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Lion Links: 2/25/23



Today is the day that we have all been waiting for! MLS action is back. Orlando City invites the New York Red Bulls to town tonight at 7:30 p.m. If you haven’t had this date circled on your calendar for weeks, 1) Do you live under a rock? 2) Welcome to The Mane Land, where we bring all the news related to soccer in The City Beautiful.

But seriously, we’re ecstatic that league play is back underway. Personally, the nervousness is minimal and the anticipation is maximal. I can’t wait to see how this new roster of Lions will hold up against the rest of the league.

But before I go on and on about how hyped I am, let’s all wish a couple happy birthdays to Orlando Pride midfielder Mikayla Cluff and OCB winger Gonzalo Agustoni-Chagas. Now, let’s dive right into the links!

Orlando City Opens 2023 Season At Home

The Lions of Orlando City begin their 2023 campaign at home tonight with 10 new players for 2023, which is the most additions in a primary transfer window for the club since the 2018-2019 off-season. The team is undefeated in home openers through eight seasons in MLS, having won twice and drawn six times on opening day. Most notably, the Lions have not given up a goal in their first match of the season since 2019. As the New York Red Bulls come to town, the Lions will look to build upon their successful previous season that saw the club make yet another playoff run and lift the U.S. Open Cup.

Lions Announce 29-Man First-Team Roster

Luiz Muzzi and the Wilf family have done their fair share of refreshing the Orlando City roster since the 2021 transfer window takeover. While some faces remain the same, such as Peruvian international goalkeeper Pedro Gallese and captain Mauricio Pereyra, there are plenty of new Lions to acquaint yourself with. Newcomers sure to make an instant impact include midfielder and Designated Player Martin Ojeda, MLS U22 initiative forward Ramiro Enrique, and 2023 MLS SuperDraft pick and MAC Hermann Trophy winner Duncan McGuire. Let us know in the comments below which new Lion you are most excited to see take the field on opening day. We’ll have our own roster story later this morning, so stay tuned.

MLS Is Back

If you are trying to get your MLS soccer fix beyond your Orlando City Lions, there are plenty of other matches to watch on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV. Over 60,000 fans are expected for the start of Charlotte FC’s second year in MLS as North Carolina side hosts the New England Revolution. Orlando City rival Inter Miami will look to show off its new striker — and former Atlanta United player — Josef Martinez against CF Montréal. Newcomer St. Louis City will finally see what the team is made of as the expansion side takes on Austin FC. Meanwhile, an early Eastern Conference match-up of favorites Philadelphia Union and the Columbus Crew will surely be worth a look. These are just a few of many matches that we’ll have our eyes on as we welcome back the start of MLS league play.

Last-Minute MLS Roster Decisions

Plenty of teams were still tweaking that roster compliance knob on Friday to either become roster compliant or to ensure they have what it takes to lift the MLS Cup trophy at the end of the season. The league’s third all-time leading scorer Kei Kamara was traded to the Chicago Fire in a last-minute deal with CF Montréal. Chicago is sending Montréal $250,000 in General Allocation Money across two seasons, plus additional performance-based incentives. Charlotte FC has signed three 2023 MLS SuperDraft picks — midfielders Nick Scardina, Andrew Privett, and forward Patrick Agyemang — through 2023. Toronto FC has signed academy defender Kobe Franklin to a Homegrown contract through 2024. The San Jose Earthquakes have signed 2023 MLS SuperDraft pick Daniel Munie to a first-team contract. Meanwhile, Minnesota United FC and defender Alan Benítez have mutually agreed to terminate his contract.

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  • Still trying to decide what number to put on your 2023 “The Wall” kit? We’ve got you covered with all players and jersey numbers here.

Micah Burton and Keyrol Figueroa scored to lead the U-17 USMNT to a 2-0 win over Canada Friday night in the U-17 Concacaf Championships. The Baby Nats will face Mexico in the final Sunday at 5 p.m.

If that isn’t enough to get you hyped on soccer and today’s match, I don’t know what is. Remember that it’s opening day downtown. Give yourself a little bit of extra time to get to the stadium and give the game day staff a little bit of extra grace as they work out the kinks. Soccer is back and this should be a fun day and experience for all.

Now, pull on that shiny new purple jersey and head on down to the stadium. Vamos Orlando!

Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/30/24

Orlando City draws on the road, Duncan McGuire called up, Grace Chanda will reportedly sign with the Orlando Pride, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

For those of you who watched Orlando City’s game Wednesday night, I hope the universe repays you with good fortune in some way today. The week rolls on though, as we get ready for more Orlando soccer this weekend, along with international friendlies around the world to enjoy. For now though, let’s get to the links!

Orlando City Draws Against the Chicago Fire

The Lions went on the road and had to settle for a 1-1 draw against the Chicago Fire. Neither goal was anything to write home about in a match that was highlighted by sloppy play and yet another controversial refereeing decision the Lions had to deal with. A draw on the road while on short rest generally isn’t the worst result in the world, but it was a poor performance from the Lions. They’ll aim to get back in the winning column this Saturday when they travel to play the New York Red Bulls.

Duncan McGuire Called Up For Training Camp

Orlando City forward Duncan McGuire was one of 25 players called up for the United States Men’s Olympic Soccer Team’s training camp ahead of a friendly with Japan on June 11. McGuire has earned his spot on the team during a solid second season with the Lions that has included five goals. Columbus Crew goalkeeper Patrick Schulte, Koln forward Damion Downs, and LA Galaxy defender Jalen Neal are a few of the other notable players called up. Nashville SC center back Walker Zimmerman is the only player over 23 that was called up for this camp.

Grace Chanda Will Reportedly Join the Pride

An agreement was reportedly reached between the Orlando Pride and Zambian attacker Grace Chanda for her to join the club on a deal through 2025, with an option for 2026 as well. It would be a free transfer, but she would not join the Pride until after the Olympics. Chanda was named to the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations Best XI and was also on the shortlist for the 2022 Best CAF Women’s Player of the Year Award. The 26-year-old did not play in last year’s World Cup due to an illness, but has come off the bench in Madrid CFF’s past two games. The Pride are having a historic year and Chanda should help them push for a title if she does end up joining her international teammate, Barbra Banda.

Getting to Know Emily Sams

Pride defender Emily Sams is the latest player to field questions as part of the club’s video series for fans to learn more about the players. Sams spoke about the disappointment in how the team’s season ended last year after missing out on the playoffs on a goal differential tiebreaker. She also talked about the team’s aspiration to not only make the playoffs but contend for a title this year. It’s her second season with the Pride and she’s been a key reason why Orlando has done so well so far. Sams discussed what the team’s atmosphere is like, as well as how she likes to spend time outdoors exploring Orlando’s many lakes when not on the field.

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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

Lion Links: 5/29/24

Orlando City faces the Chicago Fire tonight, Kaká to be honored, Pride linked to Grace Chanda, and more.



Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. It’s match day for Orlando City as the Lions travel to the Windy City to take on the Chicago Fire. Orlando City looks to get back to its winning ways in the midweek matchup and we will have all the coverage you need during the match on our Twitter account, and after the match right here at The Mane Land.

We would also like to wish Orlando Pride Head Coach Seb Hines a very happy birthday! Frankly, it’s the least we can do given everything he has done so far this NWSL season. For now, let’s get to the links.

Lions Prepare for the Fire

Orlando City faces the Chicago Fire tonight at 8:30 p.m. at Soldier Field. The Lions will look to extend a three-match winning streak over the Fire. Facundo Torres has been particularly effective against Chicago, so hopefully he can start scoring some more goals as well. We will have our match preview a little later today.

Kaká to Become First Member of Legends Terrace at Inter&Co Stadium

Orlando City and the Orlando Pride are creating a “Legends Terrace” at Inter&Co Stadium to permanently honor those who have made a lasting impact with either club. Unsurprisingly, the first inductee will be the one and only Kaká. The ceremony will take place following the July 6 match against D.C. United. There will also be a concert featuring Latin performer Jota Quest in the Publix Mane Street Plaza outside the stadium prior to the match.

Orlando Pride Linked With Grace Chanda

Do you like Barbra Banda and what she has done since joining the Pride? Do you find yourself wondering, “got anymore of those Zambian strikers?” Well, it just so happens that the Orlando Pride are reportedly interested in signing Zambian forward Grace Chanda. According to the report, the San Diego Wave, Racing Louisville, and the Pride are all interested in signing Chanda. Given the Pride are serious about contending for a title this season, adding another quality attacker is a good move. Let’s hope the rumor is true.

