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Lion Links: 11/3/22



How’s it going, Mane Landers? We’re another day closer to the weekend and hopefully some relaxation. I don’t have many plans beyond trying out a new tapas place that just opened up nearby and enjoying brunch over espresso martinis with a friend that will be in town. But for now, let’s dive right into today’s links from around the soccer world.

Celebrating Orlando City’s Year

Orlando City put together a great collage that highlighted some of the most memorable parts of 2022. I always love these kinds of compilations as they can almost transport you back to that exact moment the photo was taken. Although Orlando won’t be taking part in Saturday’s MLS Cup final, it was still a great year filled with amazing goal celebrations, new faces, and a shiny trophy.

MLS Announces Best XI of 2022

MLS named its Best XI after the 2022 season and it features a front line of FC Cincinnati’s Brandon Vazquez, LAFC’s Carlos Vela, and FC Dallas’s Jesus Ferreira. MLS MVP Hany Mukhtar is in the midfield alongside Daniel Gazdag, Sebastian Driussi, and Luciano Acosta. It’s certainly a strong attack and I can’t think of a midfielder to replace any of those four, although Cristian Arango, Lucas Zelarayan, and Brenner would have a case.

The Philadelphia Union have the most representatives on the team, with Goalkeeper of the Year Andre Blake, joined by Defender of the Year Jakob Glesnes, fullback Kai Wagner, and Gazdag. The inclusion of Nashville’s Walker Zimmerman instead of Alex Callens, who was a finalist for Defender of the Year, as the third member of the back line is a bit odd to me. I also would’ve liked to see some fullbacks receive love in these end-of-year honors.

USWNT Will Take on New Zealand Twice in January

The United States Women’s National Team will head to New Zealand in January for a training camp and two friendlies against the Ferns. It should be a worthwhile trip for the USWNT as these friendlies are at the same venues the USWNT will play at during the 2023 World Cup. The two nations will first face off on Jan. 17 in Wellington and then meet again in Auckland on Jan. 20. Although these two teams have played against each other 19 times, this will be the first time they clash in New Zealand. USWNT Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski spoke about how valuable the friendlies will be for the team.

“Everything about this trip is a positive for our team ahead of the World Cup,” said Andonovski. “We will get some quality training time together and have two tough matches against a great opponent that is hosting the World Cup. We also get to experience the long travel and familiarize ourselves with the host cities, the stadiums, the training grounds and the culture, and hopefully we’ll play in front of some big crowds supporting the home team. It will be a great way to start the year.”

USMNT Announces Friendlies to Open 2023 in California

The United States Men’s National Team will play a pair of friendlies in Southern California for its first games of 2023. The USMNT will host Serbia at Banc of California Stadium on Jan. 25 before welcoming Colombia to Dignity Health Sports Park on Jan. 28. Both opponents are currently in the top 25 of FIFA’s rankings, so these should be good matches to gauge where the team is following this year’s World Cup. The U.S. will host the 2026 World Cup with Mexico and Canada, which puts more of an emphasis on friendlies over the next few years, as the USMNT won’t need to qualify. Hopefully we see some of those friendlies take place in Orlando, considering the city wasn’t selected to host in 2026.

Champions League Group Stage Comes to an End

There were a pair of winner-take-all matches as the Champions League’s group stage came to a close. Olivier Giroud starred for AC Milan with two goals and two assists as the Italian club beat RB Salzburg 4-0 to reach the knockout stage. RB Leipzig cruised to a 4-0 win against Shakhtar Donetsk in Poland to book its ticket in the next round and send the Ukrainian club to the Europa League.

Juventus fell 2-1 at home to Paris Saint-Germain, but was still able to secure a spot in the Europa League rather than finishing last in Group H as Benfica won 6-1 over Maccabi Haifa. While that result was lopsided, the two teams were level at halftime and Benfica had a reason to pile on the goals. Joao Mario’s goal in stoppage time lifted Benfica over PSG to win the group due to the seventh tiebreaker of away goals. It’s as if the ghost of the abolished away goals rule reared its head and now an unlucky group winner will face PSG.

