First off, happy 22nd birthday to midfielder Cristian Higuita. With the announcement of the Ballon d'Or winner and so many more awards having been announced, you would think that we must have missed something, but you would be wrong! So to test that theory, why don't you start devouring today's Lion Links!
Orlando City Gets Fizzy
With the stadium starting to take shape, many fans were starting to wonder about what calorie-laden beverages (other than beer, which is still to be announced) would be available to guzzle whilst cheering on the team. Well the wait is finally over, soda heads, as Orlando City has officially announced Coca-Cola as the (wait for it) official carbonated beverage and bottled water partner of the club. The deal is set to last for the next five years and will see the company granted pouring rights for the new soccer stadium and with a phrase that is popular with MLS fans, the terms of the deal were not disclosed.
OCSC Foundation Hits a Hole-in-One
The Orlando City Foundation strengthened its commitment to improving the Central Florida community yesterday when it announced that it had partnered with the Kate and Justin Rose Foundation to host the first Kicks for Kids FootGolf Tournament on Monday, Feb. 22, at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club at Grande Lakes. Orlando City players and local golf celebrities are expected to take part, and spectators are encouraged to come and walk the course during game play.
Ballon d'Or and So Much More
With a Ballon d'Or ceremony that could be best remembered for Kaká wearing a purple suit, it was Lionel Messi who took home the ultimate annual individual soccer prize. Messi beat fellow Barcelona teammate Neymar and Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo to take home the trophy for the record-breaking fifth time and firmly placed himself in soccer folklore at the tender age of 28. You can check out who voted for whom here.
However, Messi was not the only winner yesterday and the U.S. women's team certainly had something to celebrate after a memorable 2015. USWNT Head Coach Jill Ellis won FIFA Coach of the Year for Women's Football and Carli Lloyd took home individual honors after helping lead the U.S. to the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup by being named FIFA Women's Player of the Year.
MLS Combine News
With the 2016 MLS SuperDraft taking place on Thursday, the MLS Combine wraps up today and draft boards will start to be finalized. With that, yesterday saw the release of many stock watches from around the internet:
- MLSSoccer.com weighs in and UCF Winger Hadji Barry doesn't come out well.
- Soccer By Ives analyst Franco Panizo provides an insight into big names and the sleepers who excelled from Day 1.
- For all you statisticians, Soccerwire.com breaks down every stat from the Combine games in Day 2.
And in news that will certainly excite the front office, MLS released another combine survey filled in by the participants and Orlando City tied for fourth among the participants' favorite MLS clubs. And to increase your enthusiasm about a player acquisition mechanism that is looking fairly out of date, MLSSoccer.com takes us on a look back to the 2015 SuperDraft through the eyes of OCSC.
Also not to be outdone, the 2016 NWSL Draft also takes place this week, and to help stay on top of who the Pride might select, Top Drawer Soccer gives us a run down of the top 30 prospects coming out of college.
And because I said we have everything, here is a little more from yesterday:
- The Carolina Challenge Cup will not be held this year. USL side Charleston Battery said that the tournament will be taking a break this year as it was hard to get top competitors to commit.
- Saudi Arabia is using soccer and its influence in the Asian Football Confederation as a way of keeping Iran out of international soccer.
- Former Orlando City USL affiliate Louisville City FC will spend some preseason time in Florida.
- South American club teams are banding together to try to get more dividends under TV deals with FOX Sports and CONMEBOL.
- Univision has acquired the Spanish language TV rights from Telemundo for the broadcast of European national team soccer.
Well that's it for today, Mane Landers. Make sure to check us out all week as we count down to and cover the MLS SuperDraft, NWSL Draft, and any Orlando City announcements as they break.