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Lion Links: 1/25/24

Orlando Pride sign Simone Charley, Pride preseason begins, Seattle Sounders add Pedro de la Vega, and much more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Jeremy Reper

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I’m pretty glad that the usual warm temperatures are back, as the cold was starting to get a bit unbearable with the heat in my apartment out. I was at least able to get plenty of reading done while going through the throes of winter rot. Let’s get this Thursday started with some links from around the soccer world.

Simone Charley Signs With the Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride have officially signed American forward Simone Charley, who was initially noted as a non-roster invitee on the Pride’s preseason roster. The 28-year-old went undrafted in the 2018 NWSL Draft, but earned a spot on the Portland Thorns’ roster in 2019 and did well while there. Although an Achilles injury derailed her season with Angel City FC last year, she should be able to give the Pride’s offense some valuable depth this year. Charley can play up front or out wide, which is the kind of versatility that frees up other members of Orlando’s attack to play other positions as well. If she hasn’t lost a step due to injury and can put away the chances this Pride offense generates, it should be a solid signing by Orlando.

Orlando Pride Kick Off Their Preseason

The Orlando Pride’s preseason is in full swing at their training ground at Sylvan Lake Park to prepare for the upcoming season. There’s a solid amount of returning talent, which should help the new faces find their footing sooner rather than later. The Pride had a slow start last season, losing their first four games, so Head Coach Seb Hines knows that getting the team ready to excel right out of the gate this year is important. The Pride narrowly missed out on making the playoffs last year and forward Ally Watt spoke on how that’s galvanized the team this preseason.

“I think it is fueling us,” Watt said. “Coming off that field against Houston and realizing that we didn’t make playoffs by a single goal, we knew that we had it. It was super close, and the results just didn’t go our way. But I think that we’re very determined this year — that’s all we talk about still to this day — so we’re really determined, and I think that’s going to fuel us and push us forward.”

Make sure to check out the gallery of the players in action at training as well.

Seattle Sounders Sign Argentine Winger Pedro de la Vega

The Seattle Sounders made a splash by signing winger Pedro de la Vega as a Young Designated Player. The 22-year-old joins from Lanus in Argentina’s top flight on a reported transfer fee of $7.5 million, which would be a Sounders record. He’s garnered plenty of interest from European clubs over the years, but an ACL injury in 2022 cooled things down and allowed the Sounders to add a player who could already be the frontrunner for MLS Newcomer of the Year. He’s a skilled dribbler, passer, and can score in a variety of ways. While I would love it if he was playing in purple this season, at least he won’t be playing for an Eastern Conference team.

Giants Fall as Africa Cup of Nations Group Stage Ends

After a scoreless draw against South Africa, Tunisia is the latest team to make a surprising exit in the group stage of this year’s Africa Cup of Nations. It’s been a tournament filled with upsets so far. Ghana fired Chris Hughton as head coach after failing to make the knockout stage. The Black Stars fell 2-1 to an underrated Cape Verde team in their opener and allowed a pair of late goals in a 2-2 draw with Mozambique earlier this week. Algeria is also on the hunt for a new head coach, with Djamel Belmadi resigning after Algeria finished last in its group for the second-straight Africa Cup of Nations.

The Ivory Coast let go of Jean-Louis Gasset as head coach as well, despite qualifying for the knockout stage following the announcement of his exit. The host nation made the decision after a 4-0 loss to Equatorial Guinea and survived the group stage by the skin of its teeth. Emerse Faé will now serve as the interim head coach.

The bracket for the rest of the tournament is now set. Nigeria’s clash with Cameroon and the Ivory Coast’s match with Senegal headline the round of 16 action, but I think Mali’s game with Burkina Faso will be one to watch as well.

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  • Orlando City’s preseason match with Flamengo on Saturday will be streamed on the club’s website.
  • Former Lion Cyle Larin scored in Mallorca’s 3-2 win over Girona to help his team reach the Copa del Rey semifinals. Barcelona was ousted after Athletic Club scored twice in extra time to win 4-2. Atletico Madrid faces Sevilla today in the last remaining quarterfinal, with the draw for the semifinals set for tomorrow.
  • The Seattle Reign have signed South Korean midfielder Ji So-yun. She has spent the past two years with Suwon FC and made over 200 appearances for Chelsea during her time in England.
  • A 1-1 draw with Liverpool wasn’t enough for Antonee Robinson and Fulham to reach the Carabao Cup final, losing on aggregate. Liverpool will take on Chelsea on Feb. 25 at Wembley Stadium.
  • Union Berlin’s head coach, Nenad Bjelica, was shown a red card for shoving Leroy Sane in the face in his team’s 1-0 loss to Bayern Munich.
  • Manchester United forward Anthony Martial is expected to miss the next 10 weeks after undergoing successful groin surgery. The 28-year-old’s contract will end this summer and he has not played for United since Dec. 9.
  • Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez officially returned to Chivas to play for his boyhood club once more.
  • We end our links with the Lions reacting to Duncan McGuire’s new look. I like to think that when the hairdresser asked him what color he wanted he just pointed at Orlando’s crest.

