Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. I’ve been very busy at Under Armour getting our footwear section all prepared for Black Friday later this week. I’ve also been out covering high school basketball and wrestling during my free time. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.
Lions on International Duty
There were many Orlando City players taking part in matches during the international window. Facundo Torres came off the bench for Uruguay in the 77th minute as his team beat Bolivia 3-0 to stay in second place in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying. Pedro Gallese started and Wilder Cartagena came off the bench in Peru’s 1-1 draw against Venezuela, with former Lion Yoshimar Yotun scoring for Peru. Wilfredo Rivera was in action for Puerto Rico and scored a goal in a 6-1 win against the Bahamas in Concacaf Nations League B play. Orlando City academy and OCB defender Tahir Reid-Brown came off the bench for the U.S. U-17 National Team in the 86th minute, but the Americans ended up losing 3-2 to Germany in the U-17 World Cup’s round of 16 due to a late goal by Germany.
Facundo Torres Developing His Game for Club and Country
Orlando City’s Facundo Torres spoke with MLSSoccer.com on how he’s grown and developed his game for Orlando City and Uruguay. It was a very insightful article that shared details on the negotiations to bring Torres to Orlando, his call-ups to play for Uruguay, and his stellar form in only his second season with the Lions. Torres spoke about how working with Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja and Uruguay’s Marcelo Bielsa has improved his game.
“Every day, he’s working a ton to find that smallest detail about what you’re lacking or where you can hurt the opponent, where we can make our strengths show,” Torres said. “He’s watching our games from Orlando and of each player to see how we’re doing and what we’ve done. Honestly, here in Orlando ‘profe Oscar’ also works a ton with his staff, and it’s a place where I feel really comfortable and that pushes me to work hard.”
Torres also discussed working his way up from the bench to get minutes for Uruguay during World Cup qualifying and switching his focus around quickly to help the Lions reach the MLS Cup final for the first time in club history. Torres and the Lions will be back in action this Saturday against the Columbus Crew in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Martin Perelman Focuses on Maintaining OCB’s Success
This year was a much improved season for Orlando City B in its second season in MLS NEXT Pro. The Young Lions went from finishing ninth in the Eastern Conference in 2022 to finishing fifth in 2023 and qualifying for the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs. The Young Lions had seven more wins than in 2022 and Jack Lynn was named MLS NEXT Pro MVP after scoring 19 goals. OCB Head Coach Martin Perelman talked about the team’s focus during the off-season to carry momentum into next year.
“Maintain the goals, maintain the performance, maintain the structure,” Perelman said. “It’s not easy, it’s the most difficult thing in soccer, so I hope we can do that first of all. I hope that we can keep helping the first team. I hope that we can keep helping the academy players in their development process in keep taking advantage of the opportunities that the market gives us with the young, pro-potential players. And then of course we want to sell another player, we want more players to make their debut in the first team, we want our team to be competitive again. Every time we put Orlando City jersey on, whether it’s the Academy, OCB or first team, we represent this crest, we want to win, and we want to push this level as high as possible. We defend this club with our life, and this is the mentality here in Orlando. So I hope we can do that again in 2024.”
FC Cincinnati’s Pat Noonan Wins MLS Coach of the Year
FC Cincinnati Head Coach Pat Noonan was named the 2023 Sigi Schmid MLS Coach of the Year on Tuesday. In only his second season with the club, Noonan led Cincinnati to the top of the league standings to help the club earn its first MLS Supporters’ Shield. Cincinnati also finished tied for the fourth-most points in a season with 69 and became the ninth club in league history to win 20 matches in a single season. Noonan beat out St. Louis City Head Coach Bradley Carnell and Columbus Crew Head Coach Wilfried Nancy for the award.
- Orlando City gave out free meals in the community during its annual Turkey Drive at Exploria Stadium.
- The National Women’s Soccer League announced that the 2024 NWSL Draft will be held on Jan. 12 during the United Soccer Coaches Convention.
- The Utah Royals signed forward Michele Vasconcelos via free agency on a two-year contract.
- Bay FC added defender Caprice Dydasco to its roster for its inaugural season in the NWSL next year.
- The USL Super League has announced a new professional women’s soccer team in Fort Lauderdale that will join eight other clubs for its inaugural season in August of 2024.
That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Wednesday and I’ll see you next time.
Lion Links: 3/1/24
Orlando’s girls teams playing in national event this weekend, USWNT will face Colombia, Paul Pogba banned for four years, and more.
Welcome to March! It always feels like a good sign when a month starts on a Friday. Spring may not officially be here, but it definitely feels like winter is truly behind us. I plan on getting plenty of spring cleaning done this weekend before a fairly busy month. Let’s get this month started with today’s links!
