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Lion Links: 2/8/24

Orlando City wins preseason match, USWNT Gold Cup roster unveiled, Fire close to signing Kellyn Acosta, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

How’s it going, Mane Landers? This week has flown by, but I’m not complaining too much about that. I’m looking forward to seeing some old friends over the next few days and enjoying some good food and drinks. We should finally be able to get some closure about the Duncan McGuire saga today as well. Let’s dive into today’s links!

Orlando City Beats Rhode Island FC in Preseason Game

Orlando City took on Rhode Island FC of the USL Championship in a preseason match Wednesday afternoon and won 3-1. Draft pick Jeorgio Kocevski was the only player who started against Flamengo to also start in this game, as the Lions rolled out a young lineup led by veteran midfielder Felipe. Forward Jack Lynn picked up from where he left things off for Orlando City B last season, scoring in each half for a brace.

Rhode Island pulled one back late, but an own goal minutes later gave Orlando its third and the win. It may have just been a preseason game against a Rhode Island side gearing up for its inaugural season, but it’s always nice to see Orlando’s younger players pick up some momentum heading into the season.

Nicolas Lodeiro’s Potential Impact in 2024

Midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro was noted as one of many free agent signings this MLS off-season who can make an impact in 2024. The Uruguayan joined Orlando last month after spending the past eight seasons in Seattle and will fill the void in the midfield left by Mauricio Pereyra’s departure. He’s no stranger to racking up assists in the league and will have plenty of weapons around him in Orlando’s attack. There are fair questions on just how much the 34-year-old will play during a busy year for the Lions, but I think Florida sunshine and actual grass will help him thrive here.

As for other Eastern Conference teams, FC Cincinnati did pretty darn well in free agency by bringing in defender Miles Robinson and forward Corey Baird. Josef Martinez, Julian Gressel, and Dax McCarty are a few of the other names who could impress with new teams this year.

USWNT Gold Cup Roster Announced

The United States Women’s National Team roster for the Concacaf W Gold Cup was announced. Of the 23 players called up by interim head coach Twila Kilgore, 21 were also called up for the team’s friendlies in December. Crystal Dunn and Alyssa Naeher are both back in the fold, while Mallory Swanson, Savannah DeMelo, and Gisele Thompson will be in training camp as non-rostered players. It’s a fairly young roster, with former Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Kristie Mewis as notable absentees. Alyssa Thompson will miss out on the tournament due to a back injury as well. The Concacaf W Gold Cup will kick off Feb. 20, with the USWNT facing off with a to-be-determined opponent that day at 10:15 p.m.

Kellyn Acosta Reportedly Headed to the Chicago Fire

The Chicago Fire are reportedly closing in on a deal to sign free agent midfielder Kellyn Acosta. The 34-year-old American’s deal with LAFC ended after last season and the Fire will reportedly use Targeted Allocation Money to bring him in. Acosta should help improve a Chicago side that missed out on the playoffs last season and his inclusion would be the latest swing during a busy off-season for the team.

Elsewhere in the league, FC Cincinnati added midfielder Pavel Bucha from Viktoria Plzen in the Czech Republic’s top flight. The 25-year-old bolsters Cincinnati’s midfield and is signed through the 2026 season. Out in the Western Conference, the San Jose Earthquakes added Brazilian left back Vitor Costa from CS Maritimo, which was relegated from Portugal’s first division last year.

Africa Cup of Nations Final Set

The Ivory Coast and Nigeria will face off in the Africa Cup of Nations final this Sunday at 3 p.m. Nigeria reached the final after besting South Africa in a penalty shootout following a 1-1 draw that included traded goals from the penalty spot. As for the Ivory Coast, the host nation beat DR Congo 1-0 thanks to a goal from Sebastien Haller. The final is a pretty interesting match-up to close out a tournament filled with surprises, as both teams were in the same group during the group stage and neither won it. Nigeria beat the Ivory Coast 1-0 back on Jan. 18 and is unbeaten in the tournament, while the Ivory Coast fired its coach following the group stage and battled its way to the final.

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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: 2/27/24

Dagur Dan Thorhallsson named to Team of the Matchday, Orlando City hosts Cavalry FC tonight, USWNT loses to Mexico, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Happy Tuesday, everyone. Orlando City might not have gotten the result we were hoping for to start MLS play, but it’s a long season and it isn’t easy to play on two fronts when coming back from a long layoff. The Lions will get a chance to get back to winning ways tonight when they face Cavalry FC in Concacaf Champions Cup play. As usual, we have a lot to talk about, so let’s get after it.

Dagur Dan Named to MLS Team of the Matchday

Dagur Dan Thorhallsson has been recognized for his efforts in Orlando City’s opening game against CF Montreal with a place in the MLS Team of the Matchday. He got the start at right back and came on strong in the second half, completing three key passes and 88% of his passes on the night. He also completed a cross, a long ball, and took a team-high four shots, although he only put one on target. Sean Rollins gave him a grade of 6 out of 10 on the night, making him one of the highest-rated Lions not named Pedro Gallese.

Orlando City Chases History

Orlando City already made history last week when the team earned its first ever Concacaf Champions Cup victory with a 3-0 win over Cavalry FC. Tonight, the Lions are looking to make a little more history by earning the club’s first home victory in the competition, as well as advancing to the next round for the first time. OCSC put itself in a good position to do exactly that, as a win, draw, or a loss by two goals or fewer will be enough to see the good guys through to the next round. Orlando defender Kyle Smith shared his thoughts on tonight’s match.

The Calgary Herald provided an interesting look at tonight’s game from the view of the visitors as well. After falling at Starlight Stadium, the Canadian club heads to a tough environment in Orlando as the underdog.

USWNT Falls to Mexico

The United States Women’s National Team lost its final game of the Concacaf W Gold Cup group stage, falling 2-0 to Mexico. Lizbeth Ovalle gave Mexico the lead in the first half and Mayra Pelayo put the nail in the coffin with another goal in stoppage time. It was the USWNT’s first time losing at home against a Concacaf team in 23 years, and first time being beaten by Mexico since 2010. It was a rough game for the USWNT, as it struggled on both sides of the ball. As a result of this loss, the U.S. finish second in its group and will play in the quarterfinals this weekend.

Americans in Midweek Action

There are a number of United States Men’s National Team players taking part in games during the working week, so make sure you don’t miss any of the action. Tomorrow sees Gianluca Busio, Tanner Tessmann, and Venezia host Cittadella in Serie B action, while Giovanni Reyna, Matt Turner, and Nottingham Forest host Manchester United in the FA Cup. Things finish up on Friday, with Christian Pulisic, Yunus Musah, and AC Milan facing Lazio in Serie A, and Folarin Balogun and Monaco facing off against Paris Saint-Germain.

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  • Forward Luis Muriel is available for selection tonight and could make his Orlando City debut.
  • Orlando Pride forward Mariana Larroquette started and had an assist in Argentina’s 3-0 win over the Dominican Republic.

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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 2/26/24

Orlando City draws Montreal, USWNT to play Mexico, USMNT news, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers. I know that we’re all a little disappointed with the draw in the home opener, but a point is a point, and we go again tomorrow night. It hasn’t taken long for the matches to come fast and furious with Orlando City and the USWNT playing this week. I could not be happier.

We also want to wish a happy birthday to the Orlando Pride’s Morgan Gautrat and OCB’s Dominic Pereira from all of us at The Mane Land.

Orlando City Draws Montreal

It wasn’t the best match Orlando City ever played, but it also wasn’t the worst. The Lions couldn’t find the last bit of quality to get the winning goal despite having most of the possession and plenty of shots. VAR also played a part, though both offside calls were correct, if unfortunate. Pedro Gallese kept the Lions in the match to earn the first point of the season. Check out our match recap.

Lions React to the Result

David Brekalo made his first start for Orlando City and while he acquitted himself well, given his limited time with the team, he is still confident that things will get better with time. He was also impressed with the level of play in MLS and with the Orlando City facilities. Oscar Pareja was disappointed with the result but was understanding of some of the reasons for it. Now, Orlando City gets ready for the two matches this week.

USWNT vs. Mexico

The USWNT takes on Mexico at 10:15 p.m. tonight in the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup. The U.S. is already through to the knockout stages of the Gold Cup but is trying to win Group A with a victory over Mexico. Former Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan is with the team and has scored in the competition. The U.S. has a 16-match winning streak over Mexico and will be looking to extend that to 17.

USMNT News

The USMNT and Juventus were both dealt a blow when Weston McKennie dislocated his shoulder in the 3-2 win over Frosinone on Sunday. Prior to the injury, McKennie contributed two assists, allowing Juventus to stay in second place in Serie A. Now we wait to hear how long McKennie will be out. Check out his assists.

American Striker Folarin Balogun scored a high difficulty goal in Monaco’s 3-2 victory over Lens in Ligue 1. Of course, he also missed a penalty kick later in the same match. Fortunately, Takumi Minamino scored a stoppage-time goal to secure the victory. Take a look at the nice goal.

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  • Liverpool defeated Chelsea 1-0 to win the Carabao Cup on an extra time header by captain Virgil van Dijk. It was the 10th trophy won with Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool manager. Liverpool was missing 11 top players to start the game and lost Ryan Gravenberch during the match.
  • Olivia Moultrie and Jaeden Shaw are making an impact with the USWNT despite being two of the younger players on the team. The impact came in the form of goals for each Moultrie and Shaw.
  • Naomi Girma has impressed for the USWNT in her time so far, but she wants to do more as a part of the newer generation of stars.
  • Brazil defeated Italy 6-4 in the Beach Soccer World Cup on Sunday. The competition took place in Dubai.

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the match tomorrow night against Cavalry and the trip to Ft. Lauderdale to take on the hated Herons. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 2/23/24

Orlando Pride’s Megan Montefusco placed on season-ending injury list, Orlando City’s chances to win it all, USWNT plays Argentina tonight, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! It’s the final Friday before we spend pretty much every weekend screaming our hearts out for Orlando’s soccer teams. Although I won’t be in Orlando for tomorrow’s game, I’ll be cheering along from Tampa and am looking forward to a strong start to the season from the Lions. Before we get into today’s links, let’s all wish a happy birthday to our favorite octopus, Pedro Gallese!

Megan Montefusco Placed On Season-Ending Injury List

The Orlando Pride suffered a blow to their defense as center back Megan Montefusco was placed on the season-ending injury list after undergoing surgery on her right foot. Montefusco joined the Pride through a trade before the 2022 season and did well coming off the bench last season to keep Orlando’s defense strong as the year wore on. The Pride have options to fill the void, as Carrie Lawrence is back in the fray after missing last season due to injury and Tori Hansen will be back once her time on loan in Australia is up. Orlando could also go out and bring in a veteran to replace Montefusco or sign Cori Dyke, who was drafted by the Pride in the second round. Regardless, losing Montefusco is rough, considering Rafaella will likely be with Brazil for the Olympics this summer.

Orlando City’s Championship Credentials

Joseph Lowery of MLSsoccer.com detailed the strengths and weaknesses of each MLS team in terms of having what it takes to win it all this year. Orlando City followed up a pretty stellar off-season with a nearly perfect preseason. Head Coach Oscar Pareja, winger Ivan Angulo, and midfielder Wilder Cartagena are all sticking around, while Robin Jansson, Facundo Torres, and the front office brain trust of Luiz Muzzi and Ricardo Moreira were locked down as well. Additions of David Brekalo, Luis Muriel, and Nico Lodeiro also ensured this team has few holes. There’s concern that there are too many mouths to feed though, and that no single player can take the reins of the offense. I disagree on that being much of an issue though, as the attack is fluid enough to beat different teams in different ways. The Lions may go without All-Star representation as a result, but they should rack up plenty of points spreading the wealth on offense.

USWNT Takes on Argentina Tonight

The United States Women’s National Team will face Argentina tonight at 10:15 p.m. in its second game of the inaugural Concacaf W Gold Cup. The U.S. did well in its 5-0 win over the Dominican Republic, but there were opportunities to score even more. Since there will be reseeding for the knockout stages, scoring plenty of goals will benefit the USWNT. Midge Purce was excellent in the opener and the USWNT will need to be sharper at putting away good service from the wings. Argentina held Mexico to a scoreless draw in its opener and will likely be hungry to score its first goal of the tournament.

Keeping Up With the Europa League

The first round of the Europa League’s knockout stage came to a close after a drama-filled day of soccer. Only one game went to penalty kicks, as AS Roma beat Feyenoord after a 1-1 draw thanks to two saves from Mile Svilar in the shootout. There was a thriller in Azerbaijan as well. A red card reduced Qarabag FK to 10 men and Braga took full advantage, scoring twice to send the game into extra time. They then traded goals until 19-year-old winger Nariman Akhundzade gave Qarabag the winner in stoppage time. In Germany, SC Freiburg came back from a two-goal deficit to beat Lens in extra time as well.

Elsewhere, a red card doomed Galatasaray as Sparta Prague rallied late to win, and AC Milan survived a hat trick from Rennes midfielder Benjamin Bourigeaud to advance on aggregate. Sporting CP, Marseille, and Benfica all booked their spot in the round of 16 as well, with the draw set for today.

Free Kicks

  • New food vendors will be available for fans at Orlando City and Orlando Pride home games this year, with Flippers Pizzeria Company now a permanent addition. New options for the rotating carts include Pardon My Cheesesteak and Omusubee Japanese Rice Balls.
  • Congratulations to Pride defender Emily Madril on getting married!

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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