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Lion Links: 11/5/22



Welcome to Saturday, Mane Land fam! In case you quit watching MLS after Orlando City was eliminated, this is your friendly reminder that the MLS Cup final is happening today. While I definitely wish the Lions were playing in the match, soccer is soccer — so I’ll tune in nonetheless. I’m going with a scoring frenzy prediction of 3-2 to LAFC. Philadelphia Union will take an early lead, but LAFC’s bench will fight back and get the job done at home.

Before we head into the links, I would like to take a moment and wish my wife a happy anniversary! It’s hard to believe that it has already been 365 days since we teamed up for life. Here’s to many, many more. Now, on to today’s links!

Predicting the MLS Cup Winner

For the first time since 2003, the MLS Cup will be contested between the top seeds of each conference. The two clubs will battle it out in one final match today at Banc of California Stadium starting at 4 p.m. While many experts have given their predictions, they are fairly split on which club will wind up on top.

Historically, the home-field advantage has been a massive help to the team that earned it. The last time visitors won without needing a penalty shootout was in 2015 when the Portland Thorns beat the Columbus Crew at Mapfre Stadium. If you are wondering who the oddsmakers and bettors have their money on, BetMGM’s odds has LAFC as the favorite to win. Be sure to let us know in the comments below how you think this match will play out.

Two American Coaches Square Off in MLS Cup

No matter how the MLS Cup final plays out, both Steve Cherundolo and Jim Curtin have had strong seasons as coaches for LAFC and the Union, respectively. It will surely be a rough loss for whichever team falls short, but both coaches retain reputations as part of a rising generation of American coaches. Cherundolo and Curtin were both nominated for MLS Coach of the Year, with Curtin claiming the honor.

Curtin’s tenure with the Union over the past eight years has not always been filled with success. Winning today would be the magnum opus on his resume after years of building a squad that could compete at the highest level. Meanwhile, Cherundolo has reached the MLS Cup final in his first season with LAFC. Unlike Curtin, Cherundolo inherited a squad with enough talent to immediately compete and he evolved much of the tactical framework that made LAFC so successful. 

As the United States Men’s National Team features some of the best players in its history, it needs a strong manager to guide the team. Current USMNT Head Coach Gregg Berhalter will likely be on the hot seat during the World Cup later this month. Should the position become vacant, both Cherundolo and Curtin could be in the conversation to coach the USMNT.

U.S. Soccer Announces Members of Safety Taskforce

The United States Soccer Federation announced the members and immediate priorities for the Participant Safety Taskforce, which will help drive change across all levels of U.S. soccer.

Former U.S. Women’s National Team midfielder Shannon Boxx and Maryland State Youth Soccer Association Executive Director Greg Smith will join Taskforce Chair Mana Shim as the group’s leadership. The group’s membership includes both current players, former players, and experts in fields such as human resources, law, and player safety.

“I am excited to work alongside these athletes, experts, medical professionals and advocates, who I know share my passion for action and change,” said Shim. “There is much to do, but I am confident we have a team with a wide range of experiences and viewpoints to change the culture in soccer from the ground up. Together, we will be defining new standards, policies, reporting systems and educational programs with the goal of eradicating abuse altogether from our sport.”

Keeping Up With the Americans Abroad

Players will have one final weekend of action before Berhalter names his World Cup roster on Wednesday, Nov. 9. If you are looking to catch any of your favorite national team players make one last case, there are plenty of opportunities to see them in action this weekend. Today, Fulham’s Tim Ream and Antonee Robinson will play on the road against Manchester City at 11 a.m. Giovanni Reyna, Tyler Adams, and Brenden Aaronson could also be in action today. Tomorrow could feature Christian Pulisic, Jordan Pefok, Yunus Musah, and Timothy Weah.

Not every American playing abroad is in the best of health though. USMNT goalkeeper Matt Turner missed his third straight match Thursday for Arsenal due to injury. AC Milan right back Sergiño Dest is another worry for the USMNT ahead of the World Cup. These are just two of the latest in a string of injuries plaguing the Americans in the build up to the World Cup. Celta Vigo midfielder Luca de la Torre, Celtic defender Cameron Carter-Vickers, and Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie are also recovering from injuries. Forward Josh Sargent missed Norwich’s match against Queens Park Rangers on Wednesday, but is available for today’s match against Rotherham. Berhalter will analyze the status of injured players on a “case-by-case basis” ahead of naming his roster for the World Cup.

Free Kicks

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you have a great weekend and find some enjoyment in the final MLS match of the year today. Next year, I’m sure the Lions will be on the hunt!

