Lion Links: 11/16/22
Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all of you are doing well down in Florida. I’ve been busy with work lately, but there are only a few days to go before the 2022 FIFA World Cup kicks off. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.
Orlando Pride Announce Roster Decisions
The Orlando Pride announced their roster decisions following the 2022 NWSL season. While there were no major surprises, we can expect another rebuilding year next season for the Pride. The Pride picked up the options for Julie Doyle, Gunny Jonsdottir, and Kylie Strom for the 2023 NWSL season. The Pride made new offers to Jordyn Listro, Viviana Villacorta, Celia, Carrie Lawrence, and Courtney Petersen. The club decided not to bring back Thais Reiss, Parker Roberts, and Chelsee Washington, and they will enter the waiver wire. Meggie Dougherty Howard, Toni Pressley, Erika Tymrak, and Marta will be eligible to test NWSL free agency for the first time, but the club is in discussions with all four players about returning to the Pride in 2023. There are 12 Pride players who remain under contract, including Haley Bugeja, Darian Jenkins, Leah Pruitt, Ally Watt, Mikayla Cluff, Kerry Abello, Caitlin Cosme, Haley Hanson, and Megan Montefusco. Goalkeepers Kaylie Collins, Erin McLeod, and Anna Moorhouse also remain under contract.
Pride Sign Ally Watt to a New Contract
The Orlando Pride and Ally Watt agreed to a new contract that will keep her at the club through the 2024 NWSL season. Watt joined the club three months ago when she was acquired in a trade with the OL Reign in exchange for $125,000 in Allocation Money. Watt made six appearances for the Pride after the trade, starting in one match and playing 219 minutes. Watt also scored a goal in her debut but didn’t have any assists for the Pride. She missed the season finale for the Pride due to a wrist injury. The 25-year-old has potential and brings pace up front in the attack. Hopefully, if Watt can stay healthy next season, it can be a huge boost for the Pride offensively.
Kelley O’Hara Signs with Gotham FC
Former Washington Spirit defender Kelley O’Hara announced that she has signed with NJ/NY Gotham FC.
— NJ/NY Gotham FC (@GothamFC) November 16, 2022
O’Hara makes NWSL history as the first player to sign with a new team via free agency. She previously played with the club from 2013 to 2017 when it was known as Sky Blue FC. O’Hara made 24 appearances for the Spirit and scored the game-winning goal in the 2021 NWSL Championship game to clinch the Spirit their first title. O’Hara will boost a Gotham defense that conceded 46 goals this past season.
Ashlyn Harris Gets a New Gig with Gotham FC
NJ/NY Gotham FC announced that former Orlando Pride and USWNT goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris will move up to the front office in a new role as the club’s global creative advisor. Harris announced her retirement from professional soccer earlier this week. In her new role, Harris will drive collaborations between Gotham FC and brands to steer the club’s artistic direction alongside the marketing team. Harris has experience as a brand ambassador for Adidas and worked as a model for Elite Model Management. Harris also did brand ambassador work and marketing collaboration for Ally Bank, Hertz, and Procter & Gamble.
Potential Breakout Stars to Keep an Eye on at the World Cup
Stars and Stripes FC identified some players who can impress in the World Cup. Almoez Ali has 42 goals in 85 appearances with Qatar and could be the star of the tournament’s first match on Sunday. In Group B, American midfielder Yunus Musah could be crucial for the USMNT to succeed in a group that also includes England’s Jude Bellingham and Welsh midfielder Daniel James. Mexico’s Uriel Antuna, Polish forward Karol Swiderski, and Swiss forward Breel Embolo are a few of the other players to watch in Qatar. It will also be the World Cup debut for Canada’s Alphonso Davies, who will play as a forward for his team.
More MLS Clubs Make Roster Decisions
FC Cincinnati announced that it declined the option of defender Geoff Cameron. New York City FC declined the options on midfielders Matias Pellegrini and Gedion Zelalem, while goalkeeper Sean Johnson is out of contract. Sporting Kansas City re-signed goalkeeper Tim Melia and is working on retaining Graham Zusi, Roger Espinoza, and Andreu Fontas as well. The runners-up in this year's MLS Cup final, the Philadelphia Union, picked up the option on Kai Wagner and are conversing with forward Corey Burke and former Orlando City goalkeeper Joe Bendik on returning next season. MLS Cup champion LAFC exercised the options for Kellyn Acosta, Latif Blessing, Mamadou Fall, and goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau.
