Happy Saturday, Mane Landers! I hope you all are happy and healthy. Unfortunately, I have succumbed to a sinus infection lately but am on the mend with some much-needed antibiotics. Thankfully, there are some great early morning matches to catch today as I rest up. Personally, I’m looking forward to the clash between Manchester City and Manchester United. For the afternoon matches around the world, Milan traveling to Lecce in Serie A is what I will be tuned into.
Before we dive right into today’s links, let’s all wish a happy birthday to newly acquired Orlando Pride third-round draft pick, Tori Hansen!
Andrés Colorado to Orlando?
Diego Saviola from Colombian outlet Deportes Sin Tapujos reported via social media on Friday that a deal was close between Orlando City and defensive midfielder Andrés Colorado. The Colombian midfielder was most recently on loan from Cortuluá in his country to Brazilian side Sao Paulo.
— DIEGO SAVIOLA (@diegosaviola10) January 12, 2023
The 24-year-old is 6-foot-4 and has played primarily central midfield, but according to Transfermarkt, he can also play center back. He scored two goals in 24 appearances with Cortuluá from 2017 to 2019, before going on loan to Deportivo Cali, where he scored eight goals in 102 matches from 2019-2021. He played in eight matches in the Brazilian Serie A with Sao Paulo last year but did not score. Colorado got his first cap with Colombia in 2022, playing in a 2-1 win over Honduras in Fort Lauderdale, and he scored on his debut in the 67th minute. It’s just a rumor at the moment, but if signed, he would add depth to the Lions’ defensive midfield and could fill in at center back in an emergency with his versatility.
Orlando Pride Draft Graded Success
The 2023 NWSL Draft is officially over and league experts are weighing in on their opinions of how successful each club fared in making additions. Sports Illustrated has given the Pride a grade of “A” for the shrewd business dealings and work finding value late in the draft. For the Pride, Orlando participated in a multi-team deal ahead of draft day and acquired a bunch of allocation money in the process. While the club ultimately lost out on the free agency race for Brazilian international Debinha, it made good selections with the draft picks available. Orlando also got an A- grade from CBSSports.com.
Defender Emily Madril was the most highly rated defender coming into the draft and the Pride needed to target the back line. The Pride also potentially found the steals of the draft, selecting Messiah Bright as the No. 21 pick after the TCU forward surprisingly fell to the second round. Bright is a top-rated forward out of TCU who scored 49 goals in her collegiate career. Orlando followed the pick up later with more firepower, as attacking midfielder Summer Yates slipped down the board into the fourth round.
Adams Named 2022 U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year
Tyler Adams has been voted the 2022 United States Soccer Male Player of the Year after captaining the USMNT at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. At 23 years old, the New York Red Bulls youth product led the USMNT to a Round-of-16 appearance in Qatar before the Yanks fell to the Netherlands. He also won the DFB-Pokal with RB Leipzig prior to securing a reported $24 million summer move to English Premier League club Leeds United.
Of the five finalists, Adams earned 71.6% of the overall votes. Chelsea forward Christian Pulisic was next in line with 14.7%, followed by Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Turner at 8.2%. A collection of fans, coaches, players, executives, media members and more were among the those making the vote.
He’s your Captain, and he’s your 2022 @BioSteelSports Male Player of the Year 🏆
Congrats, @tyler_adams14 👏👏👏
— U.S. Men's National Soccer Team (@USMNT) January 13, 2023
MLS Expands Content Requirements
As part of the new MLS deal with Apple TV, each club will be required by the league to put out a large quantity of video content surrounding the team for the MLS Season Pass. This content includes player profiles, historic moments, community involvement, and more. The project is called “club rooms,” offering a backstage view at each of the teams both before and during the campaign. Some of the required content is what you would expect from a team, such as postgame press conferences, weekly training updates, injury updates, match previews, and other news.
MLS also requires that clubs put together content that is both historical and present. For example, clubs must create five pieces that focus on memorable players or coaches. Additionally, there are iconic moments that clubs immortalize that will be highlighted. The five-part series looks back at each club’s most memorable scenes.
Finally, some things are fairly new. MLS has created one concept named “The Ritual.” This series focuses on the community aspect of MLS clubs and their fan involvement and various traditions. Similarly, MLS wants clubs to provide a monthly community report to highlight the efforts made to improve the surrounding community.
Al Hilal May Open Pocketbook for Messi
Saudi Arabian club Al Hilal is reportedly set to offer Lionel Messi a ludicrous deal of up to $350 million a year. Messi is currently a Paris Saint-Germain player, but his contract expires in the summer, making him a free agent in less than six months. This deal comes on the heels of another massive move in the league as Ronaldo joined Al Hilal’s rival club, Al Nassr, at the turn of 2023 and will reportedly receive $210 million a year.
As Saudi Arabia prepares a bid to host the 2030 World Cup alongside Greece and Egypt, the country having two of the greatest footballers of all time starring in its domestic league could be helpful. It should also be noted that Messi is no stranger to Saudi Arabia after becoming an ambassador for the “Visit Saudi” tourism campaign in 2022. Regardless of whether he suits up for Al Hilal or not, we should get to see him take on Ronaldo later this month as PSG travels to play against Al Nassr in a friendly.
- The New York Red Bulls re-signed winger Lewis Morgan to a new contract through 2025 with an option for an additional year in 2026.
- The New England Revolution have re-signed defender Andrew Farrell who will look to extend his record as the club’s all-time leader in games played, starts, and minutes played.
- The Seattle Sounders, the first-ever MLS participant at a FIFA Club World Cup, could face Real Madrid who remain the tournament’s most successful competitors.
- Looking to catch some Americans abroad action this weekend? Here is a list of marquee matches featuring your favorite USMNT players.
- The Mexican Football Federation has been given a fine and one-match supporters’ ban due to discriminatory chants by fans at the 2022 World Cup.
- Manchester United has completed the signing of striker Wout Weghorst on loan from Burnley until the end of the season.
- Arsenal has submitted a third bid for winger Mykhailo Mudryk in the race to beat Chelsea for the 21-year-old’s signature.
- Manchester United midfielder Donny van de Beek has been ruled out for the rest of the season following a knee injury during the 3-0 win over Bournemouth.
- Manchester City defender Benjamin Mendy was found not guilty on six counts of rape and one of sexual assault. Prosecutors will seek a retrial on the counts the jury could not reach verdicts on at the end of the trial taking place since August.
- Since 2014, no side other than Thailand and Vietnam has tasted glory at Southeast Asia’s premier international tournament. After 90 minutes of drama, the first leg of the 2022 AFF Championship finished in a thrilling 2-2 draw.
That’s all I have for you today. I hope you have a restful weekend and stay healthy. 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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