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Lion Links: 6/21/24

Facundo Torres earns praise, Orlando Pride play the Utah Royals tonight, FC Cincinnati linked with Weston McKennie, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! This weekend is what soccer fans dream of, with NWSL, MLS, Copa America, and Euro 2024 matches to enjoy. The Orlando Pride are in action tonight, Orlando City plays Saturday, and the U.S. begins its Copa America campaign on Sunday. But first, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter!

Facundo Torres Makes MLS Team of the Matchday Bench

Orlando forward Facundo Torres earned a spot on the bench of the MLS Team of the Matchday after providing a goal and an assist in Orlando’s 2-2 draw against Charlotte FC. Both contributions were crucial to Orlando getting a point on the road. It was only Torres’ third goal of the season, so hopefully this gets him going. If the Lions are to claw their way up the Eastern Conference table, they’ll need more performances like this from their talisman.

Orlando Pride Host the Utah Royals Tonight

The Orlando Pride will aim to get back in the win column tonight when they take on the Utah Royals at home. The last time these two teams squared off was on April 12, with Orlando winning 1-0 in the first of eight straight victories for the Pride. Another match with the Royals could be just what the doctor ordered for an Orlando side that’s been held to draws in its past two matches. While Utah is having a difficult season and sits last in the league standings, it did get its first road win on Sunday against Bay FC.

FC Cincinnati Reportedly Wants Weston McKennie

American midfielder Weston McKennie could be coming to the U.S., as FC Cincinnati has reportedly made an offer to sign him from Juventus. Cincinnati is willing to spend up to $15 million to bring McKennie on as a Designated Player. The 25-year-old has one year left on his contract with Juventus, but he’s likely leaving the Italian club this summer if reports are to be believed. McKennie was part of FC Dallas’ academy, but never actually played in an MLS game before heading to Europe.

Spain Wins to Advance in Euro 2024

Spain booked its spot in the knockout stage of Euro 2024 after beating Italy 1-0 in a match that didn’t quite live up to its billing. It does set up for an intriguing matchup between Italy and Croatia on Monday, though. England and Denmark traded first-half goals but neither team could find a winner in a 1-1 draw. In the other Group C match, Orlando City defender David Brekalo came on as a late substitute in Slovenia’s 1-1 draw against Serbia.

As for today’s slate of games, Slovakia will face off against Ukraine, Poland plays Austria, and France takes on the Netherlands. We’ll see if Kylian Mbappe will play after breaking his nose in France’s opening match.

Latest FIFA Rankings Unveiled

Despite losing 5-1 to Colombia in a friendly, the U.S. didn’t drop enough points to be unseated from 11th in the latest FIFA rankings. The U.S. remains the highest-ranked Concacaf nation, and Mexico dropped to 15th after losing to both Uruguay and Brazil in friendlies. Argentina is still at the top of the rankings, while Brazil leapfrogged England for fourth place. The rankings usually don’t matter all too much, but they are used to determine pots for the World Cup. With Euro 2024 and Copa America going on, things could shake up a bit for some of the world’s best teams.

Free Kicks

  • Peter Musa was named MLS Player of the Matchday for his hat trick in FC Dallas’ 5-3 win against Minnesota United. It was the Croatian striker’s first hat trick since he joined Dallas this past off-season, and he now has eight goals this season.
  • Now with Cruz Azul, former Atlanta United forward Georgios Giakoumakis took some parting shots at MLS in regards to how losses are OK compared to Liga MX. I find it a pretty oblivious thing to say considering Atlanta fired its head coach a day after losing to Charlotte FC earlier this month.
  • Steve Cooper, who was sacked by Nottingham Forest six months ago, was hired as Leicester City’s new manager.
  • Of the 47 goals scored so far in Euro 2024, five have been own goals and only Germany’s Jamal Musiala has scored more than once. None of the goals have been scored from the penalty spot as well.
  • Burnley is reportedly in talks with Ruud van Nistelrooy to be the club’s next manager after Vincent Kompany’s departure.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend. Go Orlando!

Lion Links

Lion Links: 7/15/24

Lion Links: Orlando City tops New England, OCB wins shootout after Miami draw, Euro and Copa America champions crowned, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. I’ve been working at Under Armour all weekend and managing broadcast operations for tournament matches for the NISA Independent Cup. Let’s also wish Orlando Pride defender Carrie Lawrence a happy birthday. We’ve got plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links. 

Lions Win on the Road against the New England Revolution

Orlando City overturned a poor first half and a 1-0 deficit to defeat the New England Revolution 3-1 and secure its first win at Gillette Stadium. All the Lions goals came in the second half, as Facundo Torres found the back of the net twice and Ramiro Enrique added one as well. Orlando won its third consecutive game and fourth of its past five matches. Orlando stays in seventh in the Eastern Conference with 30 points, while New England dropped to 13th with 22 points. The Lions will be on the road for a clash against Nashville SC on Wednesday at Geodis Park.

