It’s another weekend full of Orlando soccer, Mane Landers! Tonight, Orlando City is back at home in Exploria Stadium for the return match against D.C. United. Then on Sunday, we have the Pride traveling to Children’s Mercy Park for a match with the Kansas City Current at 5 p.m. Finally, we get to round out the weekend with a Sunday nightcap with the Young Lions’ match at Osceola Heritage Park against NYCFC II.
With all that soccer in one weekend, it really begs the question: which jersey should you wear? Do you start with your favorite City jersey on Saturday and keep it on until someone loses? Did you even wash it after last week? Superstitions in sports always fascinate me. Heck, I was the guy on the team who went 14 straight matches without washing his socks in high school because I kept finding goals and assists during one streak. I would like to think that I have changed in my old age, but I probably have not. I’ll be wearing the same shirt as last week. Like they say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Before we dive into today’s links, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Orlando City’s first MLS captain and club legend Kaká!
Orlando City Adjusts for D.C. United
Orlando City is back at home against D.C. United to settle the score. On March 11, the two clubs finished in a 1-1 draw at Audi Field. The Lions are coming back from stealing a late win against Minnesota United, while D.C. defeated CF Montréal in its last outing. For Orlando City captain Mauricio Pereyra, he thinks both teams will play each other a little differently this time around and even hinted at moving forward with the 3-4-3 formation change from last week.
“From the beginning of the preseason, we started to train in that way and now we have two kinds of formation,” Pereyra said. “One of them is what we usually used to use in the last three years but now this formation is giving us a little more confidence and more people in front and I think that with Gastón [González] and Iván [Angulo] and the people around them. We have covered the spaces wider in the field. We feel comfortable with that.”
Club Records in Reach for Orlando City Players
Orlando City center back Robin Jansson is probably the first name Head Coach Oscar Pareja writes on the white board each week. And with an appearance against D.C. United, Jansson will reach 127 all-time appearances in the MLS era, passing Chris Mueller for the club record. While Mueller was holding on to the appearance record, Jansson already holds the club’s all-time minutes lead and is only five games away from matching Mueller for the most MLS appearances with the Lions.
Another milestone watch will be for goalkeeper Pedro Gallese. He will match Joe Bendik for the most appearances by an Orlando City goalkeeper at 92 should he be selected. Gallese won his 40th game for the Lions in Minnesota and holds the club records for goalkeeper wins and clean sheets.
Pride Prepare for Kansas City Current
Orlando Pride Head Coach Seb Hines and forward Ally Watt are looking towards their match against a team that recently shook up its coaching staff. On Wednesday, Matt Potter was relieved of his duties as head coach of the Kansas City Current, and the team went on to win its first group stage match of the NWSL Challenge Cup. For the Pride though, self-focus remains the main principle towards finding its own success.
“They’re going through [a coaching] change. They’re all also looking to win a game of football like ourselves, so it should be a really good, interesting game. It’s nice to go away from home, different environment. Obviously they’re building something there in terms of their fans and stadium up-and-coming, but we have to focus on ourselves. We want to bounce back from the last couple of results and really, again, reinforce our message of being difficult to beat and being threatening in the attack.”
The Pride is also a team full of new faces. With a tournament like the Challenge Cup, it allows players minutes who might not otherwise see much playing time. It can foster growth and chemistry among the squad. As Watt said:
“Just confidence that every single player in each game are growing. I feel that for myself, and you can see along with the backline. Emily Madril had an amazing game, she has so much confidence going into it, as she should. Carly Nelson getting her first start with us and she has all that confidence as well, Messiah [Bright] is gaining confidence. And I think that’s what we need, is to be believing in ourselves and each other more. But honestly, just realize that we can hang in the league and we just have to execute at the end.”
