Nashville back in 2018, coaching the team for two seasons in the USL Championship before. With a defensive style, Smith led the team to MLS playoff appearances in all four years but couldn’t put together a deep run. Nashville is currently 10th in the Eastern Conference and Rumba Munthali will serve as the club’s interim head coach while the club searches for a new permanent coach.

Charlotte FC Transfers Enzo Copetti Out

Another Designated Player is leaving Charlotte FC, as the club transferred Enzo Copetti to Rosario Central in Argentina’s top flight. The forward recorded eight goals and three assists across all competitions while with Charlotte, and has played less than 500 minutes this season. Copetti is the latest Designated Player transferred out since Dean Smith took over as Charlotte’s head coach, with Kamil Jozwiak sent to Granada and Karol Swiderski loaned to Hellas Verona. Despite the turnover, Charlotte sits fifth in the Eastern Conference and could make some noise this season if it brings in the right players in the summer transfer window.

Free Kicks

  • Former Lion Miguel Gallardo spoke with the folks over at The Blazing Musket about the New England Revolution and the art of goalkeeping.
  • Our condolences go out to the friends and family of Derek Sanderson, who played for many teams across many leagues back in the 1980s, including the American Soccer League’s Orlando Lions.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/16/24

Orlando City draws with Inter Miami, Orlando City B loses in Ohio, Austin awarded 2025 MLS All-Star Game, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

I hope you’re all having a nice and easy start to your Thursday morning. Orlando City’s match Wednesday night could’ve gone worse, but could’ve gone better as well. As far as rivalry games go, it probably won’t be all too memorable, but I still hope you enjoyed yourself if you went to the game. Let’s dive into today’s links!

Orlando City Draws Inter Miami at Home

The Lions hosted rival Inter Miami and had to settle for a scoreless draw that featured solid chances for both sides. Orlando remains shorthanded defensively, but Pedro Gallese and the back line of Rodrigo Schlegel, Wilder Cartagena, and David Brekalo did well to get a clean sheet against a Miami side that leads the league in goals by a wide margin. Familiar attacking struggles plagued the Lions though with many chances going unfinished. The Lions will now turn their attention to a trip across the country for a match with the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.

Orlando City B Falls On the Road

After earning its first home win last week, Orlando City B was handed its first road defeat of the season in a 4-3 loss against Columbus Crew 2. OCB was without Yutaro Tsukada, who made his debut with the first team, but the team still did well generating chances on offense. The Young Lions took the lead on two different occasions in the match, but they ultimately couldn’t hold on for a result in a rollercoaster of a match. There’s plenty of time for Head Coach Manuel Goldberg to get his team ready for its next match, which is set to take place at Osceola County Stadium on May 26 against Huntsville City FC.

Orlando City Fined After Match in Philadelphia

Following Orlando City’s win over the Philadelphia Union, the club and Head Coach Oscar Pareja have been issued fines by the MLS Disciplinary Committee for the team violating the mass confrontation policy for the second time this season. The violation took place in the 86th minute at Philadelphia, when the Union were awarded their second penalty of the game. Gallese, Nicolas Lodeiro, Ivan Angulo, and Duncan McGuire were issued fines for their role in things as well.

Luis Muriel was also fined an undisclosed amount for embellishment during an incident with Damion Lowe in the 81st minute of the match. You can judge for yourself if the MLS Disciplinary Committee got it right, but what’s not up for debate is that the Lions got the job done on the road and survived an obscene amount of stoppage time.

Austin Will Host 2025 MLS All-Star Game

MLS announced that next year’s MLS All-Star Game will take place at Q2 Stadium in Austin. It will be the first time the event is held there and the first time Texas has hosted it since Houston had it back in 2010. The official date, along with what team the MLS All-Stars will play against, will be announced at a later time. Austin FC entered the league in 2021 and every game played at Q2 Stadium has sold out. There is a strong soccer community there, and I’m glad it will get a chance to show the league what it is all about. I also really like the graphic promoting the event and feel it captures Austin fairly well.

Free Kicks

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: 5/15/24

Tropic Thunder is tonight, OCB plays away today, Americans playing abroad, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to Wednesday Mane Landers. The next installment of the Tropic Thunder rivalry between the good guys (Orlando City) and the bad guys (Inter Miami) is tonight. I hope you can make it out to the match since there will probably be a bunch of Lionel Messi fans there and more purple in the stands is needed. To get ready for the match, you can listen to the latest edition of The Mane Land PawedCast, and check out our match preview later today . For now, let’s get to the links.

Lions Host Tropic Thunder Tonight

I don’t know why others insist on calling matches between Orlando City and Inter Miami the “Florida Derby.” Our name for the match — Tropic Thunder — is just so much better. Regardless, the Lions host the Herons tonight at Inter&Co Stadium looking to avenge the 5-0 loss from earlier in the season. The spotlight might be on Miami, but the pressure is on Orlando City. The Lions surprised me with their win over the Philadelphia Union on Saturday. Let’s hope the club can keep the momentum going.

Miami May Be Without Messi Today

While I never want anyone to get seriously injured, I’m not sorry to hear that there is a chance Messi will be unavailable for tonight’s match. It seems that Miami’s magician picked up a minor knee injury in the match against CF Montreal on Saturday. Say what you want, but he is a competitor and could still take the field tonight. Hopefully, he remembers the welcome Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena gave him when he joined the league and decides it’s not worth aggravating the knee.

OCB Back in Action On the Road

The senior squad isn’t the only team playing today as Orlando City B is in Ohio to take on Columbus Crew II at Field. You’ll need to take a long lunch to watch this one because kickoff is set for noon. There will be plenty to watch since the two clubs are only separated by one point in the standings, with OCB sitting in sixth place (3-2-3, 13 points) and Crew II in eighth place (3-3-2, 12 points).

Keeping Up With Americans Abroad

Most of us know that Christian Pulisic had a great season with AC Milan after moving to the Serie A club from Chelsea. What I did not know is that Pulisic is the first AC Milan midfielder to score more than 10 goals in a season since former Orlando City star Kaká did it when he was there.

Things are not as bright for Giovanni Reyna at Nottingham Forest. He hasn’t played a ton of minutes for the Premier League side and hasn’t done much when he has played. It was a loan without a purchase option, but Forest is reportedly not interested in making an offer for him regardless.

Free Kicks

  • Let’s all give a big congratulations to Orlando City Vice President of Soccer Operations and Technical Director Ricardo Moreira. He was accepted into the third edition of the FIFA Diploma in Club Management.
  • We believe once a Lion, always a Lion, but I didn’t know MLS thought the same thing. Richie Laryea getting the biggest suspension is on brand for anyone related to Orlando City.

That will do it for today. Let’s hope that the Lions can get a second win in a row. Vamos Orlando!

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