Lion Links

Lion Links: 10/3/23

Facundo Torres named to MLS Team of the Matchday, Orlando Pride beat Angel City FC, MLS midweek matchday preview, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It’s been a mixed bag for Orlando soccer over the last few days. Orlando City breezed past CF Montreal on Saturday, the Orlando Pride won to boost its playoff push, and Orlando City B dropped a heartbreaker to Columbus Crew 2 in the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs. As usual, there’s plenty to talk over this morning, so let’s get started.

Facundo Torres Makes Team of the Matchday

Facundo Torres has been named to the latest edition of the MLS Team of the Matchday following his efforts in Orlando City’s 3-0 win over CF Montreal on Saturday. Facu forced the own goal that opened the scoring, was involved in the buildup for the second tally, and bagged the final goal of the night himself. Beyond the stats, he was simply involved the whole game, constantly drifting into dangerous areas inside the fullbacks and causing Montreal’s defense all sorts of problems. He now has 13 goals and four assists in league play this year and is absolutely vital to the way the Lions want to play when in the attacking third. Marcus Mitchell rightly gave him Man of the Match honors in our player grades, and it’s nice to see him get recognition at the national level too. Here’s hoping he keeps it up.

Orlando Pride Win On the Road

The Orlando Pride beat Angel City FC 1-0 in a massive win on the road. It wasn’t a perfect performance, but the Pride scored in the first half and held on to win their ninth game of the season and remain in the playoff hunt. Following the win, Orlando sits in seventh in the league standings with two games to go. The Pride now control their own destiny and will clinch a spot in the postseason with wins against Racing Louisville and the Houston Dash to close out the season. Things remain incredibly tight in the standings, but the result made the Kansas City Current the first team to be eliminated from playoff contention this season.

Looking Ahead to Pivotal MLS Midweek Games

There are a number of big games taking place tomorrow during the 36th matchday of this MLS season. Obviously, Orlando City’s game against Nashville SC takes priority around these parts, as the Lions need a result against a team that’s given them fits if they want to maintain second place in the Eastern Conference. Another game with big ramifications for OCSC is the Philadelphia Union’s home game against Atlanta United. A victory for Philadelphia could see the Union draw level with the Lions if Orlando can’t get a result on the road, so that’ll be one to watch very closely. Finally, the New England Revolution are facing the Columbus Crew. A win for the Revs could see them leapfrog the Lions into second depending on how Orlando fares in the Music City, so there’s plenty at stake during tomorrow’s midweek slate.

Andre Blake Criticizes Heavy Matchload

If you play in Major League Soccer these days, you’re going to be putting a lot of miles on your legs. A sharp uptick in the number of matches played, combined with rosters that aren’t exactly in the deep end of the pool, means that guys are logging some serious minutes. Union goalkeeper Andre Blake was not shy in criticizing MLS for the number of matches that teams are playing this year. He has called the situation “ridiculous”, saying that the players are suffering and that the quality of the league will decrease as a result of injuries due to the overloaded schedules. Blake has an excellent point, particularly because many of the league’s top players will also play international fixtures in addition to club games, further adding onto an already untenable workload.

Free Kicks

  • Marta, Adriana, and Rafaelle have all been called up for Brazil’s upcoming friendlies.

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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 10/2/23

Orlando City’s trophy aspirations, the Orlando Pride playoff hunt, OCB falls to Columbus Crew 2, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers! Though I’m still reveling in the huge win over CF Montreal, I’m also looking ahead to a big week for both Orlando City and the Orlando Pride. It’s such a great time of the year with MLS and NWSL matches, plus the European leagues, and American football. So much to watch, so little sleep to be had. Let’s get to the links.

Lions Looking for Hardware

Orlando City set a record for wins and points in a season with the win over CF Montreal on Saturday night. Hopefully it’s a record that will be extended over the final three matches of the regular season. The coaches and the players certainly think that Orlando City has an opportunity to win the MLS Cup. Where the Lions finish in the standings will go a long way towards reaching the final and that all starts Wednesday night.

The Pride’s Playoff Push

The Orlando Pride continue their push to make the NWSL playoffs for the first time since the 2017 season with a trip across the country to take on Angel City FC later tonight. It is the first of two away matches this week — the last road games of the regular season. The Pride sit just above Angel City in the standings with the clubs in seventh and eighth places, respectively. The game will be Marta’s 100th match over all competitions. Securing three points over Angel City would make a big difference in the Pride’s race to the playoffs. Keep an eye out for our preview later today.

OCB Penalized Out of the Playoffs

On The Mane Land PawedCast, we often describe Orlando City B matches as being “drunk.” OCB’s 2-1 playoff loss to Columbus Crew 2 will definitely be described as such. There were three red cards, two penalties, and Jack Lynn didn’t score a goal for once. There were some questionable calls by both the refs and by OCB Head Coach Martin Perelman, but conceding only from the penalty spot while outscoring the hosts in the run of play won’t (and shouldn’t) sit well with the Young Lions. While the result is disappointing, one should remember that OCB is a development squad, and one that made the playoffs to boot.

