Good Saturday morning, Orlando. If you paced yourself at the bar last night, good on ya. If not, pop a Berocca (or three) with breakfast, or – if 'hair of the dog' is more your style – perhaps an Irish Coffee is in order.
Whatever you do, do it quick, as tailgate time is approaching this afternoon at the Citrus Bowl prior to Orlando City's showdown with the New York Red Bulls this evening. As you prep, mentally and physically, for the match, enjoy this morning's batch of Lion Links and get your game face on like Inchy.
UCF and Orlando City Team Up to Change a 6-Year-Old Boy's Life
Brazilian boy Paulo Costa Boa Nova was born without part of his arm because of a genetic defect. In today's "feel better about the world" story, Orlando Health brought the boy and his father to Orlando, where he was presented with a 3-D printed arm created by Limbitless Solutions, which is comprised of students at UCF. The presentation took place at OCSC's training facility in Lake Mary, where Kaká, Aurélien Collin and Tally Hall were present and even kicked the ball around a bit with Paulo.
City will celebrate the students' work tonight when they recognize Paulo, his father, and several Limbitless Solutions team members at the NYRB match.
Paulo (right) received his "bionic" arm with support of Alex, the first recipient of a bionic (Iron Man themed) arm from Limbitless. Photo courtesy of Orlando City SC and the University of Central Florida.
Player Salaries Released by MLS
We knew Kaká made a pretty penny to bless us Central Floridians with his soccer genius, and these numbers released on Friday confirm that the Brazilian gets paaaaaaid. With a base salary of $6,660,000 per season plus bonuses, Kaká's guaranteed compensation for 2015 comes out to a cool $7,167,500. Not too shabby.
Not far behind Orlando's Captain – per the Orlando Sentinel's MLS Salary Database – is Sebastian Giovinco of Toronto FC. Despite a base salary that is more than $1 million lower than Kaká's, the Atomic Ant's guaranteed compensation for 2015 is only about $52,000 fewer. Among the surprises on this list is the $60,000 salary of City Designated Player Carlos Rivas, but that may have something to do with his transfer fee from former club Deportivo Cali.
Javaier "Chicharito" Hernández Madness Continues
Friday brought more news in the Chicharito saga, this time from perhaps the least credible source yet. Chicha is not coming to Major League Soccer, and this time we know it's super official because it came from the mouth of a Liga MX team owner, Chivas Guadalajara's Jorge Vergara.
"I can assure you that Javier Hernandez is not going to MLS, we are super clear on that. Before he goes to MLS, we would take him in for Mexico [Liga MX], that is for sure," Vergara told ESPN Mexico's Raza Deportiva show on Thursday. "We would break the piggy bank for him."
This comes as a big surprise (sarcasm font). Why would an owner from Liga MX be threatened by MLS targeting Mexican talent? With the recent signing of Gio dos Santos by LA Galaxy and the courtship of Hernández by Orlando, what's there to worry about?
For the record, this means nothing in terms of Chicharito and Orlando City, but it's a fine opportunity to make fun of Vergara's insecurity regarding MLS poaching Mexican talent.
Miami MLS Stadium to Be Built Next to Marlins Park
David Beckham announced his ambitions for a Miami-based MLS team 17 months ago, and Friday it was announced that he and his group of investors would privately fund a stadium next to Marlins Park.
"Today's meeting with Mayor Regalado was another positive step toward bringing a world class soccer club to Miami," said a Miami Beckham United spokesperson. "[We] are thrilled by the initial outpouring of support we've received from our fans and we're excited about sharing our plans with the city, county and community soon."
The stadium is a proposed 25,000-seater, and the group is hopeful to begin play in 2018. Also, is Miami Beckham United a real thing? Because it's awesomely bad.
Chicago Fire Reportedly Lead the Running to Land King Didi
The Didier Drogba to MLS rumors started long ago following the conclusion of the English Premier League season, and things appear to be heating up again according to ESPN FC. Per the report, "several teams" within MLS are in the running for the Ivorian legend, but the Chicago Fire currently sit in pole position for the services of the former Premier League Golden Boot winner, who spent the majority of his career at Chelsea while also making pit stops at Marseille, Shanghai Shenhua, and Galatasaray.
ESPN FC claims that Chicago is prepared to offer Drogba $2.5 million per year on an 18-month deal, which would be about $3.75 million over that span. Previous reports connecting Drogba to Orlando City had the Ivorian asking for a salary in the Kaká range, but have since been shot down by the Sentinel. The reported number the Fire are willing to offer still seems high for a 37-year-old who is well past his prime, but it is certainly much more reasonable than the numbers reported in previous stories involving Drogba and MLS.
Sports Illustrated Profile of Aston Villa and USMNT Goalkeeper Brad Guzan
Brian Strauss of Sports Illustrated provides us with an in-depth look into the mind of Brad Guzan, who is currently between the posts for the United States Men's National Team in the Gold Cup and has been with Premier League side Aston Villa since 2008.
Guzan has had a tough road to first team 'keeping, from battling behind Brad Friedel at Villa and playing second fiddle to Tim Howard with the USMNT for years. It is a very interesting read, and one that certainly gives some perspective on Guzan's career and adds even more respect (in my mind) to the American shot-stopper who is now taking advantage of his opportunity to grab the reins.
That's it for this Saturday edition of Links, Mane Landers. Enjoy today's festivities, and I hope you all get the chance to celebrate a victory over RBNY tonight. Go City!