Happy Saturday, Mane Landers. It seems like just yesterday that the World Cup was getting underway. Now, we wake to jitters and nervous optimism as the USMNT begins its knockout-stage run this morning. It might be a morning kickoff here in the United States, but I hope it doesn’t detract from you getting to a watch party or gathering with family. The breweries are open, the brunch spots have their TVs on, and/or your grandma is up cooking pancakes. No matter where you choose to catch the match, I hope you know and believe in your heart of hearts that we will win. I know I believe that we will win! Now, on to the links!
Favian Loyola Signs Homegrown Contract
Orlando City has added the club’s 13th all-time Homegrown Player. Midfielder Favian Loyola has been signed to a three-year contract through the 2025 season with club options for 2026 and 2027. That contract officially goes into effect this upcoming Jan. 1. At only 17 years old, Loyola has plenty of time to grow into a fan favorite for Lions’ supporters. Loyola began the year on an academy contract, but ultimately played his way to the 2022 MLS NEXT All-Star Game, in which he was named MVP. Signing with the first team is clearly the icing on the cake for a player who earned his minutes and accolades every step of the way.
“Favian is an exciting young talent that we’re happy to have been able to help grow throughout the course of the last few years,” Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi said in a club press release. “His development and impact in the last year with Orlando City B amplified his continued improvement at every step since joining our academy, and we look forward to seeing his continued growth with our first team.”
LA Galaxy Sanctioned for 2019 Salary Violations
Major League Soccer has imposed sanctions on the LA Galaxy for violating salary budget and roster guidelines during the 2019 season. The LA Galaxy entered into undisclosed agreements and made unaccounted payments in the calculation of Cristian Pavón’s salary budget and roster category. The undisclosed agreements and payments resulted in the improper classification of Pavón as a Targeted Allocation Money player in 2019, when he should have occupied a Designated Player slot. The sanctions for the Galaxy include a $1 million fine and a $1 million loss of available future General Allocation Money. Additionally, the Galaxy will be prohibited from registering a player who requires the receipt of an International Transfer Certificate (ITC) from outside of the United States and Canada during the Secondary Transfer Window in 2023.
For his involvement in the agreements, Galaxy President Chris Klein has been suspended from any sporting-related responsibilities through the conclusion of the Primary Transfer Window in 2023. Additionally, former general manager Dennis te Kloese will be required to submit an application with the league should he wish to secure employment with any MLS club.
The United States Men’s National Team will kick off the knockout stage of the 2022 FIFA World Cup with a Round of 16 clash against Netherlands today at 10 a.m. The team is coming off an undefeated run through the group stage, including a 1-0 victory against Iran to clinch its knockout-round berth. With a victory today, the USMNT would claim its first quarterfinal appearance since 2002. The Dutch are currently ranked eighth in the world and back in the World Cup after missing the 2018 tournament. They enter the knockouts after going undefeated (2-0-1) and winning Group A.
Today marks the sixth meeting between the U.S. and the Netherlands all-time, with the Dutch holding a 4-1-0 advantage. However, it’s the two nations’ first meeting in official competition. The teams last met in a friendly match on June 5, 2015 in Amsterdam with the Americans walking away victorious, 4-3. After going down 3-1, the USMNT rallied to a comeback victory, with goals from John Brooks in the 70th minute, Danny Williams in the 89th, and Bobby Wood in the 90th. Current USMNT players Jordan Morris and DeAndre Yedlin both appeared in the match as second-half substitutes.
The news that everyone has eyes on since the USA-Iran match was that of injury status of star Christian Pulisic. We now all breathe a collective sign of relief, as Pulisic has been cleared to play.
UPDATE: Christian Pulisic has been cleared to play in tomorrow’s match versus Netherlands. pic.twitter.com/ANg2baaJez
— U.S. Men's National Soccer Team (@USMNT) December 2, 2022
Previewing the Round of 16
The 2022 FIFA World Cup group stage has come to a close. We now know which 16 teams will be moving on and have taken one final step closer to raising the greatest trophy in soccer. There are squads filled with world-beaters like Brazil, France, Argentina, and Spain. There are underdogs such as Japan, Australia, and Morocco. If you want to find a secondary team to support beyond the United States, all eight matches have something special to watch for. Following this morning’s match between the U.S. and the Netherlands, Argentina and Australia will kick off at 2 p.m. Tomorrow will see clashes between France and Poland followed by England and Senegal. In what could shape out to be an interesting affair, Japan will look to defeat Croatia on Monday morning, with Brazil likely to topple South Korea in the afternoon match. Finally, Morocco looks to continue its Cinderella story against Spain on Tuesday, while Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo are clear favorites against Switzerland.
