Happy match Saturday, everyone. The Lions will host New York City FC tonight at Exploria Stadium in what could be the club’s final game before being sold (more on that below). Orlando City and NYCFC know each other well and have had several tightly contested match-ups throughout their history. It should be a fun one.
Let’s get to the news of the day.
Reports: Orlando City Sale Could Come Within Days
We’ve heard reports swirling for several months about Orlando City SC majority owner Flávio Augusto da Silva closing in on an agreement to sell the club. On Oct. 15, 2020, Street and Smith’s Sports Business Journal’s Mark J. Burns and Chris Smith reported that da Silva was nearing the final stages of a sale to an unknown buyer believed to be based in North America. That story didn’t specify whether the Orlando Pride or Exploria Stadium would be included in such a sale. More recently, The Athletic named the Wilf family, owners of the National Football League’s Minnesota Vikings, as the group in talks with da Silva over purchasing the team. On Friday, Sportico reported that several sources told the publication that the two sides were nearing an agreement that could be announced in a few days.
The deal, which includes the team’s stadium and the NWSL’s Orlando Pride, could be announced as early as next week, according to the people, who were granted anonymity because the negotiations are private. It will likely close in the $400-$450 million range, depending on the final structure.
The family includes Vikings principal owner and chairman Zygi Wilf, Vikings president and co-owner Mark Wilf (Zygi’s brother) and Vikings vice-chairman and co-owner Leonard Wilf (Zygi’s cousin). The Wilfs are also minority partners in MLS club Nashville SC and would need to sell that stake should this deal close.
The Orlando Sentinel also reported that a source close to the negotiations said a sale could be completed as early as next Monday.
A sale of assets with this value can take a while and it’s possible the Wilf family was the original buyer from the October report by Burns and Smith. Regardless, it seems that we may be only days away from watching da Silva turn over the keys.
Orlando Pride 2021 Broadcast Schedule Announced
Now we know where you can catch the Orlando Pride’s matches this season when they’re on the road or you can’t make it to Exploria Stadium. All of the Pride’s 24 matches will be televised or streamed during the NWSL regular season, with the full broadcast schedule released on Friday. The Pride will be shown most on Paramount+, with 15 matches slated for the streaming platform, including the team’s first nine games. Seven matches will stream on Twitch. Orlando will also be on national television twice — Sunday, Aug. 22 at Washington on CBS SportsNet and Sunday, Sept. 5 vs. Houston on CBS. The broadcast schedule did force a few changes to some start times.
In addition, changes to five kickoff times have been announced (all times ET):
-June 26 at Houston Dash: 8 p.m. (previously 8:30 p.m.)
-Aug. 22 at Washington Spirit: 4 p.m. (previously 5 p.m.)
-Aug. 29 at NJ/NY Gotham FC: 5:30 p.m. (previously 5 p.m.)
-Sept. 5 vs. Houston Dash: 4 p.m. (previously 6 p.m.)
-Oct. 2 at Chicago Red Stars: 7:30 p.m. (previously 8 p.m.)
Pride and ex-Pride Happenings
Orlando Pride center back Konya Plummer was unsurprisingly named to Jamaica’s provisional list for the upcoming friendlies against Nigeria and the United States Women’s National Team in the recently announced Summer Series.
Meanwhile, former Pride center back Shelina Zadorsky has signed a new deal to stay with Tottenham through June 2022. This extends her most recent deal by a full year. Zadorsky’s replacement in the lineup, Phoebe McClernon, played well in the NWSL Challenge Cup and improved as the competition went on, helping Orlando keep two clean sheets in the team’s last two matches.
- Orlando City had a special (and sponsored) Mother’s Day surprise for the team’s nutritionist.
With Mother's Day coming up, our boys surprised a special mom that does a lot for our team, Director of Performance Nutrition Rikki Keen, with a special gift from @JetBlue! #OfficialAirlineOfSoccerMoms pic.twitter.com/48dZHwCNTp— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) May 7, 2021
- Jose Martinez of the Philadelphia Union got two games tacked onto his suspension by the MLS Disciplinary Committee. He was sent off against NYCFC for violent conduct.
- LAFC locked down Eduard Atuesta for one more year with a new contract extension.
- It should be easy enough to add flames to this mural later, when Jose Mourinho completely wrecks my beloved AS Roma.
That’ll do it for this special match day Saturday edition of Lion Links. We’ll have full coverage of tonight’s match throughout the day and evening, and even into tomorrow. Enjoy your weekend.