Lion Links: 5/17/23
Orlando City hosts NYCFC tonight, MLSPA releases player salary data, Folarin Balogun chooses the USMNT, and more.
Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all of you are doing well in Florida. I’m looking forward to covering a high school soccer playoff game in Chicago later this week. Let’s all wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride goalkeeper Kaylie Collins! There is plenty to get to today, so let’s get to the links.
Orlando City Takes on New York City FC Tonight
Orlando City will host New York City FC tonight in a midweek matchup at Exploria Stadium. The match kicks off at 7:30 p.m. and you can watch it on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+. The Lions enter tonight’s game after a 2-2 draw on the road against the Columbus Crew this past Saturday. NYCFC comes to Orlando on a four-match losing streak, falling to the New York Red Bulls 1-0 this past weekend. The two sides split their season series last year, with the Lions winning 2-1 last August at Exploria Stadium and NYCFC defeating the Lions 2-1 in October. Duncan McGuire scored the equalizer in stoppage time against the Crew this past weekend and is the leading scorer for the Lions with four goals in eight appearances. Ercan Kara has also been in good form recently, scoring two goals over the past three games. After tonight’s match, the Lions will go on the road to face rival Inter Miami this Saturday.
MLSPA Releases Player Salary Data
The Major League Soccer Players Association released its annual salary guide for all MLS players signed in the league as of April 30. For Orlando City, Ercan Kara is the top earner with a base salary of $1.86 million, with $2.05 million in total guaranteed compensation. The second-highest earner for the Lions is Martin Ojeda, whose total guaranteed compensation is listed at $912,000. The Athletic ($) also put together a team based on which MLS players are outperforming their salary numbers. Orlando’s McGuire was featured, alongside LAFC’s Kwadwo Opoku and Nashville SC’s Jacob Shaffelburg.
Across the league, Chicago Fire midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri is once again the highest-paid player in MLS, with a total guaranteed compensation of $8.15 million. Toronto FC’s Lorenzo Insigne is the next highest, with the LA Galaxy’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez ranked third, Toronto’s Federico Bernardeschi in fourth, and Austin FC’s Sebastian Driussi rounding out the top five highest.
Folarin Balogun Chooses the USMNT
Arsenal’s Folarin Balogun, who is on loan with Ligue 1 side Reims, has chosen to commit his international future to the United States Men’s National Team. FIFA has approved the U.S. Soccer Federation’s request for Balogun’s one-time switch from England to the United States. Balogun has been in solid form in France, scoring 19 goals in 34 appearances for Reims. U.S. Soccer has been courting the 21-year-old forward for a while now and he is eligible for the USMNT’s upcoming competitions this summer. The Concacaf Nations League semifinal against Mexico and the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup are just around the corner. Balogun gave insight on why he chose to play for the USMNT.
Inter Milan Advances to UEFA Champions League Final
Inter Milan got a goal from Lautaro Martinez in the 74th minute to defeat rival AC Milan, 1-0, in the second leg at San Siro to book a spot in the UEFA Champions League final. Inter won 3-0 on aggregate and returns to the Champions League final for the first time since 2010. The Italian club will play the victor of today’s semifinal matchup between Manchester City and Real Madrid. The first leg in Madrid ended in a 1-1 draw last week. The final will be played on June 10 in Istanbul.
- The latest MLS Power rankings have been released. Orlando City fell three spots to 19th after its 2-2 draw against the Columbus Crew this past weekend.
- MLS NEXT Pro has also released its latest power rankings. OCB moved down a spot to seventh after it lost 4-0 to Columbus Crew 2 on the road.
- Don’t forget there is an NWSL Challenge Cup match tonight, with Racing Louisville hosting the Kansas City Current at Lynn Family Stadium.
- The USL Super League announced the initial eight teams to launch its first season in August next year. The league also announced it will seek sanctioning from U.S. Soccer to become a first-division women’s soccer league alongside the NWSL.
