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Lion Links: 5/4/23

Orlando City-Charlotte FC will air on CBS Golazo Network, Alex Freeman’s hard work pays off, Orlando Pride announce theme nights, and much more.



May the fourth be with you, Mane Landers. Don’t worry, I won’t beat you over the head with too many Star Wars references today as I’m sure you will deal with plenty of them today. I’ll actually confess that, while I enjoy the franchise, I didn’t watch my first Star Wars movie until catching Revenge of the Sith on TV one summer. It pretty much ruined my first viewing of A New Hope a couple years later in college. Since then, I’ve seen every movie and series in the franchise, except for The Empire Strikes Back. I know, I know. But before you all toss me into a Sarlacc pit, let’s dive into today’s links!

Orlando City Starts U.S. Open Cup Will Air on CBS Golazo Network

The Lions will begin their U.S Open Cup title defense the road against Charlotte FC on Tuesday at 7 p.m. It will be the first of four matches streamed on CBS Sports Golazo Network for the tournament’s round of 32. Launched last month, CBS Sports Golazo Network is a 24-hour soccer streaming network and available for free through the CBS Sports App, Pluto TV,, and Paramount+. This will be Orlando City’s first match of this year’s tournament after lifting the trophy last year in a championship run that included six wins at home.

Lions Ride Momentum Into Montreal

Before that U.S. Open Cup match, the Lions will face off against CF Montreal on Saturday. It will be the Lions’ first trip to Canada since losing 2-0 to Montreal in the playoffs last season. After a rough start this season, Montreal has won its past three games in all competitions without conceding a goal. The Lions also enter this match with some momentum behind them, beating the LA Galaxy 2-0 at home thanks to goals from Designated Players Ercan Kara and Facundo Torres. Cesar Araujo’s 27 fouls won are the second most in the league and he will make his 50th appearance across all competitions as a Lion if he suits up on Saturday. The club will have a watch part at Kiwi’s Pub & Grill in Altamonte Springs for this weekend’s match.

Alex Freeman’s Memorable Weekend

Orlando City Homegrown Player Alex Freeman made his debut for the first team this past weekend, coming off the bench to play in front of a packed Exploria Stadium. While he was only on the field for a few minutes, it was the culmination of his hard work to reach that point after training with the first team for over a year.

“I did plan to have more minutes for him today,” Lions head coach Oscar Pareja said, “We want these guys from the academy to come and be part of that. I know what it means for the player to play two minutes in his debut and just put the feet on the pound. We say that in Spanish, and it’s a saying that means you are already there.”

The 18-year-old defender then played for Orlando City B on Sunday, scoring his third goal of the season in the team’s 3-2 win over Toronto FC II. Freeman now leads the Young Lions in goals as OCB sits near the top of the Eastern Conference. Hopefully more opportunities are headed Freeman’s way as he and other young players continue to develop.

Orlando Pride Announce Theme Nights

The Orlando Pride announced six theme nights at Exploria Stadium for this NWSL season. These events will take place once a month and include the chance to purchase specialty merchandise. The first theme night will take place on May 20 for Pups of Pride, which will allow fans to bring their dogs to the match. Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando will also be in attendance with adoptable animals. Pride in Our City will be on June 11 as the club celebrates Orlando’s LGBTQIA+ community and remembers the 49 lives lost in the Pulse shooting seven years ago. The Pride’s final game of the season on Oct. 15 will recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month as well. This season will also include the first Star Wars Night on Aug. 25, and fans can purchase tickets to that match for $5.04 in honor of today’s date.

Lionel Messi Will Reportedly Become a Free Agent This Summer

According to Fabrizio Romano, Lionel Messi will leave Paris Saint-Germain when his contract expires this summer. There were rumors he’d stay, but Messi’s father reportedly told the French club about the decision a month ago.

This news come after he was fined and suspended by PSG for two weeks after he made an unauthorized trip to Saudi Arabia and failed to report to training earlier this week. Once again, Messi will become one of the most sought after free agents in soccer, with Barcelona, Miami, and Saudi Arabia as possible destinations where he could wind up.

