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Lion Links: 5/5/23

Orlando City enters hectic week of road games, Orlando Pride prepare for Racing Louisville, OCB faces Crown Legacy FC tonight, and more.

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Nick Leyva, The Mane Land / Happy retirement, Brek!

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Whether it’s sharing a margarita pitcher with friends or enjoying some carryout from your favorite local spot, I hope you have a nice time. Make sure to check out festive ways to spend the day beyond food and drinks too, such as art exhibits, shops, and dance lessons. It should be a fun day to ease into a weekend filled with soccer. Before we get started with today’s links, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride forward Haley Bugeja!

Orlando City Begins Road Trip With Confidence

The Lions will hit the road to take on CF Montreal tomorrow night in their first of three away games during a seven-day stretch. After playing Montreal, the team will go straight to North Carolina for its U.S. Open Cup match against Charlotte FC on Tuesday. It will then briefly return to Orlando before heading back out for a game against the Columbus Crew on May 13. Orlando is unbeaten when playing away from Exploria Stadium this year, and Head Coach Oscar Pareja spoke on the importance of maintaining that road mentality.

“It’s a busy week that we have to go away as we have done before,” Pareja said. “This year, when we went to Philadelphia, when we went to Minnesota, [we went] with the urgency to win it. It kept us feeling on, feeling sharp, and feeling strong. That’s the attitude together and then obviously just play in our ways and we’ll just try to dominate the game the way we want.”

Orlando Pride Prepare for Racing Louisville FC

After winning their first game of the year in San Diego, the Orlando Pride return to Exploria Stadium to host Racing Louisville. It’s a great opportunity for the Pride to maintain their momentum, particularly on offense. Brazilian attacker Adriana recorded her first goal and assist in that 3-1 win, showcasing why she was signed this past off-season. She’ll have to contend with a revamped Louisville defense that includes former Pride defender Carson Pickett and center back Abby Erceg. While Louisville is still searching for its win of the season, it’s also only lost once across five games. At training, Pride forward Ally Watt discussed how the team is excited to play at home tomorrow.

Orlando City B Faces Crown Legacy FC Tonight

Orlando City B has the chance to claim the top spot in the MLS NEXT Pro’s Eastern Conference tonight when it plays on the road against Crown Legacy FC at 7:30 p.m. The match will be broadcast on MLS Season Pass. Crown Legacy is unbeaten this season and was named Team of the Month after winning all five of its games in April. Meanwhile, the Young Lions are coming off of an exciting 3-2 win at home against Toronto FC. It all makes for a huge showdown between two of the best teams in the league so far.

Central Florida Crusaders Will Host the NISL Playoffs

The champions of the National Indoor Soccer League’s men’s and women’s divisions will be crowned in Orlando on Mother’s Day, May 14. The league’s playoffs will be held at Addition Financial Arena on UCF’s campus, and the Central Florida Crusaders have a chance to win both divisions. The action starts with the women’s semifinal between the Crusaders and the Tampa Bay Strikers at 1 p.m., with the winner taking on the Memphis Americans in the final at 5 p.m. The Crusaders’ men’s side will face whichever team advances from the semifinal between the Strikers and Americans. There will also be two awards ceremonies in what should be an eventful day.

Free Kicks

  • OCB’s Alejandro Granados was called up by Spain for its U-17 team.
  • Former Lion Brek Shea and fellow ex-USMNT defender Geoff Cameron announced they are retiring and planning on going into business together. Shea played two seasons in Orlando and the club thanked him for his time in purple, which included this great goal.
  • The United States U-20 Women’s National Team was drawn into a group with Canada, Panama, and Jamaica for the Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship later this month.
  • San Jose Earthquakes forward Cristian Espinoza was named MLS Player of the Month after an April that included five goals and an assist.
  • In the NWSL, Sophia Smith was named Player of the Month for the months of March and April. The 22-year-old has four goals and four assists in six games for the Portland Thorns this season.
  • Inter Miami midfielder Jean Mota is out for four to six weeks due to a knee injury. The Brazilian has started in all nine of Miami’s matches this season, recording four assists.
  • A 1-1 draw with Udinese was enough for Napoli to clinch the Serie A title with five games to spare. It was Napoli’s third league title and its first since 1990.
  • Here’s an interesting dive into why there has been so much turnover among English Premier League managers lately.
  • The field for this summer’s The Soccer Tournament has been revealed, along with the groups. Clint Demspey and Landon Donovan’s squad will square off in one group, and Wrexham’s team is in a group that includes the U.S. Women’s team coached by soccer legend Mia Hamm.
  • Huddersfield Town will stay in the English Football League Championship after a 1-0 win over Sheffield United. The result also means that Reading will be relegated to EFL League One.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday. Make sure to stay hydrated out there tonight!