- Minnesota United’s Emanuel Reynoso has been cleared to return to the club by Major League Soccer. Reynoso was suspended after he failed to report to preseason training in February.
- MLS is reportedly expected to announce San Diego as its 30th franchise tomorrow at Snapdragon Stadium.
- Washington Spirit owner Michele Kang has reached an agreement with OL Groupe to purchase Olympique Lyon’s women’s team and become its majority owner. OL Groups has begun the process of selling OL Reign to prevent a conflict of interest as well.
- Concacaf announced a new ranking system for its clubs and leagues in the region. There will also be a league-ranking index based on club performances in international competitions.
- FC Cincinnati has decided to exercise its buyout on goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer’s contract.
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: 5/29/23
Pareja disappointed with draw, Julie Doyle returns from injury, OCB hosts Red Bulls II, and more.
Happy Memorial Day, Mane Landers! There is a whole lot of soccer to cover today, following a weekend full of news, including your local teams in purple having matches, although not the results we wanted with the Lions allowing a late goal to draw 1-1 and the Pride falling in Chicago. The English Premier League came to an exciting close Sunday. The Young Lions have a match of their own tonight. So, while Mondays can often bring the work week blues (for those who don’t have today off, anyway), at least you have a whole lot of soccer reading to get you up and at it this week.
But before we dive all the way in, please join me in wishing former Orlando City defender and current Orlando Pride Head Coach Seb Hines a happy birthday. Now, let’s get down to it in the links!
Oscar Pareja Disappointed for Fans
Following the Lions late draw on Saturday night, Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja showed some strong feelings towards the disappointing result. He said the team has to do better for its supporters and grind out wins after good performances.
“I have to say that we played well today and I want to congratulate that group of players that pushed that match and that energy. That’s the team that we want to see. The other part is the frustration of giving up another goal at the end and not walking away with the three points. At that part, the equation gets through things, soccer, fútbol, concentration, many things. But we want to see that team more often and we want to see that energy more often. We want to see that Orlando City. And to our fans, that support deserves much, much more.”
Check out the full post game press conference, which also featured interviews with goal scorer Kyle Smith and Orlando City defensive midfielder Wilder Cartagena.
Pride’s Loss Mars Doyle’s Return to the Pitch
The Orlando Pride dominated play but could not score on Saturday night, and that led to the end of the club’s four-game unbeaten run. With her start, Marta tied former teammates Ashlyn Harris and Toni Pressley for most regular-season appearances in Pride history with her 81st league match. Meanwhile, forward Julie Doyle also made her return to the field as a second-half substitute. Doyle had not played since the beginning of April due to an ankle injury. Head Coach Seb Hines said he was disappointed with the result but glad to see Doyle return to the lineup. Here’s what Hines had to say about Doyle:
“She’s an exciting player, she’s always active. We felt like it was the right time to bring her in, chasing the goal. She’s always on the move, making defenders defend and it’s nice to have another attacking option come off the bench, along with Ally Watt and Summer Yates. It just shows that we were being more aggressive towards the end again to try and get ourselves back in it. We felt that with the likes of Julie and Ally, Adriana, Marta, and Summer, we had an opportunity to get back in the game and ultimately win the game at the end, but we fell a little bit short. I can’t fault the players’ efforts. They put a lot into it, they’re working extremely hard and we have to just keep going and look forward to the next game away at Houston.”
Orlando City B Hosts New York Red Bulls II
The Young Lions of OCB are ready to host the Young Red Bulls tonight at Osceola Heritage Park. Leading the way for the team is forward Jack Lynn in red-hot form. Lynn has found the back of the net three times in the last two matches, with a game winner against intrastate rivals Inter Miami CF II on Thursday night. Lynn now leads the Young Lions in goals scored this campaign, with five in 2023, and has 20 goals total in his MLS NEXT Pro career. OCB will look to maintain its unbeaten record at home this season tonight, entering the match with a 3-0-2 record at Osceola County Stadium.