U.S. Learns Draw for Under-20 FIFA World Cup
A tournament that was originally planned for Indonesia will now be played in Argentina from May 20-June 11. After a final draw, the United States now knows that it will be in Group B at the 2023 FIFA Under-20 World Cup. The goup rounds out with Ecuador, Fiji, and Slovakia. The tournament features 24 countries split into six groups of four teams. Each of the top two finishers per group, as well as the four best third-place teams, will advance to the Round of 16 and knockout format. The Young Yanks are the only team to reach the quarterfinals of the last three FIFA U-20 World Cups and are one of only three to qualify to the last five U-20 World Cups alongside New Zealand and Uruguay. In the latest U-20 tuneup camp, Orlando City was represented by three players — Michael Halliday, Thomas Williams, and Alex Freeman.
- MLS match analysist and former Orlando City Lion Jamie Watson checks in with 96.9 The Game and promises more is yet to come from the club.
- Orlando Pride rookies Messiah Bright and Emily Madril appear to be bringing back Heelys. Hopefully, they will slide the ball in the next this weekend as easily as they slide around in those shoes.
- The Seattle Sounders will be without star forward Raúl Ruidíaz again after suffering a right hamstring strain which will need at least four weeks for recovery.
- New England Revolution center back Henry Kessler underwent a successful surgery for his right hamstring. The Revolution will be without Kessler for four months.
- Sporting Kansas City striker Willy Agada will undergo surgery for a stress fracture that was discovered in his leg.
- Atlanta United’s first-ever head coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino is open to a return to MLS.
- Julian Nagelsmann has backed out of the running to be Chelsea’s next head coach.
- Romelu Lukaku was sent off in the first leg of the Coppa Italia semifinal against Juventus. He will remain suspended for the return leg after the club’s appeal was rejected by Italy’s Sports Court Of Appeal.
- Paris Saint-Germain is ready to offer €150 million ($166 million) to Napoli for Victor Osimhen’s transfer.
- The UEFA Women’s Champions League will see Chelsea vs. Barcelona and Wolfsburg vs. Arsenal this weekend in the first legs of the semifinal matches.
That’s all I have for you today, folks. I hope you enjoy the fixtures this weekend. If you are headed to the stadium, remember to drive safely, be courteous to the stadium staff, and always drink plenty of water. Vamos Orlando!
Lion Links: 3/1/24
Orlando’s girls teams playing in national event this weekend, USWNT will face Colombia, Paul Pogba banned for four years, and more.
Welcome to March! It always feels like a good sign when a month starts on a Friday. Spring may not officially be here, but it definitely feels like winter is truly behind us. I plan on getting plenty of spring cleaning done this weekend before a fairly busy month. Let’s get this month started with today’s links!
ECNL Girls National Event Kicks Off Today
Some of the best youth soccer players are coming to Florida this weekend for the Elite Club National League’s spring event at Lakewood Ranch. It’s a great chance for clubs to play teams outside of their conference and there are plenty of scouts to impress as well. Orlando City will have four youth teams take part and each team will play at least three games over the three days. Orlando’s G07 squad has notably won five of its eight games in conference play and will take on Real Colorado National today. Orlando’s squads in the other age groups have some strong opponents lined up as well, so it should be a great experience for the club.
USWNT Will Face Colombia in Concacaf W Gold Cup
After finishing second in its group after a loss to Mexico, the United States Women’s National Team will take on Colombia this Sunday in the Concacaf W Gold Cup quarterfinals. The U.S. and Colombia squared off in friendlies last fall, with the teams playing to a scoreless draw in Utah before the U.S. won 3-0 in San Diego a few days later. Colombia also finished second in its group, conceding just once so far this tournament. The winner of Sunday’s match will play whichever team advances from tomorrow’s game between Canada and Costa Rica. On the other side of the bracket, Orlando Pride players square off when Rafaelle, Adriana, and Brazil play Mariana Larroquette and Argentina tomorrow. The winner of that match will play the victor between Mexico and Paraguay.