Free Kicks

  • Here’s a fantastic look behind the scenes of the Pride’s road win over the San Diego Wave. It’s pretty cinematic, and includes pep talks from Head Coach Seb Hines and his assistant, Giles Barnes.
  • You can also enjoy the sights and sounds from Orlando’s huge win at home against the Galaxy.
  • Despite winning their first game of the year, the Pride are still last in CBS SportsNWSL power rankings.
  • A drone toured Exploria Stadium to give a unique perspective of the Lions’ and Pride’s home.
  • D.C. United’s Christian Benteke won MLS Goal of the Matchday for his bicycle kick against Charlotte FC.
  • The New York Red Bulls signed 18-year-old midfielder Ronald Donkor to a contract through the 2026 season, with an option for 2027 as well. Donkor joins the Red Bulls after playing with Guidars FC in Mali and he will take up an international roster spot.
  • The North Carolina Courage and NJ/NY Gotham FC battled to a 1-1 draw in the NWSL Challenge Cup.
  • Erling Haaland scored his 35th goal of the season in Manchester City’s 3-0 win over West Ham to break the English Premier League’s single-season scoring record.
  • Eintracht Frankfurt scored three goals in the second half to beat VfB Stuttgart 3-2 and advance to the DfB Pokal final against RB Leipzig on June 3.
  • Real Madrid is reportedly closing in on a deal with Borussia Dortmund to sign English midfielder Jude Bellingham.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week!

Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/25/23

Orlando City draws with Inter Miami, Viviana Villacorta out for the season, OCB wins last game of the regular season, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Last night’s Orlando City match wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t the worst either. It’s a pretty fitting feeling on a Monday, as we all get back into the swing of the work week after a nice weekend of soccer. There are plenty of ups and downs from a rollercoaster Sunday, so let’s dive right into today’s links!

Orlando City Draws With Inter Miami

In the latest edition of the Tropic Thunder rivalry, Orlando City and Inter Miami split the points at Exploria Stadium in a 1-1 result. Miami struck first, but the Lions did well to find an equalizer, even though they couldn’t find a winner in the end. It wasn’t Orlando’s best game by any means, but it was a decent response to a 2-0 loss on the road to New York City FC. Orlando now has 51 points, tying its club record for the most points in a season, set in 2021. The Lions will have a chance to break that record on Saturday when they host CF Montreal.

Viviana Villacorta Out for the Season

Orlando Pride midfielder Viviana Villacorta will miss the remainder of the NWSL season after suffering an ACL tear in her left knee during training. The 24-year-old was selected with the ninth overall pick in the 2021 NWSL Draft, but was not able to make her debut until 2022 due to sustained an ACL tear in her right knee that kept her out for all of the 2021 season. This year, she has 21 appearances across all competitions for the Pride and notched the first assist of her career in a big road win against the San Diego Wave on April 29. This is a tough blow to the Pride’s midfield with just three games remaining as she has ended her season early due to injury for the third straight year. The Pride are only a point out of a playoff spot and are back in action on Oct. 2 against Angel City FC.

Orlando City B Wins On Decision Day

On the final day of the MLS NEXT Pro regular season, Orlando City B won 2-1 at home over FC Cincinnati 2. The Young Lions had already clinched a spot in the postseason heading into this match, but the win secured their spot as the fifth seed. Jack Lynn briefly held the Golden Boot lead after scoring, but ended up tied at 19 goals with New York City FC II’s Matt Myers and Colorado Rapids 2’s Remi Cabral. The trio ended in a three-way tie for the league’s Golden Boot honors. OCB will hit the road for its first MLS NEXT Pro playoff game, although the opponent is not yet known thanks to the new rule where higher seeds choose which team they want to face.

USWNT Wins in Megan Rapinoe’s Final Match

The United States Women’s National Team beat South Africa in a 2-0 win at Soldier Field. Trinity Rodman and Emily Sonnett scored and the defense did well to secure its second shutout against South Africa after a 3-0 win this past Thursday. This game also marked forward Megan Rapinoe’s final game with the USWNT, with the 38-year-old subbed off for the last time in the 54th minute. These were solid wins from the USWNT following the World Cup and it will aim to keep the momentum rolling next month in a pair of friendlies against Colombia.