Six Americans remain in the Champions League, including Borussia Dortmund’s Giovanni Reyna, Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic, and Milan’s Sergino Dest. The draw will take place on Monday at 6 a.m.

Free Kicks

  • If watching carefully, you’ll be able to spot Orlando’s Facundo Torres and Cesar Araujo in Uruguay’s training.

  • West Brom Head Coach Carlos Corberan stated that former Lion Daryl Dike is in the last step of his recovery from an injury that’s sidelined him since August.
  • Former Lion Hadji Barry is a finalist for USL Championship MVP and was named to the All-League Second Team alongside former Lion Cam Lindley. Congratulations also go out to Rodrigo Lopez, who played for Orlando in the USL back in 2012 and was named to the All-League First Team.
  • Ethan Horvath made three saves to earn his seventh clean sheet this season as Luton Town battled Reading to a scoreless draw. Meanwhile, fellow American goalkeeper Zack Steffen came up with one save in Middlesbrough’s 3-1 win over Hull City.
  • American defender Chris Richards spoke about the racism he’s faced throughout his life and how he uses his platform to make a difference. As a Black man, I can personally attest that it can feel like racism is a tidal wave that can’t be beaten, just endured. But this interview helped remind me that the little things we can all do to support one another aren’t so little at all.
  • Enjoy this dive into how American midfielder Tyler Adams is rising to meet expectations in the English Premier League. Not only is he making important tackles, his forward thinking and work off the ball may be Leeds United’s saving grace this season.
  • Canada named its 21-player roster for the team’s friendly against Bahrain on Nov. 11 in preparation for the World Cup later this month. Former Lions Richie Laryea and Kamal Miller were called up for the friendly.
  • Christine Sinclair announced that she will be staying with the Portland Thorns for another year in emphatic fashion.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/28/23

Ajax is reportedly scouting Facundo Torres, Orlando Pride focus on upcoming matches, Houston Dynamo win U.S. Open Cup, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this work week has gone smoothly for you as we get ready to bid farewell to September. It’s been a hectic week for me, but I started and then promptly devoured all of Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros. It was a nice read, albeit a bit intense at times. I’m not sure what I’ll read next as most of my reading list is packed up for a move, but if you have any recommendations then let me know in the comments below. Let’s dive into today’s links!

Ajax Reportedly Interested in Facundo Torres

Orlando City forward Facundo Torres has reportedly garnered the interest of Dutch club Ajax according to Fabrizio Romano.

It’s not too surprising that Ajax, which currently sits in 14th in the Eredivisie with just seven goals from five games, has scouts keeping tabs on Torres. The 23-year-old has scored 12 goals this season, powering Orlando to second in the Eastern Conference. It wouldn’t be the first time Torres has received attention from European clubs and likely won’t be the last as he continues to impress with the Lions

Orlando Pride Focus During Playoff Push

The Orlando Pride are back in action on Monday for a crucial road match with Angel City FC. Both teams have 25 points this season, one point from the sixth and final playoff spot currently held by the Washington Spirit. It will be the first of three remaining games for the Pride this season, with matches against fellow playoff hopefuls Racing Louisville and the Houston Dash set for later in October. As a result, there’s not much margin for error if the Pride wish to make the playoffs and Kylie Strom talked about how the team is focused for these games.

MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs Begin This Weekend

The first round of the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs kicks off this weekend with six matches that can all be watched on MLS Season Pass. Unlike last year, Orlando City B will be taking part and is set to face off with Columbus Crew 2 on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. Although the Young Lions have struggled on the road against Columbus, Jack Lynn and Shak Mohammed can make things difficult for the hosts. Hopefully we’ll see OCB make Columbus regret its choice of opponent in the postseason. I like the wrinkle and mind games to the playoffs the new rule gave and am interested to see which of the lower seeds plays with a chip on their shoulder. The playoffs begin on Friday when Sporting Kansas City II hosts Austin FC II in a battle between the third and fourth seeds of the Western Conference.