Portland Timbers Cut Ties With Jersey Sponsor
The Portland Timbers have dropped DaBella Exteriors as their jersey sponsor amid allegations that the company’s CEO, Donnie McMillan, Jr., sexually harassed employees. The accusations did not become public until Feb. 23 and the Timbers have removed DaBella’s image from their website as well. It makes sense that the Timbers would want to distance themselves from this. There was an investigation by U.S. Soccer in 2022 regarding former Portland Thorns head coach Paul Riley, and the club was also fined by MLS for not reporting an incident of alleged domestic violence involving former Timbers player Andy Polo in a timely manner. DaBella replaced Alaska Airlines as the team’s shirt sponsor for this season and the Timbers will now go without one until a new sponsor is chosen.
Paul Pogba Banned for Four Years
After testing positive for testosterone while playing for Juventus, French midfielder Paul Pogba was banned for the maximum four years by Italy’s anti-doping court. In response to the ruling, Pogba stated that the verdict was “incorrect” and that he will appeal this decision.
“I am sad, shocked and heartbroken that everything I have built in my professional playing career has been taken away from me,” Pogba said. “When I am free of legal restrictions the full story will become clear, but I have never knowingly or deliberately taken any supplements that violate anti-doping regulations.”
It’s fair to wonder just where this news leaves his career if his appeal is denied and he serves the full ban. Pogba turns 31 later this month and he is still under contract with Juventus through 2026, although this ban may obviously change that. Injuries have limited him in recent years as well, as he missed out on the most recent World Cup with France.
- Toronto FC signed English midfielder Matty Longstaff to a contract through the 2025 season. Longstaff has previous played for Newcastle United and should help improve a Toronto team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2020.
- LA Galaxy midfielder Mark Delgado’s second yellow card he received in his team’s opener has been rescinded and he’s eligible for Saturday’s match against the San Jose Earthquakes. Delgado was sent off while the Galaxy were up against Inter Miami, and the Herons then went on to score and leave with a point.
- The New England Revolution beat Independiente to advance to the Concacaf Champions Cup’s round of 16.
- Bay FC forward Racheal Kundananji had to exit Zambia’s Olympic qualifier against Ghana due to an injury.
- The United States Men’s National Team’s next away kit was reportedly leaked and it sure is something. It’s like a Bomb Pop got mixed into the team’s laundry.
- The USL Super League’s Fort Lauderdale United unveiled its branding and the colors are pretty nice. However, the logo has a bit too much alphabet soup going on for my liking.
- An Atletico Madrid supporter was arrested for racially abusing an eight-year-old who was wearing a Vinicius Junior jersey last year. I’m glad they were able to find the person responsible for this. It’s disgusting behavior that needs to be removed from the sport.
- Vladimir Petkovic was hired as Algeria’s next head coach and will manage the team through 2026 World Cup qualifying. Algeria failed to make it out of the group stage of the recent Africa Cup of Nations and has not qualified for the past two World Cups.
- Grace Wilson became the first Australian soccer player to come out as non-binary. Hopefully this helps make things a little easier for other athletes wishing to come out in the future.
- Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn was named as a part owner of the Utah Royals.
- Wayne Rooney stated that he wants to manage either Manchester United or Everton in the next 10 years. He was just fired by Birmingham City in January.
That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!
Lion Links: 2/29/24
Lions reportedly won’t play in U.S. Open Cup, Cavalry FC reflects on its defeat, gauging the USWNT’s panic meter, and more.
Happy Leap Day, Mane Landers! It’s the rarest day of the year, as we all lean into our procrastination a bit and collectively tell March that we’ll get to it tomorrow. It’s been a pretty busy week for me, but knowing the MLS season is in full swing has helped fuel me a bit. Let’s dive into today’s links!
Orlando City Reportedly Won’t Play in 2024 U.S. Open Cup
The latest reports involving Major League Soccer’s participation in this year’s U.S. Open Cup indicate that Orlando City, along with a majority of MLS teams, won’t be playing their first teams in the tournament. According to ESPN‘s Jeff Carlisle, the Houston Dynamo and the seven best teams from last season that aren’t taking part in the Concacaf Champions Cup will have their first teams take part. The format will reportedly be announced soon and we’ll see if Orlando City B and other MLS NEXT Pro teams will be in the tournament.
