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Lion Links: 3/22/23



Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. I’ll finally get to watch some soccer tonight as I’m going to check out Chicago House AC take on Bavarian United SC in the first round of the U.S. Open Cup. Let’s all wish a happy birthday to Orlando City midfielder Ivan Angulo! There is plenty to cover today so let’s get to the links.

Orlando City B Announces Roster

Orlando City announced the initial roster for its second team, Orlando City B, which is preparing for its second season in MLS NEXT Pro. The majority of the roster will have new faces and some academy players. Goalkeeper Dominic Pereira, defender Zakaria Taifi, and forward Chase Vazquez are a few of the academy players on the roster. There will also be nine players returning to the squad that played with OCB last year. Goalkeeper Javier Otero, midfielder Alejandro Granados, and forward Moises Tablante are some of the familiar faces you’ll see back on the team this season. Otero had a solid season last year, leading MLS NEXT Pro with 100 saves. Granados played in the MLS NEXT Pro All-Star game last season, while Tablante returns to lead the attack. Orlando City B’s first match will be this Sunday on the road against Philadelphia Union II.

MLS All-Stars Will Take On Arsenal

After playing the Liga MX All-Stars the past two years, the MLS All-Stars will play English Premier League side Arsenal in this year’s MLS All-Star Game at Audi Field on July 19. D.C. United Head Coach Wayne Rooney will coach the MLS All-Stars for the match. The MLS All-Star Skills Challenge is on July 18 and will feature the best of MLS and Arsenal. The last time these two sides faced each other was back in 2016 in San Jose, where Arsenal defeated the MLS All-Stars 2-1. Fans will be able to watch this match-up on MLS Season Pass.

Storylines to Watch in the 2023 NWSL Season

We are only a few days away from the National Women’s Soccer League season kicking off this Saturday. The Orlando Pride will start their season on the road this Sunday to battle the Portland Thorns. Following abuse allegations and investigations from the NWSL and U.S. Soccer, the league is ready to move forward with new policies and safeguards in place to better protect its players. The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup is this summer in Australia and New Zealand and hopefully the trend of fan interest increasing after the tournament continues. VAR will also make its NWSL debut this year. There were many coaching changes across the league this off-season, and Seb Hines is fully at the helm of the Pride. It will be interesting to see how the NWSL clubs deal with the World Cup around the corner and the NWSL Challenge Cup running concurrently with the regular season. So many intriguing storylines ahead of this season should make things interesting in the NWSL.

2023 U.S. Open Cup Begins

The 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup kicked off last night in Pennsylvania with a match between West Chester United and the Ocean City Nor’easters. After trailing 1-0 early in the first half, the Nor’easters scored three unanswered goals to win 3-1 and move on to the second round to face the NISA’s Maryland Bobcats FC.

There will be 10 matches today, including a match-up between two clubs from the Orlando area. Club de Lyon FC 2 will take on USL League 2 side Nona FC tonight at 7 p.m. at Austin-Tindall Regional Park in Kissimmee. The winner of that match will play the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Tomorrow will feature another battle between two Florida clubs as the Jacksonville Armada face off against Miami United. Orlando City will enter the tournament in the round of 32.

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  • The latest MLS Power rankings have been released. The Lions moved up one spot to 13th despite their 2-1 loss to Charlotte FC this past weekend.
  • Here is the full slate of opening matches in MLS NEXT Pro this weekend, including a Monday night soccer match-up.

  • Manchester City’s Erling Haaland has pulled out of Norway’s upcoming Euro 2024 qualifying matches due to a groin injury. Haaland scored a hat-trick in Manchester City’s FA Cup match this past weekend against Burnley.
  • The LA Galaxy have acquired defender Julian Aude from Club Atletico Lanus of the Argentine Primera Division. The 19-year-old has agreed to a five-year contract through the 2027 season.
  • The Philadelphia Union reached an agreement with 2022 MLS Defender of the Year Jakob Glesnes on a new contract extension. The deal is through the 2025 season, with a club option for 2026 as well.
  • The San Diego Wave signed 15-year old forward Melanie Barcenas to a three-year contract. This deal makes Barcenas the youngest player to sign a contract in the NWSL.
  • Columbus Crew forward and former Lion Kevin Molino will be out for six to eight weeks after undergoing a meniscectomy due to knee injuries.

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

Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/9/23

Orlando City gets ready for the Colorado Rapids, OCB faces FC Cincinnati 2 on Sunday, U-20 World Cup final is set, and more.



How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this Friday finds you well as we gear up for a weekend filled to the brim with Orlando soccer. My friends are taking me out for teppanyaki and scorpion bowls tonight, so it should be a pretty nice day on my end. Hopefully your Friday goes smoothly as well. Now, let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world.