Lion Links

Lion Links: 7/12/24

Orlando City prepares for the New England Revolution, Summer Yates signs new contract, USWNT faces Mexico on Saturday, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! I’m working for most of the weekend but am still looking forward to a smorgasbord of soccer over the next few days. I’m also hoping to get some reading done, as I’ve fallen a bit behind in my reading goals for the year during this summer. But for now, let’s dive into today’s links from across the soccer world!

Orlando City Prepares for the New England Revolution

The Lions are on the road this weekend for a tough match against the New England Revolution on Saturday. It will be a clash between Eastern Conference teams that have clawed their way back up the table after slow starts to the season. Orlando has won three of its past four games, while the Revolution have won five of their last seven. While Orlando’s offense may be finding its groove this summer, the Lions have never won at Gillette Stadium in the eight games they’ve played there. No team has scored fewer goals this season than New England, which has scored 20 goals in 20 games.

Summer Yates Signs New Contract

The Orlando Pride have signed midfielder Summer Yates to a new contract that will keep her in the City Beautiful through the 2025 season, with an option for 2026. Yates fell farther than expected in the 2023 NWSL Draft and the Pride selected her in the fourth round. It’s proven to be a major steal for the Pride, as Yates has scored four goals in 15 appearances this year. She’s filled the shoes of some of the team’s best attacking midfielders and I’m glad she will be staying in Orlando beyond this year. The Pride also signed Cori Dyke to a new contract earlier this week, so it’s clear the Pride are looking ahead to the future during a historic season.

USWNT Plays Mexico On Saturday

The United States Women’s National Team will play the first of two friendlies before the Olympics when it takes on Mexico on Saturday at Red Bull Arena. The last time these two teams squared off was back in February in the inaugural Concacaf W Gold Cup, with Mexico winning 2-0. That loss raised plenty of eyebrows, but the USWNT went on to win the tournament and hasn’t lost since. The U.S. staff and team that won the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup Team will also be honored prior to the match for the 25th anniversary. The USWNT will take on Costa Rica on Tuesday in its final game before the Olympics.

Jurgen Klopp Reportedly Declines USMNT Job

There wasn’t much time for fans to get hopeful about reports that U.S. Soccer had reached out to former Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp to replace Gregg Berhalter, as more reports surfaced that Klopp turned down interest in the job. It’s not too surprising considering how Klopp has spoken in the past about wanting a break from soccer after leaving Liverpool this year. While I’m obviously interested in who will fill the role, I’m also hoping this search reveals how appealing the job is to other candidates around the world. I don’t think Klopp turning this down particularly means much in the grand scheme of things though, beyond U.S. Soccer doing its due diligence.

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That’s all I have for you this time around. I hope you all have a wonderful Friday and rest of your weekend!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 7/11/24

Cori Dyke signs new contract with Orlando Pride, Barbra Banda leads NWSL MVP race, Gregg Berhalter fired, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

How’s it going, Mane Landers? It’s been a fairly busy week for me, and I’m looking forward to some upcoming time off from work. I’m also looking forward to the conclusion of international tournaments this weekend. It should be a nice next few days. For now, let’s dive into today’s links!

Cori Dyke Signs New Contract With the Pride

The Orlando Pride have signed rookie midfielder Cori Dyke to a new contract through the 2025 season, with an option for 2026 as well. She has found her footing with the team and in the NWSL, making 11 appearances so far this season. The Pride selected her with the No. 22 overall pick of the 2024 NWSL Draft, signing her to a one-year contract back in March. She’s one of many versatile midfielders added this past off-season, and she’s done well providing relief where needed as a substitute.

NWSL MVP Race Heats Up

ESPN‘s Jeff Kassouf updated the rankings of NWSL MVP candidates for this season and Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda remains at the top. Kansas City forward Temwa Chawinga moved up a spot to second, and she and Banda currently lead the league with 12 goals each. Both players scored on Saturday, and I’m expecting a close MVP and Golden Boot race over the next few months.

Pride defender Emily Sams deservedly moved up in the rankings and is now in seventh. She’s been phenomenal as the anchor of the Pride’s league-leading defense and it’s great to see her garner more recognition as the season goes on. Marta is on the list for the first time this season, ranking 13th for her prominent role in the Pride’s undefeated season so far.

Gregg Berhalter Out as USMNT Head Coach

It’s the end of an era for the United States Men’s National Team, as Gregg Berhalter was relieved of his duties as head coach. This decision comes after a disappointing Copa America run that ended in the group stage after losses to Panama and Uruguay. There’s certainly been success for the USMNT under Berhalter, particularly against Mexico, as he led the team to two Nations League titles and the 2021 Gold Cup trophy. But it never felt like the USMNT was playing to its full potential and could win against the top 10 teams in the world. Hopefully this search for who will replace Berhalter will go better than the last one, and a new coach can come in and take the team to the next level in time for the 2026 World Cup.

