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Lion Links: 12/19/16

Jose Aja excited to stay with Orlando City, Lisa De Vanna finds a W-League team, Nashville strikes in the MLS expansion war, and more.

MLS: Orlando City SC at Philadelphia Union Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Ugh, it’s Monday. But at least it’s probably a short week for many of you, with the holiday weekend coming up. Dave’s on vacation this week (sort of… he should be joining me for the December episode of the PawedCast this week).

We’re supposed to get a shiny new center back this week if Alicia DelGallo’s sources are correct. The Sentinel writer said that international paperwork is the holdup. The anticipation of that isn’t going to make your work week go any faster, though. Let’s just hope we get a lock-down defender and it’s the best Christmas ever.

I don’t know about you, but at this time of the year I like to pour myself a good, long drink and curl up to watch the most classic of all Christmas movies. By that, I mean, of course, Gremlins. But most bosses frown upon you doing that during work hours so instead you can waste some time with your Monday morning Lion Links.

Aja Excited to Remain a Lion

You already know Orlando City center back Jose Aja signed a four-year deal on Friday to remain with the club, helping solidify the back line for Jason Kreis heading into 2017. He also told MLSSoccer.com’s Simon Veness that he accomplished his goal of staying in Orlando beyond his loan.

“The fact Orlando wants to retain me for more years is exciting and I’m really looking forward to it,” he said, via an interpreter. “Personally, I went on loan with the objective of staying in Orlando longer, and luckily I accomplished that goal.

“I am pleased with the team’s plan. Before leaving for the offseason, I met with the coach, the president and the general manager and they mentioned their ideas for the upcoming season of gathering a very talented side and fighting for the title, and that is what caught my attention the most. The team is aiming for important objectives and that is what I want. I’m very committed to this project and looking forward to the start of the new season.”

Assuming Aja locks down a 2017 starting spot, we’re left to wonder who his partner in central defense will be. Check out Simon’s story at the link above to hear more from Aja.

Pride’s De Vanna Signs with Canberra United

Orlando Pride attacking player Lisa De Vanna has signed as a guest player for the W-League’s Canberra United. You may recall that Pride star Jasmyne Spencer also signed with Canberra for the NWSL off-season. De Vanna is kind of a big deal in her native Australia, what with being captain of the national team with 40 international goals and all. De Vanna joined the Pride late in the team’s inaugural NWSL season, playing in three games (two starts). She didn’t contribute a goal or an assist, but the Aussie star barely had a chance to learn her teammates’ names before the season ended. Hopefully De Vanna can add some offense to the Pride attack in 2017 because the rumblings of Alex Morgan leaving are getting louder.

Does Nashville Have a Leg Up in MLS Expansion?

It looks like the Tennessee legislature is willing to help the city of Nashville in the escalating MLS expansion war. A bill was introduced by Tennessee Sen. Steve Dickerson last week that would allocate state sales tax revenue generated from a future professional soccer stadium in Nashville to metro government. This would include sales tax revenue from admissions to games as well as concessions, parking and other charges on the premises of the stadium.

“This just puts an MLS franchise, should we get one, on par with [the state’s other professional sports franchises],” Dickerson said. “The intention is to help fund or fray the cost of a stadium and encourage an MLS stadium to locate here.

If such a bill were to pass, it would likely help Nashville’s cause. It certainly couldn’t hurt. Another team in the south would be good for Orlando City.

Real Madrid Wins FIFA Club World Cup

Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat trick fired Real Madrid to yet another trophy, but it wasn’t easy. Los Blancos needed extra time to defeat the Kashima Antlers, 4-2, to take the 2016 FIFA Club World Cup title. Kashima actually had a 2-1 second-half lead before Ronaldo struck from the spot to equalize. He then scored his second and third goals in extra time to give the Spanish giants the trophy. It’s the second FIFA Club World Cup title for Real Madrid, which has rolled off 37 matches without a loss. It was Ronaldo’s 40th hat trick with Real Madrid and helped the 2016 Ballon d’Or recipient win the FIFA Club World Cup’s Golden Ball.

Free Kicks

Speaking of Real Madrid, James Rodriguez says he might be on his way out. You’d look good in purple, James...Former Orlando City B goalkeeper Mark Ridgers is still looking for work...In an interview with dw.com, Chicharito said the Bundesliga can become the world’s top league...Today’s birthdays include Tim Reid — who played Venus Flytrap on WKRP in Cincinnati — (72), NBA legend Kevin McHale (59), Kajagoogoo vocalist Limahl (58), NFL great Reggie White (died in 2004 at age 43), Flashdance actress Jennifer Beals (53), magician Criss Angel (49), actress Alyssa Milano (44), actor Jake Gyllenhaal (36), English center back Gary Cahill (31), Dutch footballer Ryan Babel (30), Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema (29), and Arsenal forward Alexis Sánchez (28).


That’s all I’ve got for your Monday. Get that last-minute holiday shopping done and if you haven’t yet sent out those Christmas cards, you’re running out of time. Let’s let Douglas Costa’s stunner for Bayern Munich play us out today, because this was ridiculous: