What's up, Orlando City faithful?
Hope everyone's Friday is off to a good start, and if not, remember that preseason training kicks off a week from today! It'll be our first chance to see the likes of Kaká and Brek Shea wearing purple and actually doing...soccer things. Frankly, it can't get here soon enough.
But we've got plenty to talk about in this morning's Lion Links, capping off what's been an absolutely crazy week for both MLS and Orlando City.
I think you already know where this one is going to start.
One for the money...
Orlando ended months of speculation yesterday afternoon, when the club took UConn forward and Canadian international Cyle Larin with the first pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. He seemed pretty happy about it. Despite some trade rumblings in the days leading up to the draft, Orlando elected to stay at No. 1 and grab a player widely considered one of the top prospects in the draft. While Larin's selection was hardly surprising, it's still a huge moment in the history of the club.
Reaction to the pick has been overwhelmingly positive across the web. While almost everyone seems to agree that the Lions grabbed a player with a tremendous ceiling in MLS, what might be even more promising is just how much has been written about Larin's character off the pitch. From all accounts, he seems like a consummate professional and all-around great teammate.
Oh yeah, and he's pretty good at soccer too.
Two for the show...
Orlando added two more players in the second round of the SuperDraft, picking up defender Conor Donovan from North Carolina State and midfielder Akeil Barrett from Tulsa. Being able to grab Donovan in the second round was considered a steal by many MLS pundits. He's teammates with Tyler Turner on the U.S. U-20 national team and was impressive during his lone season at N.C. State, despite being only a freshman. Center back is an area of need for City, and Donovan could provide a long-term answer at that position.
Barret isn't as well known, but the Jamaican winger is someone Orlando can afford to take a chance on with so much depth at midfield. Barrett earned an MLS contract during the combine, obviously making quite an impression on the scouts in attendance, but he'll still need a few years to develop before he gets a crack at the first team. Barrett is a real candidate to be loaned out to Louisville City FC next season. [Editor's note: Watch for Jeff Milby's weekly LCFC update later today.]
MLS takes Philly
Believe it or not, there were actually 19 other clubs at the SuperDraft on Thursday, each trying to find their next superstar...Forwards ruled the day, with three goal scorers being picked in the top five...Cristian Roldan, who almost everyone expected to go right behind Larin at No. 2, fell all the way to No. 16, where Seattle traded up to grab him.
Landon likes us
Before getting the SuperDraft underway, MLS commissioner Don Garber announced that the league was naming its MVP Trophy the "Landon Donovan MVP Award." Donovan came on stage to thank the commissioner and help kick things off. More accurately, Donovan said the words "Orlando City, YOU are on the clock." It was a pretty cool moment.
Reppin' the Pride
The contingent of Orlando City fans at the SuperDraft was by far the most visible of any supporters' group in attendance. They wore purple, they were loud and they got tons of camera time. Honestly, you would've thought the draft was taking place at the Magic Kingdom and not thousands of miles away in Philly . #FillTheBowl is looking like less of a challenge every day,
That's it for today everyone. One milestone out of the way, and only 51 days left until we get this party started at the Citrus Bowl.