Notable absentees from the knockout stage include Belgium, which finished in third place in its group. Germany and Uruguay, which were both heavily touted entering the group stage, also both failed to qualify for the Round of 16. Let us know in the comments below who you are most shocked did not reach the elimination stage. Also, who are you pulling for the rest of the way if the USMNT’s run comes to a close?
- Orlando City left back Joao Moutinho has officially signed with Serie A club Spezia Calcio through June 2026.
Wishing you all the best in your next chapter, João! 👊 pic.twitter.com/PPQWITcZny
— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) December 2, 2022
- USMNT Head Coach Gregg Berhalter addressed Gio Reyna’s involvement in the World Cup or lack thereof.
- Former Pride forward Rachel Hill has joined several other former Orlando players by signing a two-year deal with San Diego Wave FC.
- Minnesota United has signed midfielder Joseph Rosales via transfer from CA Independiente to a one-year contract with club options for 2024 and 2025.
- Sporting Kansas City has renewed the contacts of a trio of MLS veterans. Graham Zusi and Roger Espinoza inked one-year deals through 2023 with options for 2024. Additionally, Andreu Fontàs agreed to a two-year deal through 2024.
- The North Carolina Courage have signed NWSL free agent defender Estelle Johnson to a guaranteed contract through the 2024 season.
- Prosecutors in Madrid will not press charges over racist chanting aimed at Vinicius Junior before the Madrid Derby after finding that they “lasted a few seconds” and “did not constitute a crime.”
- Finally, Portland Thorns FC announced that Rhian Wilkinson has notified the club that she will resign this month following an internal processes by self-reporting a relationship with a player to the club’s leadership team. Wilkinson led Porland to the 2022 NWSL championship and this isn’t the best look for a club (or league) that was at the epicenter of the recent Yates Report.
— Rhian Wilkinson (@rhirhi8) December 2, 2022
That’s all I have for you today. I hope you find time this morning to cheer on the Yanks to victory. I have a feeling today is going to be a good day. Vamos Orlando!
Lion Links: 12/6/23
Antonio Carlos linked with move to Fluminense, Emily Madril agrees to new contract with the Pride, USWNT beats China, and more.
Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. There is not much new with me, I’ve just been staying busy working at Under Armour and covering high school basketball and wrestling lately. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.
Antonio Carlos Linked with Fluminense
Orlando City center back Antonio Carlos was linked with a move back to Brazil, with Fluminense reportedly close to finalizing a deal to sign him.
Carlos initially joined Orlando on loan from Palmeiras before the 2020 season. Following that season, the club signed him to a three-year contract with an option for an additional year. The 30-year-old has been a key part of Orlando’s defense under Head Coach Oscar Pareja, although Carlos missed some time this past season due to injury.
Emily Madril Agrees to New Contract With the Pride
The Orlando Pride announced that defender Emily Madril has reached an agreement with the club on a new three-year contract through the 2026 NWSL season. Madril just finished her first season with the Pride, making 27 appearances for the club across all competitions and leading all rookies with 1,977 minutes played in the NWSL regular season. She was already signed to a three-year deal through 2025, but the Pride were able to find a way to keep her with the club for another year. Now the club can work on retooling its roster with a back line anchored by Madril and Rafaelle.
MLS 2023 College Showcase Begins Today
Major League Soccer announced the 44 invitees for the 2023 MLS College Showcase. The event will kick off today through Dec. 9 in Phoenix. One local player to keep an eye on is defender Jahlane Forbes out of Wake Forest. Forbes is from Clermont, FL and joined Orlando City’s academy in 2016. He has also played for Orlando City B, making three appearances. Forbes made 19 appearances for Wake Forest in the 2023 season, recording five goals and seven assists. Other top prospects to watch include Louisville defender Josh Jones, High Point’s Jefferson Amaya, and Marshall forward Matthew Bell.
USWNT Beats China in Final Friendly of 2023
The U.S. Women’s National team defeated China 2-1 at Toyota Stadium in its final match of 2023. The USWNT trailed 1-0 at halftime, but bounced back in the second half thanks to a pair of goals and a solid defensive effort. Jaedyn Shaw gave the USWNT its winner in the 79th minute, scoring in her hometown in a memorable moment for the 19-year-old. It was the USWNT’s second win over China this month after winning the first match 3-0 this past Saturday in Fort Lauderdale.
Former Lion Daryl Dike Nears Return with West Brom
After being sidelined with an Achilles injury since March, former Lion Daryl Dike could make his return to West Brom this month. Dike has been back at training with the club since last month to work his way back to fitness, and West Brom’s manager, Carlos Corberan, stated that that he would be an option in the squad by the end of the December if he keeps progressing well. The 23-year-old joined West Brom in December of 2021, but injuries have limited his playing time while in England.
