Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/17/23

Orlando City hosts NYCFC tonight, MLSPA releases player salary data, Folarin Balogun chooses the USMNT, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

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.

Free Kicks

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


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