It will be pretty disappointing if Orlando’s first team doesn’t end up playing. Even though the Lions suffered an early exit last year, they won in 2022 and Head Coach Oscar Pareja has a penchant for excelling in the U.S. Open Cup.
Cavalry FC Reflects on Loss to Orlando City
Although Cavalry FC lost in both legs against Orlando City in its first Concacaf Champions Cup campaign, the Canadian club can hold its head high. Cavalry Head Coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. spoke on the team’s tactics in the second leg in Orlando to overcome the hefty aggregate deficit.
“Strategically, we wanted to frustrate them in the first half with an extra defender, and often at times we were in a back five,” Wheeldon said. “And second half, we wanted to unleash with more attackers and have a go, because it was 0-0. We thought … one, we wanted to make history with our first goal, and two, we wanted to get a result here.”
That first goal did come with Myer Bevan making some history for his team to take back to Canada. All in all, Cavalry did pretty well as the underdog and it’s unfortunate it didn’t get a true home game in Calgary. Cavalry’s defense is the real deal and I doubt this is the last time it makes an appearance in the Champions Cup.
Assessing the Fallout From the USWNT’s Defeat
The United States Women’s National Team suffered a shocking defeat to Mexico earlier this week that’s brought on varying levels of panic. The clock is ticking before the Olympics and the USWNT struggled to bounce back after trailing in the first half and had difficulties on both sides of the ball. While the issues at center back will likely be solved once Naomi Girma and Tierna Davidson play, the midfield has plenty of question marks and a weird balance of youth and experience. It’s an awkward stage for the USWNT, as Emma Hayes doesn’t arrive until May and won’t have much time to get the team ready for Paris. Of course, the USWNT could still win this tournament and the return of Mallory Swanson may heal most wounds this summer, leaving this loss as just a minor blemish when the year is up. Only time will tell and the USWNT has plenty of opportunity to right the ship.
FA Cup Quarterfinals Are Set
It was a pretty wild day in the FA Cup, with some of England’s top teams fighting their way into the quarterfinals. Chelsea needed a late winner from Conor Gallagher to beat Leeds United 3-2 at Stamford Bridge. Manchester United’s match against Nottingham Forest also had a dramatic finish, as United’s Casemiro scored the game’s only goal in the 89th minute. Wolverhampton ousted Brighton thanks to an early goal, and Liverpool got the job done against Southampton.
In the quarterfinals, Newcastle will travel to take on Manchester City, Wolverhampton will host the second division’s Conventry City, Chelsea will take on Leicester City, and Manchester United will face off against Liverpool. All four matches will take place on March 16.
- After getting married, Orlando Pride defender Emily Madril will have a new name on the back of her jersey this season.
- Former Pride midfielder Becky Edwards is an assistant coach at the University of Tennessee and shared details about her time as both a player and coach with the U.S. U-20 team.
- Enjoy this captured moment of Orlando midfielder Wilder Cartagena being awesome.
- LAFC forward Mateusz Bogusz’s strike against the Seattle Sounders won the first MLS Goal of the Matchday of the season, claiming 35.4% of the vote.
- FC Cincinnati beat Cavalier 4-0 in the Champions Cup to advance to the round of 16, where it will take on Brandon Vazquez and Monterrey.
- Spain beat France 2-0 to win the inaugural Women’s Nations League final, with Aitana Bonmati and Mariona Caldentey both scoring.
- American midfielder Johnny Cardoso was named La Liga’s U-23 Player of the Month after a strong February with Real Betis.
- After missing the past weekend, American forward Folarin Balogun will no longer be taking penalty kicks for AS Monaco.
- Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly the frontrunners to land striker Victor Osimhen, who just had a hat trick in Napoli’s 6-1 win over Sassuolo.
- Former Manchester United defender John O’Shea will serve as Ireland’s interim head coach for a pair of friendlies in March.
That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a pretty great Leap Day and that the rest of the week goes smoothly.
Lion Links: 2/28/24
Orlando City moves on in Champions Cup, Orlando Pride unveil new kits, USMNT to play Brazil in Orlando, and more.
