How’s it going, Mane Landers? We’re all another day closer to filling Exploria Stadium and cheering on our favorite teams. I’m also waiting on pins and needles for some hints on what Orlando City’s new primary jersey will look like. It’s an exciting time to be an Orlando soccer fan as both the Lions and the Orlando Pride continue their preseasons. Let’s dive right into today’s links!
NWSL Releases Schedule for 2023 Season
The Orlando Pride’s 2023 season was unveiled and they will start their season on the road in a match with the Portland Thorns on March 26. The Pride’s first home game will take place a week later on April 2 when they take on Angel City FC. The NWSL Challenge Cup will take place throughout the regular season and the Pride’s first group stage match is on April 19 when they host the North Carolina Courage. For the first time, NWSL teams will all play their season finales at the same time, with each team in action on Oct. 15 at 5 p.m. The Pride will face the Houston Dash at Exploria Stadium to close out their season.
Exploria Stadium Will Host the USMNT in March
In its final league phase game of the 2022-2023 Concacaf Nations League, the United States Men’s National Team will play at Exploria Stadium against El Salvador on March 27. The USMNT has a great track record when playing at Exploria Stadium, winning all five of its past games there. Of those previous matches, the USMNT beat Panama 5-1 in World Cup qualifying last year and defeated Canada 4-1 in 2019 in the Concacaf Nations League. This is just the latest competitive match that will be held at Exploria Stadium, with the first matches of the SheBelieves Cup taking place there later this month. The United States Women’s National Team has also won all of its past games at Exploria Stadium and will take on Canada on Feb. 16.
Ercan Kara Could Break Out in 2023
Orlando City forward Ercan Kara was highlighted as a player who could take his game up a notch in his second year in MLS. 2022 wasn’t a bad first year by any means for the Austrian, as he led the Lions with 11 goals last season. Kara should benefit from the addition of Martin Ojeda, who will help create more chances and take some of the pressure off of Kara and Facundo Torres. The 27-year-old will spearhead an offense filled with versatile attackers and I’m looking forward to seeing what the big guy can do in his sophomore year with the Lions.
Miguel Gallardo Joins MLS Season Pass Broadcast Team
Former Orlando City goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo was announced as a Spanish language match analyst for MLS Season Pass. He joins the broadcast team after spending the last five years as a commentator and analyst with Orlando City and has covered the Florida Cup Series as well.
Humbled and excited to be part of this amazing group. Can’t wait to showcase our beautiful league around the globe! Thank you to all that have been with me since I started this journey. Love you 💜 @MLS @AppleTV #MLSSeasonpass https://t.co/nv7EKIeequ
— Miguel Gallardo (@migallardo01) February 8, 2023
Gallardo will still continue as an ambassador for OCSC and feature in club-created content. Orlando City radio broadcaster Sergio Ruiz is also part of the MLS Season Pass for play-by-play and the club gave both a shoutout.
Two of the very best in the business.
— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) February 8, 2023
- Atlanta United added Greek forward Giorgos Giakoumakis as a Designated Player on a contract through the 2026 season. The 28-year-old joins from Celtic and scored 13 goals in the Scottish Premiership last season.
- Toronto FC transferred 20-year-old winger Jayden Nelson to Rosenborg BK in Norway’s top flight for an undisclosed fee. The Canadian played 1,982 minutes for Toronto last season and was named to MLS’s 22 under 22 list.
- MLS announced a new brand campaign called “Our Soccer, Our Way.” The campaign will focus on fan culture and the in-stadium experiences across the league.
- The 2023 Concacaf U-17 Championship kicks off in Guatemala this weekend. The U.S. starts its campaign on Saturday against Barbados before matches with Trinidad & Tobago and Canada next week.
- Despite reports from both Ghana’s Football Association and Hatayspor’s vice president, Christian Atsu remains missing after earthquakes in Turkey, according to Hatayspor’s manager.
- American manager Pellegrino Matarazzo was hired as Hoffenheim’s next coach. Hoffenheim has only won five league games this season and sits 14th in the Bundesliga.
- Marseille won 2-1 against Paris Saint-Germain in the French Cup to advance to the quarterfinals. PSG was without Kylian Mbappe due to injury, although Lionel Messi and Neymar both played every minute of the match.
- Real Madrid beat Egyptian club Al Ahly 4-1 to reach the Club World Cup final against Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal on Saturday.
- Saudi Arabia has reportedly agreed to pay for new stadiums in Greece and Egypt in exchange for the three nations to launch a joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup, with Saudi Arabia hosting a majority of the matches.
That’s all for now, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week!