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

Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/16/24

Nico Lodeiro earns recognition, Marta up for Goal of the Week, MLS stock watch, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I hope you had a good weekend and got your taxes filed correctly and on time. It was a good weekend for Orlando soccer, as the Orlando Pride, Orlando City B, and Orlando City went undefeated and picked up seven of the nine points on offer. As always, we have a lot to talk through today. Before we get into today’s links, let’s all wish Luis Muriel a happy birthday!

Nico Lodeiro Makes Team of the Matchday Bench

Midfielder Nico Lodeiro has earned recognition for his part in Orlando City’s 3-2 win over D.C. United, making the bench of the latest edition MLS Team of the Matchday. The Uruguayan entered the fray in the 72nd minute and helped OCSC come back and take all three points. He took the corner kick that David Brekalo equalized from, (even though he was not initially credited with the assist) and provided an outstanding through ball for Duncan McGuire’s game-winner. Sean Rollins graded him a 6.5/10 and named him Man of the Match in his player grades as well. Here’s hoping he keeps up the good work!

Marta’s Goal Nominated

Marta’s game-winning strike during Friday’s contest against Utah Royals FC has been nominated for NWSL Goal of the Week. On the road and in the game as a substitute, it didn’t take long for the Brazilian to make her mark on the match. She was barely on the field for five minutes when she met a ball that was rolling across the box with a first-time strike that she powered in off the back post. It proved to be the game’s only goal and was enough to give the Pride their first win of the season. Make sure you vote for her to win this week’s honor!

MLS Stock Watch

The fortunes of Major League Soccer teams are in constant flux, and it’s always nice to keep track of how your enemies are doing. Former Lion Sacha Kljestan weighed in on which clubs’ stock went up and which went down after the weekend’s games. We start on a good note, as a resilient performance from Orlando City saw the good guys pick up their second win of the season. The LA Galaxy hammered the Vancouver Whitecaps by a score of 3-1, and proved that their place atop the Western Conference standings is no fluke. On the other side of the coin, Toronto FC has given up 10 goals in its last three matches, and Jon Herdman needs to find a way to keep things from getting worse until the Reds’ group of injured players can return to the field.

Americans in Midweek Action

There are two big matches featuring American players this week, so get them marked down on your calendar and don’t miss any of the action. Thursday sees Christian Pulisic, Yunus Musah, and AC Milan travel to the Italian capital to try to overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit to Roma in the Europa League quarterfinals. Musah started Sunday’s match against Sassuolo and Pulisic subbed on in the second half as Milan clawed its way back to a 3-3 draw. Friday then has Juventus and Weston McKennie traveling to Cagliari for a Serie A tilt. Juve is currently third in the league and needs to keep picking up results to secure a UEFA Champions League place for next season.

UEFA Champions League Preview

Speaking of the Champions League, the quarterfinals wrap up today and tomorrow and there are a number of storylines to keep an eye on. Luis Enrique is strong in his belief that Paris Saint-Germain can overcome a 3-2 loss in the first leg to advance past Barcelona. Xavi has promised that Barca will look to attack rather than sitting and protecting its lead. Elsewhere, Bayern Munich will be without the suspended Alphonso Davies and likely Kingsley Coman due to injury, and their replacements will be hard pressed to contain Ben White and Bukayo Saka. Finally, Edin Terzic’s substitutions gave Borussia Dortmund a spark in the team’s 2-1 loss to Atletico Madrid in the first leg, which means the coach may have a selection headache on his hands as he tries to lead his side to a comeback.

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That’ll do it for me this morning. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/15/24

Lions beat D.C. United, Pride pick up road win over Utah Royals, Barbra Banda arrives in Orlando, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. Orlando City and the Pride both won over the weekend, and there has been plenty of action in European soccer. Over the past week, I’ve been busy covering high school sports like lacrosse and softball. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Lions Top D.C. United

Orlando City overturned a late 2-1 deficit to win 3-2 against D.C. United at Audi Field over the weekend. David Brekalo scored the equalizer in the second half to tie the match at 2-2. Duncan McGuire came off the bench in the second half and scored in stoppage time, as the Lions beat D.C. United for the first time since Oct. 2, 2021. The Lions were 0-3-1 against D.C. United over the last two seasons prior to Saturday’s win. Orlando has now picked up points in each of the last three matches. Orlando City will be on the road again this weekend when it takes on CF Montreal on Saturday.

Orlando Pride Defeat Utah Royals; Help Arrives

The Orlando Pride got their first win of the 2024 NWSL last Friday with a 1-0 against the Utah Royals. Marta came off the bench in the second half and scored the lone goal to seal the win for Orlando. The Pride drew each of their first three matches to start the season against Racing Louisville, Angel City FC, and the Chicago Red Stars. Friday’s result means the Pride have six points through four league matches and are fifth in the NWSL table.

Despite needing four matches to pick up their first win of the year, the Pride are ahead of last year’s pace at the same point in the season, and remain undefeated (1-0-3) despite still waiting to play with this off-season’s marquee signing, Zambian international striker Barbra Banda. The new Pride forward arrived on Sunday to a warm welcome at Orlando International Airport.