Free Kicks

  • Three Orlando City academy sides came up with shutout victories this weekend.
  • Before the USWNT’s friendly with South Africa, U.S. Soccer Sporting Director Matt Crocker stated that plans remain in place for a new head coach to be at the helm in time for the training camp in December
  • American midfielder Yunus Musah did well in his AC Milan debut, playing all 90 minutes in a 1-0 win over Verona.
  • A match in the Netherlands between Ajax and Feyenoord had to be abandoned due to fans throwing fireworks onto the field while Feyenoord led 3-0. According to police, tear gas had to be used to stop unrest outside the stadium after the match, and Ajax later fired Sven Mislintat, its director of soccer.
  • Newcastle became the first English Premier League team to have eight different players score in a match after crushing Sheffield United, 8-0.
  • Atletico Madrid ended Real Madrid’s perfect start to the season by beating its rival 3-1, with Alvaro Morata bagging a brace.

That’s all I have for you today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have an easy Monday and rest of your week!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/23/22

Lions and Herons meet again, Carly Nelson is writing a book, NWSL free agency opens, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

Happy Founder’s Day, Mane Landers! It was on this day in 2014 that our fearless leader and Managing Editor Michael Citro started our first ever WordPress website. It’s safe to say that I’m sure The Mane Land has impacted your life as much as it has mine over the years, whether that be through daily reading or weekly podcasts. Cheers to Michael and all those who have come before me.

In my own personal news, I have been grinding away on the new EA FC 24 (the franchise formerly known as EA’s FIFA.) So far, the gameplay and updates have been great in my initial 15+ hours of play, and my online Ultimate Team is starting to really take its shape. I’m sure in a couple weeks that I’ll transition to a traditional Career Mode and take the Lions all the way to an MLS Cup and beyond.

Before we dive into today’s links, let’s all wish a very happy birthday to everyone’s favorite defensive midfielder, Wilder Cartagena!

Third Bout for Orlando City and Inter Miami

Orlando City and Inter Miami have already met twice this campaign. Sunday’s match will look to break the deadlock between the two rivals as both clubs have a victory to their name in this year’s series. In May, the Lions grabbed a 3-1 victory over the Fort Lauderdale-based club. The two sides met for a second time in the knockout round of Leagues Cup 2023 with Inter Miami taking the 3-1 result at DRV PNK Stadium. No matter the result this time around, Orlando City has already clinched a playoff spot, however, the Herons need every point they can get to attempt to do the same.

Carly Nelson, Goalkeeper and Author

It isn’t unheard of to learn that an athlete might have tried another sport before finding soccer, Orlando Pride goalkeeper Carly Nelson came from a background of gymnastics, tennis, basketball, and baseball before her father started a club soccer team with her in mind. While Nelson might have idolized USWNT legend Hope Solo as a child, she started her playing days as a forward, winger, and midfielder. Outside of protecting the Pride’s net, Nelson is spending time writing a book about her life growing up in Utah and the issues her family faced to hopefully help others that might find themselves in similar situations.

NWSL Opens 2024 Free Agency

The National Women’s Soccer League has officially opened the league’s unrestricted and restricted free agency periods. In accordance with the NWSL Players’ Association’s collective bargaining agreement, eligible free agents can begin negotiations for their 2024 Standard Player Agreements. Players eligible for unrestricted free agency include all who have at least five years of service within the NWSL and contracts expiring in 2023, while players eligible for restricted free agency include those who have at least three years of service. For the Orlando Pride, defender Kylie Strom is set to be an unrestricted free agent and midfielder Jordyn Listro is under restricted terms. Any club that currently holds the rights of a restricted free agent has a seven-day period to match an incoming offer from another club or else the player may sign with the new club under the terms of the offer.

USMNT’s Tyler Adams Nearing Return

Tyler Adams will not make his Bournemouth debut this weekend, but he could return as early as next week. Bournemouth’s manager, Andoni Iraola, provided a positive update on the U.S. Men’s National Team captain as he finishes up rehabbing a long-term hamstring injury.

“He has started this week at least to train partially with the group, so probably we can have a chance of having him next week or two weeks, something like this. Tyler is really close because once you start training partially with the group, it’s a matter of sensations, and if you are physically good enough. He has a very good physical base. So I think it will take not a long time to see Tyler with the team.”

