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Lion Links: 5/2/23

Lions earn recognition for weekend performances, U.S. Open Cup rings unveiled, Orlando’s academy teams win, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It’s been a great start to the week as all three Orlando City teams picked up wins over the weekend, which means we got to celebrate a nine-point Monday. It doesn’t get much better than that! There’s a lot to talk through today, so let’s get right into it.

Lions Earn Recognition After Home Win

Three Orlando City players earned recognition for their efforts in the Lions’ win over the LA Galaxy on Saturday. Facundo Torres was named to the starting lineup of the latest MLS Team of the Matchday, while Ercan Kara was named to the bench. Frankly, it seems a little odd for it not to be the other way around given Facu notched a goal while Kara had a goal and an assist, but it’s hard to be too picky. Torres was also nominated for Player of the Matchday, although the honor went to Inter Miami’s Leonardo Campana.

Mikey Halliday also got some props as one of the best young players of the weekend. He grabbed his first ever MLS assist on Kara’s opener and grew into the game well as it progressed. Congrats to all three guys!

Orlando City Unveils Championship Rings

Not only did we get to celebrate a nine-point weekend, but the Lions took the good vibes up a notch by unveiling the team’s 2022 U.S. Open Cup championship rings. The bling is pretty sweet looking, and features six purple stones representing each of the matches OCSC played in its run to the trophy. There’s also a brick motif as a nod to The Wall, and an engraving of the date on the inside of the ring, and several other really cool touches. Feast your eyes on this.

Young Lions Have Strong Weekend

Orlando City’s U-15 and U-17 teams each played two matches over the weekend, and both teams fared very well. The U-17 team beat Nashville SC, 3-2, and then drubbed New York City FC, 3-0, putting Orlando on top of its division. The U-15 squad had a similarly successful time as it beat Nashville, 2-1, and drew NYCFC, 2-2. Like its older counterpart, the U-15 team also sits atop its division. Both age groups will play Inter Miami at Osceola Heritage Park this Saturday. Keep up the good work!

USMNT Players Suffer Injuries

A pair of United States Men’s National Team defenders have suffered season-ending injuries. Tim Ream broke his right arm in Fulham’s 2-1 defeat to Manchester City on Sunday. Julian Alvarez stepped on the center back’s arm in the 22nd minute and, while he walked off the field under his own power, he was unable to continue. Meanwhile, Cameron Carter-Vickers will undergo knee surgery, which will end his season. Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou said that the center back has been struggling with a knee injury for a few weeks now, and the time has come for him to have the injury repaired. We wish both guys the best of luck in their recoveries.

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  • Adriana came third in the voting for the NWSL Player of the Week. The Brazilian had a goal and an assist in the Pride’s first win of the season on Saturday.
  • Nashville has terminated the Ake Loba’s contract, opening up a Designated Player spot.
  • JJ and Kealia Watt have invested in Burnley FC, which has already secured promotion to the English Premier League next season.
  • Leeds United could fire head coach Javi Gracia, with a decision reportedly set to be made soon.

That’s all I have for you today. Y’all stay safe out there.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/21/23

Orlando City clinches playoff berth despite loss, Eastern Conference standings remain close, USWNT plays South Africa tonight, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

How’s it going, Mane Landers? Last night’s result wasn’t the best outcome by any means, but losing on the road on short rest after a huge win isn’t the worst thing in the world. We’ll just have to shake that loss off and look forward to more soccer while we have it. Before we dive into today’s links, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Orlando City B midfielder Imanol Almaguer!

Orlando City Clinch Playoff Spot Despite Loss

The Lions weren’t able to put together a comeback in their 2-0 loss on the road to New York City FC. Playing at a narrow Citi Field, Orlando was not able to get much of anything going on offense and was shut out for the first time since July 8. The loss snapped Orlando’s six-game unbeaten streak in MLS play as well. Although the Lions are headed back to Florida emptyhanded, they did qualify for the playoffs due to other results in the league. Orlando will look to right the ship when it hosts Inter Miami this Sunday at 7:30 p.m.

