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Lion Links: 5/9/23

Julie Doyle signs new deal, Orlando City unveils documentary on U.S. Open Cup title run, MLS coaching carousel spins, and more.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Tuesday, everyone! We have a busy week ahead of us, which will start with Orlando City’s U.S. Open Cup match against Charlotte FC tonight. Tomorrow, the Orlando Pride will play the Washington Spirit in the NWSL Challenge Cup as well.

Before we get into today’s news, we want to extend our sincere thanks to Don VanDemark and ‘Hometown Soccer Gal,’ who each signed up for premium membership subscriptions! You can join them by visiting our Buy Me a Coffee page and checking out the three membership tiers.

Julie Doyle Signs New Deal

The Orlando Pride have signed Julie Doyle to a new two-year contract, with the forward now under contract through the end of the 2024 NWSL season. Doyle joined the Pride last year as a first round pick in the NWSL Draft and has made 20 appearances for the team. The move locks down a player who has become a familiar face for Pride fans after enjoying a good rookie season. While an ankle injury has her on the sidelines for now, we’re looking forward to seeing more of her in purple.

Relive Orlando City’s 2022 U.S. Open Championship Campaign

Orlando City released a documentary detailing the club’s championship run in last year’s U.S. Open Cup. For Our City provides a look behind the scenes as the Lions captured their first trophy of the club’s MLS era. There is plenty of new content to check out, including interviews from players like Facundo Torres and Antonio Carlos. The Lions will begin their title defense tonight against Charlotte in their first road game in the tournament since 2019.

Chicago Fire and New York Red Bulls Fire Head Coaches

The Chicago Fire sacked Ezra Hendrickson, with the team second from the bottom of the Eastern Conference with 11 points through 10 games. Frank Klopas will serve as the interim coach for the rest of the season. Former Orlando City assistant coach C.J. Brown will remain with the Fire as well. Klopas will be thrown directly into the fire as Chicago takes on St. Louis City SC in the U.S. Open Cup tonight.

The only team in the Eastern Conference with fewer points than the Fire also made a coaching change, as the New York Red Bulls fired Gerhard Struber on Monday. The Red Bulls have nine points after 11 matches and just one win. The team has also struggled with off-field issues, with Struber criticized for how he handled the situation involving Dante Vanzeir’s use of racist language in a game last month. Troy Lesesne will take over as head coach for the rest of the season.

EPL Relegation Battle Heats Up

The relegation fight at the bottom of the English Premier League table took some interesting turns on Monday. Everton smashed Brighton and Hove Albion, 5-1, a result that lifted the Toffees two points clear of the relegation zone. Nottingham Forest squeaked past Southampton 4-3, and is now three points clear of Leicester City in 18th. Speaking of Leicester, the Foxes lost 5-3 to Fulham, and they’re level on points with Leeds, but have a better goal differential. Southampton’s relegation is all but assured as it sits in 20th place with 24 points and just three matches left to play. It was an absolutely wild day, as the three games saw a combined 21 goals scored overall.

VAR Audio to be Used on TV

Next week, Premier League fans will have a chance to hear audio of what happens during a video review. On Monday, a pilot TV show will air which contains audio and video footage from a number of video review decisions from this season in order to provide greater transparency and clarity about what happens when the video assistant referee (VAR) gets involved. Howard Webb heads the body that oversees referees in the English game and he has pushed for VAR audio and video to be released following matches, but not during the games themselves.

Free Kicks

  • Retired Lion Tesho Akindele got his U.S. Open Cup championship ring.
  • Congratulations to Orlando Pride fullback Celia for graduating with her MBA over the weekend!

That’s all I have for today. Vamos Orlando!

Lion Links

Lion Links: 7/24/24

The Olympics are here, the MLS Skills Competition thrilled, the East won the MLS NEXT All-Star game, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. With the start of the Olympics, the NWSL x Liga MX Femenil Summer Cup, and the Leagues Cup, it’s tournament time in our soccer world. There is plenty to watch and follow, but I want to take the opportunity to wish my wonderful wife a happy birthday! She is very supportive of my work with The Mane Land, and I appreciate her greatly. Now, let’s get to the links.

Olympic Pride

The Olympics are upon us, and thus the opportunity to watch the Orlando Pride’s representatives in action. You will definitely want to check out the matches, as it is Marta’s last Olympics. The Brazilian is playing in her sixth Olympics, though she isn’t there just because of her name. She has earned it through her play. It’s no surprise to Orlando Pride supporters that Marta secured her place on the squad, as she has looked much more like her old self this season during the Pride’s undefeated regular season run.

