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Lion Links: 4/4/24

Duncan McGuire noted as a top American striker, NWSL will choose 16th team in 2024, Trabzonspor will play without fans, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Jeremy Reper

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope the work week has been treating you well. There may not be Orlando soccer this weekend, but all of the international action and club games abroad help make up for it. I’m having a fairly busy week, but am looking forward to a charity fun run this weekend with my dad. I’m sure it will kick my butt, but it should be a nice time. For now, let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world!

Duncan McGuire Among Top American Strikers

With this summer’s Copa America and Olympics coming up, CBS Sports‘s Chuck Booth ranked the best American strikers plying their trade right now. Orlando City’s Duncan McGuire placed seventh, finishing above FC Dallas’s Jesus Ferreira but just below the likes of Ricardo Pepi and Jordan Pefok. McGuire only has two goals to his name this season, but there’s plenty of time for him to start turning it up a notch before an expected trip to Paris for the Olympics.

Coventry City forward Haji Wright tops the list, with Josh Sargent in second, Folarin Balogun in third, and Brandon Vazquez in fourth. Recency bias might be giving a boost to Wright after his brace against Jamaica in the Concacaf Nations League, but he’s proven more than capable of delivering in big moments for both club and country.

NWSL On Track to Choose 16th Team This Year

NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman spoke about the league’s process in choosing the 16th franchise that will begin play in 2026, noting that it is on track to be selected later this year. The league’s profile has certainly increased in recent years, and Bay FC and the currently unnamed Boston team that will also play in 2026 each paid a $53 million expansion fee. There are plenty of locations and ownership groups interested in an NWSL franchise. Groups in Denver and Cleveland have been open about it, and the Minnesota Aurora are also interested according to recent documentation. A group from Tampa was a finalist during the 2022 bidding process, although it’s unclear if it will throw its hat in the ring once again. I think having two NWSL teams in Florida would be awesome, although the USL Super League’s Tampa Bay Sun FC may complicate things.

European Soccer Heats Up

The UEFA Champions League doesn’t return until next week, but there is still plenty of important European soccer taking place this week as domestic leagues and clubs near their finales. The English Premier League title race remains incredibly tight after Arsenal and Manchester City both won their midweek games. Arsenal is currently back on top, a point above both City and Liverpool, but that could change after Liverpool’s game today against Sheffield United.

In Germany, Bayer Leverkusen has a solid chance at a league and cup double after beating second-division side Fortuna Duesseldorf 4-0 to reach the German Cup final. That match will be on May 25 against FC Kaiserslautern, which also plays in the second division. The French Cup final is also set, with Paris Saint-Germain set to play Lyon after beating Rennes 1-0 in the semifinal.

Trabzonspor Will Play Six Games Without Fans

As punishment for the violent clashes following its game last month with Fenerbahce, Turkish club Trabzonspor was ordered to play six games without fans and was fined three million Turkish lira, which equates to about $94,000. Trabzonspor fans invaded the pitch following their team’s loss to Fenerbahce and fought with players celebrating the win. Police detained 12 people and two Fenerbahce players were suspended for a match. Fenerbahce held a vote earlier this week regarding leaving the Turkish Super Lig, but ultimately isn’t withdrawing until another assembly after the season.

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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: 5/23/24

Orlando Pride prepare for the Portland Thorns, Pride Brazilian trio called up, Atalanta wins Europa League, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this Thursday finds you well as we all get ready for a busy next few days of Orlando soccer to enjoy. It’s been a fairly busy couple of days for me, and I plan on knocking out a few errands before enjoying the upcoming matches. Until then, let’s enjoy today’s links!

Pride Prepare to Host the Portland Thorns

The Orlando Pride have a huge home game against the Portland Thorns tomorrow night. It will be a clash of win streaks, as the Pride have won their past seven games and the Thorns have won their last six. Pride Head Coach Seb Hines is well aware that Portland is a formidable foe with talented players such as Sophia Smith, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Sam Coffey. He spoke on how tomorrow will be a challenge, as well as how playing at home will give the Pride a boost during the game.

Pride Trio Called Up by Brazil

The Pride’s Marta, Rafaelle, and Adriana were all called up for Brazil’s pair of friendlies against Jamaica in Brazil on June 1 and June 4.

These matches will help Brazil prepare for a tough group in the Olympics against Spain, Japan, and Nigeria. Angelina, who featured for Brazil during the SheBelieves Cup, was not called up due to an injury sustained while with the Pride. Although these games will take place during an international break, the Pride do have a road game against the San Diego Wave on June 7, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Hines gives them some rest for that match.

