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Lion Links: 11/19/22



Happy Saturday, Mane Landers. Did you know that on this day in 2013 Orlando City was announced as the 21st MLS club? While that might feel light years away now, the World Cup is not — it is finally upon us.

The news keeps coming down the pipeline. Some of it is good, and some of it is bad. The drama of the world’s greatest tournament is primed to start on Thanksgiving week (tomorrow, actually), and for that I am truly grateful. Soon, you will find me sitting on the couch with a plate of turkey and dressing and enjoying the beautiful game along with a delicious meal. Maybe it is too soon to say, but I might be more inclined for a Thanksgiving World Cup viewing than traditional Thanksgiving football.

Now that you are all salivating and dreaming of the perfect Thanksgiving meal, it’s on to the links!

Sebas Méndez Prepares for World Cup

Former Orlando City defensive midfielder Sebas Méndez was traded mid-season to LAFC. As Méndez struggled to earn back his starting spot from newcomer César Araújo, the club moved him on to LAFC for $300,000 in General Allocation Money. With a new club, Méndez began to find minutes on the pitch and eventually an MLS Supporters’ Shield, MLS Cup, and 2022 FIFA World Cup call-up.

Méndez played an important role in Ecuador’s qualification for the World Cup. The move to LAFC rekindled his form and helped land him an official spot on Ecuador’s final World Cup roster. He will be part of the third-youngest roster in Qatar with an average age of 25.6 years. Only Ghana and the United States have a younger average age. According to Méndez, the squad’s youth compared to other teams at the tournament will be an advantage rather than a handicap.

“I think that in the beginning, no one trusted maybe that such a young team could do what we did,” the 25-year-old midfielder said. “But there is a very important factor named Profe Alfaro. From that moment, to have the confidence of a new coach who didn’t care how old you were and played you, I think we realized that we could put together a good group.”

While having the weight of a whole country on your shoulders can be a large task, Méndez knows that trips to the World Cup can come few and far between. He intends to relish every moment of it and make the most of the opportunity.

“We have to enjoy this with the responsibility that comes with representing your country,” said Méndez. “We have something very beautiful to face and we hope to do it the best way possible.”

USMNT Welcomes Special Guests

During its first week of training ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the U.S. Men’s National Team has turned Al Gharafa Stadium into its home base. On Tuesday night, eight USMNT players and two coaches hosted 20 migrant workers who helped build the infrastructure behind the World Cup for some fun on the field. The next day, the team welcomed nearly 1,000 United States military and embassy staff based in Qatar to the team’s training session for a special experience.

The match event was organized by the Q22 Worker’s Welfare Department, with the players being chosen based on their success in participating in previous Worker’s Cup soccer tournaments held in Qatar. For the following day’s training session, USMNT Head Coach Gregg Berhalter and the team wanted to show their appreciation to all those serving the United States in Qatar and extended an invitation for them to watch Wednesday’s training session. Berhalter addressed the crowd at the start of training and thanked them for their service before midfielder Weston McKennie spoke. McKennie’s father is a United States serviceman, and he himself met USMNT legends Carlos Bocanegra and Landon Donovan when the team visited Ramstein Air Base in Germany ahead of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Now 16 years later, he will compete on the global stage himself.

MLS Coaches’ USMNT Predictions

We are just a day away from the start of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Soccer fans and experts all over the world are anxiously awaiting the first whistle and making bold predictions at how the whole tournament will play out. spoke with MLS coaches to see if they had any insight on the United States Men’s National Team players and odds.

Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes thinks Borussia Dortmund attacker Giovanni Reyna, a one-time New York City FC academy star, will be the USMNT’s X-factor. He even went so far as comparing him to USMNT legend Landon Donovan in 2002. Chicago Fire FC Head Coach Ezra Hendrickson noted the previous success of former USMNT goalkeepers as a usual strength for the Americans. He mentioned that a difference maker could be Arsenal backup goalkeeper Matt Turner, who joined the Premier League leaders from the New England Revolution this summer.

Hendrickson also laid out a clear path to the Round of 16. If the USMNT does not beat Wales, the Americans’ odds of moving on will be much less likely. He thinks the match on Monday is definitely the one to watch.

“If the assumption is England will win the group, then it means you must beat Wales,” he said. “If you don’t win it, then it becomes a little sketchy going forward. If you win that game and you go into England with three points in the bag, then maybe you tie and you’re likely looking at at least second place going into the Round of 16. But if you don’t come out with points in the Wales game, it can be a very, very difficult task to now try and get four more points after and get out of the group.”

Who do you think is going to be the most crucial player for the USMNT this tournament? What match are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below.

