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Lion Links: 1/19/23

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How’s it going, Mane Landers? I don’t know about you, but I’m itching to get back to Exploria Stadium and can’t wait for the NWSL and MLS seasons to get started. I plan on attending a few more matches this year and am looking forward to the jersey reveals as mine are getting a bit old. Before we dive into today’s links, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride defender Caitlin Cosme! The Pride drafted Cosme in the 2022 NWSL Draft, but she didn’t play last season due to injury. Hopefully she bounces back in a strong way this year.

Jake Mulraney Transferred to Irish Club

Orlando City transferred winger Jake Mulraney to St. Patrick’s Athletic in Ireland’s top flight. The terms of the transfer were not disclosed. Mulraney joined the Lions in a trade with Atlanta in May of last year, but he wasn’t able to make much of an impact in Orlando. With Gaston Gonzalez, Ivan Angulo, Martin Ojeda, and Shak Mohammed all as options for Orlando on the wing, along with Facundo Torres locked in as a starter, it makes plenty of sense for Orlando to make this move. As for Mulraney, he now gets to be closer to his family in Ireland and he spoke about why he chose St. Patrick’s Athletic over other options. We wish him the best with his new club!

Darian Jenkins Hangs Up Her Cleats

Orlando Pride forward Darian Jenkins announced her retirement from professional soccer after six years in the NWSL. Drafted by the North Carolina Courage in the 2017 NWSL College Draft, Jenkins ends her career with 11 goals across 83 NWSL games. She joined the Pride via a trade with the Kansas City Current in January of last year and was still under contract through the 2023 season. Jenkins contributed four goals and a pair of assists across all competitions while in Orlando. The Pride aren’t lacking options up top, although Jenkins’ speed and versatility may be missed at times in 2023. The club also drafted forwards Messiah Bright and Kristen Scott earlier this month, so it will be interesting to see if either player can fill the void left by Jenkins should they sign with the Pride.

Getting to Know Luca Petrasso

As part of a new series for fans to learn more about what Orlando City players are like off the field, left back Luca Petrasso fielded some questions regarding his move from Toronto to Orlando this off-season and more. The 22-year-old is settling in and praised both the weather and Orlando City’s coaching staff as he gets ready for the 2023 season.

Luca Petrasso: Everything’s been good. I’m excited, obviously a different kind of adventure for me because I’ve been at home for a long time – I was at Toronto FC for 10 years, so, it’s a little bit new to me. But I’m enjoying it. Some good people, a great coaching staff, the weather is amazing – you can’t get much better than that, so I’m excited.

Petrasso has already been to Disney World in the time since his trade to Orlando and he’s exploring the various coffee shops in the city. Training seems to be going well for the left back, although he did bemoan the lack of an espresso machine at the training facility.

Roster Announced for USMNT Training Camp

With training camp taking place in California this month, 24 players were called up for the United States Men’s National Team. With European leagues continuing throughout this month, this camp presents a great opportunity for many Americans. This is the first call-up to a USMNT training camp for 11 players, including dual-national forwards Brandon Vazquez and Alejandro Zendejas. The goalkeepers are also a position group to keep an eye on. Chelsea’s Gabriel Slonina could make his USMNT debut later this month. FC Cincinnati’s Roman Celentano was also called up, with veteran goalkeeper Sean Johnson there as well. Paul Arriola, Walker Zimmerman, and Kellyn Acosta are a few of the other veteran MLS players called up. Anthony Hudson will lead the training camp and the U.S. will host Serbia and Colombia in friendlies on Jan. 25 and 28, respectively.