Hello, Mane Landers. I hope you all enjoyed watching Orlando City’s win Tuesday night in the Concacaf Champions Cup. I’ve been staying busy at Under Armour, while wrapping up covering high school basketball playoff action with the state championship this weekend. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.
Orlando City Defeats Cavalry FC in Concacaf Champions Cup
The Lions took care of business on Tuesday, defeating Cavalry FC 3-1 at Inter&Co Stadium to advance 6-1 on aggregate and reach the round of 16 in the Concacaf Champions Cup. Forward Luis Muriel got his first start as a Lion, and there was plenty of rotation from the lineup Head Coach Oscar Pareja used against CF Montreal this past weekend. It was Orlando’s first home win in the continental tournament and the Lions will face Tigres in the next round in a rematch of their series in last year’s Concacaf Champions League. The first match will be in Orlando on Tuesday, with the second leg taking place in Mexico on March 12.
Orlando Pride Unveil New Phoenix and Citrus Kits
The Orlando Pride unveiled two new kits on Tuesday as part of the NWSL’s league-wide kit reset ahead of the upcoming season. The first kit is called the Phoenix kit, which features the Pride’s two recognizable colors, purple and blue. The Phoenix kit also features a two-toned purple gradient that goes from the top right to bottom left on the jersey.
The secondary Citrus Kit is an all new color scheme that pays tribute to Florida’s citrus industry. The Citrus Kit features a new orange and iced-out green color scheme with oranges and leaves, while the letters and numbers have the same green coloring. The socks have “Pride” handwritten on the back, while a stylized “OP” is on the lower end of the jersey.
Both kits will be unveiled during the kit party at the Orlando Regional History Center later today. Fans can purchase replicas of the two new jerseys at ShopOrlandoPride.com, in the Den at Inter&Co Stadium, and on NWSLShop.com.
Philadelphia Union Advance Past Deportivo Saprissa
The Philadelphia Union survived a wild match against Deportivo Saprissa at Subaru Park, securing a 3-3 draw to advance to the next round on aggregate. There were four goals in the first 30 minutes of the match, and Mariano Torres gave Saprissa a needed third goal in the second half to send the game to extra time. Despite playing a man down after defender Jack Elliot was sent off, the Union’s Mikael Uhre scored in extra time and the defense held on to advance. There is more Concacaf Champions League action tonight, as FC Cincinnati takes on Cavalier SC, already up 2-0 on aggregate, while Nashville SC faces Moca FC with a 3-0 aggregate lead. The New England Revolution will host Independiente tomorrow.
USMNT to Play Brazil at Camping World Stadium
The United States Men’s National Team will play Brazil in the second edition of the Continental Clasico on June 12 at Camping World Stadium. Both teams will use this match to test themselves in preparation for the Copa America this summer. This will be the first meeting between these two sides since 2018, when the USMNT lost 2-0 to Brazil in a friendly at MetLife Stadium. In the first edition of the Continental Clasico last April, the USMNT played Mexico in a thrilling 1-1 draw. The USMNT has only beaten Brazil once in 19 matches, but its record in Orlando has been stellar, with a 7-2-0 record in recent years. The 2024 Copa America will kick off on June 20.
- The latest MLS power rankings have been released after opening week. Orlando City dropped three places to eighth after a scoreless draw against CF Montreal this past weekend.
- The Orlando Pride’s Rafaelle started and scored a goal in Brazil’s win against Panama in the Concacaf W Gold Cup. Pride forward Adriana came off the bench for Brazil as well.
- USMNT captain Tyler Adams is back at training with AFC Bournemouth. Adams has been sidelined since last September with a hamstring injury.
- Seattle Sounders legend Ozzie Alonso is returning to the club to sign a one-day contract to announce his retirement from professional soccer.
- Mallorca defeated Real Sociedad 5-4 on penalties to advance to the Copa del Rey final for the first time in 21 years.
- Former Blackburn manager Jon Dahl Tomasson has been hired as Sweden’s next manager and will be the first foreign-born coach to lead the men’s side.
That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Wednesday and I’ll see you next time.
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