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Lion Links: 1/12/23

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How’s it going, Mane Landers? It’s been a rather busy week for me, but I’m starting to find a routine that helps find time for reading and relaxing. I’m currently devouring The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake and strongly recommend it if you like dark academia settings. Before we dive into today’s links, let’s wish happy birthdays to Orlando City forward Jack Lynn and former Lion Joao Moutinho!

NWSL Draft Set for Tonight

The NWSL Draft will get started at 6 p.m. today, with the league’s 12 clubs aiming to add talented young players ahead of the 2023 season. It’s going to be a busy night for the Pride as they have seven selections in this draft, including the third overall pick. There are many mock drafts out to predict which players will land where, but most are in agreement that Angel City FC will select Alyssa Thompson with the first pick and NJ/NY Gotham FC will choose Michelle Cooper with the second. Still, the Pride will have many great players to choose from with the third pick. The NWSL’s mock draft has two-time NCAA champion Emily Madril taken by the Pride to strengthen their defense, while Just Women’s Sports predicts the Pride will select Florida State’s Jenna Nighswonger. Left back Reyna Reyes and attackers such as Clara Robbins and Izzy D’Aquila are other notable names the Pride could call tonight.

Charlotte Adds a DP & More MLS Transfer News

Orlando City isn’t the only Eastern Conference team adding firepower to its offense before 2023. Charlotte FC has signed Argentine forward Enzo Copetti as its third Designated Player. Copetti scored 21 goals in 47 appearances across all competitions for Racing Club and joins a Charlotte offense that includes Karol Swiderski, Nuno Santos, and Kamil Jozwiak.

Speaking of forwards, Kei Kamara stated on Twitter that he has requested a trade away from CF Montreal, the ninth MLS team he’s played for. The 38-year-old is a proven scorer in this league and there are many clubs who could use a veteran forward, including Orlando City.

Inter Miami signed veteran left back Franco Negri from Godoy Cruz in Argentina’s top flight. If Godoy Cruz sounds familiar, it’s because Negri and Orlando’s Martin Ojeda were teammates there before coming to MLS. This could add an interesting wrinkle to the Tropic Thunder rivalry matches this year. Clubs also solidified their goalkeeping units, as Atlanta United signed Clement Diop to a one-year deal, Real Salt Lake extended Zac MacMath’s contract through 2024, and the Chicago Fire added Jeff Gal from Sweden’s top flight.

OL Reign Re-Signs Megan Rapinoe and Trades for Elyse Bennett

United States Women’s National Team star Megan Rapinoe re-signed with OL Reign on a new contract through the 2023 season. Rapinoe has been with the Reign since the NWSL’s inaugural season back in 2013, re-signing on the 10th anniversary of her allocation to the team. The Reign also made a move for the future, trading away $150,000 in Allocation Money to the Kansas City Current in exchange for forward Elyse Bennett and a late second-round pick in today’s draft. Bennett was selected seventh overall in last year’s draft and recorded three goals and two assists for the Current in her rookie season. I’d suggest that the Pride’s general manager look at this trade as a solid example of how to spend allocation money, but there is currently no Pride general manager for me to tell.

Carabao Cup Semifinals are Set

Manchester City was ousted from the Carabao Cup after a 2-0 loss on the road to Southampton. Sekou Mara gave Southampton a lead in the first half and then Moussa Djenepo scored a nice shot from distance to double that lead soon after.

Manchester City brought Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne on in the second half, but Southampton put in a great defensive effort to prevent City from getting a shot on goal. Nottingham Forest and Wolverhampton had to go to penalty kicks after a 1-1 result, with Nottingham winning 4-3 in the shootout. The two-legged semifinals will take place later this month. Nottingham will square off against Manchester United while Southampton takes on Newcastle United.

Free Kicks

  • Enjoy these photos of the Lions while they continue their preseason training.
  • Make sure to take note of these important NWSL dates this year

  • There are plenty of talented MLS free agents still out there. Forwards Ola Kamara and Will Bruin could bring some depth to Orlando’s front line. I also find it interesting that veteran goalkeepers Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson haven’t been signed by a club yet.
  • The Portland Timbers named Ned Grabavoy as their general manager. Grabavoy has spent the past four seasons as Portland’s technical director.
  • Previous reports have said Christian Pulisic will be out for “weeks” with his recent knee injury, but Chelsea’s Graham Potter officially stated that the USMNT star will be sidelined for up to two months. That’s up to eight of those previously reported “weeks.”
  • Lionel Messi scored in his first game with Paris Saint-Germain since winning the World Cup.
  • AC Milan was eliminated from the Coppa Italia after a 1-0 loss to Torino at home. Torino was down a man after a red card in the 70th minute, but scored in extra time to beat Milan and reach the quarterfinals.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week!

Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/27/24

Orlando City loses to the Crew, Pride and OCB win, Southampton seals return to Premier League, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

Happy Memorial Day, Mane Landers! I hope you all had a good holiday weekend. I worked at Under Armour all weekend while wrapping up my high school sports coverage for the spring season. It was a mixed weekend for our teams. Orlando City lost, but both the Pride and OCB won their matches. We’ve got plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links. 

Lions Lose at Home to Columbus Crew

Orlando City lost 2-0 to the Columbus Crew on Saturday at Inter&Co Stadium and saw its three-match unbeaten streak end. The match’s first goal was controversial as the referee, Jair Marrufo, initially awarded the Lions a penalty late in the first half but went to the monitor and reviewed a play at the other end of the pitch. He instead awarded Columbus a penalty kick. Diego Rossi scored from the spot to put the Crew ahead 1-0 before halftime. Columbus extended its winning streak to three matches. Orlando has struggled at home, going just 1-3-4 so far this season. The Lions have not scored a goal at home since April 27. Despite the loss, the Lions still remain in 10th in the Eastern Conference with 16 points. Next up for Orlando is a pair of road matches this week, starting Wednesday at the Chicago Fire, followed by a Saturday night matchup against the New York Red Bulls. 

Pride Win at Home Over Portland Thorns

The Orlando Pride won their record-setting eighth straight match with a 2-1 victory at Inter&Co Stadium against the Portland Thorns Friday. Barbra Banda scored two goals in the first half to give the Pride a 2-0 lead going into halftime. Portland pulled one back, but the Pride held on for the victory and claimed three points. Orlando remains undefeated in league play after 11 matches, and the Pride stay atop the NWSL table with 27 points. The Pride are off this week but will return to action on the road next Friday, June 7, against the San Diego Wave.

OCB Win at Home against Huntsville City FC

On Sunday, Orlando City B bounced back with a season-high five goals in a 5-0 win over Hunstville City FC at Osceola County Stadium. Jhon Solis, Yutaro Tsukada, and Shak Mohammed put OCB ahead 3-0, while Yeiler Valencia scored his first two OCB goals to seal the win for the Young Lions. OCB is now in sixth in the Eastern Conference with 16 points. Meanwhile, Huntsville City FC remains winless through 10 matches and stays at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. OCB’s next match will be on the road Sunday at Inter Miami CF II. 

Southampton Clinches Promotion to Premier League

Southampton booked its return to the Premier League with a 1-0 over Leeds United in the EFL Championship playoff final at Wembley Sunday. Adam Armstrong scored the lone goal in this match as the Saints returned to the top flight after being relegated the previous season. Southampton joins Leicester City and Ipswich Town, securing promotion to the Premier League. Despite finishing third in the table, Leeds’ playoff woes continue as this is the sixth time it missed out on securing promotion and finished its season with only one win out of its last six matches. 

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That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Monday and I’ll see you next time.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/24/24

Orlando City prepares for the Crew, Barbra Banda an NWSL MVP favorite, Orlando Pride announce sleeve sponsor, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! The gauntlet of Orlando soccer home games starts tonight when the Orlando Pride take on the Portland Thorns in a clash of win streaks. I’m working for most of the weekend, but am looking forward to watching some soccer and playing my way through the Ace Attorney games during my spare time. For now though, let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world.

Orlando City Gets Ready to Host the Crew

Orlando City is on a three-game unbeaten run and will take on the Columbus Crew Saturday night in an Eastern Conference showdown. The last time these two sides met was in the 2023 Eastern Conference semifinals with the Crew winning in extra time to eliminate the Lions. It’s the third consecutive road game for the Crew after winning 3-1 against both CF Montreal and the Chicago Fire. Saturday’s match is also the Crew’s last match before the Concacaf Champions Cup final on June 1. Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja spoke on how the Lions will be up to the task regardless of which players take the field for Columbus. Pareja also spoke about how Duncan McGuire is working his way back from the injury he suffered last week.

Barbra Banda Named MVP Frontrunner

ESPN updated its rankings of players in contention to be named NWSL MVP this season and Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda tops the list. The Zambian forward hasn’t been with the Pride for long, but she has scored six goals in six games to help the Pride win seven straight games. Opposing defenses haven’t figured out a way to stop her, and it’s fair to think of her as an MVP favorite alongside fellow attackers in the league like Sophia Smith and Temwa Chawinga. Pride defender Emily Sams also earned herself a spot on the list, ranking 11th. It’s nice to see her get some deserved recognition for her role in the Pride’s stellar defense this year.