Lion Links: 2/22/24
Orlando City beats Cavalry FC, Lions receive General Allocation Money for Junior Urso’s rights, USWNT gets ready for Argentina, and more.
How’s it going, Mane Landers? It’s nice to start the morning fresh off of a huge win and I’m hoping that becomes a regular occurrence this year. Hopefully the work week has been kind to you as we ride the high of the Concacaf Champions Cup into Orlando City’s first game of the MLS season this weekend. For now, let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world.
Lions Win in Concacaf Champions Cup Opener
Orlando City kicked off its Concacaf Champions Cup campaign with a solid 3-0 win against Cavalry FC in Canada. Some players did better playing on the turf of Starlight Stadium in British Columbia than others, but the Lions ultimately did well on the road to make things less stressful for themselves for the second leg on Tuesday in Orlando at 6 p.m. Orlando’s offense showed little rust and the defense did its part in its first competitive match of 2024. Before the match, Head Coach Oscar Pareja announced that Robin Jansson will serve as the team’s captain this year, so it’s nice to see his tenure start with a clean sheet.
Junior Urso Signs With Charlotte FC
Orlando City received $50,000 in 2025 General Allocation Money from Charlotte FC in exchange for Brazilian midfielder Junior Urso’s right of first refusal. This transaction cleared the way for Urso to sign with Charlotte, joining on a deal through 2024, with an option for 2025. The Bear became a Lion back in 2020 and was an integral part of Orlando’s transformation under Head Coach Oscar Pareja that included winning the 2022 U.S. Open Cup. The 34-year-old impressed as a trialist with Charlotte during the preseason and should give Dean Smith’s side a veteran presence both on and off the field. While it’s never fun seeing a fan favorite playing for another Eastern Conference foe, I wish nothing but the best for Urso and hope he gets a warm reception when Charlotte visits Orlando this season on Sept. 18.
MLS Coaching Changes for 2024
There was a considerable amount of coaching turnover in MLS since last season, adding some intriguing storylines for this year. After a rough time in Miami, Phil Neville has a chance at redemption with a Portland Timbers side that narrowly missed out on the playoffs last year. The Colorado Rapids’ Chris Armas, D.C. United’s Troy Lesesne, and the New England Revolution’s Caleb Porter are other familiar faces in new places who could impress. As for those new to the scene, Dean Smith joined Charlotte from England, while Sandro Schwarz is now at the helm of the New York Red Bulls after years in Germany and Russia. I’m also interested to see how long it takes for John Herdman to turn things around with Toronto FC.
Analyzing Argentina Ahead of USWNT Clash
After a dominant 5-0 win over the Dominican Republic, the United States Women’s National Team will take on Argentina tomorrow in the Concacaf W Gold Cup’s group stage. The U.S. has won the past four meetings between the past two nations, and Argentina is coming off of a scoreless draw with Mexico. The Orlando Pride’s Mariana Larroquette spearheads an Argentine attack that can be a bit inconsistent when it comes to creating chances. That being said, Vanina Preininger can pull strings from the midfield and Argentina has multiple players capable of scoring from distance. Laurina Oliveros will likely start in goal after her clean sheet in the opener, and the defense also includes Kansas City Current center back Sophia Braun.
- The Orlando Pride’s Rafaelle and Adriana both started in Brazil’s 1-0 win over Puerto Rico.
- The LA Galaxy signed Ghanaian winger Joseph Paintsil as their third Designated Player. The 26-year-old joins from Genk in Belgium and signed a contract with the Galaxy through 2027.
- The Revolution beat Panama’s Independiente 1-0 on the road in the Champions Cup opener for both teams.
- The new changes to MLS’ competitive rules, such as in-stadium VAR announcements and off-field treatments, have been postponed amid the league’s referee situation.
- The United Soccer League announced that all 47 of the teams under its umbrella will take part in this year’s U.S. Open Cup.
- Bayern Munich officially announced that Thomas Tuchel will leave once this season is over. Although Bayern is second in the Bundesliga standings, it’s lost its past three games, including a defeat to Lazio in the Champions League.
- Porto scored a stunning goal in stoppage time to shock Arsenal in the UEFA Champions League.
- Manchester United left back Luke Shaw may be done for the season due to a leg injury.
- In the Europa Conference League, Israeli club Maccabi Haifa secured a 1-1 draw with Belgium’s Gent to advance to the round of 16.
That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week!
Lion Links: 2/21/24
Orlando City takes on Cavalry FC tonight, Lions sign Jeorgio Kocevski, USWNT wins in Concacaf W Gold Cup, and more.
Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you in Florida as we get to watch the Lions in action tonight in the Concacaf Champions Cup. There’s not much new with me this week other than staying busy covering high school basketball and hockey. Let’s wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride forward Amanda Allen. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.
