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Lion Links: 5/24/23

Lions prepare to take on Atlanta United, Michael Halliday starts in U-20 USMNT win, Orlando academy teams finish seasons, and more.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Hello, Mane Landers. How are you all doing this week? I’ve been covering the playoffs and state championships for spring high school sports lately and am getting ready for a busy holiday weekend at work. There is plenty to get to today, so let’s get to the links.

Orlando City Prepares to Take on Atlanta United

Orlando City is preparing for its next matchup at Exploria Stadium this Saturday against Atlanta United. Head Coach Oscar Pareja got his 49th win as Orlando City’s coach (in all competitions) last weekend as the Lions defeated Inter Miami 3-1, and can secure his 50th win at home this Saturday. Ercan Kara leads the Lions with five goals across all competitions. The Austrian forward has scored in three consecutive matches and can tie the club record of four consecutive matches with a goal if he can find the back of the net against the Five Stripes. Gaston Gonzalez was not present at training on Tuesday, and we may get updates today on the injury he sustained against Miami.

Michael Halliday Starts as the U-20 USMNT Beats Fiji

Orlando City defender Michael Halliday started in the U.S. U-20 Men’s Youth National Team’s group match against Fiji in the FIFA U-20 Men’s World Cup in Argentina. He played a full 90 minutes as the U.S defeated Fiji 3-0 for its second win in the group. With six points, the U.S. is on the verge of qualifying to the knockout stage as one of the top two teams from its group. Real Salt Lake midfielder Diego Luna, San Jose Earthquakes forward Cade Cowell, and Atlanta United defender Caleb Wiley all scored for the Americans. The next match for the U.S. will be on Friday when it takes on Slovakia in its final match of group play.

OCSC Academy Teams Wrap Up Regular Seasons

The Orlando City U-17 squad clinched its division title with a 4-0 victory against Atlanta United this past weekend. Bernardo Goncalves scored two goals while Thomas Bowe and Justin Ellis added the other goals to help the Young Lions earn a spot in the MLS NEXT playoffs and win the division title for the first time since 2021. The U-15 squad lost 3-0 to Atlanta and finished second in the final standings. However, since the U-15 squad performed well at the MLS NEXT Flex tournament last weekend, it still qualified for the playoffs. The MLS NEXT Cup playoff schedule will be released on June 9.

Catarina Macario Will Miss the 2023 Women’s World Cup

United States Women’s National Team forward Catarina Macario announced on social media on Tuesday that she will miss the Women’s World Cup this summer. Macario has been recovering from a torn ACL suffered last June and missed the entire past season for Olympique Lyon. Macario helped the French club win a league championship and the UEFA Women’s Champions League title the previous season. Macario’s contract is set to expire and she has recently been linked to joining Chelsea in the Women’s Super League.

U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 Kicks Off

The 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup round of 16 got started last night. The El Trafico rivalry provided another battle between LAFC and the LA Galaxy. The Galaxy scored twice shortly after halftime to win 2-0 on the road and reach the next round. Inter Miami defeated Nashville SC 2-1 at home to move on to the quarterfinals. Corey Baird had a hat trick as the Houston Dynamo won 4-0 over Minnesota United. New York Red Bulls forward Dante Vanzeir scored a late equalizer, but had his penalty kick saved in a shootout loss to FC Cincinnati.

In tonight’s matchups, we’ll see two USL Champion sides try to go for a “cupset” against MLS sides. The Pittsburgh Riverhounds face the Columbus Crew while the Birmingham Legion take on Charlotte FC. Austin FC will host the Chicago Fire at Q2 Stadium. The final match of the night features a rivalry clash as the Colorado Rapids take on Real Salt Lake at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

Free Kicks

  • Enjoy this video of Orlando’s win over Miami, including some looks behind the scenes. Be sure to stay through the end.
  • The latest MLS Power rankings were released. The Lions moved up five spots to 14th after their 3-1 win against Miami.
  • MLS NEXT Pro also unveiled its power rankings. OCB dropped a spot to eighth spot after it drew 2-2 at home with Atlanta United 2 last Friday, with the visitors claiming the extra shootout point.
  • MLSSoccer.com‘s Joseph Lowery gave grades for how every MLS club is doing this season, with Orlando City receiving a B-.
  • MLS announced the launch of MLS Go, which is a recreational program to help increase youth participation in soccer. Orlando is featured alongside 17 other U.S. cities and the program will launch this fall.
  • FIFA approved LAFC midfielder Timmy Tillman’s one-time switch to change his national team affiliation from Germany to the United States.

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

Lion Links

Lion Links: 7/18/24

Orlando City beats Nashville SC, Ally Watt signs new contract, Mauricio Pochettino linked with USMNT job, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

An Orlando City midweek win makes this Thursday morning feel a bit more like a Friday. It’s been a pretty busy week for me as I get all my ducks in a row before a weekend trip to Maine. But for now, let’s get this morning started off on the right foot with today’s links from around the soccer world.