Free Kicks

  • FC Dallas signed midfielder Paxton Pomykal to a new contract through the 2026 season, with an option for 2027 as well. Pomykal, who was also called up to the USMNT camp, started in 30 games for Dallas last season and contributed five assists.
  • In a move that’s been reported throughout the month, Josef Martinez officially won’t return to Atlanta United for the 2023 season, having signed with Inter Miami on Wednesday.
  • In preseason action, the Vancouver Whitecaps fell 2-0 to Hamburger SV. Vancouver goalkeeper Thomas Hasal came up with a few good saves, but Hamburg’s Robert Glatzel scored a brace.
  • American center back Chris Richards started in his first Premier League game. The 22-year-old played every minute as Crystal Palace drew 1-1 with Manchester United.
  • Justin Che, a 19-year-old defender from Texas, was promoted to Hoffenheim’s first team. Hoffenheim’s next match will be this Saturday against Jordan Pefok and Union Berlin.
  • Leeds United won its first competitive match since Nov. 5, beating Cardiff City 5-2 in the FA Cup’s third round. The offense was firing on all cylinders for Leeds and Jesse Marsch will need that to continue when his side hosts Brentford on Sunday.
  • Atletico Madrid, Valencia, and Sevilla all advanced to the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey. Today’s action features Villarreal hosting Real Madrid and FC Barcelona traveling to play against AD Ceuta. The draw for the quarterfinal will take place tomorrow.
  • Inter dominated AC Milan 3-0 to lift the Supercoppa Italiana for the second-straight year.

That’s all I have for you today. Make sure to stay hydrated out there as this Floridian winter rolls on. Have a great Thursday and rest of your week.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/21/24

Facundo Torres earns praise, Orlando Pride play the Utah Royals tonight, FC Cincinnati linked with Weston McKennie, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! This weekend is what soccer fans dream of, with NWSL, MLS, Copa America, and Euro 2024 matches to enjoy. The Orlando Pride are in action tonight, Orlando City plays Saturday, and the U.S. begins its Copa America campaign on Sunday. But first, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter!

Facundo Torres Makes MLS Team of the Matchday Bench

Orlando forward Facundo Torres earned a spot on the bench of the MLS Team of the Matchday after providing a goal and an assist in Orlando’s 2-2 draw against Charlotte FC. Both contributions were crucial to Orlando getting a point on the road. It was only Torres’ third goal of the season, so hopefully this gets him going. If the Lions are to claw their way up the Eastern Conference table, they’ll need more performances like this from their talisman.

Orlando Pride Host the Utah Royals Tonight

The Orlando Pride will aim to get back in the win column tonight when they take on the Utah Royals at home. The last time these two teams squared off was on April 12, with Orlando winning 1-0 in the first of eight straight victories for the Pride. Another match with the Royals could be just what the doctor ordered for an Orlando side that’s been held to draws in its past two matches. While Utah is having a difficult season and sits last in the league standings, it did get its first road win on Sunday against Bay FC.

FC Cincinnati Reportedly Wants Weston McKennie

American midfielder Weston McKennie could be coming to the U.S., as FC Cincinnati has reportedly made an offer to sign him from Juventus. Cincinnati is willing to spend up to $15 million to bring McKennie on as a Designated Player. The 25-year-old has one year left on his contract with Juventus, but he’s likely leaving the Italian club this summer if reports are to be believed. McKennie was part of FC Dallas’ academy, but never actually played in an MLS game before heading to Europe.

Spain Wins to Advance in Euro 2024

Spain booked its spot in the knockout stage of Euro 2024 after beating Italy 1-0 in a match that didn’t quite live up to its billing. It does set up for an intriguing matchup between Italy and Croatia on Monday, though. England and Denmark traded first-half goals but neither team could find a winner in a 1-1 draw. In the other Group C match, Orlando City defender David Brekalo came on as a late substitute in Slovenia’s 1-1 draw against Serbia.

As for today’s slate of games, Slovakia will face off against Ukraine, Poland plays Austria, and France takes on the Netherlands. We’ll see if Kylian Mbappe will play after breaking his nose in France’s opening match.