Eastern Conference Remains Tight After Midweek Matches

Orlando wasn’t the only Eastern Conference team to clinch its spot in the playoffs after the latest midweek matches, with the Columbus Crew and Philadelphia Union both qualifying. Cucho Hernandez had a hat trick within the first 23 minutes of the Crew’s 3-0 win at home against the Chicago Fire. A penalty kick in stoppage time by Daniel Gazdag salvaged a point for the Union in a 2-2 draw with Charlotte FC. FC Cincinnati also needed a late equalizer from the penalty spot in its 1-1 draw with CF Montreal. As for how Orlando’s rivals fared, Atlanta United drew 1-1 with D.C. United and Miami beat Toronto FC, 4-0. Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba both exited in the first half and Miami Head Coach Tata Martino stated that neither will play against Orlando this weekend. Of course, that could just be misdirection. We’ll know for certain come Sunday.

USWNT Plays South Africa Tonight

The United States Women’s National Team will play its first match since the World Cup tonight when it faces South Africa tonight at 7:30 p.m. at TQL Stadium. Following Vlatko Andonovski’s departure last month, Twila Kilgore will coach the team for these friendlies. It will also be Julie Ertz’s final game after 10 years of playing for the USWNT. The 31-year-old announced her retirement last month and spoke more about her decision ahead of tonight’s match. After tonight, the USWNT will play South Africa again on Sunday at Soldier Field.

Champions League Group Stage Rolls On

More clubs got their first taste of this year’s Champions League action as the group stage kicked off this week. Arsenal’s campaign got off on the right foot, with a 4-0 win over PSV Eindhoven that put the English club at the top of its group after a 1-1 draw between Sevilla and Lens. Manchester United had a rougher time, falling 4-3 on the road to Bayern Munich. Goalkeeper Andre Onana struggled and blamed himself for the loss. Real Madrid needed a goal from Jude Bellingham in stoppage time to win 1-0 over Union Berlin at home, while Lautaro Martinez scored a late equalizer in Inter Milan’s 1-1 draw with Real Sociedad. Elsewhere, Napoli beat Braga 2-1, RB Leipzig won 2-0 against a Benfica side that was reduced to 10 men early on, and Galatasaray and Copenhagen split the points in a 2-2 result.

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That’s all I have for you today. Be like a goldfish and enjoy your Thursday!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/20/23

Orlando City takes on New York City FC tonight, USWNT prepares for friendlies with South Africa, Boston awarded NWSL expansion team, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Jeremy Reper

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope you all are excited for another midweek matchup for Orlando City tonight. I’ve been busy covering high school football, golf, and soccer this week and will be back working at Wrigley Field this weekend. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Orlando City Takes On New York City FC Tonight

Orlando City will be on the road tonight at Citi Field as it takes on New York City FC for a midweek matchup. The Lions won in thrilling fashion this past weekend, edging out the Columbus Crew, 4-3. That win was the Lions’ second consecutive win and extended its unbeaten run at Exploria Stadium to 11 matches. The Lions are in second place in the Eastern Conference with 50 points, while NYCFC sits in 12th on 31 points. NYCFC comes into this match off a scoreless draw against the New York Red Bulls. The last time these two sides met was back on May 17 at Exploria Stadium in a 1-1 draw. We could also see former Lion Andres Perea suit up for NYCFC to face his former club tonight. After tonight, the Lions will play Inter Miami on Sunday at Exploria Stadium.

USWNT Prepares to Face South Africa in Friendlies

The United States Women’s National Team will be back in action tomorrow for the first of two friendlies with South Africa. It will be the USWNT’s first match since the 2023 Women’s World Cup. South Africa achieved its best finish at a World Cup in the recent tournament, making it out of the group stage before losing 2-0 to the Netherlands in the round of 16. The roster for South Africa features 19 of the 22 players that participated in the Women’s World Cup, including Racing Louisville’s Thembi Kgatlana. The last time South Africa played the U.S. was back in 2019, losing 3-0 to the USWNT. South Africa is preparing for the 2024 CAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament’s second round next month.

NWSL Will Expand to Boston in 2026

The National Women’s Soccer League officially announced that it will expand in 2026, with Boston becoming the league’s 15th club. NWSL soccer returns to Boston for the first time in six years after its previous club, the Boston Breakers, folded prior to the 2018 season. The club’s ownership group is Boston Unity Soccer Partners, with the core being all women with local ties, including Jennifer Epstein who owns a minority stake in the Boston Celtics. The expansion fee paid to the league was undisclosed, and the ownership group has 95% of its capital being invested by women and 40% from investors of color. The ownership group reportedly plans to invest significant resources into renovating George R. White Stadium in Boston. The ownership group plans to reveal the club’s branding as it gets closer to play in 2026.