MLS Skills Competition and MLS NEXT All-Star Game

The MLS Skills Competition took place Tuesday at Lower.com Field in Columbus, OH. Liga MX won the Shooting Challenge, MLS won the Touch Challenge, Liga MX took the lead again on the Cross & Volley Challenge, and MLS tied things up by winning the Passing Challenge. The Crossbar Challenge tiebreaker went to the visitors, as Liga MX won the overall competition. Special Olympics Ohio received a $25,000 donation as Liga MX’s charity of choice.

The Philadelphia Union’s young star, Cavan Sullivan, scored a goal and provided an assist as the East squad came from two goals down to win 4-2 over the West in the MLS NEXT All-Star Game on Tuesday. Orlando City was represented by Colin Guske and Juan Rojas on the winning side. It was quite a showcase for the future of MLS.

U.S. to Face Host France in Olympic Opener Today

The U-23 USMNT starts its Olympic journey today against host France. Orlando City’s Duncan McGuire will likely be leading the attack for the Yanks. He will be a part of a squad unlike those that many are accustomed to watching, since the normal stars won’t be in attendance. Of course, that does give players like McGuire a chance to shine on the international stage.

USWNT Prepares for Zambia

The USWNT begin its quest for Olympic gold tomorrow against the Zambian National Team. Obviously, Orlando Pride supporters will get to watch Pride players Barbra Banda and Grace Chanda for Zambia. USWNT Head Coach Emma Hayes is aware of the expectations surrounding her squad, and knows the challenge that Zambia presents. Hayes said the assumption that the U.S. will simply dominate is “disrespectful” of the growth of the women’s game across the world.

This is Zambia’s second Olympics, though the road to Paris was not an easy one, thanks to the Football Association of Zambia. There are accusations of money laundering by the president of the association, and sexual misconduct by a coach. It really is impressive that the team made it and will compete. Of course, Banda and Chanda are not the totality of the Zambian team, meaning there is a lot more to know about the USWNT’s first opponent.

Free Kicks

  • The Concacaf Award Nominees have been announced. U.S. national team players Sophia Smith and Christian Pulisic are up for their respective Player of the Year awards.
  • The New Zealand Women’s National Team was allegedly spied on by a drone for the Canadian Women’s National Team during training for the Olympics. The two teams will meet on Friday for their fist match.
  • Former Lion Denny Chin has a new gig with Young Money APAA Sports.
  • The Orlando Pride are also participating in a school supply drive for the Orlando community, and you can contribute as well. Here’s Simone Charley to tell you all about it.

That will do it for today.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 7/23/24

Duncan McGuire’s road to Paris, MLS transfer happenings, USWNT will play Iceland after the Olympics, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Jeremy Reper

Happy Tuesday, everyone. It was a rather odd weekend as all three of Orlando’s soccer teams recorded 1-1 draws. The games will continue to come thick and fast between the Orlando Pride’s Summer Cup participation, Orlando City’s Leagues Cup opener, Orlando City B’s regularly scheduled programming, and the start of the Olympic tournaments. Before we get into today’s links, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride forward Alex Kerr!

Duncan McGuire’s Path to Olympics

Orlando City’s Duncan McGuire will likely suit up for the United States Olympic team in just one day’s time, and he’s had quite the interesting journey to arrive at this point. After being overshadowed in the 2023 MLS SuperDraft despite the Lions selecting him with the sixth overall pick, McGuire proceeded to have an outstanding rookie season by bagging 13 goals. His family members have long been some of his biggest supporters, and it’s good to hear that they’ll be on hand to cheer him on over in France. As the only traditional striker on the roster, he’ll have a good chance to make an impact. With as odd as his road has been to get here, it won’t be at all surprising if he does.

MLS Transfer Happenings

There are a number of MLS transfer moves that we need to catch up on. We’ll start with something that’s been rumored for awhile, as Atlanta United has officially sold Caleb Wiley to Chelsea for a fee reported to be in the area of $11 million. We stay in the Eastern Conference with Nashville SC, which has used a U22 Initiative spot to sign midfielder Patrick Yazbek from Viking FK. D.C. United has signed Boris Enow from Maccabi Netanya, a move that will add some important depth to the midfield. Shifting to the West, FC Dallas has signed Manuel Cafumana from Maccabi Haifa on a year-long loan deal. He continues the trend of midfield signings, and has experience playing for the Angolan national team. Finally, LAFC has sold defender Mamadou Fall to Barcelona after he spent last season on loan with the Spanish club.