Premier League Relegation Battle
Heading into Matchday 38 of the English Premier League campaign, one team was already sure of its fate regarding relegation. Southampton was a good distance behind Leicester City and Leeds United, but both of those clubs had a chance to jump Everton in the standings. Southampton didn’t go quietly into the night though, as the team played to a 4-4 draw against Liverpool. Ultimately, Leicester City and Leeds United were relegated from the EPL on the final day of the season after Everton ensured its own survival with a narrow victory on Sunday. Leicester City fought to a 2-1 victory over West Ham United, while Leeds suffered a 4-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur. Everton extended its unbroken 69-year tenure in the English top flight as midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure’s stunning strike earned the Toffees a 1-0 victory over Bournemouth as they avoided relegation on the final day of the season.
- Seattle Sounders forward Jordan Morris exited his team’s match in the first half after injuring his groin on the same play in which he scored a goal.
- The Angel City Brigade chanted “we want better” as the LA Galaxy players and Head Coach Greg Vanney went over to have a conversation with the supporters group following their match.
- D.C. United Head Coach Wayne Rooney said he wishes he had 11 subs to make amid his frustrations following the 2-1 loss to a struggling Toronto FC.
- Arsenal won 5-0 against Wolverhampton Wanderers led by a in Granit Xhaka brace in what is expected to be his final game of after seven years at the club.
- Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe was named Ligue 1 player of the season for the fourth time in a row after helping the capital club win a record 11th French title. He claims he’ll return to PSG next season.
- Club legends Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba bid tearful farewells to Barcelona on Sunday on an emotional evening as the La Liga champions ran out 3-0 winners against Mallorca.
- Bayern Munich’s firing of club great and former CEO Oliver Kahn after winning the Bundesliga title has led to a public dispute between the two parties.
- Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Sergio Rico is in intensive care following a horse riding accident.
- With the Premier League season behind us, check out all the stats behind this year’s use of VAR in the league.
I hope you have a great week, Mane Landers. Do something special for someone today. And, best of luck to the Young Lions tonight. Vamos Orlando!
Lion Links: 5/27/23
U-20 USMNT victorious, trouble continues for Toronto FC, Ivan Toney’s suspension reduced, and more.
Happy weekend, everyone! Today is a very busy day, as Orlando City hosts Atlanta United at 7:30 p.m. at Exploria Stadium, while the Orlando Pride will travel to face the Chicago Red Stars at 8 p.m. There’s a lot to talk about today, so let’s jump into it.
U-20 USMNT Beats Slovakia
The U-20 USMNT was victorious in its final game of the Under-20 World Cup group stage. Orlando City’s Michael Halliday got his second start of the tournament, as the baby Yanks took out Slovakia, 2-0, to finish the group stage undefeated and finish top of Group B courtesy of a perfect three wins from three. Cade Cowell scored the opening goal and Niko Tsakiris got the second late in stoppage time to hand the Americans a third straight victory. They will advance to the Round of 16 and play a third place team from Group A, C, or D, with the exact opponent being determined once the other groups have concluded play.
Toronto FC Discord
Following comments from Frederico Bernardeschi and later Bob Bradley earlier this week, the drama with Toronto FC has continued with Bradley leaving Bernardeschi out of the squad for this weekend’s match. The Italian was also absent from training on Friday, and Bradley emphasized that the decision was not a disciplinary one. According to a report from The Athletic, tensions at the club have been increasing for some time, with Bernardeschi, Lorenzo Insigne, Bradley and son Michael Bradley at the heart of things (paywall). Things haven’t been good on the field for Toronto either, as the club has just three wins in 15 matches and hasn’t scored in more than 400 minutes.