UEFA Champions League Roundup

The UEFA Champions League returned with the start of the group stages and plenty of notable matches. Christian Pulisic’s AC Milan played Newcastle United to a scoreless draw at home. Paris Saint-Germain shut out Borussia Dortmund 2-0 in its opener. Manchester City was trailing 1-0 at halftime, but stormed back to beat Red Star Belgrade 3-1. Atletico Madrid was leading 1-0 late into stoppage time before Lazio goalkeeper Ivan Provedel scored the equalizer to help his side escape with a 1-1 draw. FC Barcelona, RB Leipzig, FC Porto, and Feyenoord all won their opening matchups as well. Today’s notable games include Bayern Munich facing Manchester United, Arsenal taking on PSV Eindhoven, and Real Madrid hosting Union Berlin.

Free Kicks

  • The latest MLS Power rankings have been released. Orlando City moved up four spots to second after its comeback win against the Columbus Crew.
  • In case you missed it, check out the sights and sounds as the Lions got another win against a taem from Ohio.
  • Enjoy play-by-play commentator Sergio Ruiz’s reaction when Ramiro Enrique scored the winner for the Lions against the Crew.
  • The Seattle Sounders have teased an announcement on social media about a possible change to their brand next week.

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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/19/23

Ramiro Enrique named Player of the Matchday, Tab Ramos reportedly joins the New England Revolution, MLS ends Matko Miljevic’s contract, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Jeremy Reper

What. A. Weekend. Orlando’s three teams went undefeated and ensured about as good a start to the week as you could possibly ask for. That means I started this week riding high and there are plenty of opportunities for it to get better as Orlando City plays tomorrow and Sunday, with Orlando City B taking on FC Cincinnati 2 on Sunday. All of that action means there’s a lot to cover this morning, so let’s get after it.

Lions Earn Recognition After Comeback Victory

Ramiro Enrique and Martin Ojeda were both included in the latest edition of the MLS Team of the Matchday for their roles in Orlando City’s wild 4-3 comeback win against the Columbus Crew on Saturday. Ojeda had a goal and an assist, while Enrique had a brace and an assist and scored the winning goal with practically the last kick of the game. Enrique was also justifiably named the Player of the Matchday for his heroic effort. He joins Cyle Larin, Kaká, and Nani as just the fourth Lion to be named Player of the Matchday, so he’s certainly treading on hallowed ground. Congratulations to both guys, and keep up the good work!

Tab Ramos Reportedly Joins Revs

Tab Ramos has reportedly joined the New England Revolution as an assistant coach. If true, Ramos will try to help interim manager Clint Peay contain the chaos that has enveloped the club in recent weeks. The Revs are still third in the Eastern Conference, but players reportedly refused to train last Tuesday due to a lack of transparency concerning the events around Bruce Arena’s resignation. With all of that going on, it perhaps isn’t surprising that the Revs lost to a woeful Colorado Rapids team on the road on Saturday, and fans will hope that Ramos, who managed the Houston Dynamo for two years, can help get things back on track.

MLS Cuts Matko Miljevic

CF Montreal’s Matko Miljevic has had his contract terminated by the league following an absolutely wild story coming to light last week. Miljevic was reportedly playing in an amateur indoor soccer league using a fake name and subsequently received a lifetime ban from it after punching an opposing player in the face. Needless to say, a story like that doesn’t stay quiet for long, and since playing in another league while under contract with Major League Soccer is a violation of the contract that every player signs when joining, the league was able to end his contract with fairly little fuss. Thus ends one of the more bizarre stories to come across my figurative desk this year.

Injury Bug Ravages Manchester United and Chelsea

Injuries are beginning to pile up at Manchester United as Aaron Wan-Bissaka will now reportedly miss anywhere from a few weeks to two months after sustaining an injury in Saturday’s 3-1 loss to Brighton. Luke Shaw, Raphael Varane and Mason Mount are also out, but United’s injury problems pale in comparison to Chelsea’s, as the injury bug is chewing a path through the Blues’ squad. In fact, the London club has enough injured players to field a full starting XI that would be worth more than £370 million and features names like Reece James, Moises Caicedo, and Christopher Nkunku. Despite a 0-0 draw against Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday, Chelsea will likely simply be happy that no one went off injured during the game. United likely wouldn’t complain if it can get a similar result away against Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League tomorrow.

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That does it for me this morning. Y’all stay safe out there.

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