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Lion Links: 1/13/23



How’s it going, Mane Landers? I’m feeling pretty good as we start to get ready for the weekend. It’s been a busy week, but cocktails and sports await us in what should be a nice next few days. Before we dive right into today’s links, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Cesar Baena, Orlando City’s goalkeeper coach!

Orlando Pride Draft Emily Madril and Four More Players

With the third overall pick in the NWSL Draft, the Orlando Pride selected center back Emily Madril. The 23-year-old did not play her final year of eligibility with Florida State. Instead, she signed a contract with the NWSL and played on loan in Sweden. She should certainly help shore up a Pride defense that allowed 45 goals in 22 games last season.

In the second round, the Pride drafted TCU forward Messiah Bright with the 21st overall pick. Bright scored 49 goals in 102 collegiate games for the Horned Frogs, including 10 goals last season. She was also called up to the U-23 U.S. Women’s National Team last summer and will hopefully give the Pride a needed scoring threat. The Pride decided to take another center back to start the third round, selecting Tori Hansen out of North Carolina. Hansen was an integral player in North Carolina’s stalwart defense last season, starting all 26 games.

The Pride then did what they do best and acquired $75,000 in allocation money by trading away the 29th and 34th overall picks to the Washington Spirit. From atop their Smaug-like pile of cash, the Pride selected attacking midfielder Summer Yates out of Washington and UCF forward Kristen Scott in the fourth round. Give a warm welcome to the Pride’s 2023 draft class!

Meggie Dougherty Howard Heads to San Diego

Midfielder Meggie Dougherty Howard became a free agent following the Pride’s 2022 season and has signed with San Diego Wave FC on a two-year deal. She contributed three goals and three assists in 36 matches across her past two seasons with the Pride. A source confirmed that the Pride made an offer for her to stay in Orlando, but she will instead be joining former Pride players Alex Morgan and Taylor Kornieck in San Diego. Her departure should provide more minutes for Viviana Villacorta, although the Pride might still need to add some depth to their midfield.

Lions Making the Most of the Preseason

Orlando City won the U.S. Open Cup last year, but the team is not resting on its laurels as it prepares for the upcoming season. Head Coach Oscar Pareja spoke on how the team is hungry for more silverware and using this preseason to set the tone of the season early. Opportunity certainly knocks for the Lions this year, with their first taste of Concacaf Champions League action coming in March. Orlando brought in multiple players to help the team reach the next level. Designated Player Martin Ojeda, left back Luca Petrasso, and veteran midfielder Felipe Martin have all been training with the team this week. It will take some time for the new Lions to jell with their teammates, but Ojeda spoke on how there are a few familiar faces that should ease the process.

“Rodrigo (Schlegel) and I were together at Racing (Club) during our time down there and we started a few games together. I know Wilder (Cartagena) from the little time that I’ve gotten to spend with him as a teammate, and I know that we’ve got some other teammates and countrymen of mine that I’ve still got to meet. So, it’ll make the adaption a lot easier, and I’m excited to get started.”

Alyssa Thompson Taken First Overall in NWSL Draft

Angel City FC predictably selected Alyssa Thompson with the first overall pick in the draft, making her the youngest player drafted in NWSL history. The 18-year-old has reportedly signed a three-year deal with Angel City that is fully guaranteed.

After trading with the Pride for the second overall pick earlier this month, NJ/NY Gotham FC then traded it away to the Kansas City Current in exchange for forward Lynn Williams. The Current then selected MAC Hermann Award winner Michelle Cooper with that second pick. Before the draft got started, Gotham traded with Racing Louisville FC for the fourth pick and chose Florida State’s Jenna Nighswonger. The Portland Thorns rounded out the top five by drafting Alabama defender Reyna Reyes. The North Carolina Courage traded Diana Ordonez and the 30th overall pick to the Houston Dash in exchange for two first-round picks and more. As a result, the Courage had a whopping four picks in the back half of the first round, selecting Olivia Wingate, Sydney Collins, Clara Robbins, and Haley Hopkins. You can check out how the entire draft shook out.