ECNL Girls National Event Kicks Off Today
Some of the best youth soccer players are coming to Florida this weekend for the Elite Club National League’s spring event at Lakewood Ranch. It’s a great chance for clubs to play teams outside of their conference and there are plenty of scouts to impress as well. Orlando City will have four youth teams take part and each team will play at least three games over the three days. Orlando’s G07 squad has notably won five of its eight games in conference play and will take on Real Colorado National today. Orlando’s squads in the other age groups have some strong opponents lined up as well, so it should be a great experience for the club.
USWNT Will Face Colombia in Concacaf W Gold Cup
After finishing second in its group after a loss to Mexico, the United States Women’s National Team will take on Colombia this Sunday in the Concacaf W Gold Cup quarterfinals. The U.S. and Colombia squared off in friendlies last fall, with the teams playing to a scoreless draw in Utah before the U.S. won 3-0 in San Diego a few days later. Colombia also finished second in its group, conceding just once so far this tournament. The winner of Sunday’s match will play whichever team advances from tomorrow’s game between Canada and Costa Rica. On the other side of the bracket, Orlando Pride players square off when Rafaelle, Adriana, and Brazil play Mariana Larroquette and Argentina tomorrow. The winner of that match will play the victor between Mexico and Paraguay.
Portland Timbers Cut Ties With Jersey Sponsor
The Portland Timbers have dropped DaBella Exteriors as their jersey sponsor amid allegations that the company’s CEO, Donnie McMillan, Jr., sexually harassed employees. The accusations did not become public until Feb. 23 and the Timbers have removed DaBella’s image from their website as well. It makes sense that the Timbers would want to distance themselves from this. There was an investigation by U.S. Soccer in 2022 regarding former Portland Thorns head coach Paul Riley, and the club was also fined by MLS for not reporting an incident of alleged domestic violence involving former Timbers player Andy Polo in a timely manner. DaBella replaced Alaska Airlines as the team’s shirt sponsor for this season and the Timbers will now go without one until a new sponsor is chosen.
Paul Pogba Banned for Four Years
After testing positive for testosterone while playing for Juventus, French midfielder Paul Pogba was banned for the maximum four years by Italy’s anti-doping court. In response to the ruling, Pogba stated that the verdict was “incorrect” and that he will appeal this decision.
“I am sad, shocked and heartbroken that everything I have built in my professional playing career has been taken away from me,” Pogba said. “When I am free of legal restrictions the full story will become clear, but I have never knowingly or deliberately taken any supplements that violate anti-doping regulations.”
It’s fair to wonder just where this news leaves his career if his appeal is denied and he serves the full ban. Pogba turns 31 later this month and he is still under contract with Juventus through 2026, although this ban may obviously change that. Injuries have limited him in recent years as well, as he missed out on the most recent World Cup with France.
- Toronto FC signed English midfielder Matty Longstaff to a contract through the 2025 season. Longstaff has previous played for Newcastle United and should help improve a Toronto team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2020.
- LA Galaxy midfielder Mark Delgado’s second yellow card he received in his team’s opener has been rescinded and he’s eligible for Saturday’s match against the San Jose Earthquakes. Delgado was sent off while the Galaxy were up against Inter Miami, and the Herons then went on to score and leave with a point.
- The New England Revolution beat Independiente to advance to the Concacaf Champions Cup’s round of 16.
- Bay FC forward Racheal Kundananji had to exit Zambia’s Olympic qualifier against Ghana due to an injury.
- The United States Men’s National Team’s next away kit was reportedly leaked and it sure is something. It’s like a Bomb Pop got mixed into the team’s laundry.
- The USL Super League’s Fort Lauderdale United unveiled its branding and the colors are pretty nice. However, the logo has a bit too much alphabet soup going on for my liking.
- An Atletico Madrid supporter was arrested for racially abusing an eight-year-old who was wearing a Vinicius Junior jersey last year. I’m glad they were able to find the person responsible for this. It’s disgusting behavior that needs to be removed from the sport.
- Vladimir Petkovic was hired as Algeria’s next head coach and will manage the team through 2026 World Cup qualifying. Algeria failed to make it out of the group stage of the recent Africa Cup of Nations and has not qualified for the past two World Cups.
- Grace Wilson became the first Australian soccer player to come out as non-binary. Hopefully this helps make things a little easier for other athletes wishing to come out in the future.
- Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn was named as a part owner of the Utah Royals.
- Wayne Rooney stated that he wants to manage either Manchester United or Everton in the next 10 years. He was just fired by Birmingham City in January.