Barbra Banda and Anna Moorhouse named on NWSL Best XI

Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda and goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse were named to the NWSL’s Best XI for June. Banda scored three goals and added three assists in four matches. She also became the first player in league history to score 12 goals in her first 12 appearances. Moorhouse recorded 20 saves and only allowed one goal last month. She also has seven clean sheets this year and has tied the club record for most clean sheets in a single season. Orlando’s next match will be on the road on Saturday against the North Carolina Courage in the NWSL x Liga MX Femenil Summer Cup.

OCB Draws at Home Against Inter Miami CF II

Orlando City B and Inter Miami CF II battled to a 1-1 draw at Osceola County Stadium on Sunday. Inter Miami CF II struck first, but the Young Lions came up with a great goal to equalize and send the game to penalty kicks. In the shootout, OCB won 2-0 to grab the extra point. OCB remains 10th in the Eastern Conference with 23 points, and its next match will be on the road on Sunday against New York Red Bulls II.

USWNT Beats Mexico in Friendly

The U.S. Women’s National Team avenged its loss to Mexico in the Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup earlier this year with a 1-0 victory in a friendly at Red Bull Arena on Saturday. Sophia Smith scored the lone goal in the second half. The USWNT has not conceded a goal in its last three matches with Emma Hayes on the sidelines. Also, the USWNT that won the 1999 Women’s World Cup was honored before the match as it was the 25th anniversary. The USWNT will have one more match against Costa Rica on Tuesday before it travels to Paris for the Olympics.

Spain Wins Its Fourth European Championship

Spain edged past England 2-1 in the Euro 2024 final in Berlin to win its fourth European Championship. Nico Willams put Spain in front before Cole Palmer got an equalizer for England. It looked like we were about to go to extra time until Mikel Oyarzabal struck late in the second half to seal the win for Spain. This was Spain’s first major title since winning Euro 2012. Spain won all seven of its matches and is the first team to score 15 goals in a tournament. As for England, it has lost consecutive European Championship finals and extended its major trophy drought to 58 years.

Argentina Wins Copa America Final

This year’s Copa America also came to a close, with Argentina beating Colombia 1-0 to win its 16th title. It took extra time to determine a winner after a scoreless 90 minutes. Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez, who led the tournament in goals, came off the bench and scored the winner. The result snapped Colombia’s 28-game unbeaten streak and it was the first time Colombia was shut out in this tournament. Lionel Messi exited the game in the second half due to an apparent ankle injury as well.

Free Kicks

  • Former Orlando City defender Ruan scored the winning goal for CF Montreal against Atlanta United over the weekend.
  • Kickoff for the 2024 Copa America final was delayed after fans without tickets breached one of the security gates at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium. Police secured the gate, and kickoff for the match was delayed an hour and 20 minutes.
  • Celtic is reportedly close to an agreement to add former Leicester City, Nice, and Anderlecht goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
  • England manager Gareth Southgate stated he would discuss his future with the national team with important people behind the scenes, even though the English FA has indicated it prefers him to stay on. Southgate’s contract expires in December.

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: 7/12/24

Orlando City prepares for the New England Revolution, Summer Yates signs new contract, USWNT faces Mexico on Saturday, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! I’m working for most of the weekend but am still looking forward to a smorgasbord of soccer over the next few days. I’m also hoping to get some reading done, as I’ve fallen a bit behind in my reading goals for the year during this summer. But for now, let’s dive into today’s links from across the soccer world!

Orlando City Prepares for the New England Revolution

The Lions are on the road this weekend for a tough match against the New England Revolution on Saturday. It will be a clash between Eastern Conference teams that have clawed their way back up the table after slow starts to the season. Orlando has won three of its past four games, while the Revolution have won five of their last seven. While Orlando’s offense may be finding its groove this summer, the Lions have never won at Gillette Stadium in the eight games they’ve played there. No team has scored fewer goals this season than New England, which has scored 20 goals in 20 games.

Summer Yates Signs New Contract

The Orlando Pride have signed midfielder Summer Yates to a new contract that will keep her in the City Beautiful through the 2025 season, with an option for 2026. Yates fell farther than expected in the 2023 NWSL Draft and the Pride selected her in the fourth round. It’s proven to be a major steal for the Pride, as Yates has scored four goals in 15 appearances this year. She’s filled the shoes of some of the team’s best attacking midfielders and I’m glad she will be staying in Orlando beyond this year. The Pride also signed Cori Dyke to a new contract earlier this week, so it’s clear the Pride are looking ahead to the future during a historic season.