Pride’s Summer Cup Schedule Adjusted

The Olympics won’t be the only women’s soccer competition this summer, as the inaugural NWSL x LIGA MX Femenil Summer Cup will start on July 19. We have learned that the Orlando Pride match against C.F. Monterrey at Inter&Co Stadium has been moved up from Sunday, July 28 to Saturday, July 27. The move does not affect Orlando City’s schedule, as the Lions play a rare Friday match that week. You can check out more information on the competition here.

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  • I know that there are those who are upset with the Leagues Cup as it definitely impacted the U.S. Open Cup this year. However, if you do decide to go to a match, at least part of the ticket price will go to a good cause.
  • Congratulations to Felipe. That is a lot of matches and we appreciate him being with our beloved Orlando City.
  • Congratulations also go out to Orlando City academy player Camilio Guerrero for earning a call-up to a U.S. U-14 national talent identification camp.
  • USMNT winger Tim Weah is making money moves in the Big Apple.

That will do it for today. We will see you on the other side of the match tonight. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/28/24

Yutaro Tsukada earns recognition, Americans in midweek action, European coaching updates, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I hope you all had a restful holiday weekend, and if you didn’t, then I hope you’re well on the way to recovery. We’ve got an exciting schedule this week, with two Orlando City games before an Orlando City B game on Sunday. It’s also OCB forward Yeiler Valencia’s birthday today, so let’s wish him well and jump into today’s links!

Yutaro Tsukada Earns MLS NEXT Pro Honors

OCB winger Yutaro Tsukada was named MLS NEXT Pro Player of Matchweek 11 for his performance in the team’s 5-0 home win against Huntsville City FC. The 22-year-old provided the assist on OCB’s first goal after using some nice skill on the ball to shake his defender. Tsukada then scored a goal of his own off of a free kick in the second half. The rookie has been electric for the Young Lions this season, recording four goals and four assists so far. Hopefully he can keep the momentum rolling when OCB faces Inter Miami II this Sunday.

Major League Soccer Stock Watch

Every week gives us a better idea of each MLS team’s capabilities, so let’s check in on how things are looking following the latest matchday. LAFC is on a great trajectory, as it’s won three consecutive league games and five straight in all competitions. Elsewhere in the Western Conference, Real Salt Lake scored three goals in the final 30 minutes of play to stretch its unbeaten streak to 11 games, and Cristian Arango didn’t have to do all of the heavy lifting. At the other end of things, the New England Revolution have lost three straight games, and six of their last seven. Likewise, the shine looks to have worn off from St. Louis City’s expansion season, as the team has also lost three straight games and simply doesn’t look the same as last year.

Americans in Midweek Action

With most of the European club seasons having concluded, there aren’t as many United States Men’s National Team players in action during the working week, but there are still some important games to make note of. Chief among those is Venezia’s game against Cremonese on Thursday. Tanner Tessmann, Gianluca Busio and Venezia will take on Cremonese over two legs, with the winner gaining promotion to Serie A. Left back Jonathan Gomez may take the field tomorrow morning in Real Sociedad’s friendly against Tokyo Verde as well.

In a pair of friendlies on Friday, Mexico plays Bolivia and Uruguay takes on Costa Rica. With the USMNT set to face both Bolivia and Uruguay in group play of this summer’s Copa America, the two matches present a good chance to better gauge the Yanks’ opponents.

European Coaching Updates

Several notable European club teams have coaching vacancies to fill this summer, and there are some updates on a few of those positions. Chelsea has reportedly made an approach for Leicester City’s Enzo Maresca, and has requested permission to talk to the manager who guided the Foxes back to the Premier League in his first year with the club. Meanwhile, despite interest from Manchester United, Kieran McKenna is reportedly set to stay at Ipswich Town, and has had talks about extending his contract. Finally, Aston Villa has extended Unai Emery’s contract, with his new deal keeping him at the club until 2029.

Transfer Rumor Roundup

Transfer season is kicking into gear, and we have several rumors to sift through this morning. Up first, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich are reportedly all in hot pursuit of Stade Rennais winger Desire Doue. Casemiro reportedly has a deal lined up with a team in the Saudi Pro League, and may have played his last game for Manchester United. Newly promoted Southampton is reportedly interested in signing Adam Lallana as a free agent. Finally, Paris Saint-Germain is said to have entered the race to sign Bruno Guimaraes, and will face stiff competition from Manchester City and Arsenal.

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That’s all I have for you this morning. Vamos Orlando!

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