Throughout November and December of 2022, it seemed that there wasn’t much going on with Orlando City and the Orlando Pride. I’m not saying nothing was happening, but Michael Citro and I were able to have multiple weeks off from The Mane Land PawedCast during this off-season. January has been a different story. Things are happening quickly and more is on the horizon.
Let’s look at the things that have caught my interest since last time.
In what feels like typical Orlando City style, we’ve had to wait for several signings — and rumors of more signings — until just before or even after the pre-season has already started. The biggest new signing is Martin Ojeda. Ojeda has been on Luiz Muzzi’s and Ricardo Moreira’s radar for over a year, and now they have him. As Orlando City’s third Designated Player, he will be a key piece of attack this upcoming season.
The Lions are also rumored to be bringing in Dagur Dan Thorhallsson from Breiðablik in Iceland and Ramiro Enrique from Club Atlético Banfield in Argentina. Enrique is not very surprising, given the South American flavor this club has cooked up the last few years. Thorhallsson will be the second Viking on the pitch if he does indeed arrive in Orlando, along with Robin Jansson. He is a versatile box-to-box midfielder with a laser-sighted right foot when taking free kicks.
No, you're not seeing double— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) November 2, 2022
This Breiðablik player scored two identical free kicks in the same game
Selfishly, I really hope this happens, as the amount of Eurovision references I make will border on excessive.
Following the disappointment of missing out on Debinha, the Pride signed a different Brazilian, bringing in forward Adriana. Nicknamed “The Wizard,” she scored 72 goals in 143 appearances (120 starts) for Corinthians. I’m no math whiz but that is about a goal every two matches. That is absolutely the type of scoring presence the Pride have been missing, and if she keeps that up, I will feel much better about the club not managing to sign Debinha.
Players come in and players leave. It’s the circle of life for a club. Of course, when two veterans leave weeks before pre-season is supposed to begin, that is less than ideal. That is the case with keeper Erin McLeod and midfielder Gunny Jonsdottir leaving the club and heading to Iceland. The married couple definitely represents a loss for the Pride in the short term, though we wish them well in their next endeavor.
While McLeod isn’t a top five keeper like Pedro Gallese is for Orlando City, she is still a seasoned veteran that doesn’t typically lose the club a match even if she doesn’t always win one for the club either. Jonsdottir has been a leader both on and off the pitch for the team, playing multiple positions, and even moving into the attack when it was needed. I can only assume there is a one-Icelander-per-organization rule I don’t know about, and Jonsdottir had to make room for Dagur Dan. I’m kidding, of course, unless there really is a rule I don’t know about.
The Mane Land has been a part of the SBNation family of blogs for as long as I’ve been with The Mane Land. As of the end of February, that will no longer be the case, since Vox Media — the parent company of SBNation — laid off 7% of their “staff” including the MLS-related blogs. I could absolutely argue the veracity of such a move being financially necessary given that not one penny of the ads you are seeing on this page go to anyone who writes for our site, but that is a waste of time. Suffice to say the entire situation is ugly for many hard-working writers and podcasters across the MLS community.
What is important is that we will be moving on. The Mane Land will continue. What exactly it will look like and what it will be called are still to be determined, but we will get that all sorted out before the end of February. We will update you as our plans develop. Most importantly, thank you for reading our stuff and being a part of our community. We appreciate you more than you can know.
What do you want the new — and potentially improved — Mane Land to look like? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.