That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!
Lion Links: 2/29/24
Lions reportedly won’t play in U.S. Open Cup, Cavalry FC reflects on its defeat, gauging the USWNT’s panic meter, and more.
Happy Leap Day, Mane Landers! It’s the rarest day of the year, as we all lean into our procrastination a bit and collectively tell March that we’ll get to it tomorrow. It’s been a pretty busy week for me, but knowing the MLS season is in full swing has helped fuel me a bit. Let’s dive into today’s links!
Orlando City Reportedly Won’t Play in 2024 U.S. Open Cup
The latest reports involving Major League Soccer’s participation in this year’s U.S. Open Cup indicate that Orlando City, along with a majority of MLS teams, won’t be playing their first teams in the tournament. According to ESPN‘s Jeff Carlisle, the Houston Dynamo and the seven best teams from last season that aren’t taking part in the Concacaf Champions Cup will have their first teams take part. The format will reportedly be announced soon and we’ll see if Orlando City B and other MLS NEXT Pro teams will be in the tournament.
It will be pretty disappointing if Orlando’s first team doesn’t end up playing. Even though the Lions suffered an early exit last year, they won in 2022 and Head Coach Oscar Pareja has a penchant for excelling in the U.S. Open Cup.
Cavalry FC Reflects on Loss to Orlando City
Although Cavalry FC lost in both legs against Orlando City in its first Concacaf Champions Cup campaign, the Canadian club can hold its head high. Cavalry Head Coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. spoke on the team’s tactics in the second leg in Orlando to overcome the hefty aggregate deficit.
“Strategically, we wanted to frustrate them in the first half with an extra defender, and often at times we were in a back five,” Wheeldon said. “And second half, we wanted to unleash with more attackers and have a go, because it was 0-0. We thought … one, we wanted to make history with our first goal, and two, we wanted to get a result here.”
That first goal did come with Myer Bevan making some history for his team to take back to Canada. All in all, Cavalry did pretty well as the underdog and it’s unfortunate it didn’t get a true home game in Calgary. Cavalry’s defense is the real deal and I doubt this is the last time it makes an appearance in the Champions Cup.
Assessing the Fallout From the USWNT’s Defeat
The United States Women’s National Team suffered a shocking defeat to Mexico earlier this week that’s brought on varying levels of panic. The clock is ticking before the Olympics and the USWNT struggled to bounce back after trailing in the first half and had difficulties on both sides of the ball. While the issues at center back will likely be solved once Naomi Girma and Tierna Davidson play, the midfield has plenty of question marks and a weird balance of youth and experience. It’s an awkward stage for the USWNT, as Emma Hayes doesn’t arrive until May and won’t have much time to get the team ready for Paris. Of course, the USWNT could still win this tournament and the return of Mallory Swanson may heal most wounds this summer, leaving this loss as just a minor blemish when the year is up. Only time will tell and the USWNT has plenty of opportunity to right the ship.
FA Cup Quarterfinals Are Set
It was a pretty wild day in the FA Cup, with some of England’s top teams fighting their way into the quarterfinals. Chelsea needed a late winner from Conor Gallagher to beat Leeds United 3-2 at Stamford Bridge. Manchester United’s match against Nottingham Forest also had a dramatic finish, as United’s Casemiro scored the game’s only goal in the 89th minute. Wolverhampton ousted Brighton thanks to an early goal, and Liverpool got the job done against Southampton.
In the quarterfinals, Newcastle will travel to take on Manchester City, Wolverhampton will host the second division’s Conventry City, Chelsea will take on Leicester City, and Manchester United will face off against Liverpool. All four matches will take place on March 16.
- After getting married, Orlando Pride defender Emily Madril will have a new name on the back of her jersey this season.
- Former Pride midfielder Becky Edwards is an assistant coach at the University of Tennessee and shared details about her time as both a player and coach with the U.S. U-20 team.
- Enjoy this captured moment of Orlando midfielder Wilder Cartagena being awesome.
- LAFC forward Mateusz Bogusz’s strike against the Seattle Sounders won the first MLS Goal of the Matchday of the season, claiming 35.4% of the vote.
- FC Cincinnati beat Cavalier 4-0 in the Champions Cup to advance to the round of 16, where it will take on Brandon Vazquez and Monterrey.
- Spain beat France 2-0 to win the inaugural Women’s Nations League final, with Aitana Bonmati and Mariona Caldentey both scoring.
- American midfielder Johnny Cardoso was named La Liga’s U-23 Player of the Month after a strong February with Real Betis.