Orlando Pride Announce Sleeve Sponsor

A partnership was announced between the Orlando Pride and Heart of Florida United Way, a charity that’s supported families in Central Florida for the past 85 years. As part of the partnership, Heart of Florida United Way will become the first sleeve sponsor for the Pride and its logo will be on the right sleeve of both of the Pride’s jerseys this year. A new ticket program is also being created for 50 tickets to be donated to a local charity for each Pride home game.

Orlando City Unveils Watch Party Schedule

The schedule for this Orlando City season’s watch parties is out, along with the lineup of this year’s included pubs. Each pub will have MLS Season Pass access for fans to watch Orlando’s games this year and there will be chances to win tickets and autographed items at the watch parties as well. There are three new pubs added to the lineup this year, including The Castle Irish Pub at College Park, Paddywagon Irish Pub in Dr. Phillips, and Winter Garden’s Hagan O’Reilly’s. The first watch party will be at The Hammered Lamb in Ivanhoe Village on June 1 when the Lions face off against the New York Red Bulls.

Free Kicks

  • Pride midfielder Evelina Duljan was called up to join Sweden’s U-23 team for the upcoming Four Nations Tournament.
  • NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman became the first woman to be named Sports Business Journal‘s Sports Executive of the Year.

That’s all I have for you this time around. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/23/24

Orlando Pride prepare for the Portland Thorns, Pride Brazilian trio called up, Atalanta wins Europa League, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this Thursday finds you well as we all get ready for a busy next few days of Orlando soccer to enjoy. It’s been a fairly busy couple of days for me, and I plan on knocking out a few errands before enjoying the upcoming matches. Until then, let’s enjoy today’s links!

Pride Prepare to Host the Portland Thorns

The Orlando Pride have a huge home game against the Portland Thorns tomorrow night. It will be a clash of win streaks, as the Pride have won their past seven games and the Thorns have won their last six. Pride Head Coach Seb Hines is well aware that Portland is a formidable foe with talented players such as Sophia Smith, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Sam Coffey. He spoke on how tomorrow will be a challenge, as well as how playing at home will give the Pride a boost during the game.

Pride Trio Called Up by Brazil

The Pride’s Marta, Rafaelle, and Adriana were all called up for Brazil’s pair of friendlies against Jamaica in Brazil on June 1 and June 4.

These matches will help Brazil prepare for a tough group in the Olympics against Spain, Japan, and Nigeria. Angelina, who featured for Brazil during the SheBelieves Cup, was not called up due to an injury sustained while with the Pride. Although these games will take place during an international break, the Pride do have a road game against the San Diego Wave on June 7, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Hines gives them some rest for that match.

Assessing Emma Hayes’ Time With Chelsea

It felt like forever ago that it was announced Chelsea’s Emma Hayes would leave the club to replace Vlatko Andonovski and coach the USWNT. A great article by ESPN broke down what USWNT fans can learn from her time with Chelsea, including how she’s dealt with the adversity she’s faced both on and off the field. Her impending exit put a spotlight on Chelsea’s season, and she still managed to secure the league title despite the pressure. Chelsea also announced that five members of the coaching staff will leave the club to join Hayes at the USWNT. It’s a new era for the USWNT, and Hayes brings plenty of experience and leadership to the position.

Atalanta Crushes Leverkusen to Win Europa League

Italian club Atalanta lifted the Europa League trophy after a 3-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen in Dublin. The day belonged to Nigerian winger Ademola Lookman, who scored a hat trick that included this stunner that doubled Atalanta’s lead in the first half.

It’s Atalanta’s second trophy in club history, and first in 61 years. It’s also the first trophy for manager Gian Piero Gasperini after coaching in Italy for 30 years. This result snapped Leverkusen’s remarkable unbeaten streak at 51 games, and ended the club’s bid at a treble. Bayer Leverkusen will aim to bounce back Saturday when it plays FC Kaiserslautern in the German Cup final.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City President of Business Operations Jarrod Dillon has issued a challenge to Orlando City fans for the upcoming trio of Orlando soccer home games, so it may be worth your while to get tickets for the Lions, Pride, and OCB this weekend.
  • Pride forward Amanda Allen placed 16th in ESPN‘s rankings of the 17 teenagers currently playing in the National Women’s Soccer League (the author deemed it unfair to assess Milly Clegg without seeing her on the field more). Allen mostly just hasn’t had much playing time, but that could change over the summer.
  • Former Pride player Camille Ashton (known as Cami Levin when she played in the Pride midfield in 2016 and 2017) has resigned as the general manager of the Kansas City Current.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week.

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