Assessing Emma Hayes’ Time With Chelsea

It felt like forever ago that it was announced Chelsea’s Emma Hayes would leave the club to replace Vlatko Andonovski and coach the USWNT. A great article by ESPN broke down what USWNT fans can learn from her time with Chelsea, including how she’s dealt with the adversity she’s faced both on and off the field. Her impending exit put a spotlight on Chelsea’s season, and she still managed to secure the league title despite the pressure. Chelsea also announced that five members of the coaching staff will leave the club to join Hayes at the USWNT. It’s a new era for the USWNT, and Hayes brings plenty of experience and leadership to the position.

Atalanta Crushes Leverkusen to Win Europa League

Italian club Atalanta lifted the Europa League trophy after a 3-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen in Dublin. The day belonged to Nigerian winger Ademola Lookman, who scored a hat trick that included this stunner that doubled Atalanta’s lead in the first half.

It’s Atalanta’s second trophy in club history, and first in 61 years. It’s also the first trophy for manager Gian Piero Gasperini after coaching in Italy for 30 years. This result snapped Leverkusen’s remarkable unbeaten streak at 51 games, and ended the club’s bid at a treble. Bayer Leverkusen will aim to bounce back Saturday when it plays FC Kaiserslautern in the German Cup final.

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  • Orlando City President of Business Operations Jarrod Dillon has issued a challenge to Orlando City fans for the upcoming trio of Orlando soccer home games, so it may be worth your while to get tickets for the Lions, Pride, and OCB this weekend.
  • Pride forward Amanda Allen placed 16th in ESPN‘s rankings of the 17 teenagers currently playing in the National Women’s Soccer League (the author deemed it unfair to assess Milly Clegg without seeing her on the field more). Allen mostly just hasn’t had much playing time, but that could change over the summer.
  • Former Pride player Camille Ashton (known as Cami Levin when she played in the Pride midfield in 2016 and 2017) has resigned as the general manager of the Kansas City Current.

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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/22/24

Lions and Pride reflect on victories, Christian Pulisic’s Serie A recognition, the USWNT roster drops, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. I know that a lot of you are Orlando Pride supporters as well as Orlando City supporters, but for those of you who aren’t, you are really missing out. Superstar players, undefeated, top of the table, and this team hasn’t even played up to its potential yet. Seriously, you need to get out to a match if you can. For now, let’s get to the links.

Talking About Orlando City

You can tell Oscar Pareja loves his players. He is the type of coach that nearly always has only good things to say regardless of the result. Of course, when the club gets a win on the road in the third match in eight days, thanks to the fourth striker on the depth chart. Jack Lynn takes a professional approach to being the backup and prepares to play in every match. It’s also nice when he scores a match-winning goal.

So how did the MLSsoccer.com power rankings treat the Lions for the road victory? Orlando City moved up three spots to 19, thanks to earning seven points in the last three matches. That’s better than the ESPN rankings we shared yesterday. ESPN also had the Lions at 19 but dropped them a spot in doing so.

Seb and Sams Speak

The Orlando Pride have a chance this Friday to set an NWSL win streak record in the match against the Portland Thorns, but first Seb Hines, Rafaelle, and Emily Sams reflected on the win against the Seattle Reign. Hines was rightly happy with the result but said he still feels his team has room to improve. I agree with him, despite the Pride being on top of the table and undefeated.

Rafaelle felt the victory showed the team how much mental fortitude the Pride have to be able to secure the road win. She also thinks that being at home with a chance to break the win streak record will make the team work that much harder. Sams reflected on her first NWSL goal but said she just wants to focus on getting three points each match.

Pulisic and Wright Shine

Christian Pulisic’s year keeps getting better. He had such a a good season for AC Milan that he has been named a finalist for Serie A Midfielder of the Year. The other finalists are Inter Milan’s Hakan Calhanoglu and Atalanta’s Teun Koopmeiners. Pulisic has 19 goal contributions in 35 appearances for AC Milan.

The USMNT’s pre-Copa America roster dropped Monday, and it looks like Haji Wright will potentially see some action at winger for Gregg Berhalter. The move provides some needed depth at the position and may give Wright more playing time. Of course, Wright and Pulisic aren’t the only players of interest. You can check out a breakdown of the players called up here.

Hayes’ First USWNT Roster Announced

The Olympics are rapidly approaching and new USWNT Head Coach Emma Hayes has announced the 23-player roster for the final two matches against South Korea before the final Olympic roster is named. There are a mix of veteran and younger players in the group. Notably, there are 19 players who won the SheBelieves Cup back in April. It also sees the return of Rose Lavelle, who missed the SheBelieves Cup due to injury. While not altogether surprising, it is still disappointing on one level for Pride fans that Emily Sams didn’t get a call-up.