USWNT Plays Mexico On Saturday

The United States Women’s National Team will play the first of two friendlies before the Olympics when it takes on Mexico on Saturday at Red Bull Arena. The last time these two teams squared off was back in February in the inaugural Concacaf W Gold Cup, with Mexico winning 2-0. That loss raised plenty of eyebrows, but the USWNT went on to win the tournament and hasn’t lost since. The U.S. staff and team that won the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup Team will also be honored prior to the match for the 25th anniversary. The USWNT will take on Costa Rica on Tuesday in its final game before the Olympics.

Jurgen Klopp Reportedly Declines USMNT Job

There wasn’t much time for fans to get hopeful about reports that U.S. Soccer had reached out to former Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp to replace Gregg Berhalter, as more reports surfaced that Klopp turned down interest in the job. It’s not too surprising considering how Klopp has spoken in the past about wanting a break from soccer after leaving Liverpool this year. While I’m obviously interested in who will fill the role, I’m also hoping this search reveals how appealing the job is to other candidates around the world. I don’t think Klopp turning this down particularly means much in the grand scheme of things though, beyond U.S. Soccer doing its due diligence.

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That’s all I have for you this time around. I hope you all have a wonderful Friday and rest of your weekend!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 7/11/24

Cori Dyke signs new contract with Orlando Pride, Barbra Banda leads NWSL MVP race, Gregg Berhalter fired, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

How’s it going, Mane Landers? It’s been a fairly busy week for me, and I’m looking forward to some upcoming time off from work. I’m also looking forward to the conclusion of international tournaments this weekend. It should be a nice next few days. For now, let’s dive into today’s links!

Cori Dyke Signs New Contract With the Pride

The Orlando Pride have signed rookie midfielder Cori Dyke to a new contract through the 2025 season, with an option for 2026 as well. She has found her footing with the team and in the NWSL, making 11 appearances so far this season. The Pride selected her with the No. 22 overall pick of the 2024 NWSL Draft, signing her to a one-year contract back in March. She’s one of many versatile midfielders added this past off-season, and she’s done well providing relief where needed as a substitute.

NWSL MVP Race Heats Up

ESPN‘s Jeff Kassouf updated the rankings of NWSL MVP candidates for this season and Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda remains at the top. Kansas City forward Temwa Chawinga moved up a spot to second, and she and Banda currently lead the league with 12 goals each. Both players scored on Saturday, and I’m expecting a close MVP and Golden Boot race over the next few months.

Pride defender Emily Sams deservedly moved up in the rankings and is now in seventh. She’s been phenomenal as the anchor of the Pride’s league-leading defense and it’s great to see her garner more recognition as the season goes on. Marta is on the list for the first time this season, ranking 13th for her prominent role in the Pride’s undefeated season so far.

Gregg Berhalter Out as USMNT Head Coach

It’s the end of an era for the United States Men’s National Team, as Gregg Berhalter was relieved of his duties as head coach. This decision comes after a disappointing Copa America run that ended in the group stage after losses to Panama and Uruguay. There’s certainly been success for the USMNT under Berhalter, particularly against Mexico, as he led the team to two Nations League titles and the 2021 Gold Cup trophy. But it never felt like the USMNT was playing to its full potential and could win against the top 10 teams in the world. Hopefully this search for who will replace Berhalter will go better than the last one, and a new coach can come in and take the team to the next level in time for the 2026 World Cup.

England Claims Spot in Euro 2024 Final

This year’s Euro final is set, with Spain and England set to clash in Berlin on Sunday at 3 p.m. England booked its ticket after another dramatic finish in a 2-1 win against the Netherlands. Aston Villa forward Ollie Watkins gave England the winning goal in the 90th minute after coming on as a substitute. I would love to know how many minutes England has been in the lead this tournament, as there have been many late comebacks along its path to the final. Meanwhile, Spain has beaten Germany and France en route to the final after winning a group that included Italy and Croatia. The final should be a good one and I’m looking forward to it.

Colombia Holds On to Reach Copa America Final

The Copa America semifinal between Colombia and Uruguay was a tense affair and Colombia won 1-0. James Rodriguez provided his sixth assist of the tournament on the only goal of the game, but the game turned on its head when Daniel Munoz was sent off late in the second half. Colombia then had to spend the entire second half holding onto its lead and survived, despite good chances from Uruguay’s Darwin Nunez and Luis Suarez. There was mayhem after the match, as there was an altercation between fans and Uruguayan players in the stands.

Colombia has now extended its unbeaten streak to 28 games and will take on Argentina in the Copa America final on Sunday at 8 p.m. The last team that beat Colombia? Argentina back in 2022.

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

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