Ivan Toney’s Suspension Reduced
The English Football Association has reduced Ivan Toney’s ban from playing from 15 months to eight, following him being diagnosed as a gambling addict. The FA took into account both his plea of guilt and his diagnosis as an addict when making the decision. It has also emerged that Toney placed 13 bets on teams he was playing on to lose during a period of roughly a year and a half, although he did not play in any of the 13 matches.
Swansea Reportedly Interested in Gregg Berhalter
Welsh club Swansea City is reportedly interested in hiring Gregg Berhalter to fill the team’s upcoming managerial vacancy. Current boss Russell Martin is close to joining Southampton, and the Championship club’s American ownership is reportedly interested in Berhalter, along with several other names. Former Swansea manager Chris Davies and current Plymouth manager Steven Schumacher are also reportedly under consideration for the role. It would be very interesting if Swansea did decide to go that route, especially as the United States Men’s National Team has not yet named a new head coach, and recent reports suggested that Berhalter had not yet been eliminated from contention.
- Spend some time getting to know Ally Watt a little better before this weekend’s Orlando Pride match.
- Former Lion Chris Mueller has had season-ending hip surgery.
- Alexandre Pato has signed with Sao Paulo in his native Brazil, reuniting him with another former Lion in Sebas Mendez.
- FC Cincinnati has signed Homegrown Player Gerardo Valenzuela to a contract through the 2026 season.
That’s everything I have for you today. Vamos Orlando!
Lion Links: 5/26/23
Orlando City gets ready to attack Atlanta United, Orlando Pride linked with Brazilian defender, Orlando City B beats Inter Miami II, and more.
It’s Friday, which means we can all rest a bit easier knowing the weekend is waiting for us at the end of the day. I don’t have many plans for the weekend beyond enjoying hibachi, soccer, and some of the Jamaican dark rum my parents got me after their cruise. Hopefully some relaxation is awaiting you over the next few days as well. Let’s get this Friday started off right with today’s links!
Lions Dialed In for Tomorrow Night
Orlando City Designated Player Martin Ojeda came off the bench last weekend to contribute a goal and an assist to help sink Inter Miami in a 3-1 win. It was the first game this year in which Orlando scored three goals, and Ojeda spoke on how the whole team has worked towards improving its attack.
“We’ve intended and made intentional about our work during the week is trying to get more goals and trying to score more,” Ojeda said. “It’s something that the entire team has been working on as a unit, the technical staff has been really focusing on throughout each week to try and improve going in each game because we know that that’s something that can help us stay on the front foot.”
The offense has a great opportunity to keep its momentum rolling against Atlanta United, which has conceded 24 goals in 14 games this year. Beating the Five Stripes after winning against Inter Miami would be a great way to end a busy May for the Lions as they get ready for the dog days of summer.
Brazilian Defender Rafaella Linked With Move to the Pride
According to The Athletic ($), Arsenal defender Rafaella will leave the club this summer and she’s been linked with a move to the Orlando Pride. The center back has been a cornerstone in Arsenal’s defense to help the English club reach third in the Women’s Super League this year, while also scoring goals in both the Conti Cup and the Champions League. Internationally, Rafaelle served as Brazil’s captain in its match against the U.S. in the SheBelieves Cup and will likely be a key part of the team’s defense in the World Cup this summer. Should she head to the Pride, she’d join up with fellow Brazilians Marta and Adriana in Orlando.
Orlando Pride’s Defense Stands Strong
The Pride are riding a four-game unbeaten run in league play as they get ready for a match with the Chicago Red Stars tomorrow night. While the offense has done well with six goals during that stretch, it’s the defense that’s shown considerable improvement. The Pride have conceded just two goals in their past four games and goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse has been excellent between the posts. But the team’s defense as a whole has improved, with each player on the field doing their part to break up attacks and grind out wins. Head Coach Seb Hines praised how hard the team has worked at doing what it takes to keep this unbeaten run going.
