Lion Links

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.



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.
  •‘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.


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