Lion Links: 11/28/22
Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers! We are one sleep away from the USMNT’s match against Iran. I quite literally switched my work schedule so that I can be off to watch this match for the U.S. There is no shame if you are not able to do so. I had to watch the first two matches at work. However, if you are able to be at a watch party for this important match, do so. Let’s get to the links.
USMNT Ready for Iran
The USMNT will play Iran in the final match of the group stage for each country. The U.S. needs to win to advance to the knockout round of the World Cup. The last time the two teams met in a World Cup match was in 1998 when Iran defeated the Yanks 2-1 in the group stage. The U.S. will be looking for a very different result this go around. Iran is the 20th ranked team in the world according to FIFA’s rankings while the U.S. is ranked 16th. Here is everything else you need to know about the USMNT’s next opponent.
The big news ahead of the match involved U.S. Soccer removing the Islamic Republic symbol from the Iranian flag on a social media post. It was done in support of women’s rights in Iran, though the players didn’t know about it until a press conference. Walker Zimmerman, who is part of the team’s leadership council, reiterated their support of women’s rights. The post was taken down, but Iran’s football federation is reportedly calling on FIFA to ban the USMNT for 10 matches.
US Soccer will restore the Islamic Republic emblem to Iran's flag after briefly removing it. “We wanted to show our support for the women in Iran with our graphic for 24 hours.” State-affiliated Tasnim reports the Iranian FF will ask FIFA to ban the #USMNT for 10 games. pic.twitter.com/nAqr2k3gqJ
— Ben Jacobs (@JacobsBen) November 27, 2022
If you weren’t already supporting the U.S. in this match, beating a country that has arrested over 18,000 people who are protesting for women’s rights, including some players from its national team setup, is a really good reason to do so.
Canada Crashes Out of the World Cup
Former Lions Cyle Larin, Richie Laryea, and Kamal Miller all started in Canada’s 4-1 loss to Croatia on Sunday. The Canucks scored in the second minute to take a 1-0 lead over Croatia. Alphonso Davies made history as it was Canada’s first goal in a men’s World Cup. It all went downhill from there, with Croatia scoring four unanswered goals to eliminate Canada from the World Cup. Canada will play its final match of the 2022 World Cup on Thursday against Morocco.
World Cup Group Stage Heats Up
It was a day of upsets in the other two matches on Sunday. Last Wednesday, Costa Rica lost 7-0 to Spain and Japan beat Germany, 2-1. Costa Rica looked helpless, and Japan defeated a traditional powerhouse. On Sunday, Los Ticos stepped up and blanked Japan 1-0. It took Costa Rica until the 81st minute for Keysher Fuller to put the Concacaf team on top. It was Costa Rica’s first goal and first shot on target of the tournament. On Thursday, Costa Rica will play a German side that found a late goal in a 1-1 draw with Spain. After a scoreless first half, Alvaro Morata gave Spain the lead in the 62nd minute, but Niclas Füllkrug gave Germany hope with an equalizer in the 83rd. Germany will still need to defeat Costa Rica on Thursday to have any chance at advancing to the Round of 16.
Morocco stunned Belgium with a 2-0 win thanks to goals from Romain Saïss and Zakaria Aboukhlal in the second half. After winning, Morocco now finds itself in a great position to advance and has a chance to win Group F in its match against Canada.
Reports Link Sergio Busquets, Lionel Messi With Inter Miami
Miami is reportedly bringing in Sergio Busquets next season.
Sergio Busquets will sign for Inter Miami next season, reports @juanmacastano pic.twitter.com/jVNTR668Dr
— B/R Football (@brfootball) November 27, 2022
Sunday also brought more (but not new) reports of Lionel Messi reportedly being set to sign with Inter Miami CF following the World Cup. Messi is expected to join Miami from Paris Saint-Germain following the European season. The 35-year-old would likely become the highest-paid player in MLS history if he were to join Miami. Busquets and Messi were teammates at FC Barcelona and David Beckham would have to break the bank to bring both in.
There is no telling how these players would fit under Miami’s salary cap or how they would make everyone fit into three Designated Player slots.
- It is incredibly rare that I agree with Wayne Rooney, but it does happen. Rooney called out English fans for booing after the draw against the USMNT. He said that such fans are “stubborn about recognizing the qualities of the opposition.” He is in a position to know.
- Messi and Argentina played Mexico in front of 88,966 fans, the largest crowd at the World Cup since Brazil beat Italy in the 1994 World Cup final in the Rose Bowl.
- Florida State University’s women’s soccer team once again advanced to the College Cup after defeating the Arkansas Razorbacks. The Seminoles will face the University of North Carolina in the semifinals.
- A pair of German soccer fans were stopped by security for sporting rainbow-colored apparel.
That will do it for today. Go USA!
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!
Lion Links: 6/2/23
Orlando City prepares for the Red Bulls, Pride focused on bouncing back, Inter Miami and Phil Neville part ways, and more.
I hope this Friday finds you well as we all get ready for another weekend of Orlando soccer. Tomorrow is my birthday and I’m looking forward to battling the eternal march of time with some watermelon mojitos and a cheeseburger. It should be a nice weekend. Hopefully the next few days go smoothly for you as well. Now, let’s get this Friday started with today’s links!