- The Orlando Pride had a message for former Pride goalkeeper Erin McLeod after her farewell ceremony with the Canadian Women’s National Team during its friendly against Australia on Tuesday.
- The Chicago Fire have announced that Frank Klopas will return to the club to serve as head coach for the second time. Klopas was the head coach for the Fire from 2011 to 2013 and was the interim coach this past season after Ezra Hendrickson’s departure in May.
- Minnesota United announced that Sean McAuley will remain with the club as its interim head coach going into the 2024 season.
- Former Portland Timbers Head Coach Gio Savarese is reportedly in consideration for the open head coach position with the New England Revolution.
- The Seattle Sounders have reached an agreement with goalkeeper Stefan Frei on a new two-year contract that will keep him at the club through the 2025 season.
That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Wednesday and I’ll see you next time.
Lion Links: 12/5/23
Exploria Stadium will host Copa America games, Pride reportedly make offer for Crystal Dunn, Americans in midweek action, and more.
Good morning, everyone. I’m still dragging a little bit after having a shortened weekend due to work, but I hope all of you were able to hit the ground running yesterday and started your weeks off on the right note. As usual, there’s a lot of interesting things to discuss today, so let’s get after it.
Exploria Stadium Picked as Copa America Venue
The host cities and venues for next summer’s Copa America tournament were revealed and Orlando City’s Exploria Stadium has been chosen. The Lions’ home will have games on June 29 and July 1, and both games could be very important ones as they will take place during the final day of play for Groups A and C. We also know that the USMNT will play its group stage games in Atlanta, Dallas, and Kansas City. The semifinal matches will be held at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey and at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, with Charlotte also hosting the third-place game. We’ll know very soon which teams will be playing in Orlando, as the draw will take place on Thursday.
Orlando Pride Reportedly Make an Offer for Crystal Dunn
The Orlando Pride have reportedly made a large offer to bring Crystal Dunn to Orlando, with CBS Sports reporting the amount prepared by the Pride to be more than $400,000. However, negotiations between the Pride and Dunn are reportedly no longer ongoing.
The 31-year-old is a free agent after announcing that she was not returning to the Portland Thorns after three seasons there. She is one of the more notable free agents this off-season and the Washington Spirit and NJ/NY Gotham FC are also interested in signing her ahead of the 2024 season.
Americans in Midweek Action
There are a number of American players who will be playing games this week, so make sure you have some of these marked down on your calendar. First up is a match that could feature up to three players currently in the USMNT pool, as Jordan Pefok, Joe Scally, and Borussia Monchengladbach will face Kevin Paredes and Wolfsburg in the DFB Pokal. Tomorrow sees Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson, and Fulham playing Matt Turner’s Nottingham Forest, although the USMNT’s starting goalkeeper is not likely to play. The week finishes with Juventus and Weston McKennie facing Napoli in league play, although Tim Weah is still an injury doubt.
USWNT Aims for Change in Mentality
The 2024 calendar year is going to be an important one for the United States Women’s National Team, and the team wants to start it off on the right foot. Interim head coach Twila Kilgore is viewing today’s match against China as a chance for the team to continue building a new identity and to keep developing tactically after a disappointing early exit from this summer’s World Cup. While Emma Hayes has been named the team’s new head coach, she won’t officially join up until Chelsea’s club season ends in May. Until that happens, there’s plenty of work to be done with the Gold Cup just around the corner in March, followed by the Olympics in Paris in July.
The Soccer Tournament Adds Women’s Competition
Following the success of last year’s first edition of The Soccer Tournament, the organizers have added a women’s competition for next summer’s event. The seven-a-side tournament will now also feature an eight-team women’s bracket which will also have a $1 million prize up for grabs. The decision was made after an all-women’s team led by Heather O’Reilly drew significant support when it competed last year, despite not picking up a win. The men’s tournament will also be expanding to 48 teams for this year’s competition, after featuring 32 participants during the summer.
- Ramiro Enrique has been called up to Argentina’s training camp for its 2024 Olympic team.
- Orlando City’s documentary about the 2022 U.S. Open Cup victory has won a Suncoast Emmy.
- In the 2023 Women’s College Cup final, Florida State beat Stanford 5-1 to win its fourth national championship.
- David de Gea is reportedly open to signing for Newcastle United following Nick Pope’s shoulder dislocation.
- The English FA has charged Manchester City with failing to control its players, following Erling Haaland’s reaction on social media to a decision made by referee Simon Hooper.
That’s all that I have for today. Y’all stay safe out there.
Lion Links: 12/4/23
Crew to host MLS Cup final, LAFC returns to MLS Cup, Tim Howard to be inducted into National Soccer Hall of Fame, and more.