- After missing the past weekend, American forward Folarin Balogun will no longer be taking penalty kicks for AS Monaco.
- Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly the frontrunners to land striker Victor Osimhen, who just had a hat trick in Napoli’s 6-1 win over Sassuolo.
- Former Manchester United defender John O’Shea will serve as Ireland’s interim head coach for a pair of friendlies in March.
That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a pretty great Leap Day and that the rest of the week goes smoothly.
Lion Links: 2/28/24
Orlando City moves on in Champions Cup, Orlando Pride unveil new kits, USMNT to play Brazil in Orlando, and more.
Hello, Mane Landers. I hope you all enjoyed watching Orlando City’s win Tuesday night in the Concacaf Champions Cup. I’ve been staying busy at Under Armour, while wrapping up covering high school basketball playoff action with the state championship this weekend. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.
Orlando City Defeats Cavalry FC in Concacaf Champions Cup
The Lions took care of business on Tuesday, defeating Cavalry FC 3-1 at Inter&Co Stadium to advance 6-1 on aggregate and reach the round of 16 in the Concacaf Champions Cup. Forward Luis Muriel got his first start as a Lion, and there was plenty of rotation from the lineup Head Coach Oscar Pareja used against CF Montreal this past weekend. It was Orlando’s first home win in the continental tournament and the Lions will face Tigres in the next round in a rematch of their series in last year’s Concacaf Champions League. The first match will be in Orlando on Tuesday, with the second leg taking place in Mexico on March 12.
Orlando Pride Unveil New Phoenix and Citrus Kits
The Orlando Pride unveiled two new kits on Tuesday as part of the NWSL’s league-wide kit reset ahead of the upcoming season. The first kit is called the Phoenix kit, which features the Pride’s two recognizable colors, purple and blue. The Phoenix kit also features a two-toned purple gradient that goes from the top right to bottom left on the jersey.
The secondary Citrus Kit is an all new color scheme that pays tribute to Florida’s citrus industry. The Citrus Kit features a new orange and iced-out green color scheme with oranges and leaves, while the letters and numbers have the same green coloring. The socks have “Pride” handwritten on the back, while a stylized “OP” is on the lower end of the jersey.
Both kits will be unveiled during the kit party at the Orlando Regional History Center later today. Fans can purchase replicas of the two new jerseys at ShopOrlandoPride.com, in the Den at Inter&Co Stadium, and on NWSLShop.com.
Philadelphia Union Advance Past Deportivo Saprissa
The Philadelphia Union survived a wild match against Deportivo Saprissa at Subaru Park, securing a 3-3 draw to advance to the next round on aggregate. There were four goals in the first 30 minutes of the match, and Mariano Torres gave Saprissa a needed third goal in the second half to send the game to extra time. Despite playing a man down after defender Jack Elliot was sent off, the Union’s Mikael Uhre scored in extra time and the defense held on to advance. There is more Concacaf Champions League action tonight, as FC Cincinnati takes on Cavalier SC, already up 2-0 on aggregate, while Nashville SC faces Moca FC with a 3-0 aggregate lead. The New England Revolution will host Independiente tomorrow.
USMNT to Play Brazil at Camping World Stadium
The United States Men’s National Team will play Brazil in the second edition of the Continental Clasico on June 12 at Camping World Stadium. Both teams will use this match to test themselves in preparation for the Copa America this summer. This will be the first meeting between these two sides since 2018, when the USMNT lost 2-0 to Brazil in a friendly at MetLife Stadium. In the first edition of the Continental Clasico last April, the USMNT played Mexico in a thrilling 1-1 draw. The USMNT has only beaten Brazil once in 19 matches, but its record in Orlando has been stellar, with a 7-2-0 record in recent years. The 2024 Copa America will kick off on June 20.
- The latest MLS power rankings have been released after opening week. Orlando City dropped three places to eighth after a scoreless draw against CF Montreal this past weekend.
- The Orlando Pride’s Rafaelle started and scored a goal in Brazil’s win against Panama in the Concacaf W Gold Cup. Pride forward Adriana came off the bench for Brazil as well.
- USMNT captain Tyler Adams is back at training with AFC Bournemouth. Adams has been sidelined since last September with a hamstring injury.
- Seattle Sounders legend Ozzie Alonso is returning to the club to sign a one-day contract to announce his retirement from professional soccer.
- Mallorca defeated Real Sociedad 5-4 on penalties to advance to the Copa del Rey final for the first time in 21 years.
- Former Blackburn manager Jon Dahl Tomasson has been hired as Sweden’s next manager and will be the first foreign-born coach to lead the men’s side.
That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Wednesday and I’ll see you next time.
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