Latest FIFA Rankings Unveiled

Despite losing 5-1 to Colombia in a friendly, the U.S. didn’t drop enough points to be unseated from 11th in the latest FIFA rankings. The U.S. remains the highest-ranked Concacaf nation, and Mexico dropped to 15th after losing to both Uruguay and Brazil in friendlies. Argentina is still at the top of the rankings, while Brazil leapfrogged England for fourth place. The rankings usually don’t matter all too much, but they are used to determine pots for the World Cup. With Euro 2024 and Copa America going on, things could shake up a bit for some of the world’s best teams.

Free Kicks

  • Peter Musa was named MLS Player of the Matchday for his hat trick in FC Dallas’ 5-3 win against Minnesota United. It was the Croatian striker’s first hat trick since he joined Dallas this past off-season, and he now has eight goals this season.
  • Now with Cruz Azul, former Atlanta United forward Georgios Giakoumakis took some parting shots at MLS in regards to how losses are OK compared to Liga MX. I find it a pretty oblivious thing to say considering Atlanta fired its head coach a day after losing to Charlotte FC earlier this month.
  • Steve Cooper, who was sacked by Nottingham Forest six months ago, was hired as Leicester City’s new manager.
  • Of the 47 goals scored so far in Euro 2024, five have been own goals and only Germany’s Jamal Musiala has scored more than once. None of the goals have been scored from the penalty spot as well.
  • Burnley is reportedly in talks with Ruud van Nistelrooy to be the club’s next manager after Vincent Kompany’s departure.

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

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Lion Links: 6/20/24

Orlando City draws against Charlotte FC, Wilfredo Rivera joins first team, Ally Watt speaks on Black Women’s Player Collective, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City B / Mark Thor

How’s it going, Mane Landers? Last night’s Orlando City match featured plenty of ups and downs, but it was a pretty exciting way to spend a Wednesday night. Hopefully the Cardiac Cats weren’t too hard on your heart. Before we dive into today’s links, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride defender Celia!

Orlando City Draws Against Charlotte FC

The Lions went on the road for a match against Charlotte FC and earned a point with a 2-2 draw. Matches between the two teams are usually close affairs and this one was no different, as neither team did enough to claim victory. One one hand, equalizing twice on the road against a stingy defense isn’t the worst outcome for Orlando. On the other hand, Charlotte played most of the match a man down and a win was definitely in the cards for the Lions. Hopefully Orlando can break this five-game winless streak when it hosts the Chicago Fire on Saturday.

Wilfredo Rivera Available for the First Team

Orlando City B midfielder Wilfredo Rivera is with the first team this week after signing a short-term agreement with Orlando City. He was an unused substitute in Wednesday’s match in Charlotte and will be available for selection in Orlando’s match against the Chicago Fire on Saturday. The 20-year-old signed a similar agreement in March of this year, but has yet to make his MLS debut. Rivera came off the bench in OCB’s match against Chattanooga FC on Thursday and scored a brace earlier this month while on international duty with Puerto Rico. The signing was necessary as Ramiro Enrique is on an excused absence for a personal matter.

Ally Watt Discusses Black Women’s Player Collective

Orlando Pride forward Ally Watt talked about her role as the team’s representative for the Black Women’s Player Collective, which is a non-profit organization created by Black players in the NWSL. Watt spoke on how the collective allows her and other players to provide opportunities for young girls that they didn’t have. One such initiative is the creation of mini-pitches to give more safe and equitable spaces for Black girls to play soccer.

Copa America is Upon Us

This year’s Copa America, which will pit the top 16 nations in the Western Hemisphere against each other, kicks off tonight. Here’s a great guide to each team’s notable players and chances to win the tournament. Orlando City goalkeeper Pedro Gallese was noted as the star to watch on Peru’s squad. He has his work cut out for him though in a group that includes Argentina, Canada, and Ecuador. As for the U.S., Christian Pulisic and Giovanni Reyna are key players for the team’s aspirations at a deep run.

Chuck Booth over at CBS Sports also ranked each team heading into the tournament, placing the U.S. fifth on the list. Argentina tops the rankings, and I was a bit surprised to see Brazil in fourth. Peru is last, but hopefully Gallese and Wilder Cartagena can help prove the doubters wrong.