USMNT Players in Action Abroad

USMNT players made some noise this weekend. Christian Pulisic played 82 minutes and scored AC Milan’s winning goal in the club’s 2-0 victory over Lazio. It was one of two shots on target for the American. Striker Folarin Balogun missed not one, but two penalty shots in Monaco’s match against Marseille. Fortunately, Balogun scored an equalizer in the run of play and his teammate secured the 3-2 win. The win moves Monaco to the top of Ligue 1.

Over in the Eredivisie, Malik Tillman got his first start for PSV. Tillman provided an assist and scored the game winner late in second-half stoppage time to give PSV a 3-1 win over FC Volendam. It was a Man of the Match performance by the American. In less good news, Tyler Adams will miss more time with AFC Bournemouth as he has had a setback with his hamstring injury. How long he will be out is still to be determined.

Free Kicks

That will do it for today. It’s a busy week coming up with Pride matches tonight and on Friday, and the Lions playing on Wednesday and Saturday. Check back for all of our coverage of your favorite teams. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/30/23

City’s home unbeaten run, Lions hunting for home field advantage, Facundo Torres loves scoring goals, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Welcome to the weekend, Mane Landers. The Lions are closing out the month of September at home tonight with CF Montréal. On Sunday, OCB takes on Crew 2, while the Orlando Pride have a late match against Angel City on Monday. I never hate this time of year, when it seems like at any moment we can turn on the TV and catch a match, whether it be Orlando-based or afar. I’m here for it.

Before we head into the links today, let’s take a moment to wish our Brazilian midfielder and master of the late match dark arts, Felipe, a happy birthday!

Orlando City Go Streaking at Home

After a disappointing 1-1 draw against Inter Miami, Orlando City is powering towards the playoffs. The Lions will take on CF Montréal at Exploria Stadium tonight at 7:30 p.m. The Lions enter the match riding an impressive 10-game unbeaten home streak in league play. On the other side of the ball, CF Montréal has gone five straight games without a win and sits eighth in the East battling hard to stay above the playoff line. Orlando City sits on the cusp of a record points total, with 51 currently tied for the best in club history. A win or draw against tonight’s Canadian opposition would make this the best MLS season in its ninth campaign since joining MLS in 2015.

“Obviously, the last game was a great effort from the team and, you know, you’re disappointed to not take the three points at the end and only be able to take the draw,” Orlando forward Martin Ojeda said.  “I think we’re gonna give that little bit extra in these last four games and continue pushing to try and put ourselves in second place or as high as we possibly can.”

Orlando City Hunts for Home Field Advantage

With just four games left in the season, two points separate Orlando City’s second-place position with the New England, which is currently in sixth. The close gap could pivot the upper half of the Eastern Conference table with a combination of different results across the league. While the Lions have clinched a playoff spot, they have yet to fully secure postseason home field advantage. All season the club’s preparation has led up to this crucial moment where a knockout round mentality can push them forward in locking down a playoff match in Exploria Stadium.

“We have pushed for two-and-a-half, three months towards us achieving these objectives and putting the team in the best place we can,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said. “Now we are in that spot, but we have to sustain it or even go higher. And knowing that in the playoffs, we need to be optimized to be sharp and advance.

Facundo Torres Keeps Scoring

With 12 goals and four assists, Uruguayan Designated Player Facundo Torres is having himself a great season heading into Matchday 35. As it stands, Torres sits tied for fourth in MLS goals and tied for third on the club in assists. If you need a hype video to get you pumped for the match tonight, take a look at this highlight reel showcasing the winger’s prowess in front of the net.

Orlando Pride Travel to Angel City

On Monday night, the Orlando Pride will kick off at 10 p.m. against Angel City at BMO Stadium. Orlando currently sits in seventh place, just a point behind the playoff line. This will be the second meeting between the two sides. In their first fixture, Angel City walked away the victors at Exploria Stadium in April with a 2-1 scoreline. An Angel City first-half goal by forward Claire Emslie was countered early in the second half by Pride forward Messiah Bright. However, it was the visiting team with the last laugh as Angel City forward Katie Johnson scored a last-gasp header at the death in the 10th minute of stoppage time to earn all three points.

Free Kicks

  • The Orlando City match day media team had quite the time trolling Inter Miami fans at Exploria Stadium.
  • Orlando Pride staff put in the extra work this week improving the team’s training facility.
  • The United States Men’s Deaf National Team earned a 1-0 win against England in the Round of 16 at the 2023 DIFA Men’s World Deaf Football Championships.
  • You can take as many steps as you want when walking up to strike a penalty, but the more you take, the worse you look when you fail at scoring. Just ask Neymar.

That’s all I have for you today. Enjoy the match at home tonight. Show up early and be loud. Every point counts this late in the game. Vamos Orlando!

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