Our readers have spoken and you’ve selected the group of current and former Orlando City and Pride players and coaches with whom you’d like to spend a 14-day quarantine period. The groups were designed to make for difficult choices and the voting reflects that. Let’s get into the numbers.
Group 1 — 15% of the vote (fourth place)
- Claire Emslie
- Jason Kreis
- Justin Meram
- Kristen Edmonds
This group features the runaway winner of our most popular Lion contest, Kaká. To balance out the Brazilian’s overwhelming popularity, I included the player Orlando City fans love to hate the most (Justin Meram) and a coach that seems to also have failed to capture the love and/or respect of Lion Nation (Jason Kreis). However, I feel like both would be incredibly interesting guys to be stuck with for two weeks. I’m sure Meram has some interesting stories of playing with Iraq and I’ve got a million questions for him about his time in Orlando. Kreis is a very smart coach and I’ve learned quite a bit from him during his time in Orlando but to have time to just sit and watch clips with him and break down what I’m seeing would be priceless.
On the Pride side, we’ve barely gotten to know anything about Claire Emslie since she arrived from Scotland after last year’s World Cup, and Kristen Edmonds is an original member of the Pride who is always great to talk to.
Group 2 — 13% of the vote (fifth place)
- Jonathan Spector
- Alex Morgan
- James O’Connor
- Brek Shea
- Chioma Ubogagu
This is an interesting group. It’s got the star power of Alex Morgan, the quirkiness of Brek Shea, and the down-to-earth-ness of James O’Connor (with that killer accent). Chioma Ubogagu has played on both sides of the pond and likely has some great stories as the daughter of Nigerian immigrants who moved to England. I’d love to hear more about her. Jonathan Spector likely has some great stories as well, as a former USMNT defender and a guy with a lot of experience in England — including his time at Manchester United.
While kicking my feet up and nursing a beer, I’d like to sit and talk soccer with O’Connor, but the true MVP of this group is likely Shea, who might paint some vivid artwork and then go catch dinner with his fishing pole in a nearby lake.
Group 3 — 16% of the vote (third place)
- Ali Krieger
- Marc Skinner
- Lamine Sané
- Alanna Kennedy
This group has the star power of Nani and Ali Krieger, who are both no doubt good for a lot of stories as well as a lot of laughs during quarantine. Nani and Krieger share a zest for life and having both around would probably make the 14 days fly by more quickly. Additionally, Marc Skinner is a guy you can hold long conversations with (and I have), and that is a quality that would be incredibly useful during quarantine.
Lamine Sané is another one of those folks with an interesting background. He’s French. He’s Senagalese. He didn’t speak as much as some other players during his time in Orlando so I’m left with lots of questions for him and I’d just really like to learn more about him. For my money, he put together the best season in MLS so far by an Orlando City defender last year and I’d like to get more insight to his approach to the game. Speaking of defenders, Alanna Kennedy has had a lot of success playing that role for Australia in recent years. She’s played a lot of soccer in a lot of big tournaments over the last few years as the Matildas have risen in the world rankings. She seems to always have the right media-savvy answer during interviews, but it would probably be great to have her let her guard down and just talk to as a regular person.
Group 4 — 22% of the vote (second place)
- Cyle Larin
- Sydney Leroux
- Adrian Heath
- Chris Mueller
- Emily van Egmond
When I made my own choice, this was the last group to get eliminated and it was a difficult one to cross off the list. I know firsthand how utterly captivating it can be to talk to Adrian Heath away from a soccer pitch. He’ll give you honest and direct answers and a good bit of humor. The same things I said above about Kennedy go for Emily van Egmond as well. Plus she entered the current lockdown in the form of her life, helping her team win the W-League. I want to talk to her about winning a championship trophy in that empty stadium.
Sydney Leroux’s humor and Chris Mueller’s positivity would help make the time go by in a much more pleasant manner. I imagine it’s something else to have Leroux and Heath in the same room while watching an Orlando City Classic. Meanwhile, Cyle Larin gave this city three years of standout play and Orlando City’s first major individual trophy in MLS. I’d like to get his perspective on the way his departure went down and what he learned from that experience, and I’d like to just chat with him not as a reporter sticking a microphone in his face but as just two dudes chilling.
Group 5 — 27% of the vote (first place)
- Dom Dwyer
- Ashlyn Harris
- Tom Sermanni
- Luke Boden
When it came right down to it, I picked this group because of Tom Sermanni. The former USMNT and Pride coach is just too fun to talk to for me to have gone any other way. Sermanni is a genuinely nice guy and, like Heath, can be open, candid, and entertaining in any conversation about soccer — and, I’d imagine, any other topic. Tom was the difference maker for me.
However, this group has more than Sermanni. Dom Dwyer has been in Orlando during the USL and MLS eras. I’d like to hear more stories from him about how his experiences in this city compare between those two times. Ashlyn Harris doesn’t pull any punches, so spending quarantine with her would likely be an eye-opening experience. Luke Boden is an original MLS Lion who made the jump from the USL side and who even played indoors locally with the Orlando SeaWolves. I’ve spoken to Bodz many times and it never gets old. He’s a good dude.
The star of quarantine, however, would be Marta. Her humor and passion would see you through the 14 days almost too easily and you could pick her brain about soccer at the club level or on the world stage and life in Brazil. She’s got an interesting background. And she’d have her guitar and ukulele to entertain the group on a daily basis.
It’s no surprise this group won. The combination of personalities here push the potential entertainment value through the roof.
Group 6 — 7% of the vote (sixth place)
- Cristian Higuita
- Oscar Pareja
- Carson Pickett
I’ll admit that this group was a bit of a social experiment on my part. Cristian Higuita and Ruan both went deeper than expected in our March Madness voting, so they are (by evidence of our readers’ selections) two of the eight most popular Lions of all time. That alone should have been enough to push this group higher than its last-place finish. Throw in new coach Oscar Pareja, who many fans still haven’t gotten to know very well and it seemed like this would be one of the strongest groups.
On top of that, I added two Pride players who fans seem to like quite a bit. Plus, I figured Camila could translate for Ruan when words failed him in English. After all, she’s been in the U.S. much longer. Pickett has captured Pride fans’ hearts for overcoming obstacles and serving as a shining example for people who might not think they can achieve their life’s goals.
I really thought this group would have a stronger showing. Was a perceived language barrier part of it for some voters? Maybe, but it shouldn’t be a problem.
That’s how our readers voted. The rundown again:
- Group 5 (Dwyer, Harris, Sermanni, Boden, Marta) — 27%
- Group 4 (Larin, Leroux, Heath, Mueller, van Egmond) — 22%
- Group 3 (Nani, Krieger, Skinner, Sané, Kennedy) — 16%
- Group 1 (Kaká, Emslie, Kreis, Meram, Edmonds) — 15%
- Group 2 (Spector, Morgan, O’Connor, Shea, Ubogagu) — 13%
- Group 6 (Higuita, Camila, Pareja, Ruan, Pickett) — 7%
My thanks to everyone who voted. It was a fun thought exercise and we hope you had as much fun with it as we did.