How’s it going, Mane Landers? We’re all another day closer to filling Exploria Stadium and cheering on our favorite teams. I’m also waiting on pins and needles for some hints on what Orlando City’s new primary jersey will look like. It’s an exciting time to be an Orlando soccer fan as both the Lions and the Orlando Pride continue their preseasons. Let’s dive right into today’s links!
NWSL Releases Schedule for 2023 Season
The Orlando Pride’s 2023 season was unveiled and they will start their season on the road in a match with the Portland Thorns on March 26. The Pride’s first home game will take place a week later on April 2 when they take on Angel City FC. The NWSL Challenge Cup will take place throughout the regular season and the Pride’s first group stage match is on April 19 when they host the North Carolina Courage. For the first time, NWSL teams will all play their season finales at the same time, with each team in action on Oct. 15 at 5 p.m. The Pride will face the Houston Dash at Exploria Stadium to close out their season.
Exploria Stadium Will Host the USMNT in March
In its final league phase game of the 2022-2023 Concacaf Nations League, the United States Men’s National Team will play at Exploria Stadium against El Salvador on March 27. The USMNT has a great track record when playing at Exploria Stadium, winning all five of its past games there. Of those previous matches, the USMNT beat Panama 5-1 in World Cup qualifying last year and defeated Canada 4-1 in 2019 in the Concacaf Nations League. This is just the latest competitive match that will be held at Exploria Stadium, with the first matches of the SheBelieves Cup taking place there later this month. The United States Women’s National Team has also won all of its past games at Exploria Stadium and will take on Canada on Feb. 16.
Ercan Kara Could Break Out in 2023
Orlando City forward Ercan Kara was highlighted as a player who could take his game up a notch in his second year in MLS. 2022 wasn’t a bad first year by any means for the Austrian, as he led the Lions with 11 goals last season. Kara should benefit from the addition of Martin Ojeda, who will help create more chances and take some of the pressure off of Kara and Facundo Torres. The 27-year-old will spearhead an offense filled with versatile attackers and I’m looking forward to seeing what the big guy can do in his sophomore year with the Lions.
Miguel Gallardo Joins MLS Season Pass Broadcast Team
Former Orlando City goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo was announced as a Spanish language match analyst for MLS Season Pass. He joins the broadcast team after spending the last five years as a commentator and analyst with Orlando City and has covered the Florida Cup Series as well.
Humbled and excited to be part of this amazing group. Can’t wait to showcase our beautiful league around the globe! Thank you to all that have been with me since I started this journey. Love you @MLS @AppleTV #MLSSeasonpass https://t.co/nv7EKIeequ— Miguel Gallardo (@migallardo01) February 8, 2023
Gallardo will still continue as an ambassador for OCSC and feature in club-created content. Orlando City radio broadcaster Sergio Ruiz is also part of the MLS Season Pass for play-by-play and the club gave both a shoutout.
Two of the very best in the business.— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) February 8, 2023
We can't wait to watch you shine on MLS Season Pass, @migallardo01 and @ruizsergio pic.twitter.com/pX0OInABPr
- Atlanta United added Greek forward Giorgos Giakoumakis as a Designated Player on a contract through the 2026 season. The 28-year-old joins from Celtic and scored 13 goals in the Scottish Premiership last season.
- Toronto FC transferred 20-year-old winger Jayden Nelson to Rosenborg BK in Norway’s top flight for an undisclosed fee. The Canadian played 1,982 minutes for Toronto last season and was named to MLS’s 22 under 22 list.
- MLS announced a new brand campaign called “Our Soccer, Our Way.” The campaign will focus on fan culture and the in-stadium experiences across the league.
- The 2023 Concacaf U-17 Championship kicks off in Guatemala this weekend. The U.S. starts its campaign on Saturday against Barbados before matches with Trinidad & Tobago and Canada next week.
- Despite reports from both Ghana’s Football Association and Hatayspor’s vice president, Christian Atsu remains missing after earthquakes in Turkey, according to Hatayspor’s manager.
- American manager Pellegrino Matarazzo was hired as Hoffenheim’s next coach. Hoffenheim has only won five league games this season and sits 14th in the Bundesliga.
- Marseille won 2-1 against Paris Saint-Germain in the French Cup to advance to the quarterfinals. PSG was without Kylian Mbappe due to injury, although Lionel Messi and Neymar both played every minute of the match.
- Real Madrid beat Egyptian club Al Ahly 4-1 to reach the Club World Cup final against Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal on Saturday.
- Saudi Arabia has reportedly agreed to pay for new stadiums in Greece and Egypt in exchange for the three nations to launch a joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup, with Saudi Arabia hosting a majority of the matches.
That’s all for now, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week!