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  • Congratulations to Orlando Pride midfielder Ally Lemos on her call-up to the USWNT U-20s for the matches against the Korea Republic.
  • Philadelphia Union keeper Andre Blake has reportedly signed a new longterm contract with the club.
  • The USMNT U-15 squad defeated Japan to take first place in the Vlatko Markovic Tournament. Congratulations to the young Yanks.
  • Bayer Leverkusen will play in two cup finals in four days, starting with today’s Europa League championship against Atalanta. The second final is for the German Cup this Saturday against Kaiserslautern.
  • Mauricio Pochettino and Chelsea have parted ways after only one season. Potchettino’s departure was mutually agreed upon. The coaching carousel continues.
  • Emanuel Reynoso from Minnesota United is reportedly headed to Liga MX side Club Tijuana.

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the matches this weekend. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/21/24

Two Lions recognized, Pride player up for weekly honors, United States releases training camp roster, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It was a damn good weekend for Orlando’s teams, as Orlando City beat San Jose 1-0, and the Orlando Pride took down the Seattle Reign 3-2, which meant that the two teams picked up all six points on offer, and out on the west coast, no less! We’ve got plenty of news to talk over today, so let’s jump straight into the links.

Lions Included in Team of the Matchday

A pair of Lions have been rewarded for their efforts in Saturday’s win with a place in the latest edition of the MLS Team of the Matchday. Wilder Cartagena was given a spot in the starting XI as a center back after yet another commanding performance in a three-man back line for Orlando City. The Peruvian was superb and finished with five tackles, four clearances, and two interceptions, as OCSC kept a second clean sheet in a row. Jack Lynn was given a spot on the bench, after grabbing a late winner in an extended substitute appearance. Lynn entered the fray for an injured Duncan McGuire in the 16th minute, and was the difference maker as he latched onto a scuffed Martin Ojeda shot to win the game for Orlando in the 89th minute.

Pride Player up for Weekly Honors

Emily Sams’ strike against the Seattle Reign has been nominated for the NWSL Goal of the Week. On a night that had plenty of goals, Sams opened the scoring in the ninth minute. The ball found its way to her at the top of the box, and the defender didn’t even bother taking a touch as she hit the ball first time and curled it past the despairing dive of Laurel Ivory. Sams isn’t exactly a prolific goal scorer, so that makes the sweetly hit goal that much better. Be sure you go and drop a vote for her to win!

United States Releases Pre-Copa Roster

The United States Men’s National Team has announced its 27-player roster that will take part in a pre-Copa America training camp. The final tournament roster needs to have at least 23 players and a maximum of 26, so Gregg Berhalter won’t need to make a ton of cuts if he doesn’t want to. The roster features Josh Sargent making his return to a training camp for the first time since the 2022 World Cup, as well as Cameron-Carter Vickers, Luca de la Torre, and Sean Johnson making their first appearances in 2024. LAFC youngster Timmy Tillman is the least experienced player in the mix with just one appearance to his name, while Christian Pulisic’s 66 appearances leads the team. The USMNT will play Colombia and Brazil in tune-up friendlies on June 8 and June 12, with the latter match taking place in Orlando at Camping World Stadium.

MLS Stock Watch

With another MLS matchday in the close, we can reflect on which teams are on the rise, and which ones seem to be headed in the wrong direction. FC Cincinnati has now won six straight games, and is hot on Inter Miami’s heels at the top of the Eastern Conference table. New York City FC has now won three in a row after beating the New York Red Bulls 2-1 in the Hudson River Derby, a result which saw the Pigeons leapfrog NYRB into third place in the East. At the other end of things, the Chicago Fire have lost four straight and only scored two goals in their last seven matches, while CF Montreal got hammered 5-1 by Toronto FC and has matched Chicago with a fourth-straight loss.

European Transfer Rumor Roundup

Several European club seasons may have ended, but that just means that the off-season transfer rumor mill is starting to kick into gear. Premier League champion Manchester City has reportedly agreed to personal terms with West Ham midfielder Lucas Paqueta, but is still negotiating with the Hammers about a sale price. Runners-up Arsenal wants to bolster its team to get over the line and win the title next year and is said to have Alexander Isak, Brian Brobbey, and Viktor Gyokeres on a short list of strikers, although the Gunners expect to face competition from Chelsea for Gyokeres. Despite chatter concerning a possible move away during the summer, Mohamed Salah has said he will “fight like hell” to win trophies with Liverpool next season. Finally, Bayern Munich is said to have had internal talks about appointing Vincent Kompany as the club’s next manager, and the board has even reached out to the Belgian directly to discuss his current situation.

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

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