Adams has not played since March after having a hamstring surgery. Even with a known injury, the 24-year-old still completed a move from Leeds United to Bournemouth following Leeds’ relegation to keep him in the top flight.

MLS Weekend Preview

Aside from the Florida derby, there are plenty of matches to be excited about around the league this weekend. Personally, I’m looking forward to catching a bit of the D.C. United and New York Red Bulls match. Manager Wayne Rooney’s club is right on the bubble in a tight Eastern Conference race while the Red Bulls can do themselves a huge service and come back into the playoff picture with a win. Out in the Western Conference, there is a real buzz around a Portland Timbers squad after a manager sacking. It could be a huge win for the Timbers and likely push them above the play-in round should they find a result against the Colorado Rapids.

Free Kicks

That’s all I have for you today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a fantastic Saturday. Be safe on Sunday at the match. Stay hydrated and look out for those around you. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/22/23

Orlando City prepares for Inter Miami, MLS NEXT Pro Decision Day is Sunday, USWNT wins against South Africa, and much more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! It’s been a pretty busy week of apartment hunting and work for me, so I’m looking forward to some rest and relaxation this weekend. I don’t have many plans, but I did make sure to carve out a few hours to make a drink and get some reading done. My book club is fairly low maintenance, but I’ll be behind if I don’t finish Fourth Wing before the second book in the series comes out in November. Let’s get into today’s links!

Orlando City Takes On Inter Miami This Weekend

Following a 2-0 loss on the road to New York City FC earlier this week, Orlando City will aim to bounce back when it hosts rival Inter Miami this Sunday. Orlando has a chance to set club records for the most wins and points in a season since it joined MLS in 2015. It will be the third meeting between the two clubs this season, with Orlando beating Miami 3-1 in May before falling 3-1 in the Leagues Cup’s knockout stage. Although Miami will be without Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba according to Head Coach Tata Martino, the Herons still have plenty of attacking talent in the form of Sergio Busquets, Leonardo Campana, and Josef Martinez.

Orlando City B Readies for MLS NEXT Pro Decision Day

Sunday will also be the final day of the MLS NEXT Pro regular season, with nearly every team in action. Here’s everything you need to know about Decision Day across the league, with playoff spots still up for grabs. Orlando City B has already clinched its spot in the postseason, but can secure fifth in the Eastern Conference when it takes on FC Cincinnati 2. However, the difference between fifth and a lower seed won’t matter too much due to a new rule this year where the second and third seed in each conference choose which lower seed it wants to host in the playoffs. The Golden Boot race is competitive as well, with OCB’s Jack Lynn tied at the top with New York City FC II’s Matt Myers. We’ll see if Lynn takes part in Sunday’s match after giving the first team needed depth last weekend.

USWNT Beats South Africa in Julie Ertz’s Finale

The United States Women’s National Team won 3-0 against South Africa in the first of two friendlies this month. All three of the USWNT’s goals came in the first half, with Lynn Williams bagging a brace. In her final USWNT game, Julie Ertz started and earned plenty of applause from the crowd at TQL Stadium when she was subbed off in the 36h minute. M.A. Vignola made her USWNT debut in the match as well, coming on at halftime. The two nations will play again on Sunday in what will be forward Megan Rapinoe’s last game with the USWNT.

Europa League Group Stage Kicks Off

The first round of Europa League group stage matches is over, with all 32 teams getting things started across Europe. Brighton & Hove Albion’s first Europa League match was a rough one, as the English club fell 3-2 at home against AEK Athens. The Spanish clubs also struggled, with Villarreal getting shut out 2-0 by Panathinaikos and Real Betis losing 1-0 to Rangers. Elsewhere, AS Roma beat Sheriff Tiraspol 2-1 thanks to a winner from Romelu Lukaku, Liverpool won 3-1 over Austrian club LASK after trailing early on, and Marseille drew 3-3 with Ajax in a thriller. West Ham, Atalanta, Bayer Leverkusen, and SC Freiburg also won their group openers.

Free Kicks

  • Enjoy the sights and sounds from the Orlando City Foundation’s annual celebrity golf and footgolf tournament.

That’s all I have for you today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!

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