Qatar Reverses Course, Bans Beer

The 2022 World Cup host nation of Qatar has once again found itself in the media in a negative light. Aside from the deaths of migrant workers, moving the event to winter (due to the obvious failure to get air conditioning technology that didn’t exist into outdoor stadiums), the questionable tracking app, shipping container lodging, and overpriced food, the country’s government has now decided to disallow beer sales on site and at stadium perimeters during the World Cup. Qatar, like many Muslim countries, has very strict laws prohibiting alcohol.

Since the nation bid to host the tournament, many questioned how alcohol sales — among other things — would work with an event like the World Cup. Initially, a compromise was made in which fans could still purchase alcohol in designated fan areas, bars, and in areas outside of stadiums. This was a mend designed to bend the rules for foreigners, while keeping them intact for locals. However, FIFA has now announced Qatar’s backslide on the policy while trying to keep the peace with one of its major sponsors, Budweiser.

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  • Spezia Calcio is reportedly in talks to sign defender Joao Moutinho from Orlando City, though the Lions announced they are in talks to bring him back. His return likely depends on what kinds of offers the fullback gets from Europe.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have an awesome weekend. If you’re traveling early for Thanksgiving, please drive safely and share the road. Vamos Orlando!

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, which are 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.

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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/25/23

Orlando City draws with Inter Miami, Viviana Villacorta out for the season, OCB wins last game of the regular season, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Last night’s Orlando City match wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t the worst either. It’s a pretty fitting feeling on a Monday, as we all get back into the swing of the work week after a nice weekend of soccer. There are plenty of ups and downs from a rollercoaster Sunday, so let’s dive right into today’s links!

Orlando City Draws With Inter Miami

In the latest edition of the Tropic Thunder rivalry, Orlando City and Inter Miami split the points at Exploria Stadium in a 1-1 result. Miami struck first, but the Lions did well to find an equalizer, even though they couldn’t find a winner in the end. It wasn’t Orlando’s best game by any means, but it was a decent response to a 2-0 loss on the road to New York City FC. Orlando now has 51 points, tying its club record for the most points in a season, set in 2021. The Lions will have a chance to break that record on Saturday when they host CF Montreal.

Viviana Villacorta Out for the Season

Orlando Pride midfielder Viviana Villacorta will miss the remainder of the NWSL season after suffering an ACL tear in her left knee during training. The 24-year-old was selected with the ninth overall pick in the 2021 NWSL Draft, but was not able to make her debut until 2022 due to sustained an ACL tear in her right knee that kept her out for all of the 2021 season. This year, she has 21 appearances across all competitions for the Pride and notched the first assist of her career in a big road win against the San Diego Wave on April 29. This is a tough blow to the Pride’s midfield with just three games remaining as she has ended her season early due to injury for the third straight year. The Pride are only a point out of a playoff spot and are back in action on Oct. 2 against Angel City FC.

Orlando City B Wins On Decision Day

On the final day of the MLS NEXT Pro regular season, Orlando City B won 2-1 at home over FC Cincinnati 2. The Young Lions had already clinched a spot in the postseason heading into this match, but the win secured their spot as the fifth seed. Jack Lynn briefly held the Golden Boot lead after scoring, but ended up tied at 19 goals with New York City FC II’s Matt Myers and Colorado Rapids 2’s Remi Cabral. The trio ended in a three-way tie for the league’s Golden Boot honors. OCB will hit the road for its first MLS NEXT Pro playoff game, although the opponent is not yet known thanks to the new rule where higher seeds choose which team they want to face.

USWNT Wins in Megan Rapinoe’s Final Match

The United States Women’s National Team beat South Africa in a 2-0 win at Soldier Field. Trinity Rodman and Emily Sonnett scored and the defense did well to secure its second shutout against South Africa after a 3-0 win this past Thursday. This game also marked forward Megan Rapinoe’s final game with the USWNT, with the 38-year-old subbed off for the last time in the 54th minute. These were solid wins from the USWNT following the World Cup and it will aim to keep the momentum rolling next month in a pair of friendlies against Colombia.

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  • Three Orlando City academy sides came up with shutout victories this weekend.
  • Before the USWNT’s friendly with South Africa, U.S. Soccer Sporting Director Matt Crocker stated that plans remain in place for a new head coach to be at the helm in time for the training camp in December
  • American midfielder Yunus Musah did well in his AC Milan debut, playing all 90 minutes in a 1-0 win over Verona.
  • A match in the Netherlands between Ajax and Feyenoord had to be abandoned due to fans throwing fireworks onto the field while Feyenoord led 3-0. According to police, tear gas had to be used to stop unrest outside the stadium after the match, and Ajax later fired Sven Mislintat, its director of soccer.
  • Newcastle became the first English Premier League team to have eight different players score in a match after crushing Sheffield United, 8-0.
  • Atletico Madrid ended Real Madrid’s perfect start to the season by beating its rival 3-1, with Alvaro Morata bagging a brace.

