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Orlando City Media Day: Torres Learning the Ropes, Pareja Optimistic

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Orlando City Media Day Press Conference banner. Image: Orlando City SC.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – Orlando City’s players and front office staff held a Media Day press conference on Monday to usher in the new season. OCSC Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi opened the table for media questions as Head Coach Oscar Pareja chimed in and answered several questions regarding Orlando City’s current form, offseason signings as well as Orlando Academy inquisitions.

 

“A Phenomenal Step”

With a stop-and-go offseason that saw many protagonists of Orlando City’s offense leave (Dike, Nani, Mueller). It was only a matter of time before Pareja and his staff pulled together some signings to bolster the squad. In that time, Orlando City has successfully landed Facundo Torres, Ercan Kara, and Cesar Araujo to fill in the gaps. It seems like there are two schools of thought in relation to transfer signings this offseason for the MLS. While some teams opt for the proven veteran talent (Chicago Fire, Toronto FC), other squads like Atlanta and Orlando City have doubled down on youthful impact signings with players that possess that ‘win now’ mentality.

No better player embodies that drive to win and hunger for success than Facundo Torres. Torres comes to Orlando with years worth of experience in the spotlight. Donning the number 10 for his boyhood club Peñarol last season in high-profile games in the Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana, Torres had his most brilliant moments on the biggest stages. At 21, Facundo Torres has the world at his fingertips, and assimilating him into the first team has already gone splendid — according to him:

“It was something that worried me [integrating into a new group], but – to be honest, this group has been extraordinary. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I’ve been accepted as just another one of the team since the first day. I already knew Cesar since he came from Uruguay, I also spoke to Mauricio a bit before landing. Both of them I knew for a while, but when I landed I met with Pedro, Seba [Mendez], Andres [Perea] and Rodri [Schlegel].”

 

See the full press conference here.

Torres had nothing but positives to say about his integration into the team. A factor that was put into place expertly by Head Coach Oscar Pareja as he has worked meticulously to piece together an Orlando City side teeming with first-team International level players. Gallese with Peru, Mendez with Ecuador, and now Torres as a member of Uruguay. Orlando City’s many South American talents have helped Torres’ assimilation while also keeping the level of competition at practice at an all-time high.

Moreover, the city of Orlando has come out in droves to support the rising Uruguayan star. Just last week, former Orlando City legend Ricardo Kaka sent a message of support to Facundo Torres in hopes of galvanizing his footballing endeavors in 2022. The city of Orlando as well as the players and staff have taken to this new era with the best intentions. Given the right amount of time, Torres as well as the other newly adjusted signings at Orlando will make their presence felt this year.

When asked about the process of building a new team around young stars, Oscar Pareja noted that Orlando City has taken ‘a phenomenal step’ in the right direction by taking the time to group players with the characteristics that fit the mold of the team. Pareja noted that every piece of the puzzle has to do its part in order to reach the collective goal, which seems to be MLS Cup or bust. One thing is for sure, this Orlando City team is more pumped than ever to achieve their goals after a less than stellar 2021 regular season.

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Nicolas Vera is a sports and entertainment reporter for Florida National News. | sports@floridanationalnews.com

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Golf

Lydia Ko and Jeff McNeil win the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions

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Lydia Ko win the 2024 Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club, Sunday, January 21, 2024. Photo by Harry Castiblanco / Florida National News

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – Lake Nona resident, Lydia Ko, has won the 2024 Hilton Grand Vacations LPGA Tournament of Champions at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club in Orlando, while Mets All-Star Second Baseman, Jeff McNeil, has won the celebrities and amateurs competition. The four day tournament wrapped up Sunday. Ko takes home $225,000 of the $1.5 million prize pool, while baseball player McNeil wins $100,000 of the $500,000 designated for the athletes and entertainers.

 

Lydia Ko and Jeff McNeil win the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club, Sunday, January 21, 2024. Photo by Harry Castiblanco / Florida National News

Ko finished at -14, two strokes ahead of Alexa Pano. Defending champion, Brooke Henderson, finished third at ten under par. McNeil ended with 138 points using the Modified Stableford scoring system, in his first time competing in this tournament. Annika Sorenstam finished in second place amongst the celebrity golfers, with 136. Former Major League Baseball pitchers Derek Lowe and Mark Mulder tied for third place at 135.

The Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions also announced today that they have extended their agreement with the LPGA to continue this tournament at Lake Nona for another five years, with a 65% increase in the prize pool money.

Stay tuned to Florida National News for more, and be sure to follow our Florida National News page on Facebook for more photos and videos from the tournament.

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Golf

Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions Returns to Lake Nona

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Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions (Photo Credit: Mike Brodsky, Florida National News)

ORLANDO, Fla. (Florida National News) – The Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions is back at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club in Orlando Thursday, 1/18 through Sunday, 1/21. This tournament kicks off the LPGA Tour’s 74th season, featuring top women golfers, who have qualified by winning a tournament in 2022 or 2023, playing alongside celebrities from the world of sports, entertainment, and music.

Annika Sorenstam practices on the driving range for the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions. (Photo Credit: Mike Brodsky, Florida National News)

 

Comedy fans can watch Larry The Cable Guy entertain the crowd with his one-liners and banter. “Fresh Prince” fans can tune in to Alfonso Ribeiro in hopes of seeing him dance “The Carlton.” Bachelor fans can follow Ben Higgins or Wells Adams to see if they’re passing out any roses.

Sports fans can see some true legends in a different light. Basketball fans can look for Vince Carter, Ray Allen, or Chandler Parsons. Baseball fans can watch for John Smoltz, Albert Pujols, or Roger Clemens. Football fans will find Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith, Marcus Allen, Brian Urlacher, and Charles Woodson.

You’ll find many other actors, musicians, and champions of various sports. If you’d like to watch some fun golf while also celebrity spotting, be sure to visit the tournament’s website to get your tickets, and to see who else will be playing this year.

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Golf

Brooks Koepka wins LIV Golf 2023 Orlando Tournament

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Brooks Koepka wins LIV Golf 2023 Orlando Tournament at Orange County National, Sunday, April 2, 2023.. Photo by J Willie David, III / Florida National News

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN Sports) – Brooks Koepka (-15) holds off Sebastian Muñoz (-14) to win the LIV Golf Tournament at Orange County National, the first time the new league came to Florida. This was the third event of the 2023 season. There will be ten more individual matches around the world before the 14th of the season, which will be a team competition.

LIV Golf, which bills itself as “Golf, but louder,” features several differences when compared to the traditions of the PGA. Golfers compete not only individually, but also as members of twelve teams of four. Teams are ranked after each event based on their top three scores. Those rankings will come into play for week fourteen of the season to determine seedings. In addition, if a golfer isn’t pulling his weight, he may be replaced as the season goes on. There could also be other roster changes, just like in other team sports.

In addition, LIV Golf events feature all sorts of interactive experiences at their Fan Village, where fans can compete in putting, chipping, and driving. Younger fans can watch shows at the kids zone, or can get temporary tattoos or face painting. Loud music blares before and after the tournament play, and there are plenty of food and beverage options for all. The tournament begins with a shotgun start around 1:00 p.m., and the action ends just over four hours later, unlike the PGA, where staggered tee times and more players means a longer day of golf. Also, LIV Golf events feature only three days and 54 holes (Roman numeral “LIV”) of action, compared to the PGA’s four days and 72 holes.

LIV Golf’ Fan Village at Orange County National, Thursday, March 30, 2023. Photo by J Willie David, III / Florida National News

 

Fan Village. Photo credit: Mike Brodsky, Florida National News

The PGA has already responded to LIV Golf, announcing that next year, there will be fewer golfers allowed to compete in designated events (about 70 players compared to the current 120), but that will mean higher payouts to the PGA golfers. LIV Golf has attracted many high profile golfers by guaranteeing minimum payouts to join the upstart league.

The next LIV Golf event will take place April 21-23 in Adelaide, Australia. Meanwhile, The PGA’s Masters Tournament tees off April 6-9 in Augusta, Georgia. Stay tuned to Florida National News for more.

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