Orlando City Prepares for the Colorado Rapids

The Lions are on a five-game unbeaten run as they get ready for a home match tomorrow night against the Colorado Rapids. Facundo Torres scored twice in the team’s 3-0 win over the New York Red Bulls last weekend. Hopefully he can keep the momentum rolling against a Colorado team that’s allowed 25 goals this season and sits last in the league in points per game, with just two wins in 17 matches. Pedro Gallese also recorded his 26th clean sheet for Orlando in last week’s win, and could make his 100th appearance as a Lion tomorrow night. The Lions will have to keep an eye on Irish midfielder Connor Ronan, who has six assists in his first season with the Rapids.

Orlando City B Aims to Bounce Back at Home

After a 3-0 defeat to Toronto FC II in Canada this past weekend, Orlando City B will look to right the ship on Sunday at home against FC Cincinnati 2. The Young Lions are unbeaten at home this season, winning four of their six games at Osceola Heritage Park. The last time these two teams played was in August of last year, with Cincy winning in the penalty shootout following a 2-2 draw. Although he didn’t score in that match, OCB forward Jack Lynn scored three goals against Cincinnati last year and currently leads OCB with six goals this season. Sunday’s match should be a good opportunity for OCB’s offense to bounce back against a leaky Cincy defense.

USMNT Players Focused Despite Coaching Search

With European seasons over, American players who have been plying their trade abroad are back in the U.S. to prepare for the Concacaf Nations League and Gold Cup this month. The team will be coached by B.J. Callaghan in an interim capacity while the search for a head coach continues. Although not having a permanent head coach for these tournaments isn’t ideal, Nashville SC center back Walker Zimmerman spoke on how the team still knows how to get the job done.

“We’re a team that has a very strong team chemistry, strong culture within our group. And we know that for us, not much has changed right now,” said Zimmerman. “We know the same principles, style of play, expectations, accountability – all those things are the same. So I think that’s player-driven, to hold each other accountable to the standards that we’ve set over the past four years. BJ, he’s on top of it. He’s knowledgeable about what we want to do, how we’re going to go about these games.”

The roster includes many of the players who featured in the World Cup last year, but the striker position is one to watch due to the new faces involved. Folarin Balogun is with the team for the first time and it will be interesting to see how he measures up against Ricardo Pepi, Alex Zendejas, and Jesus Ferreira. We will get to see who spearheads the USMNT’s attack next Thursday, when the Yanks take on Mexico in Las Vegas.

Italy and Uruguay Reach U-20 World Cup Final

Only two teams remain in the U-20 World Cup after Italy and Uruguay each won their semifinals. Uruguay, which beat the U.S. in the quarterfinals, beat Israel 1-0, thanks to a goal in the second half from Anderson Duarte. In Italy’s semifinal against South Korea, Cesare Casadei’s terrific tournament continued as he gave Italy the lead in the 14th minute. South Korea equalized soon after with a penalty kick, but 17-year-old forward Simone Pafundi scored a nice free kick to send Italy into the final.

The final will take place on Sunday at 5 p.m., with the third-place match set for 1:30 p.m. It will be Italy’s first time playing in a U-20 World Cup final, while it will be Uruguay’s third time after losing in 1997 and 2013.

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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/8/23

Orlando Pride match postponed, Lionel Messi will join Inter Miami, West Ham wins Europa Conference League, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

It’s Thursday, which is a little worse than Friday, but still much better than Monday. I hope this week has been treating you well and that you have some fun to look forward to over the next few days. All three of Orlando’s soccer teams are in action this weekend as well. Let’s jump into today’s links!

Orlando Pride NWSL Challenge Cup Match Postponed

Wednesday’s NWSL Challenge Cup match between the Orlando Pride and NJ/NY Gotham FC had to be postponed due to poor air quality conditions in the New York metropolitan area. Wildfires in Canada were the cause of the hazy conditions that were expected to worsen when the match was set to take place. That match has now been postponed until Aug. 9, which is during the NWSL’s break for the Women’s World Cup. The Pride will be back in action this Sunday for a difficult match against the league-leading Portland Thorns.

“Pride in Our City” Kicks Off This Weekend

Orlando City and the Orlando Pride are both playing at home this weekend in matches that will also celebrate the LGBTQ community and remember the 49 victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting. Players will wear jerseys with rainbow numbers, which is also available as a customization option when buying jerseys at The Den at Exploria Stadium and online. Both matches will feature national anthem and halftime performances by the Orlando Gay Chorus as well. Limited-time apparel, patches, and merchandise will be sold, with a portion of the proceeds going towards the Orlando City Foundation to support the LGBTQ community.