Free Kicks

  • Former Orlando Pride player Emily Sonnett was traded from the Washington Spirit to OL Reign for a first-round pick in the 2024 NWSL Draft and the 32nd overall pick in the 2023 draft.
  • Former Orlando City B player Ates Diouf was signed by Lexington SC after helping San Antonio FC claim a USL Championship title last year.
  • Right back Jonathan Dean, who was selected by Orlando in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft, was signed by the Chicago Fire. Dean has spent the past three years with the Birmingham Legion in the USL Championship.
  • Serie A’s Udinese is reportedly interested in FC Cincinnati forward Brenner and has made an offer for the Brazilian.
  • Toronto FC signed Norwegian forward Adama Diomande on a two-year contract. Diomande reunited with Toronto Head Coach Bob Bradley after stints together in Norway and LAFC.
  • Sporting Kansas City added German left back Tim Leibold, signing the 23-year-old to a three-year contract.
  • NWSL games may look a bit better this season due to the increase in cameras for VAR.

  • In his first match in the English Premier League, Chelsea’s Joao Felix was shown a straight red card for a studs-up challenge in the 58th minute. Americans Tim Ream and Antonee Robinson both started as Fulham beat Chelsea 2-1.

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

Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/27/23

Orlando City falls in power rankings, OCB will take on Columbus Crew 2 in MLS NEXT Pro playoffs, U.S. Open Cup final preview, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. There’s not much new with me, I’m just staying busy at work lately and hoping to catch some soccer this weekend. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Orlando City Drops Two Spots in Power Rankings

The latest MLS power rankings have been released and Orlando City fell two spots to fourth. The Lions lost their midweek matchup 2-0 on the road against New York City FC last Wednesday and closed out the weekend with a 1-1 draw against rival Inter Miami at Exploria Stadium. It wasn’t all bad this past week for the Lions, as Duncan McGuire scored his 11th goal of the year across all competitions. Despite losing to NYCFC a week ago, the Lions remain in second place in the Eastern Conference and are two points ahead of the Columbus Crew, Philadelphia Union, Atlanta United, and the New England Revolution.

OCB Will Take On Columbus Crew 2 in MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs

Orlando City B’s opponent for the first round of the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs was announced on Tuesday, as it will go on the road to take on defending champion Columbus Crew 2 on Oct. 1 at Historic Crew Stadium. As part of the new playoff format that lets higher seeds choose their opponents, Columbus chose to host OCB in the quarterfinals. The Young Lions closed out their regular season this past weekend with a 2-1 win against FC Cincinnati and finished fifth in the Eastern Conference. The Columbus Crew 2 finished its regular season with a 3-2 win against Atlanta United 2 to place third. The clubs split the regular season series, with OCB winning 4-1 on Aug. 27 and Columbus winning 4-0 on May 14. The conference semifinals will be on the following weekend, and the MLS NEXT Pro Cup final is set for Oct. 22.

U.S. Open Cup Final Preview

The 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup will conclude tonight with the final at DRV PNK Stadium as Inter Miami takes on the Houston Dynamo. The match will kick off at 8:30 p.m. and you can watch the match on Paramount+ or CBS Sports Network. Inter Miami’s journey included edging out Nashville SC 2-1 in the Round of 16 and needing to go all the way to penalties to knock out FC Cincinnati after a thrilling 3-3 draw in the semifinals. The Houston Dynamo began their run with a pair of 1-0 wins against the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Sporting Kansas City. Since the Round of 16, the Dynamo cruised past Minnesota United, the Chicago Fire, and Real Salt Lake to get to the final. Houston was on a seven-match unbeaten run before losing to Sporting Kansas City this past weekend. The Dynamo will look to add another U.S. Open Cup title after winning it back in 2018. Lionel Messi will reportedly be a game-time decision for tonight’s final after he didn’t play in Miami’s draw with Orlando.

Spain Wins First Home Match Since World Cup Victory

Spain’s women’s national team won its first match since lifting the World Cup trophy last month, cruising to a 5-0 win against Switzerland in a UEFA Nations League matchup. After dealing with the fallout of former Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales and players boycotting call-ups to the national team before a deal was reached last week, the team wore wristbands that read “Se Acabo,” meaning “this is over,” and players from both teams held a banner with the same phrase before the match. Spain celebrated its win in front of a record-breaking crowd of 14,194 fans that came out to support the team at Nuevo Arcangel Stadium.

Free Kicks

  • Carrie Lawrence and the Orlando Pride were hard at work preparing for the match on Monday against Angel City FC.
  • Angel City exercised its club option to extend former Pride forward Sydney Leroux’s contract through the end of the 2024 NWSL season.
  • The Canadian Women’s National Team defeated Jamaica 4-1 on aggregate to book a spot in next summer’s Olympics.
  • The Seattle Sounders have unveiled their new crest for next year.

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

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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, 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.

Free Kicks

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.

Free Kicks

  • 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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