- NYCFC reportedly reached an agreement to build a soccer-specific stadium in Queens, with the project expected to be completed in 2027.
- Although he only joined this past summer, Italian defender Domenico Criscito will not be with Toronto FC next season.
Domenico Criscito will leave Toronto with immediate effect. Contract to be terminated by mutual agreement. 🚨🔴 #TorontoFC @SkySport
Criscito will return to Italy as he has not decided his future yet. Toronto, now at work to sign new left back. #MLS pic.twitter.com/CeNpinWt62
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) November 15, 2022
- The NWSL announced that the 2023 NWSL Draft will be held during the United Soccer Coaches Convention in Philadelphia on Jan. 12.
- France and RB Leipzig star Christopher Nkunku will miss the World Cup after suffering a sprain on his left knee in training less than a week before France's first match against Australia.
- Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has reportedly informed his bosses that Cristiano Ronaldo should not play for the club again.
- Some USMNT players shared their memories of dealing with trash talk over the years and goalkeeper Matt Turner mentioned his experience playing against Orlando.
"It's just fun to get into players' heads, so I like to do it sometimes."
The @USMNT shares their funniest examples of trash talk on the pitch 🇺🇸⬇️ pic.twitter.com/aIZGymkoJu
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 15, 2022
That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Wednesday and I’ll see you next time.
Lion Links: 6/6/23
Lions earn weekly honors, OCSC headed in the right direction, Kylie Strom lands on NWSL Best XI of May, and more.
Happy Tuesday, everyone. I got absolutely clattered during my Sunday league game over the weekend, and I’ve been hobbling around ever since. Fortunately, my fingers still work just fine, because there are plenty of things to talk through this morning. Let’s get after it.
Lions Earn Weekly Honors
Orlando was well represented on the MLS Team of the Matchday following a 3-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls Saturday night. Facundo Torres and Ivan Angulo were both named to the starting lineup, while Oscar Pareja was given the nod as head coach. Torres scored two goals and Angulo recorded a goal and an assist in the victory. Dave Rohe gave Torres a 7.5 and Angulo an 8, along with the Man of the Match award, in our player grades. It was nice to see other people take notice of the performances they put in. Keep up the good work, fellas!
OCSC Heading in the Right Direction
Orlando City got the complete performance that it’s been looking for in recent weeks, and Oscar Pareja is very pleased with what he saw from his team. He went out of his way to highlight the fact that the Lions stayed vigilant and didn’t relax and give up a goal as the game went on, something that’s been a problem at times this year. While Pareja said that things aren’t perfect yet, he and Torres were both of the opinion that the team is playing better lately, and Torres said that Saturday was OCSC’s best performance of the season.
Kylie Strom Earns Monthly Plaudits
Orlando Pride defender Kylie Strom has been named to the NWSL Best XI for the month of May. Strom started in each of the Pride’s four matches during May and went the full 90 minutes in all but one of them. She helped anchor a back line that only gave up two goals during those four games, but the highlight of her month came during the team’s home game against the Washington Spirit. Strom scored the winning goal in the second half as the Pride handed the Spirit their first loss of the season. Here’s hoping she continues the good form!
Fines and Bans Proposed for Vinicius’ Abusers
The four men accused of hanging an effigy of Vinicius Jr. from a bridge are set to have hefty punishments levied against them. Spain’s anti-violence commission has proposed fines of €60,001 and two-year stadium bans as a result of their actions. Additionally, the three men accused of racially abusing the Brazilian winger during a match against Valencia may be given fines and a one-year stadium ban as well. All seven were arrested and, although they’ve been released, could still face criminal charges, although that would be unprecedented. The Real Madrid player has suffered repeated instances of racial abuse since arriving in Spain. Hopefully the punishments will do something to deter the ugly incidents from occurring.
- Orlando City has picked up more points on the road than any other team in the Eastern Conference.
- Former Lions Daryl Dike and Cyle Larin made the bench of a team of MLS exports who had great seasons abroad.
- Ange Postecoglou is reportedly set to become Tottenham’s next coach.
- Christian Pulisic spoke about the difficulties he had at Chelsea during the past season.
- Real Madrid reportedly sees Harry Kane as the best option to replace Karim Benzema, but knows that signing him will be difficult.
That’s all for me today. Y’all stay safe out there.
Lion Links: 6/5/23
Torres could be turning the corner, lights go out on OCB, U-20 USMNT knocked out of World Cup, and more.
Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers. It was quite the packed weekend of soccer, so I won’t blame you if you’re a little tired starting out your week. Orlando City’s victory over the New York Red Bulls was certainly the highlight, and I hope the Lions’ form continues next weekend when I come down to Exploria Stadium for the match against the Colorado Rapids. Let’s get to the links.
Torres Could Be Turning a Corner
Facundo Torres scored a brace in the match against the New York City Red Bulls on Saturday night, and perhaps it is the type of performance that will kick his season into gear. We saw the same thing last season, as Torres started slowly but came on in the second half of the season. Hopefully, Saturday’s match serves as notice he is about to do the same in 2023.
Torres’ two goals doubled his production on the season, with three of the four goals coming against the Red Bulls, and two of them on penalty kicks. Orlando City has desperately needed Torres to find his form. His performance earned him a nomination for MLS Player of the Matchday, so vote early and vote often.
Toronto FC II Turns Lights Out on OCB
OCB traveled to the Great White North to take on Toronto FC II at York Lions Stadium in Toronto, Ontario. It was a difficult night for the Young Lions as Toronto took an early lead and then doubled it before the end of the half. Mason Stajduhar made the start for OCB since Javier Otero was on international duty with Venezuela, but he was unable to help OCB, as the team in front of him played poorly.
After Toronto scored the third goal of the match to go up 3-0, the lights in the stadium went out, much like the hopes of any chance at a comeback for the Young Lions. It was supposed to be a short delay, but that was not the case. Ultimately, lights or no lights it was a night to forget for OCB. The lights never came back on and the match was abandoned and ruled a 3-0 final due to a local curfew. Sean Rollins has your partial match recap.
U-20 USMNT Crashes Out of the U-20 World Cup
The U-20 USMNT team lost 2-0 to Uruguay in the quarterfinal match of the FIFA U-20 World Cup, continuing a trend of the U.S. bowing out in the same round. Heading into the match, the U.S. hadn’t given up a goal in the competition. That all changed in the 21st minute, when Uruguay’s Anderson Duarte scored to put his side up early. The U.S. didn’t help their cause in the second half thanks to an own goal by Joshua Wynder. Even when the U.S. started to get chances on goal, they would be blocked by their own teammates or take a bounce the wrong way. It was as if all the good luck and quality the team played with to get to the quarterfinal was turned against them. It was fun while it lasted.
U-20 USWNT Falls to Mexico in Concacaf Final
Two days after qualifying for the U-20 Women’s World Cup, thanks to a 2-1 win over Costa Rica, the U-20 USWNT lost to Mexico in the Concacaf U-20 Women’s Championship match by the same 2-1 score. Both teams left it late, with Mailin Orozco starting the scoring for Mexico and Onyeka Gamero equalizing for the U.S. A bit of poor defending allowed Mexico to get the game winning goal from Fatima Servin in the 87th minute.
- The U-16 Men’s Youth National Team closed out the 2023 International Dream Cup with a 2-1 win over the U-16 Nigeria Youth National Team. Orlando City academy goalkeeper Zackory Campagnolo got the start for the U.S.
- Former Lion Cyle Larin’s Real Valladolid were relegated to La Liga 2 thanks to a final day 0-0 draw with Getafe. Larin Lead Real Valladolid with seven goals on the season in only 13 appearances.
- LAFC took on Leon in the second leg of the Concacaf Champions League final Sunday night. Leon came into the match up 2-1 on aggregate and won the 2023 Concacaf Champions League.
- During the Concacaf Champions League match, Aaron Long attempted a header for LAFC and had to be subbed off due to concussion protocols. It’s a good example of why the protocols are in place.
- Israel shocked Brazil, defeating the favorites 3-2 in the quarterfinal of the U-20 World Cup. This is Israel’s first appearance at the competition and the team will now face Uruguay in the semifinals.
- There were much bigger names in the $1 million, 7v7 The Soccer Tournament, but in the end it was Newtown Pride that captured the prize, outlasting teams like Wrexham AFC and a team made up of former USWNT players (which lost to Wrexham, 12-0). The club, which beat SLC FC in the final, will donate a portion of their winnings to Sandy Hook Elementary School charities.
- Folarin Balogun scored in his final match for Reims in Ligue 1 and is now looking forward to a call-up to the USMNT at the Nations League competition.
That will do it for today. If you make it either the Orlando City or Orlando Pride match this weekend, I hope to see you. Please say hello.
Lion Links: 6/3/23
The Orlando Pride hit the road, OCB players called up, USMNT U-20 squad can make history, and more.