Lionel Messi Will Join Inter Miami

One of the greatest soccer players of all time is headed to MLS. Although not finalized yet, star forward Lionel Messi announced that he will join Inter Miami. There were many reported moving parts involved, including an option for part-ownership of the club, a cut of revenue from new MLS Season Pass subscribers, and a deal between Messi and Adidas. He joins a Miami side that sits last in the Eastern Conference and recently sacked Phil Neville. This does add an interesting layer to the reported talks between Miami and Tata Martino, who coached Messi during his time with Argentina and Barcelona.

It’s great to see MLS in a position to add one of the most sought-after free agents in the world, although I do wish he wasn’t playing for an Orlando rival. The Lions could face Messi for the first time when the two sides clash at Exploria Stadium on Sept. 24. Orlando updated the ticket information for that match as well, with priority access available starting today for new season ticket, group ticket, and match pack purchases. A limited number of single-game tickets will be made available as well, and season ticket members will receive pre-sale priority before the public.

West Ham Wins Europa Conference League

West Ham United lifted its first European trophy in 58 years by beating Fiorentina 2-1 in the Europa Conference League final in Prague. The two teams traded goals in the second half before Jarrod Bowen beat an offside trap to score the winner in the 90th minute. The win capped off a great tournament from the English club, which won 12 of its 13 games during the title-winning campaign. West Ham finished 14th in the English Premier League, but will play in the Europa League next season after this victory. Unfortunately, the match wasn’t without controversy, as Fiorentina captain Cristiano Biraghi was struck in the head by thrown objects that drew blood. Thankfully, he was able to get bandaged up to finish out the match.

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That’s all I have for you today. Make sure to hydrated out there as this summer heats up. Have a great Thursday!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/7/23

Orlando City moves up in MLS power rankings, Orlando Pride take on Gotham FC tonight, USMNT announces official Concacaf Nations League roster, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers. How is everyone doing so far this week? I’ve been doing well and keeping myself busy lately. I’ll be working the Dead & Company concert this weekend at Wrigley Field. There is plenty to get to today, so let’s get to the links.

Orlando City Moves Up in MLS Power Rankings

Orlando City moved up five spots to 10th in the latest MLS power rankings. The Lions defeated the New York Red Bulls 3-0 on the road this past Saturday. Ivan Angulo put together a stellar performance and Facundo Torres scored twice in the match to help the Lions extend their unbeaten run to five matches. Around the league, the Columbus Crew also moved up five spots, climbing to sixth after a 4-2 win against Charlotte FC. Cincinnati edged out LAFC for the top spot in the power rankings following its 1-0 shutout win against the Chicago Fire.

Orlando Pride Take on NJ/NY Gotham FC Tonight

The Orlando Pride will play NJ/NY Gotham FC tonight in their third group stage match of the 2023 NWSL Challenge Cup. The match kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at Red Bull Arena and you can watch it on CBS Sports Network or stream it on Paramount+. The Pride are at the bottom of their group following a draw and a loss so far in the competition. Ally Watt scored in those first two matches for the Pride, with Summer Yates providing the assists on both of those goals. Gotham is unbeaten in the Challenge Cup and leads the group with four points. The Pride are unbeaten in their last six matches on the road in all competitions against Gotham, including a scoreless draw last month in league play.

USMNT Announces 23-Man Roster for Concacaf Nations League

The U.S. Soccer Federation officially announced the 23-man roster for the U.S. Men’s National Team before the 2023 Concacaf Nations League.

Goalkeeper Josh Cohen, who plays for Maccabi Haifa in Israel, was the lone player dropped from the preliminary roster announced last week. The USMNT will play rival Mexico on June 15 in the Concacaf Nations League semifinals at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. If the U.S. prevails in that match, it will face the winner of the match between Canada and Panama. The final is set to take place in Las Vegas on June 18.

U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinals Begin

The quarterfinals of the 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup kicked off last night with two matches. FC Cincinnati defeated the Pittsburgh Riverhounds out of the USL Championship, 3-1, with Brandon Vazquez, Alvaro Barreal, and Santiago Arias all scoring in the second half. The Houston Dynamo also booked their spot in the semifinals after winning 4-1 over the Fire. Nigerian winger Ibrahim Aliyu had a brace for Houston in the road win. Today, we have two more matches to determine who else will move on to the semifinals. Birmingham Legion FC of the USL Championship will take on Inter Miami, while Real Salt Lake will face the LA Galaxy.

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  • In case you missed it, check out the sights and sounds of Orlando’s road victory at Red Bull Arena this past weekend.

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

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