England Claims Spot in Euro 2024 Final

This year’s Euro final is set, with Spain and England set to clash in Berlin on Sunday at 3 p.m. England booked its ticket after another dramatic finish in a 2-1 win against the Netherlands. Aston Villa forward Ollie Watkins gave England the winning goal in the 90th minute after coming on as a substitute. I would love to know how many minutes England has been in the lead this tournament, as there have been many late comebacks along its path to the final. Meanwhile, Spain has beaten Germany and France en route to the final after winning a group that included Italy and Croatia. The final should be a good one and I’m looking forward to it.

Colombia Holds On to Reach Copa America Final

The Copa America semifinal between Colombia and Uruguay was a tense affair and Colombia won 1-0. James Rodriguez provided his sixth assist of the tournament on the only goal of the game, but the game turned on its head when Daniel Munoz was sent off late in the second half. Colombia then had to spend the entire second half holding onto its lead and survived, despite good chances from Uruguay’s Darwin Nunez and Luis Suarez. There was mayhem after the match, as there was an altercation between fans and Uruguayan players in the stands.

Colombia has now extended its unbeaten streak to 28 games and will take on Argentina in the Copa America final on Sunday at 8 p.m. The last team that beat Colombia? Argentina back in 2022.

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That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a fantastic day and rest of your week.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 7/10/24

The Pride impress, Banda praised, Copa and Euro results, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers! We now have multiple weeks where the Orlando Pride will sit atop the NWSL table as we enjoy the Summer Olympics and the Summer Cup. Orlando City is on a bit of a roll as well, thanks to a resurging midfield. What I’m getting at is life is pretty good at the moment and we should enjoy it. While you bask in the soccer goodness, you can also check out today’s links.

Hines’ Tactics Beat Kansas City

If you didn’t get a chance to see the Orlando Pride’s victory over the Kansas City Current, stop reading and go watch it. Now that you’re back, you can read about Seb Hines’ adjustments when his squad went down a player following Carrie Lawrence’s sending off in the 42nd minute. This match lived up to the hype as the two undefeated teams clashed in what felt like a playoff match. Once again, the defense was the difference with the Pride now the only remaining undefeated club in the league.

Hayes Praises Banda

The USWNT opens the 2024 Summer Olympics with a match against Zambia. That means the Yanks will have their hands full with Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda to start things off. We’re not the only ones aware of how dangerous a striker Banda is, as USWNT Head Coach Emma Hayes called her the “best striker in the world right now.” It seems that Hayes respects Zambia’s ability to transition quickly from defense to offense, which is smart given how quick Banda is. The match will take place on Thursday, July 25 at 3 p.m.

A Tale of Two Coaches

There is plenty of blame to go around for the USMNT’s early exit from the Copa America, but the same can’t be said for the Canadian National Team. Jesse Marsch didn’t get the U.S. job when Berhalter was brought back, and Canada reaped the rewards in the Copa America, though the team’s journey came to an end last night in a 2-0 loss to Argentina in the semifinal match. Despite the loss, Canadian fans are certain to be happier with Marsch than U.S. fans are with Berhalter.

Spain Advances to the Final

Spain kept its championship hopes alive, defeating France 2-1 in the Euros semifinal match. France actually made Spain work for this one after Randal Kolo Muani scored France’s first goal by a French player in open play to put Les Bleus ahead in the eighth minute. Spain didn’t have to wait too long for the equalizer by Lamine Yanal in the 21st minute, nor for the winning goal by Dani Olmo in the 25th minute. Spain will now face either England or the Netherlands which play today.

Free Kicks

  • Former Orlando City defender RJ Allen is making a go of it as an assistant coach with New Jersey United of the NPSL. His squad is currently playing in the NPSL playoffs.
  • Orlando City’s Dagur Dan Thorhallsson earned an appearance in the MLS Skills of the Matchday highlight reel. You’ll find him at the 21-second mark.
  • The Orlando Pride’s Emily Sams is rocking the U.S. colors at her first (of hopefully many) USWNT camps.
  • U.S. Soccer has hired Catherine Newman as the new new chief marketing officer. If Gregg Berhalter remains as head coach, I know what Newman’s main marketing campaign will be about.
  • If you thought that Wrexham co-owner Ryan Reynolds was just a pretty face for publicity sake, you are very wrong. Reynolds takes an active part in all the players’ development, especially in their off-the-field endeavours.
  • D.C. United was so traumatized by Saturday’s loss to Orlando City that the club went out and signed a new midfielder. Okay, that isn’t the reason, but the signing still happened.

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the Orlando City match this weekend. Vamos Orlando!

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