USWNT Will Face Iceland in Friendlies

The United States Women’s National Team has announced that it will play a pair of matches against Iceland in October. The friendlies will take place on Oct. 24 in Austin, and Oct. 27 in Nashville, and will be the team’s first games following this summer’s Olympic tournament. Iceland is the 14th ranked team in the world, and should present a good test for the U.S. team. Additionally, a third match will take place on Oct. 30, with an opponent and location still to be announced. The USWNT will begin Olympic play on Thursday against Zambia.

Mexico Names Head Coach

Mexico has named Javier Aguirre as the team’s new head coach with legendary former defender Rafa Marquez joining the staff as an assistant. This is Aguirre’s third stint as the head coach of the team, but he will only have the job through the 2026 World Cup, after which he will turn the duties over to Marquez ahead of preparations for the 2030 edition of the tournament. Aguirre led Mexico to the round of 16 in the 2002 and 2010 editions of the tournament, and recently spent time coaching Monterrey and Mallorca. Marquez’s playing career needs little introduction, but he recently left his post as manager of Barcelona B in order to join Mexico’s staff.

Free Kicks

  • Make sure to participate in Orlando City’s school supply drive.
  • The Lions held steady at 14th in ESPN‘s MLS power rankings.
  • West Ham United has brought a very striking bus with them on the team’s tour of the United States.

That’s all I have for you this morning. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links: 7/22/24

All three Orlando squads finish with 1-1 draws over the weekend, and much more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

Hello, Mane Landers! I hope all is well with you down in Florida. I’ve just been busy at Under Armour and working the Def Leppard concert and Cubs baseball games at Wrigley Field within the past week. All of our teams, Orlando City, the Orlando Pride, and OCB, picked up 1-1 draws in their matches. It’s not often that all three teams pick up the same exact result. We’ve got plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links. 

Orlando City Trades Goals in 1-1 Draw vs. NYCFC

Orlando City and New York City FC split the points in a 1-1 draw at Inter&Co Stadium on Saturday. After a scoreless first half, the Lions struck first with a goal from Ramiro Enrique — his fourth consecutive game finding the net. New York City FC got an equalizer five minutes later to tie the match, and neither side could find a winner. Orlando’s four-game winning streak ends but its unbeaten run now stands at five matches. New York City FC is fifth in the Eastern Conference with 38 points, while Orlando City stays seventh with 34 points. There will be a break in league play as the Leagues Cup kicks off this week after Tuesday’s MLS All-Star Skills Competition and Wednesday’s MLS All-Star Game, and the Lions’ next match is at home against CF Montreal on Friday.

Lions Acquire 2025 MLS SuperDraft Pick

Orlando City has acquired the higher 2025 second-round MLS SuperDraft pick and $50,000 in 2026 General Allocation Money in exchange for the right of first refusal to sign former Orlando City forward Benji Michel. Real Salt Lake announced the club had added Michel last week. Following his departure from Orlando, Michel was with FC Arouca in Portugal. Michel played 118 matches across all competitions as a Lion, scoring 19 goals and adding nine assists.

Pride Draw North Carolina Courage Away

The Orlando Pride came from behind to snatch a 1-1 draw against the North Carolina Courage in their NWSL x Liga MX Femenil Summer Cup opening match Saturday at WakeMed Soccer Park. The Courage struck just before halftime to take a 1-0 lead, but Celia scored the equalizer for the Pride late to earn Orlando its second point at North Carolina this season and its first-ever Summer Cup result. The Courage won 5-4 in the ensuing penalty shootout to claim a second point. The draw extends the Pride’s unbeaten run to 17 matches across all competitions. Orlando sits third in their group after the first round of games in the Summer Cup and will face Monterrey at Inter&Co Stadium on Saturday.

OCB Picks Up Late 1-1 Road Draw at New York Red Bulls II

Orlando City B and New York Red Bulls II also battled to a 1-1 draw at Montclair State University Soccer Park. After a scoreless first half, New York Red Bulls II took the lead early in the second half, but Justin Ellis scored a stoppage-time equalizer for the Young Lions. The Baby Red Bulls won 8-7 in the shootout to secure the extra point. OCB remains 10th in the Eastern Conference with 24 points, and its next match will be on the road Saturday at Finley Stadium against Chattanooga FC.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City studio host Gabrielle Amado announced over the weekend she was leaving the club after four seasons and will be moving to Spain to work for LaLiga TV.

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

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