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Lion Links 2/15/16

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Today could be the end of the Nocerino saga, Orlando City B wins big, Obafemi Martins to China and more in today's Lion Links.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday, Lion Nation. If your case of the Mondays seems especially bleak today, it's probably because of that loss in Jacksonville on Saturday. Sure it was just a preseason friendly, and the starters did stake the team to a 1-0 lead in the first half before the substitutions started, but you always want the lads in purple to be on the winning side.

Wednesday we'll see a more familiar foe as the Lions take on New York Red Bulls down at ChampionsGate in a closed-door morning friendly. Our Austin David is scheduled to be on hand to bring you all the action. But that's Wednesday. We've got a Monday to get through. Let's get your week started with some Lion Links.

Nocerino Deal Coming Today?

Sunday saw some movement on the long-awaited Antonio Nocerino front. Reports came out saying that a deal was imminent on Monday that would move the Italian midfielder to Orlando City.

"Tomorrow we will terminate our rapport with Nocerino, who will go to play in Orlando," Galliani told Mediaset Premium. "With that move, our transfer activity will be finished for this session."

...

"Football has changed so much, until a few years ago nobody went to China or the United States. The sport is becoming more globalised."

Of course, before any deal with Nocerino can go into effect, the Lions must acquire his discovery rights from D.C. United. No problem. Steve Goff of the Washington Post says that's taken place.

Stay tuned. We might get a late Valentine's Day present today.

OCB Clobbers UCF in Preseason Friendly

A day after the senior side lost 2-1 at Jacksonville, the junior Lions took to the pitch against Central Florida and battered the college side to the tune of a 4-0 victory. Michael Cox posted a first-half hat trick and William Eyang added a second-half goal. There was some bad news, however, as Harrison Heath sustained a head injury and left the game 10 minutes after halftime.

OCB Head Coach Anthony Pulis was pretty happy with the performance, especially in the first 45 minutes.

"The first-half performance was excellent," Pulis said. "We were really pleased with the boys. We've worked on quite a bit of tactical stuff this week, in-possession and out-possession, and then they took on board a majority of that work that we've done."

Pride's Belanger a Key Attack Threat for Canada

If you've been watching the Canadian Women's National Team during Olympic qualifying, you've no doubt taken note of how dangerous attacker-turned-right back Josee Belanger (of the Orlando Pride) has been. She assisted on Canada's first goal yesterday in her nation's 6-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago and probably could have had four or five assists in the game before that. Belanger's movement and crossing has been fantastic and if Tom Sermanni keeps her in that wide spot, she should be an enormous help to the Pride's strike force this season. This piece by The Star's Laura Armstrong spotlights Orlando's Canadian allocation player.

Canada striker Christine Sinclair scored her 159th international goal in the win yesterday, moving ahead of Mia Hamm into second place behind all-time scoring leader Abby Wambach.

Martins Leaving Seattle for China

Obafemi Martins is peacing out of the Pacific Northwest and will head to China to play for Shanghai Shenhua according to online reports. Seattle's GM says it's not a done deal yet. Martins, who averaged a goal every other game while with the Sounders, joins a growing list of players who are being poached by high-paying Chinese clubs as the league tries to step up on the world stage. Senegal striker Demba Ba, for example, is also on Shanghai Shenhua.

Rapids Nab Miller from Montreal

The MLS off-season moves continued yesterday as the Colorado Rapids acquired defender Eric Miller from the Montreal Impact in exchange for general allocation money and a first-round pick in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft. Montreal has had a particularly eventful winter, convincing Didier Drogba to return and acquiring Chicago Fire midfielder Harry Shipp. The Rapids have seen more goings than comings, but this should help the team's defense.

That's it for today. To help you enjoy your Monday, here's Lionel Messi using a penalty to set up a teammate for the goal.