Orlando City Takes on Cavalry FC Tonight
Orlando City will be in action tonight in the first round of the Concacaf Champions Cup, as it takes on Cavalry FC at Starlight Stadium at 10 p.m. This matchup will be the Lions’ first competitive match of 2024, with their MLS season opener against CF Montreal set for Saturday. The Lions were knocked out by Tigres due to away goals in last year’s Concacaf Champions League. Cavalry FC will make its debut in this competition tonight and qualified by winning the 2023 Canadian Premier League Shield. The second leg between these two sides will be on Feb. 27 in Orlando.
Orlando City Signs First-Round Draft Pick Jeorgio Kocevski
Orlando City signed 2024 MLS SuperDraft pick Jeorgio Kocevski to a contract through the 2024 season with club options for 2025, 2026, and 2027. Kocevski scored the game-winning goal in stoppage time in Orlando’s final preseason match against the Colorado Rapids this past weekend. The midfielder was selected 21st overall in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft by the Lions in December. He played four years for Syracuse, recording seven goals and 18 assists in 71 matches. Kocevski is the only player the club has signed from the Lions’ 2024 draft class and will likely get some minutes with Orlando City B this season.
St. Louis City and Philadelphia Union Win in Champions Cup
Orlando City isn’t the only MLS team kicking off its Concacaf Champions Cup campaign this week. St. Louis City edged out the Houston Dynamo 2-1, with rookie Hosei Kijima scoring the winner in stoppage time. The Philadelphia Union were on the road in Costa Rica to face off against Deportivo Saprissa and won 3-2, thanks to a hat trick from Julian Carranza in the second half. As for other tournament matches this week, the New England Revolution face Independiente in Panama tonight, with Nashville playing Moca FC in the Dominican Republic and FC Cincinnati taking on Jamaica’s Cavalier SC tomorrow.
USWNT Beats the Dominican Republic in W Gold Cup
The United States Women’s National Team got its Concacaf W Gold Cup campaign off to a great start with a 5-0 win against the Dominican Republic in Group A. Olivia Moultrie scored her first USWNT goal to give her team an early lead, with Lynn Williams giving the U.S. another goal before halftime. Moultrie scored another in the second half to earn her brace, and Jenna Nighswonger converted a penalty for her first USWNT goal as well. Former Pride forward Alex Morgan replaced Mia Fishel on the roster due to injury and scored from the penalty spot in stoppage time. The USWNT’s next game will be against Argentina on Friday at 10:15 p.m.
UEFA Champions League Roundup
The UEFA Champions League had plenty of drama as the round of 16 continued. Inter Milan won 1-0 in its first leg against Atletico Madrid at home, with Mark Arnautovic scoring the only goal in the match. In the Netherlands, PSV Eindhoven and Borussia Dortmund played to a thrilling 1-1 draw. The second legs for both matchups will be played on March 13. There is more Champions League action today, as FC Porto hosts Arsenal while Napoli takes on Barcelona.
- The Orlando Pride’s Mariana Larroquette started in Argentina’s scoreless draw with Mexico in the Gold Cup.
- The latest MLS power rankings are out just before the regular season begins. Orlando City begins the season in the fifth spot.
- Orlando City and the Orlando Pride announced fan experience upgrades at Inter&Co Stadium featuring Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology in merchandise shops, stadium Wi-Fi upgrades, and a jersey history experience.
- The MLS Players Association released a statement on the ongoing referee lockout.
- Here is the list of MLS Season Pass commentator assignments for opening week.
- Toronto FC has acquired center back Kevin Long from Birmingham City FC. The deal is through the 2024 season with an option for 2025.
That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Wednesday and I’ll see you next time.
Lion Links: 2/20/24
The Wall sells out for opening night, Robin Jansson earns recognition, Concacaf W Gold cup preview, and more.
Happy Tuesday, everyone! We’re now just one day away from the first competitive Orlando City game of the year, and it can’t get here fast enough. As usual, we have plenty to cover this morning, so let’s jump straight into it.
The Wall Sells Out for Orlando City’s Season Opener
The Wall, the supporters’ section of Orlando City’s stadium, has sold out of single-match tickets ahead of Saturday’s home opener against CF Montreal. Limited tickets for the match are still available for the rest of the stadium, and hopefully it will fully sell out for the first match of the season. This Saturday will be the 10th consecutive time in which the Lions start their MLS season at home. It should be a great match and a chance for Orlando to get its season off to a good start between Concacaf Champions Cup matches against Cavalry FC.