Germany Advances in Euro 2024

Germany followed up its opening win against Scotland with a 2-0 win over Hungary to become the first team to clinch a spot in the knockout round of Euro 2024. In the other Group A matchup, Switzerland and Scotland battled to a 1-1 draw that included a great goal from Xherdan Shaqiri after a bad giveaway by Scotland.

It looked like Albania was headed towards another frustrating loss after giving up the lead in the second half, but a late strike by Klaus Gjasula salvaged a 2-2 draw against Croatia. Today’s slate of matches features a showdown between Spain and Italy, along with Denmark’s clash with England. We also may get to see Orlando City center back David Brekalo take the field in Slovenia’s match against Serbia.

Free Kicks

  • Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Ryan Gauld won MLS Goal of the Matchday for his strike in stoppage time against the New England Revolution.
  • FC Cincinnati’s Luca Orellano scored one of the best goals of the season with a pinpoint strike from downtown.
  • NJ/NY Gotham FC extended its unbeaten streak to nine games, with rookie Maycee Ball scoring a late winner to beat the San Diego Wave 2-1.

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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Lion Links: 6/19/24

Orlando City needs to score, Duncan McGuire in demand, Orlando City B match postponed, and more.

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Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

Happy Juneteenth, Mane Landers. It is a day to celebrate the end of chattel slavery in the United States and the progress of the Black community in this country. There is always more work to be done, but celebrating the progress to date is worthwhile. Today is also a match day for Orlando City, but for now let’s get to the links.

Scoring Goals is Important

Former Orlando City gaffer Adrian Heath is known for saying that goals change games. Orlando City has not scored many goals this season, making it hard for the club to change games and get results. Head Coach Oscar Pareja is taking the positives from the last match, but he will need to turn things around in Orlando’s attack if he’s to snap the club’s four-game winless streak. The first opportunity is tonight against Charlotte FC.

Competition Grows for Duncan McGuire’s Services

Following the Blackburn Rovers debacle in the last transfer window, we know that Duncan McGuire has interest in moving abroad. If not for incompetence on Blackburn’s part he would already be in Europe. The other interested party in that saga was Sheffield Wednesday, a club that is reportedly still interested in signing the young striker. Now, the English club may have some competition from Torino in Serie A, with other Serie A clubs interested as well. Hopefully, Orlando City will be able to secure McGuire’s services, though I expect he wants to go abroad.

Tonight’s Orlando City B Match Postponed

Orlando City B was set to take on New York City FC II today, but the match has been postponed. The new date and kickoff time have not yet been announced.

It’s not the first time this game’s date has been changed, as it was originally set for June 29 when the season’s schedule was announced. The Young Lions may not be complaining much about not having to play on the road on relatively short rest. As it stands, OCB’s next match will now be against Atlanta United 2 on June 26.

Hines Remembers Match After Pulse Shooting

It’s been a week since the eighth anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub tragedy. Yesterday, it was eight years since Orlando City played the San Jose Earthquakes in the first Orlando City match following the shooting. Orlando Pride Head Coach Seb Hines was a starting center back for the Lions in that match. He remembers the emotions of that day. Hines spoke on how it felt to get up for a match, but also taking time in the 49th minute to honor the 49 people whose lives were taken away too soon. He still has the rainbow sweatbands from that match that he was wearing when he scored a header for Orlando City. Hines remembers the good and the bad, and so should we.

Upgrading the NWSL Match Experience

NWSL clubs are trying to improve the matchday experience for their fans. That looks different everywhere, but at Inter&Co Stadium that experience includes local food vendors as a part of the “Orlando Made” initiative by Orlando City and the Orlando Pride. Of course, great food will only get attendance to a certain level. The real crowd pleaser is winning, and the Pride have been doing a lot of that so far this season.

Free Kicks


That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the match tonight. As always, Vamos Orlando!

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