Good Monday morning, Mane Landers. The weekend brought us some drama-filled conference final action, and we now know who will play for the MLS Cup. But before I dive into that, I just want to take a quick minute to say with mixed emotions that this will be my final Lion Links here, but don’t be sad, because the rest of the boys will still be bringing your daily content needs and coverage. I’ll be stepping away as my wife and I are soon to be first-time parents, and I’m looking forward to all that entails. I appreciate each and every one of you readers for taking the time to scroll through my articles each week. If you’re interested in writing for TML, we could definitely use the help so please reach out. Now, let’s get into the links!
Columbus Crew Claim Hell Is Real Comeback
After a rocky start, the Columbus Crew became the first team to overcome a two-goal deficit on the road and advance in a single-leg round in the history of the MLS Cup playoffs. FC Cincinnati got off to a great start behind USMNT striker Brandon Vasquez, who opened the scoring, but it was captain Luciano Acosta’s sublime free kick finish that stole the show in the first half.
It took trusting the process and the tactics of their first-year manager Wilfried Nancy, but the Columbus Crew fought back with late match heroics to seal the victory. Forward Christian Ramirez bagged the game-winning goal in extra time in the 115th minute.
“You can only fight for someone like that,” said Ramirez. “So many times you can feel that you’re getting the bad end of the stick at certain moments, but I haven’t felt that. I think numerous guys understand how he sees the game now, and we respect that. We talk about writing our story in the Columbus Crew history; this chapter wasn’t done. We got one more week, one more game.”
LAFC Returns to MLS Cup
The league’s defending champion, LAFC, will once again be playing in the final match of the postseason. After frustrating the Houston Dynamo throughout the Western Conference final, LAFC won 2-0. Houston might have dominated the stat sheet in possession, passes, and passing accuracy, but really it was just playing into the gameplan of LAFC.
“We knew that’s what they wanted. They wanted the ball,” said LAFC right back Ryan Hollingshead. “They like to play this little tiki-taka in the middle of the field, these little movements, little one-twos, three of their guys just kind of pass the ball, but they’re going nowhere. And so we just said, do whatever you got, have the ball as long as you want. They created zero dangerous chances. They had a half-chance in the first half on a cross to Baird and that was it. And so a lot of these teams, it’s like, yeah, they’ve got possession, they may be moving the ball. But if they’re not creating dangerous chances, who cares?”
MLS Cup Final Preview
The Eastern Conference champion Columbus Crew will host Western Conference champion LAFC at Lower.com Field on Dec. 9 at 4 p.m for the MLS Cup. The match will be No. 53 across all competitions this campaign for LAFC, and a victory would make the club the first repeat winners since the 2011-2012 LA Galaxy. The storylines leading to the match will likely center around the possibility of it being Carlos Vela’s final game for LAFC, but for the Crew, the bench players will be the ones to watch. In the 65th minute of the Eastern Conference final, Head Coach Wilfried Nancy brought in Julian Gressel and Christian Ramirez, who both played a pivotal role in two of the three Columbus goals in the comeback victory. The Crew last lifted the MLS Cup in 2020, defeating Seattle Sounders 3-0 at Historic Crew Stadium.
2024 National Soccer Hall of Fame
On May 4, the National Soccer Hall of Fame will induct its 2024 class. Most notable will be long-time USMNT goalkeeper Tim Howard, who played 121 matches for the United States and had a successful career in the English Premier League. Other inductees will be USWNT World Cup winner Tisha Venturini-Hoch, 1996 Paralympic captain Josh McKinney, and USL founder Francisco Marcos.
Orlando Reportedly Set to Host USMNT-Brazil Friendly
The United States Men’s National Team is reportedly far along in negotiations to face Brazil in Orlando for a friendly leading to next year’s Copa America. The Yanks and Brazil last met in September 2018 in a friendly match in East Rutherford, NJ. The United States will host the Copa America from June 19 to July 14 as one of six invited teams to the South American competition. Brazil enter as the defending champion and should prove a worthy test for the Stars & Stripes to tune up for the Southern American title.
- Check your pockets and secure your valuables when USMNT left back Antonee Robinson is on the field.
- Liverpool scored in the 87th and 88th minutes to win 4-3 and climb to second in the EPL standings on 31 points.
- Manchester City and Tottenham played to a thrilling 3-3 draw that might find Erling Haaland charged by the English Football Association for criticizing the performance of the referees.
- Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen saw an eight-game winning run in the league come to an end with a 1-1 draw.
- Inter Milan secured a 3-0 victory at Napoli to reach the top of the Serie A table.
- Arsenal will face Liverpool in a massive FA Cup third-round clash in January.
- Wrexham reached the third round of FA Cup after defeating Yeovil Town 3-0.
That’s a wrap for my personal writing here for a while. It has been a pleasure to bring some coverage to you all for the past couple seasons. It’s not goodbye. It’s see you later. Vamos Orlando!
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