Happy Friday everyone...
The week's finally over and we've got a weekend of football and fútbol ahead of us. What better way to start things off than with some Lion Links!
The journey begins
It's finally game day for Orlando City SC. Well, sort of...
The Lions kick off their 2015 preseason schedule tonight with an exhibition against D.C. United. The match will take place at 7 p.m. from IMG Academy in Bradenton, and will consist of three 30-minute scrimmages.
Though Orlando will be without the services of Kaka (rest) and Brek Shea (USMNT duty), the match will be an excellent opportunity to get a sense of how Adrian Heath plans on utilizing his squad this season. We'll get our first look at plenty of the new faces in camp, with almost every healthy member of the team expected to see some playing time. This early in preseason training, matches like these are primarily about getting players back into game shape, so expect to see Heath clear the bench.
The match will be broadcast live on mlssoccer.com.
Lions make front office additions
Things aren't just moving on the field for Orlando City. Yesterday the club named Fred Pollastri and Diogo Kotscho to the positions of Senior Vice President and Director of Business Development, respectively. According to the OCSC press release, the two new guys are charged with leading Orlando City's New Business Initiative, focused on growing the Lions' brand around the world.
"We continue to bolster the talent pool here at Orlando City with an eye toward achieving some very ambitious goals," said Club President and Founder Phil Rawlins. "They will be responsible for a very important initiative of strengthening our brand across the globe, and capitalizing on all the opportunities available."
Not surprisingly, both men have ties to Brazil. Pollastri served in multiple roles in Brazilian football and was a partner and vice president of Octagon Brazil. Kotscho worked for a Brazilian public relations firm, representing the likes of Roberto Carlos and our own Kaka. Both certainly fit in with the club's marketing strategy.
It's the most dreaded word in sports, but it may become a reality for MLS and Orlando City this season. With the league's collective bargaining agreement set to expire tomorrow, the MLS and MLS Players Union will have to negotiate on some key issues in order to avoid a work stoppage.
MLS operates unlike any other professional sports league in the world, so if you thought this was complicated when the NBA (2011) or NHL (2012) went through it, you might want to stop reading now.
Our friends over at The Brotherly Game have put together a great primer on what the league and players union will have to negotiate, and our own Sean Rollins put together a beginner's guide to the CBA if you're new to these labor relation things. The big issue being disputed here is free agency. MLS currently doesn't have it and the players would like to see that change sooner rather than later.
A homecoming for Tim Howard?
Everton goalkeeper and USMNT hero Tim Howard has found himself in the rumor mill recently as several media outlets are reporting he may be considering a move to MLS.
Howard has been a fixture at Goodison Park for years, but he's struggled with injuries this season and his play has suffered because of it. It's hard to see Howard leaving as long as he's still the number one option at Everton, but this is certainly a story worth keeping an eye on. For what it's worth, the LA Galaxy, NYCFC and (of course) Toronto FC are rumored to be interested.
News and Notes
That's all for today. Be sure to check back tonight for match coverage and follow us on Twitter for updates. And enjoy that other big game that's happening this weekend. I'm here so I don't get fined.