Orlando City Wins Fourth Straight

The Lions went on the road and claimed all three points in a 3-0 victory against Nashville SC. Orlando took care of business against a Nashville team that struggled on both sides of the ball. The offense has also continued to enjoy its renaissance this summer, and Orlando’s goal differential is now a positive number. The Lions have won their past four games, only conceding two goals during that stretch. There’s not much time to celebrate though, as they will host New York City FC on Saturday.

Ally Watt Signs New Orlando Pride Contract

Forward Ally Watt is the latest player to sign a new deal with the Orlando Pride. She’s agreed to a new contract through the 2025 season, with an option for 2026 as well. Watt has been a versatile part of Orlando’s attack this year and has two goals and an assist to her name so far. Her speed is a lethal weapon, no matter if it’s when starting up top alongside Barbra Banda or providing fresher legs as a substitute. The Orlando Pride have been taking care of business during this break in the NWSL season, also signing Bri Martinez, Summer Yates, Cori Dyke, and Viviana Villacorta to new deals.

Mauricio Pochettino Linked With USMNT Coaching Job

Another interesting name has been thrown into the mix for the United States Men’s National Team’s head coaching gig. Mauricio Pochettino, who left Chelsea in May after just one season, is reportedly a candidate for the job. He’s had success at the club level with Tottenham Hotspur and Paris Saint-Germain, but he does not yet have experience coaching at the international level. If he does become the next USMNT coach, I’d be interested to see how well he can elevate the U.S. attack. His past teams have featured plenty of pressing and attacking, but he’s also been fortunate to coach the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Harry Kane, and Neymar.

New Owners Claim Majority Stake in Angel City FC

Willow Bay and Bob Iger have bought a majority stake in Angel City FC at a $250 million valuation, making the NWSL club the most valuable women’s sports team in the world. Iger is the CEO of the Walt Disney Company and Bay is the dean at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Bay will have full control of the club’s board of directors and she’ll represent the club on the league’s board of governors. This valuation is a testament to how much the NWSL and women’s soccer as a whole has grown in recent years.

Free Kicks

  • Cucho Hernandez won MLS Goal of the Matchday for his weekend strike from distance in the Columbus Crew’s 5-1 win over LAFC. Orlando’s Facundo Torres finished last in the voting, despite his nice goal against the New England Revolution.
  • Cavan Sullivan became the youngest player to make his MLS debut after coming on late in the Philadelphia Union’s 5-1 win against the Revolution. The midfielder is 14 years old and broke the the record set by Freddy Adu by 13 days.
  • The LA Galaxy is reportedly close to signing German attacker Marco Reus as a free agent. Reus and LAFC’s Olivier Giroud joining the league during the same summer makes me glad that rivalry is in the Western Conference.
  • American forward Alex Zendejas will miss some time after suffering a calf injury in Club America’s match on Friday.
  • Germany will be without one of its best players for the upcoming Olympics, as midfielder Lena Oberdorf will miss out due to a knee injury. It makes things a bit more difficult for Germany in a group that also includes the U.S., Zambia, and Australia.
  • Mexico is on the hunt for its next head coach after firing Jaime Lozano following a disappointing Copa America campaign.
  • There were reports that English defender Lucy Bronze was eyeing a move to the NWSL, but she will be staying in Europe for a while longer after signing a two-year deal with Chelsea.

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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 7/17/24

Orlando City’s attendance is up, Viviana Villacorta signs new contract, USWNT draws Costa Rica, and more.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane land

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. It’s match day for Orlando City as the Lions hit the road once again for a match against Eastern Conference foe Nashville SC. We will have your preview and full coverage of the match later today. To pass the time until then, please enjoy these links.

Orlando City Attendance on the Rise

So far in 2024, attendance at Orlando City matches has averaged 22,632, which is more than last season’s 20,804 average. That total is good enough to put the Lions at 11th best in MLS attendance this season. Attendance is up across the league this season, with some citing the Lionel Messi effect, but I’m partial to the idea that more people are simply finding out about the beautiful game. I also think that the last few successful seasons for Orlando City have much more to do with the increase at home.

Villacorta Signs New Contract

Haley Carter and the Orlando Pride front office continued their trend of locking down current players by extending Viviana Villacorta’s time in purple with a new contract through the 2025 season with an option for 2026. Villacorta has had a rough go of it due to injuries, but the talent is there for her to contribute to the project Seb Hines is building.

