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Lion Links: 5/23/23

Oscar Pareja and Ercan Kara make MLS Team of the Matchday, Rafael Santos up for Goal of the Matchday, Marta nominated for NWSL Player of the Week, and more.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Good morning, Mane Landers! I hope your work week got off to a great start. I had a particularly busy Monday, but it’s all downhill from here! After the Tropic Thunder derby win, Orlando City has to be absolutely buzzing. More of that to come in the links below, but, I’m sure Head Coach Oscar Pareja has probably ceased the celebrations by now and has the Lions focused on the next rivalry match against Atlanta United this weekend. Now, let’s get down to it in today’s links.

Orlando City Represented on MLS Team of the Matchday

Pareja cooked up a winning recipe to see the Lions through to a 3-1 victory over Inter Miami this past weekend. His efforts earned him the managerial spot on this week’s Team of the Matchday, along with the bragging rights from beating a rival. Austrian striker Ercan Kara also found himself on the Team of the Matchday, thanks to his brilliant performance that included a goal and an assist in the match.

Rafael Santos Nominated for Goal of the Matchday

Left back Rafaeal Santos was likely one of your last picks for which Lion could end up with a Goal of the Matchday nominee prior to Orlando’s match against Miami. But the defender’s late strike to seal the 3-1 win is up for the honor, along with Leonardo Campana’s goal from the same match.

Marta Nominated for NWSL Player of the Week

This past Saturday, the Orlando Pride toppled the Washington Spirit 2-1 behind an inspiring performance from Marta. The midfielder scored an early penalty kick and provided the assist on Kylie Strom’s winning goal. By doing so, she now finds herself nominated among three others for NWSL Player of the Week.

U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 Begins Tonight

The 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is down to the final 16 teams, with 14 of those representing Major League Soccer. The round of 16 takes place today and tomorrow. El Trafico will take place in the competition for the second straight year, with LAFC and the LA Galaxy meeting tonight night. Elsewhere, Nashville SC will take on Miami, the Houston Dynamo host Minnesota United, and the New York Red Bulls will face FC Cincinnati. Another rivalry match to keep an eye on comes just a few days after the Rocky Mountain Cup, as the Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake meet again tomorrow. If you love “cupsets,” then be sure to tune in tomorrow night. Two USL Championship clubs remain and both get to host their matches at home. The Pittsburgh Riverhounds will host the Columbus Crew while the Birmingham Legion look to defeat Charlotte FC, which ended Orlando City’s chance at defending its title in the previous round.

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That’s a wrap on the links for today. I wish you the best for the rest of the week. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/29/23

Pareja disappointed with draw, Julie Doyle returns from injury, OCB hosts Red Bulls II, and more.

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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, fĂștbol, 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.

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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!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/27/23

U-20 USMNT victorious, trouble continues for Toronto FC, Ivan Toney’s suspension reduced, and more.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

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.

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  • 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.

That’s everything I have for you today. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

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.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

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.

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  • 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!

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

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