It will be interesting to see how quickly Seb Hines can get Banda acclimated to the club and the league. Orlando could use Banda’s offensive firepower, as the club has struggled to score goals in the early part of the season. The Pride will be back in action against the San Diego Wave this Friday.

Bayer Leverkusen wins Bundesliga; Manchester City Leads EPL Title Race

Bayer Leverkusen cruised to a 5-0 win against Werder Bremen on Sunday to win its first ever Bundesliga title with five league matches left to spare. Xabi Alonso’s side won the league title by a 16-point margin, ending Bayern Munich’s 11-year run as title holders. Leverkusen is also unbeaten through 43 matches across all competitions. Meanwhile, in England, we have a new Premier League title race leader as Manchester City crushed Luton Town 5-1 on Saturday. On Sunday, Arsenal lost 2-0 to Aston Villa and Liverpool lost 1-0 to Crystal Palace. There are six match days remaining and this race could go down to the wire. Manchester City is at the top of the table with 73 points, while Arsenal and Liverpool remain two points behind in second and third, respectively, with 71 points.

Free Kicks

  • Houston Dash winger Maria Sanchez has reportedly requested a trade four months after signing a record-breaking deal in NWSL history in the off-season to remain with the club.
  • Manchester United edged Chelsea 2-1 to beat the Blues for the first time ever. Making the win even bigger was that it took place in the Women’s FA Cup semifinal. United will play Tottenham in the final at Wembley on May 12.
  • The EFL Championship is three weeks away from its finale, with a few clubs featureing Americans still in the mix for promotion. Josh Sargent’s Norwich City side holds the final playoff spot, while Haji Wright’s Conventry and Duane Holmes’ Preston North End in the hunt for a shot at promotion.
  • The AS Roma versus Udinese match was suspended after defender Evan Ndicka collapsed away from play and had to be stretchered off. The game was tied at 1-1 with about 20 minutes remaining when Ndicka went down. The club shared this update on social media.

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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/12/24

Orlando Pride play in Utah tonight, Orlando City B earns a point, Europa League quarterfinals begin, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Happy Friday! I hope this week has gone smoothly for you as we gear up for even more Orlando soccer tonight and tomorrow. It should be a nice next few days, even if I’m working for most of it. I don’t have many plans outside of work beyond bonding with my cat and trying a new stuffed bread recipe. Let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world!

Orlando Pride Play the Utah Royals Tonight

The Orlando Pride are on the road tonight for a showdown with the Utah Royals at 9:30 p.m., and you can catch the game on NWSL+ or through Bally Sports if you’re local. Although the Royals are an expansion team this year, the Pride last squared off against the previous Royals back in 2019, with Orlando losing all three games to Utah that season. This season, the Pride are riding a three-game unbeaten streak. However, they are also still on the hunt for their first win after three consecutive draws. While the offense awaits the arrival of Zambian striker Barbra Banda, the Pride have managed to score off of a set piece in each of their three games so far. While a draw on the road wouldn’t be awful by any means, hopefully the Pride can get a solid tally in the win column tonight.

Orlando City B Draws Philadelphia Union II

OCB went on the road to take on Philadelphia Union II and earned a single point after a 1-1 draw and penalty shootout. The two teams traded goals in the first half, but the Young Lions were on the back foot for most of the second half. While Orlando’s offense sputtered, the defense survived chance after chance from Philadelphia to send the game to a shootout. Orlando lost the lengthy shootout, 7-6, claiming just one point, but at least the Young Lions didn’t leave Pennsylvania empty handed. Hopefully OCB can return to its winning ways when it faces off with Crown Legacy FC on April 19.

New York City FC Stadium Plans Finally Approved

Plans to build a soccer-specific stadium in Queens for new grounds for New York City FC were approved by New York City officials. It will be a $780 million stadium expected to open in 2027 and serves as the centerpiece of a redevelopment project in the neighborhood. The 25,000-seat stadium will be right next to Citi Field, which has been one of the many home venues for NYCFC over the years since joining as an expansion side alongside Orlando City in 2015. It’s a bit wild that this stadium is set to open 10 years after Orlando christened its own soccer-specific stadium back in 2017. At least the Lions won’t have to play road games at baseball stadiums for much longer.

Europa League Quarterfinals Kick Off

The Europa League quarterfinals are underway, with the remaining eight teams squaring off in the first legs of their matchups. In England, Atalanta leaned on a brace from Gianluca Scamacca and stellar defense to win 3-0 against Liverpool. Bayer Leverkusen’s unbeaten streak stretched to 42 games after it beat West Ham United 2-0, thanks to a pair of late goals. The first match between Italian clubs AC Milan and Roma went to the visitors, as Roma scored early on and held on for a 1-0 win at San Siro. The only quarterfinal that wasn’t a shutout took place in Portugal, with Benfica beating Marseille, 2-1. The second legs will all take place at the same time next week, which should make for an exciting Thursday afternoon of soccer.

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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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