Pride Top the Olympic List

The NWSL will send 56 players to the Olympics, setting a record for most players from any women’s league in the world. The Orlando Pride tied NJ/NJ Gotham FC for the most players participating on the women’s side, with seven. The Pride players making the trip are Barbra Banda and Grace Chanda with Zambia, Emily Sams for the USWNT (as an alternate), and four of the Pride’s Brazilians — Marta, Adriana, Rafaelle, and Angelina (as an alternate). If seeing all of those excellent players compete against each other in the Olympics doesn’t get you excited, you should probably see a doctor.

Orlando City/Pride to Host Olympics Watch Parties

If you were wondering where to watch the Orlando City and the Orlando Pride players representing their individual nations, then wonder no more. Orlando City and the Orlando Pride are hosting watch parties in Orlando. If you want to support the club’s internationals, like Duncan McGuire for the USMNT U-23s, and all of the Pride players, you can do so with your fellow Orlando City and Orlando Pride supporters. There will be four watch parties in total. Check out the schedule and venues here.

USWNT Draws, U-20 USWNT Wins

The United States Women’s National Team played its final friendly before the start of the Olympics against a stubborn Costa Rica side at Audi Field in Washington, D.C. Despite having 80% possession and taking 26 shots — with 12 shots on target — the wasteful Yanks were unable to find the net, playing to a scoreless draw. Costa Rica’s low block was effective, as was goalkeeper Noelia Bermúdez, but the U.S. simply squandered too many opportunities. The USWNT will next play against Banda’s Zambian squad in the Olympics.

The U-20 USWNT defeated the U-20 Mexico Women’s National Team 3-0 at the Jack Turner Soccer Complex at the University of Georgia in Athens. Ally Sentnor provided a brace, and Riley Jackson added the third. The Pride’s Ally Lemos got the start in this match and played just over an hour after subbing on in the team’s most recent match on July 13.

Free Kicks

  • Gareth Southgate will torment England supporters no longer as he has stepped down, having failed to “bring football home.”

That will do it for today. Don’t forget to follow @themaneland on Twitter for updates during the match tonight. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 7/16/24

Facundo Torres named to Team of the Matchday, Colombian soccer president arrested, transfer rumor roundup, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Jeremy Reper

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I had a slightly subdued start to my week, as my beloved Colombia was unable to get past Argentina to win Copa America. Life goes on though, and with a pair of Orlando City games this week, as well as an Orlando City B match, things will continue to be very busy around here. As usual, we have a lot to talk about, so let’s get started on today’s links.

Facundo Torres Makes MLS Team of the Matchday

Facundo Torres’ efforts in Saturday’s victory were recognized with a place in the MLS Team of the Matchday, along with an MLS Goal of the Week nomination to boot. Torres gets the nod on the left wing following the brace he scored to help the Lions come back to win over the New England Revolution. His second goal was nominated for the best one of the matchday, as he beautifully curled a first-time strike into the side netting to double Orlando’s advantage. Here’s hoping this run of form continues.

Colombian Federation President Arrested

As if losing the Copa America final 1-0 to Brazil wasn’t painful enough, Ramon Jesurun, the president of the Colombian Football Federation, was arrested in the hours after the game ended. Jesurun faces three felony counts of battery on a specified official or employee. His son was also arrested, and faces the same charges in addition to a misdemeanor battery charge. The specified incidents seem to have occurred while the final was taking place, with the event as a whole being marred by massive security and overcrowding issues.

Transfer News Roundup

We’ve got plenty of transfer news to catch up on, and we’ll get started in Major League Soccer. The Colorado Rapids have sold goalkeeper Marko Ilic to Serbia’s Red Star Belgrade. Sticking with the Rapids, Tom Bogert reports that the team is in talks with Lyon over selling Canadian defender Moise Bambito to the French side. Moving to Europe, Everton has reportedly made contact with Juventus about signing Weston McKennie. Arsenal and Aston Villa are both reportedly interested in signing Mikel Merino from Real Sociedad following his strong Euro 2024 showing with Spain.

International Retirements Abound

A number of high-profile players have retired from international play following the conclusion of this summer’s international tournaments. Olivier Giroud has called time on his international career, confirming what he had said before the start of the tournament. He retires as France’s all-time leading scorer, with 57 tallies in 137 matches. Xherdan Shaqiri has retired from playing for Switzerland, and he bows out as the only Swiss player to appear in seven major tournaments. Finally, like Giroud, Angel di Maria stuck to what he said prior to the start of Copa America, and has retired from playing for Argentina after winning the latest edition of the tournament.

Free Kicks

  • New Orlando Pride player Grace Chanda stopped by to take a look at her new home.
  • Orlando City rose one spot to 14th in ESPN‘s MLS power rankings.
  • Former Orlando Pride player Chioma Ubogagu has signed with USL Super League side Dallas Trinity.
  • Cristian Arango has been suspended four games for violating MLS’ Anti-Harassment Policy. He will serve one game of the suspension during the MLS All-Star Game, which is…weird.

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

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