Lion Links: 3/23/23
How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this week has been treating you well as we look forward to a weekend filled to the brim with Orlando soccer. I don’t have many plans over the next few days beyond working, but I have been enjoying some walks in the afternoons now that it doesn’t get dark so early. For now though, let’s dive into today’s links.
Orlando Pride Reveal Highway Woman Kit
Ahead of their season opener this weekend, the Orlando Pride unveiled their primary kit for the upcoming 2023 season. The Highway Woman Kit has both the top and shorts in a deep purple color, with a lighter purple sweeping across the top as if applied by a paintbrush. It honors Mary Ann Carroll, who was the only woman in a group of Black artists known as the Highwaymen. Operating in the 1950s, the Highwaymen had to sell paintings out of their car trunks as galleries wouldn’t allow works from Black artists. I love the new kit, particularly the tag in the bottom right that features a Royal Poinciana tree in the Pride’s colors and Carroll’s signature.
Mason Stajduhar Ready to Step Up
With Pedro Gallese on international duty with Peru, Mason Stajduhar will serve as Orlando City’s goalkeeper Saturday night against the Philadelphia Union. It will be the Homegrown Player’s first appearance of the season. The 25-year-old has been with the club for the past eight years, learning the tricks of the trade from many different Orlando goalkeepers over the years. Stajduhar spoke on the importance of preparation ahead of this weekend’s match.
“You always have to be ready no matter what, whether you don’t think you’re gonna play, you think you’re gonna play, you always got to be ready, always being prepared and treating every game like you’re going to be the one playing,” Stajduhar said. “I think it’s also taught me patience. No situation is permanent and things can change like that. So, I’d say patience and preparedness for sure.”
USMNT Faces Grenada Tomorrow
In its first competitive match of 2023, the United States Men’s National Team will take on Grenada tomorrow at 8 p.m. in the Concacaf Nations League. The U.S. has won all four of its previous meetings with Grenada and has more than enough talent on the roster to do so again. Grenada’s offense will likely revolve around Regan Charles-Cook and Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong creating chances for striker Jamal Charles to put away. As for the USMNT’s offense, there will be plenty of focus on which player will spearhead the attack. These games are a great opportunity for Ricardo Pepi or former Lion Daryl Dike to make a statement after missing the World Cup.
The Power of Meat in MLS
Orlando City Assistant Coach Josema Bazan discussed the importance of asado, which brings people together to enjoy good company and great grilled meats. A fixture in South American culture, particularly in Argentina, asado has become a part of MLS clubs all over the country. Former San Jose Earthquakes head coach Matias Almeyda used it to rally his team in 2019 and FC Cincinnati midfielder Luciano Acosta worked with a local chef to introduce his teammates to it during the off-season. Even after Bazan left FC Dallas with Oscar Pareja, the club continues the practice. Now in Orlando, Bazan helps unify a team of players from many different backgrounds.
“You try the meat, and you keep having conversations that are maybe a bit more intimate,” Bazan said. “They’re not superficial: they’re deeper than you’d have at a restaurant or just have normally. You leave your comfort zone, but go into an even more comfortable zone.”
- Orlando City defender Thomas Williams started in the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team’s 4-0 loss to France’s U-20 side. Michael Halliday came on as a substitute in the 59th minute.
FT | Not our day, but a lot more work to do this week.
Next up: #U20MYNT vs. England, Sat. March 25 at 11am ET pic.twitter.com/O9BTLKWf2T
— U.S. Soccer YNT (@USYNT) March 22, 2023
- The Orlando Pride’s Ally Watt was highlighted as one of several NWSL players to watch this season.
- Lake Nona FC’s goal in the second minute by former OCB player William Eyang was enough to beat Club de Lyon in the U.S. Open Cup’s first round. The team will take on the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the next round.
FT: And that's all she wrote from Kissimmee as William Eyang's goal in the 2nd minute of play was enough to send @NonaFC22 past @ClubDeLyonfc1 B (0-1) and through to a Second Round test with @USLChampionship side @TampaBayRowdies. pic.twitter.com/MoxM5e1o3Q
— U.S. Open Cup (@opencup) March 23, 2023
- Minnesota United signed South Korean forward Sang Bin Jeong from Wolverhampton. The 20-year-old will be an MLS U22 Initiative player and signed a contract through the 2025 season.
