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Lion Links: 2/18/16

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Orlando City faced New York Red Bulls in a friendly, OCSC's youth academy named a new director, and the Pride find an opponent for their first home game. All that and more in today's links!

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Thirsty Thursday everyone! It's finally here, the first few preseason friendlies of the year. For the first time in months, Orlando City is actually playing soccer again! May the god of soccer, füte'baal, bless the City Beautiful and the Harbor City this upcoming year. To celebrate I'm gonna go with a classic wine and cheese pairing: Gouda and Merlot. The fresh, ripe flavors of the merlot and the rich sharpness of the gouda perfectly profiles the early anticipation feelings toward this year of soccer in Central Florida.

Now, on to the news!

Orlando City Pass First MLS Test of the Preseason

So, let's just pretend Jacksonville never happened. Yesterday, Orlando City pulled out a 3-2 victory over current Supporters' Shield winners, New York Red Bulls. Kaká, Adrian Winter, and Pedro Ribeiro all found the back of the net to win the friendly. A scary moment occurred when Darwin Cerén went down and had to be treated on the sideline, but the Salvadoran midfielder was able to make his way back on the pitch. Injuries are certainly not something Orlando City needs less than a month before the season starts. Elsewhere, OCB defeated Toronto FC 1-0, whom Orlando City will face in another friendly this Sunday.

David Longwell Named Academy Director for Orlando City

The club finally made official what we told you about on Feb. 9. The head of youth development for Scottish Championship side St. Mirren FC (not to be confused with Dame Helen, who is absolutely a saint) has been named Academy Director of Orlando City Soccer Club. Longwell's accolades during his 15-year tenure at Ralston are highlighted by the fact that St. Mirren FC had the only five-star academy in the country. Given the recent dissolution of the U-23 team in favor of OCB, Longwell's addition to the youth development is an encouraging sign that the young talent of Orlando will continue to flourish.

Orlando Pride to Open Season on the Road Against Portland Thorns

The NWSL released its schedule yesterday. Well, kind of. The women's professional league announced the home openers for every team in the league and the Pride will start its season on April 17 in the city where Alex Morgan ended her last one. The Pride's home opener will be on the following Saturday, April 23 against Carli Lloyd and the Houston Dash. Tickets are still available for the home opener and stay tuned to The Mane Land for when the full NWSL schedule is released. Also check back today at 2 p.m. for our own Tronochick's NWSL preview, and be prepared to learn!

MLS wants Minnesota United to Change its Name

Minnesota's long road to joining MLS took another weird turn yesterday when it was revealed that thanks to Atlanta United FC, MLS wants Minnesota United to find a new name. Apparently, MLS thinks having three teams with "United" in their name isn't acceptable. Despite the fact that Atlanta United FC has yet to play its first game, and Minnesota United is entering its sixth NASL season, it seems increasingly likely that Minnesota will be called something else. Whatever it's called, MLS hopes the team can begin play in 2018.

Free Kicks

Today's birthdays include Enzo Ferrari who passed away in 1988, the angel of the morning herself Juice Newton (64); John Travolta (62); professional speller Vanna White (59); Dr. Dre (51); and Italian soccer legend Robert Baggio (49)...Today also marks fifteen years since the passing of NASCAR great Dale Earnhardt...Happy Independence day for all of our Gambian readers...The pots were announced for this year's Copa America ... Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney is hurt, again ...

That's it for today play us out, Wayne!