Lion Links

Lion Links: 11/22/23

Lions in action during international break, Facundo Torres improving with club and country, Pat Noonan wins MLS Coach of the Year, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

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 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.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City gave out free meals in the community during its annual Turkey Drive at Exploria Stadium.

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


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