- Mesut Ozil is retiring after nearly 17 years of playing professional soccer. The 34-year-old won the World Cup with Germany in 2014 and excelled at the club level with Arsenal and Real Madrid.
- Columbus Crew forward Cucho Hernandez could be out for three to five weeks according to Head Coach Wilfried Nancy.
Wilfried Nancy says that Cucho Hernandez will be out likely between three and five weeks, but they're going to be very cautious to make sure he's fully healthy before he returns for #Crew96
— Bailey Johnson (@BaileyAJohnson_) March 22, 2023
- Center back Aleksandar Radovanovic joins Austin FC on loan from KV Kortrijk in Belgium’s top flight.
That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week!
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.
- American defender Josh Wynder is headed to Benfica. The Portuguese club signed the 18-year-old from USL Championship club Louisville City for a reported $1.2 million transfer fee, which would be a record amount for a USL player.
- FC Cincinnati and the Houston Dynamo will host in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals. Both matches will be on Aug. 23, with the Dynamo playing Real Salt Lake and Cincinnati facing Inter Miami.
- Speaking of FC Cincinnati, the club is reportedly close to signing Gabonese forward Aaron Boupendza as a Designated Player for a $7 million transfer fee. Boupendza had 11 goals in 17 appearances for Al-Shabab in the Saudi Pro League this past season.
- Brooklyn will be home to a USL League One team, which will begin playing in the 2025 season.
- Liverpool agreed to buy back its Melwood training ground with the intention of turning it into a training facility for its women’s team.
- Czech police stated that 23 West Ham and Fiorentina fans were arrested for their actions while in Prague for the Europa Conference League.
- Liverpool signed midfielder Alexis Mac Allister to a contract through 2028. The 24-year-old had 12 goals and three assists last season for Brighton.
That’s all I have for you today. Have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!
Lion Links: 6/8/23
Orlando Pride match postponed, Lionel Messi will join Inter Miami, West Ham wins Europa Conference League, and more.
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.
- Following its 3-0 loss to Toronto FC II, Orlando City B fell three spots to 10th in the MLS NEXT Pro power rankings.
- Real Salt Lake is reportedly signing Cristian Arango from Pachuca in Liga MX. Arango joined the Mexican club in February after two years with LAFC and would occupy a Designated Player slot with Real Salt Lake.
- FIFA will pay every player at the Women’s World Cup at least $30,000, with players earning more depending on how far they progress in the tournament.
- Inter Miami booked its spot in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals after winning 1-0 on the road against Birmingham Legion FC in a controversial match that included an extremely questionable no-call on an apparent Miami handball in the penalty area.
- Real Madrid has agreed to sign 19-year-old midfielder Jude Bellingham for a hefty transfer fee that could reach $139 million, according to Borussia Dortmund.
- Sergio Busquets is reportedly considering following Messi to Miami, although he’s also in talks with Saudi Arabian clubs.
- Luciano Acosta was awarded the MLS Goal of the Matchday for his deft touch and finish in FC Cincinnati’s 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire.
- Here are eight standout players from the U-20 World Cup who could make a splash if they join MLS.
- Manchester United has reportedly offered Tottenham and West Ham the chance to sign English defender Harry Maguire during this summer’s transfer window.
- Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Sergio Rico is improving in intensive care after he was struck in the head by a horse 10 days ago.
That’s all I have for you today. Make sure to hydrated out there as this summer heats up. Have a great Thursday!
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.
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.
- In case you missed it, check out the sights and sounds of Orlando’s road victory at Red Bull Arena this past weekend.
- Concacaf rebranded the Concacaf Champions League to the Concacaf Champions Cup. The prize money also got a boost, as the winner of the competition will receive $5 million.
- English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur has officially appointed Celtic’s Ange Postecoglou as its new manager on a four-year contract.
- Paris Saint-Germain has fired its manager, Christophe Galtier, despite him leading the French club to a Ligue 1 title in his only season.
- Former USMNT interim manager and assistant coach Anthony Hudson signed a two-year contract to become the new manager for Qatari side Al-Markhiya SC.
That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Wednesday and I’ll see you next time.
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