“Their attitude and their desire and their commitment to doing not just the hard work, but the ugly work as well,” Hines said. “You may not get all the plaudits for it because it’s not exciting football, but the players got what they deserved.
“It takes everyone. It takes 11 players to do their job to get three points. In this league, no one’s gonna give you anything, and you have to work extremely hard to get three points. Whether it’s a Marta or Emily Madril at the back, it doesn’t matter. Everyone has to do their job.”
Orlando City B Beats Inter Miami II On the Road
The Young Lions went to Fort Lauderdale and came back to Orlando with all three points after a 1-0 win against Inter Miami II. Jack Lynn scored the game’s only goal in the 57th minute, with Alex Freeman providing the assist on a low cross. OCB then held on for its third shutout of the season, with Javier Otero coming up with a huge save in stoppage time to deny Miami and keep his clean sheet. The Young Lions will be back in action on Monday at Osceola Heritage Park to host New York Red Bulls II.
Zackory Campagnolo Called Up For Tournament in Japan
Orlando City academy goalkeeper Zackory Campagnolo was one of 20 players called up by the U.S. U-16 Men’s National Team for the International Dream Cup held in Japan. The team will take on the Netherlands, Japan, and Nigeria in the competition, with the action set to begin on May 31. Campagnolo has participated in all four of the team’s training camps this cycle, with the most recent one taking place earlier this year in January.
- Orlando City forward Duncan McGuire was named 2023 Male Amateur Athlete of the Year by the Omaha Sports Commission. I’m sure the accolade will look great beside his MAC Hermann Trophy. Congratulations Duncan!
- Facundo Torres is 15th on the list of the best-selling MLS player jerseys. LAFC’s Carlos Vela is at the top of the list, with Nashville SC’s Hany Mukhtar and Walker Zimmerman in second and third, respectively.
- The U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals are set. On June 6, FC Cincinnati hosts the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and then the Chicago Fire will take on the Houston Dynamo. The next day, Inter Miami will travel to face the Birmingham Legion and Real Salt Lake will play the LA Galaxy.
- Manchester United moved into third place and secured a spot in next year’s Champions League after a 4-1 drubbing of Chelsea.
- American midfielder Tyler Adams is reportedly on Manchester United’s radar in the event that Leeds United is relegated this year.
- There’s plenty to play for tomorrow in the Bundesliga’s final day of the season, with the title still up for grabs between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich.
- French midfielder Delphine Cascarino is the latest player who will miss out on the Women’s World Cup due to an ACL injury.
- Wrexham AFC announced its first stadium sponsor in style.
That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!
Orlando Pride Take Step Forward in Chicago Loss
Lion Links: 5/29/23
Orlando City vs. Atlanta United: Player Grades and Man of the Match
Orlando Pride vs. Chicago Red Stars: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More
Orlando City vs. Atlanta United: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More
Three Takeaways from the Orlando Pride’s Good Run of Form
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Orlando City B vs. Columbus Crew 2: Final Score 4-0 as Young Lions Blown Out in Second Half
Orlando City2 weeks ago
Intelligence Report: Orlando City vs. New York City FC
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Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew: Player Grades and Man of the Match
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Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Player Grades and Man of the Match
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Orlando City vs. Inter Miami CF: Final Score 3-1 as Lions Maul Herons in Fort Lauderdale
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Orlando Pride vs. Washington Spirit: Final Score 2-1 as Pride Increase Unbeaten Run to Four Games
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Orlando Pride vs. NJ/NY Gotham FC: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More
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May 17, 2023 at 8:26 am
The Balogun switch is pretty amazing news for the USMNT.
When USL said they wanted to start a women’s league, I thought this was going to be something like USL Championship for women – a minor league that would hopefully provide a path to NWSL. I am really concerned about this idea of competing directly with NWSL. Women’s soccer in the US has struggled so much over the years that it could be that this will just weaken both leagues to compete like this. I suppose it’s possible that it could actually work out, but I remain skeptical.