Orlando City Prepares for the New York Red Bulls
Orlando City is back in action tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. in a road match against the New York Red Bulls. The Lions have not lost in their past four matches against the Red Bulls, including a 1-0 win at home in this year’s season opener. Plenty has changed for the Red Bulls since that match, with Troy Lesesne now at the helm after the dismissal of Gerhard Struber last month. The Lions catch the Red Bulls just a few days after they beat Inter Miami 1-0 on the road. Orlando is currently on a four-game unbeaten streak, but two of the draws were due to allowing late equalizers at home. Captain Mauricio Pereyra talked about the team’s need for consistency throughout a match.
“It’s the belief in the work that we are doing, because nothing is changed from this last game or even in Miami,” he said. “If we compare with the other games, I mean, it’s the same team with the same players and the same quality. The only thing that changed I think, is the mentality and the mindset that we had, that we believe that the work that we’re doing is correct. … Consistency is what we need during the tournament, we see more times during the game against Atlanta. But we have to do it in 90 minutes if you want to get results.”
Pereyra is in his fifth year with the Lions and would make his 100th start for Orlando should he do so tomorrow. Cesar Araujo has been a key part of Orlando’s success since joining the club and could make his 50th appearance in tomorrow’s match. Both midfielders could prove key for Orlando against Luquinhas and the rest of the Red Bulls.
Orlando Pride Aim to Bounce Back
Although they created plenty of chances and played well, the Orlando Pride’s four-game unbeaten run came to an end last weekend against the Chicago Red Stars. Capitalizing on those chances is a focal point for the Pride in training as they get ready for a road match against the Houston Dash tomorrow night at 8:30 p.m. It’s the first of three games in seven days for the Pride as they look to maintain their hunger to win despite the recent loss. Midfielder Erika Tymrak spoke on how the team is cultivating a winning culture this year.
“I think it starts in training and [the coaching staff] have created such a good training environment that when we do not get the result we wanted, we are upset, we’re disappointed,” Tymrak said, “We had a few off days after the game, and we just want to get back and play and get better. So I think it’s an important mentality to have and it’ll take us through the season.”
Orlando City B Heads North to Face Toronto FC II
After a May of mixed results, Orlando City B hits the road to take on Toronto FC II this Sunday at 8 p.m. It will be the second meeting between the two teams this season, with the Young Lions winning 3-2 at Osceola Heritage Park on April 30. The offense is trending in the right direction, with Jack Lynn scoring his fourth goal in three games and Alex Freeman tallying his fifth goal contribution of the season in OCB’s 3-2 win over New York Red Bulls II on Monday. Shak Mohammed, Orlando City’s 2023 MLS SuperDraft first-round pick, also scored his first goal of the season in that match, so hopefully he can build on that moving forward. OCB will face a Toronto side that has lost its past two matches, both on the road.
Phil Neville Fired By Inter Miami
Following its 10th loss in15 games this season, Phil Neville is no longer the head coach of Inter Miami. Neville was named head coach in January of 2021, and led the team to the playoffs last year. However, there’s been a lack of consistency for Miami during his tenure and no club has lost more games this season than the Herons. Miami also parted ways with former Orlando City head coach Jason Kreis, who was named as an assistant coach in March of 2021. Javier Morales will serve as interim head coach, with other coaches remaining in their existing roles, including former Orlando City academy director Darren Powell as an assistant coach.
USMNT Roster Announced for Concacaf Nations League
B.J. Callaghan, who became the interim head coach of the United States Men’s National Team earlier this week, called up 24 players for the training camp roster in preparation of the Concacaf Nations League later this month. Four goalkeepers made this roster before it gets trimmed down to 23 players, including Matt Turner and Maccabi Haifa’s Josh Cohen. Folarin Balogun committed to the U.S. just last month and will be on the team alongside fellow forwards Ricardo Pepi and Alex Zendejas. Tyler Adams is out due to injury, but the midfield is still filled with notable names such as Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah, and Giovanni Reyna. The U.S. will clash with Mexico on June 15 in Las Vegas, with the championship match taking place against either Canada or Panama on June 18.
- The Orlando Pride remained in ninth in CBS Sports‘ NWSL power rankings following their 1-0 road loss to the Chicago Red Stars.
- Angel City FC signed French midfielder Amandine Henry to a three-year contract. The 33-year-old joins Angel City after six seasons with Olympique Lyonnais in France.
- The Philadelphia Union have signed defensive midfielder Jose Martinez to a contract extension that will keep him in Philly through 2025, with an option for 2026 as well.
- The NWSL’s expansion team in San Francisco will be called Bay FC, which is an incredibly boring choice, in my opinion.
- American goalkeeper Zack Steffen underwent knee surgery and will reportedly be out for three to four months as a result.
- American defender John Brooks was named Hoffenheim’s Player of the Month. Brooks started in all four of the German club’s matches in May, helping Hoffenheim escape relegation.
- Qualification for next year’s U-20 Women’s World Cup is up for grabs today, as the U.S. takes on Costa Rica and Canada faces Mexico in the Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship semifinals.
- In the U-20 World Cup, Uruguay beat Gambia, 1-0, and will face the U.S. in the quarterfinals on Sunday.
- French striker Karim Benzema will reportedly join Saudi Arabian club Al Ittihad when his contract with Real Madrid expires this month.
That’s all for now, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your week.
Lion Links: 6/5/23
Orlando City B vs. Toronto FC II: Final Score 3-0 as OCB Falls in Shortened Game
Orlando City at New York Red Bulls: Player Grades and Man of the Match
Orlando City at New York Red Bulls: Three Keys to Victory
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