That’s all I have for you today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have an easy Monday and rest of your week!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/23/22

Lions and Herons meet again, Carly Nelson is writing a book, NWSL free agency opens, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

Happy Founder’s Day, Mane Landers! It was on this day in 2014 that our fearless leader and Managing Editor Michael Citro started our first ever WordPress website. It’s safe to say that I’m sure The Mane Land has impacted your life as much as it has mine over the years, whether that be through daily reading or weekly podcasts. Cheers to Michael and all those who have come before me.

In my own personal news, I have been grinding away on the new EA FC 24 (the franchise formerly known as EA’s FIFA.) So far, the gameplay and updates have been great in my initial 15+ hours of play, and my online Ultimate Team is starting to really take its shape. I’m sure in a couple weeks that I’ll transition to a traditional Career Mode and take the Lions all the way to an MLS Cup and beyond.

Before we dive into today’s links, let’s all wish a very happy birthday to everyone’s favorite defensive midfielder, Wilder Cartagena!

Third Bout for Orlando City and Inter Miami

Orlando City and Inter Miami have already met twice this campaign. Sunday’s match will look to break the deadlock between the two rivals as both clubs have a victory to their name in this year’s series. In May, the Lions grabbed a 3-1 victory over the Fort Lauderdale-based club. The two sides met for a second time in the knockout round of Leagues Cup 2023 with Inter Miami taking the 3-1 result at DRV PNK Stadium. No matter the result this time around, Orlando City has already clinched a playoff spot, however, the Herons need every point they can get to attempt to do the same.

Carly Nelson, Goalkeeper and Author

It isn’t unheard of to learn that an athlete might have tried another sport before finding soccer, Orlando Pride goalkeeper Carly Nelson came from a background of gymnastics, tennis, basketball, and baseball before her father started a club soccer team with her in mind. While Nelson might have idolized USWNT legend Hope Solo as a child, she started her playing days as a forward, winger, and midfielder. Outside of protecting the Pride’s net, Nelson is spending time writing a book about her life growing up in Utah and the issues her family faced to hopefully help others that might find themselves in similar situations.

NWSL Opens 2024 Free Agency

The National Women’s Soccer League has officially opened the league’s unrestricted and restricted free agency periods. In accordance with the NWSL Players’ Association’s collective bargaining agreement, eligible free agents can begin negotiations for their 2024 Standard Player Agreements. Players eligible for unrestricted free agency include all who have at least five years of service within the NWSL and contracts expiring in 2023, while players eligible for restricted free agency include those who have at least three years of service. For the Orlando Pride, defender Kylie Strom is set to be an unrestricted free agent and midfielder Jordyn Listro is under restricted terms. Any club that currently holds the rights of a restricted free agent has a seven-day period to match an incoming offer from another club or else the player may sign with the new club under the terms of the offer.

USMNT’s Tyler Adams Nearing Return

Tyler Adams will not make his Bournemouth debut this weekend, but he could return as early as next week. Bournemouth’s manager, Andoni Iraola, provided a positive update on the U.S. Men’s National Team captain as he finishes up rehabbing a long-term hamstring injury.

“He has started this week at least to train partially with the group, so probably we can have a chance of having him next week or two weeks, something like this. Tyler is really close because once you start training partially with the group, it’s a matter of sensations, and if you are physically good enough. He has a very good physical base. So I think it will take not a long time to see Tyler with the team.”

Adams has not played since March after having a hamstring surgery. Even with a known injury, the 24-year-old still completed a move from Leeds United to Bournemouth following Leeds’ relegation to keep him in the top flight.

MLS Weekend Preview

Aside from the Florida derby, there are plenty of matches to be excited about around the league this weekend. Personally, I’m looking forward to catching a bit of the D.C. United and New York Red Bulls match. Manager Wayne Rooney’s club is right on the bubble in a tight Eastern Conference race while the Red Bulls can do themselves a huge service and come back into the playoff picture with a win. Out in the Western Conference, there is a real buzz around a Portland Timbers squad after a manager sacking. It could be a huge win for the Timbers and likely push them above the play-in round should they find a result against the Colorado Rapids.

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That’s all I have for you today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a fantastic Saturday. Be safe on Sunday at the match. Stay hydrated and look out for those around you. Vamos Orlando!

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