Robin Jansson Praised as a Top Defender in MLS
Orlando City center back Robin Jansson was recognized as one of the best center backs in MLS by MLSsoccer.com‘s Joseph Lowery. The 32-year-old has been an integral part of Orlando’s defense since joining the league in 2019 and should continue anchoring the team’s back line this season. Not only is he excellent in terms of defense, but the Beefy Swede can also make an impact on offense with his passing and surprising runs up the field. Jansson is one of the most consistent defenders in the league and agreed to a new contract with the club earlier this month.
MLS Transfer News Roundup
The 2024 Major League Soccer season might kick off tomorrow, but transfers are still flying thick and fast, which means we have things to catch up on. We start with one of the teams opening the season tomorrow, Inter Miami, which has officially transferred midfielder Gregore to Botafogo in the Brazilian top flight. We move on to NYCFC, which has completed the signing of striker Jovan Mijatović from Red Star Belgrade. The 18-year-old Serbian youth international has inked a deal that runs through the 2028 season with an option year for 2029. We finish up with the Houston Dynamo, which has signed Coco Carasquilla to a contract extension. The Panamanian midfielder’s deal now runs through the 2025 season and has option years for 2026 and 2027.
Concacaf W Gold Cup Preview
The inaugural Concacaf W Gold Cup kicks off later today, so make sure you get up to speed on everything you need to know about the competition. The United States Women’s National Team has been grouped with Argentina, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico and will be looking for a strong showing following a disappointing campaign at last summer’s World Cup. The tournament will feature a total of 12 teams, with eight Concacaf representatives and four from CONMEBOL. The top two finishers in each of the three groups advance to the knockout round along with the top two third-place finishers. The USWNT begins play tonight against the Dominican Republican at 10:15 p.m. from Dignity Health Sports Park.
Americans in Midweek Action
With a number of American players taking part in games during the work week, get everything marked down on your calendar so you don’t miss anything. Things get started this afternoon with a huge game, as Malik Tillman, Ricardo Pepi, Sergino Dest, and PSV Eindhoven take on Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League. European competition continues on Thursday as well, with Christian Pulisc, Yunus Musah, and AC Milan facing Rennes in the Europa League play. Things finish out on Friday as the red-hot Brandon Vazquez and Monterrey face Juarez in Liga MX competition.
Minnesota United Close to Coaching Hire
A coaching search that will surely go down as one of the most thorough (or at least lengthy) in MLS history is nearing its conclusion, as Minnesota United is reportedly close to naming Manchester United assistant Eric Ramsay as the team’s new skipper. While nothing is official yet, Ramsay is said to be the leading candidate, and The Athletic‘s Tom Bogert says that the team is closing in on the hire. If he joins, Ramsay will become the youngest coach in league history at the tender age of 32, and he will also become Minnesota’s second coach following Adrian Heath’s departure in October of last year.
- Orlando City forward Luis Muriel thanked Atalanta fans who made a banner to bid him farewell this past weekend.
- The folks over at MLSsoccer.com have predicted Orlando City will finish third in the Eastern Conference this year.
- The U.S. Open Cup has reportedly gotten the green light to take place this year, although it will have a format different than in past years.
- Thorgan Hazard dedicated a goal celebration to his family’s parakeet that passed away.
- Crystal Palace has hired Oliver Glasner as the team’s new coach after Roy Hodgson stepped down from the role.
- Napoli announced the firing of Walter Mazzari just two days before the team’s Champions League tie against Barcelona, making him the second coaching casualty of the Italian champions’ campaign.
- Continuing the coaching carousel trend, Marseille has fired Gennaro Gattuso just five months into the job.
That’s all I have for this morning. Vamos Orlando!
Orlando Pride Place Megan Montefusco on Season-Ending Injury List
Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Three Keys to Victory
Lion Links: 2/22/24
Lion Links: 2/19/24
Orlando City vs. Cavalry FC, Concacaf Champions Cup: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More
Orlando City’s 10th Anniversary is the Time to Remember the Club’s Originals
Opinion2 weeks ago
Striker Still a Position of Need for Orlando City
Orlando City2 weeks ago
Orlando City Announces Signing of Slovenian International Center Back David Brekalo
Opinion2 weeks ago
Duncan McGuire Staying in Orlando Benefits All Parties (Except Blackburn)
Lion Links2 weeks ago
Lion Links: 2/8/24
Lion Links2 weeks ago
Lion Links: 2/9/24
Orlando City B2 weeks ago
Orlando City B Announces Schedule for 2024 MLS NEXT Pro Season
Orlando City1 week ago
Orlando City Officially Announces Luis Muriel Signing
Lion Links1 week ago
Lion Links: 2/13/24