Houston Dynamo Win U.S. Open Cup

The Houston Dynamo have lifted the U.S. Open Cup trophy after winning 2-1 on the road against Inter Miami. A pair of goals in the first half were enough for Houston to win its second U.S. Open Cup title after also winning in 2018. A goal in stoppage time from Josef Martinez made things interesting, but the Dynamo defense did well to secure the win and deny Miami its second tournament title this year. It was a strong end to a solid tournament campaign from the Dynamo, as they beat four MLS sides before taking down Miami in the final.

Albertin Montoya Hired as Bay FC Head Coach

Ahead of its inaugural NWSL season next year, Bay FC named Albertin Montoya as the club’s first head coach. Montoya, who has lived in California for most of his life, served as the interim coach for the Washington Spirit in 2022 and also coached the U.S. U-17 women’s national team in 2011. Bay FC General Manager Lucy Rushton spoke on how Montoya’s name came up often while the club searched for a head coach, as well as how his skill at developing players will help build the club’s foundation.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja called for the supporters to continue filling Exploria Stadium and pushing the Lions forward for the team’s remaining home games this season.
  • St. Louis City midfielder Njabulo Blom won MLS Goal of the Week for his winner against Minnesota United. It was also the 23-year-old’s first professional goal.

That’s all I have for you today. Have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/27/23

Orlando City falls in power rankings, OCB will take on Columbus Crew 2 in MLS NEXT Pro playoffs, U.S. Open Cup final preview, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. There’s not much new with me, I’m just staying busy at work lately and hoping to catch some soccer this weekend. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Orlando City Drops Two Spots in Power Rankings

The latest MLS power rankings have been released and Orlando City fell two spots to fourth. The Lions lost their midweek matchup 2-0 on the road against New York City FC last Wednesday and closed out the weekend with a 1-1 draw against rival Inter Miami at Exploria Stadium. It wasn’t all bad this past week for the Lions, as Duncan McGuire scored his 11th goal of the year across all competitions. Despite losing to NYCFC a week ago, the Lions remain in second place in the Eastern Conference and are two points ahead of the Columbus Crew, Philadelphia Union, Atlanta United, and the New England Revolution.

OCB Will Take On Columbus Crew 2 in MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs

Orlando City B’s opponent for the first round of the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs was announced on Tuesday, as it will go on the road to take on defending champion Columbus Crew 2 on Oct. 1 at Historic Crew Stadium. As part of the new playoff format that lets higher seeds choose their opponents, Columbus chose to host OCB in the quarterfinals. The Young Lions closed out their regular season this past weekend with a 2-1 win against FC Cincinnati and finished fifth in the Eastern Conference. The Columbus Crew 2 finished its regular season with a 3-2 win against Atlanta United 2 to place third. The clubs split the regular season series, with OCB winning 4-1 on Aug. 27 and Columbus winning 4-0 on May 14. The conference semifinals will be on the following weekend, and the MLS NEXT Pro Cup final is set for Oct. 22.

U.S. Open Cup Final Preview

The 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup will conclude tonight with the final at DRV PNK Stadium as Inter Miami takes on the Houston Dynamo. The match will kick off at 8:30 p.m. and you can watch the match on Paramount+ or CBS Sports Network. Inter Miami’s journey included edging out Nashville SC 2-1 in the Round of 16 and needing to go all the way to penalties to knock out FC Cincinnati after a thrilling 3-3 draw in the semifinals. The Houston Dynamo began their run with a pair of 1-0 wins against the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Sporting Kansas City. Since the Round of 16, the Dynamo cruised past Minnesota United, the Chicago Fire, and Real Salt Lake to get to the final. Houston was on a seven-match unbeaten run before losing to Sporting Kansas City this past weekend. The Dynamo will look to add another U.S. Open Cup title after winning it back in 2018. Lionel Messi will reportedly be a game-time decision for tonight’s final after he didn’t play in Miami’s draw with Orlando.