Merry match day morning, Mane Landers! I hope you have multiple screens ready as both Orlando City and the Orlando Pride are in action this evening. Hopefully, it will be a weekend of better results for the clubs, as both are coming off difficult results. It’s been a busy week for me already and it won’t slow down anytime soon, so enjoying matches is a nice break. Let’s get to the links.
Orlando Pride Start a Busy Stretch
The Orlando Pride are heading west to play the Houston Dash tonight, followed by an NWSL Challenge Cup match against NJ/NY Gotham FC on Wednesday, and then back to Exploria Stadium to host the Portland Thorns next Sunday. Three games in nine days will test the club’s depth and it’s reasonable to expect a heavily rotated side in the Challenge Cup match. The Pride enter tonight looking for a second straight win over the Dash. To make that a reality the Pride will need to create and this time convert on the chances on goal.
OCB Venezuelan Call-ups
Goalkeeper Javier Otero and fullback/winger Moises Tablante have been called up to the Venezuelan National Football Team for a pair of friendlies this month (translate). Venezuela will face Honduras on June 15 in Washington, D.C. and Guatemala at Rentschler Field on June 18 in East Hartford, Connecticut.
Orlando City B may only be without them for one match, but the team will certainly miss the pair during the time they are on international duty. Otero has been very good in goal, and Tablante has been contributing to the attack. Of course, it is an honor for both to represent their national team and we wish them well.
Pride Month Kicks Off
Both Orlando City and the Orlando Pride are celebrating Pride Month with logo changes for both squads. The Pride will be hosting the “Pride in our City” match against the Portland Thorns on June 11 in tribute to the victims of the Pulse Nightclub tragedy.
The Lions and the Pride are only two of many other sports teams to recognize and celebrate the LGBTQIA+ communities in June. Other teams include the Wilf-owned Minnesota Vikings and Florida-based Major League Baseball club, the Tampa Bay Rays.
USMNT U-20 Opportunities
When the U-20 USMNT squad meets Uruguay on Sunday there is the possibility that some of the players will also make an appearance for the senior squad in the 2026 World Cup. It’s also possible that this team can advance, possibly to the final. If so, they will make history. If the team makes it past Uruguay either Brazil or Israel will await in the semifinal. Of course, the U.S. is not the only team in Argentina with a path to the trophy.
- Orlando City’s match against the New York Red Bulls is a must watch for the faithful of the two clubs, but evidently not anyone else. Some feel that it is a must-watch in the way a car wreck is. Personally, I think that the way the Red Bulls play contributes to the ugliness way more than Orlando City does, but I am biased. Feel free to check out one of the more “watchable” matches on Saturday night if you want, but I’ll be tuning in to watch our Lions.
- Dallas United was removed from The Soccer Tournament (TST) by tournament officials on the basis of racial slurs made in the team’s match against West Ham United players. Such comments violated the code of conduct for the competition and the West Ham players walked off in protest. Do better, Dallas United.
- The MLS Disciplinary Committee dealt out several fines to some players and one suspension to DC United’s Lewis O’Brien for a serious foul against CF Montreal. Miraculously, no Orlando City players were fined.
- On a happier note, the MLS All-Star week kicks off on July 15. Here is a list of the events for the week. The Leagues Cup follows soon after, with Orlando City starting things off with a match against the Houston Dynamo.
- Members of the USMNT will be playing for their clubs this weekend, including Folarin Balugon in likely his last match for Reims.
- Sergio Ramos will play his last match for Paris Saint-Germain today. Ramos’ contract was not renewed, and he will be available on a free transfer.
- Daniel Farke is out at Borussia Mönchengladbach after just one season. Farke did manage wins against both Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, but finished in 10th place in the Bundesliga standings.
- Colin Smith is leaving his role as the chief operating officer in charge of the World Cup division for FIFA. He oversaw the upcoming 2023 Women’s World Cup and the planning of the 2026 World Cup in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The departure is amicable and mutually agreed upon.
- If you’re like me, you’ve never heard of the tech brand, Oppo. It is a partially-state owned Chinese company, and does not sell its product in the U.S. Of course, I’m certain you are familiar with former Orlando City player, Kaká. It turns out that he is a “Global Brand Ambassador” for Oppo, and recently made a trip to Indonesia in that role as a part of the company’s partnership with the 2023 UEFA Champions League. This was the welcome he received.
That will do it for today. Check back for our coverage of both Orlando City and the Orlando Pride. Vamos Orlando!
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