Spain Wins First Home Match Since World Cup Victory

Spain’s women’s national team won its first match since lifting the World Cup trophy last month, cruising to a 5-0 win against Switzerland in a UEFA Nations League matchup. After dealing with the fallout of former Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales and players boycotting call-ups to the national team before a deal was reached last week, the team wore wristbands that read “Se Acabo,” meaning “this is over,” and players from both teams held a banner with the same phrase before the match. Spain celebrated its win in front of a record-breaking crowd of 14,194 fans that came out to support the team at Nuevo Arcangel Stadium.

Free Kicks

  • Carrie Lawrence and the Orlando Pride were hard at work preparing for the match on Monday against Angel City FC.
  • Angel City exercised its club option to extend former Pride forward Sydney Leroux’s contract through the end of the 2024 NWSL season.
  • The Canadian Women’s National Team defeated Jamaica 4-1 on aggregate to book a spot in next summer’s Olympics.
  • The Seattle Sounders have unveiled their new crest for next year.

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: 9/26/23

Pedro Gallese honored, Orlando Pride and Lions celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, Campeones Cup preview, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Tuesday, everyone. I won’t lie to you, I’m dragging a bit to start this week. I’m still recovering from being sick and frankly had to fight the urge to take Monday off. I’m soldiering on though, and there’s plenty of soccer happening this week to help keep me entertained and in good spirits. Let’s have a look at today’s links.

Pedro Gallese Recognized

Pedro Gallese turned in another superb performance during Orlando City’s 1-1 draw with Inter Miami on Sunday, and he’s been rewarded with a place in the most recent edition of the MLS Team of the Matchday. El Pulpo made four saves on the night, including a fantastic stop on a header from close range, and helped the Lions stay in the game until they could find the equalizer. Congratulations to Pedro, and here’s hoping he keeps up the good work!

Orlando Pride and Orlando City Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, Orlando Pride defender Celia fielded questions for fans to learn more about both her and Spain. Celia is from Alicante, a port city in southern Spain, and shared her favorite food, music, and activity while in her home country. She also spoke on a common misconception about spices used in Spain being spicy.

Orlando City’s Facundo Torres also shared the meaning behind some of his tattoos, which include the Uruguayan flag and La Paz, the city he grew up in. Orlando City’s match with CF Montreal on Saturday will also be Hispanic Heritage Night at Exploria Stadium.

Campeones Cup Preview

You can be forgiven if you forgot that the Campeones Cup is still a thing, because I know I did. Here’s a little refresher on the annual match. It’s being played tomorrow night at BMO Stadium between LAFC and Tigres, the reigning MLS and Liga MX champions, respectively. The MLS representative has won three out of the four contests, with Tigres beating Toronto FC 3-1 in the first iteration of the competition in 2018. This match will also be a rematch of the 2020 Concacaf Champions League final, which saw Tigres emerge victorious 2-1 at Exploria Stadium.

Americans in Midweek Action

A number of Americans will be taking part in games for their clubs this week. Tim Weah and Weston McKennie’s Juventus will take on Lecce today in Serie A, while Chris Richards and Crystal Palace face Manchester United in the Carabao Cup. Christian Pulisic and Yunus Musah have a league match when AC Milan plays Cagliari tomorrow. PSV Eindhoven has a game against Go Ahead Eagles tomorrow as well, which means Ricardo Pepi, Sergino Dest and Malik Tillman could all be involved. Friday closes out the week with Hoffenheim taking on Borussia Dortmund, which could see John Brooks matched up against Gio Reyna depending on Reyna’s fitness.

Spanish Players Will Testify Against Rubiales

Alexia Putellas, Irene Paredes, and Misa Rodriguez have all been called to testify as witnesses in the case against Luis Rubiales. Jenni Hermoso’s brother and a friend of the player both testified on Monday afternoon, as Rubiales is facing charges of sexual assault and coercion. Rubiales has already testified and maintains he did nothing wrong amid uproar that has led to a number of Spanish players refusing to return to the team until changes are made, and a general overshadowing of Spain’s victory at the Women’s World Cup. Putellas, Paredes, and Rodriguez will testify next Monday.

Free Kicks

That’s all I have for today. Y’all stay safe out there!

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