Good morning, Mane Landers! As the week wraps up, I hope you are ready for kickoff weekend! Before we hop into today's links, we'll take the time out to wish a happy 20th birthday to Orlando City defender Tyler Turner! No better way to celebrate than with a successful weekend for both OCSC and OCB. Now, to the links.
Kaká receives Brazil call-up
Kaká has been called up once more to the Brazilian National Team for a pair of World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay on March 25 and Paraguay on March 29. Orlando City has a bye for the March 25-26 round of fixtures, so Ricky won't miss any league matches while away before facing the Portland Timbers on April 3 in Orlando. The call-up fulfills the midfielder's ambitions of remaining a part of the Brazilian international set up.
"I hope so. I will do what I can," he told reporters. "I was with the team in two games recently. I want to begin this season at a high level, physically healthy, so that Dunga will call me to be in the two upcoming games."
If his preseason performances are anything to go by, then he will certainly start the season at a high level. Hopefully this form will continue once the games start to matter.
Ramos signs contract extension
Orlando City has officially announced the contract extension of defender Rafael Ramos. The extension, which was originally leaked in mid-February, is for two years and the contract has an option for an additional two years. As always, per MLS policy, terms were not disclosed. Ramos made 25 appearances (24 starts) last year and is among the brightest defensive talents in the league.
Brek Talks OCSC, USMNT and Fatherhood
Brek Shea is aiming to play a full season for the Lions in 2016 after an up-and-down 2015 that was affected by injuries both to Shea himself and elsewhere in the side. In this piece from mlssoccer.com, Shea discusses his goals for the season and his intent to get back into the good graces of U.S. Men's National Team skipper Jürgen Klinsmann, as well as the new perspective he has since becoming a father. Don't worry though, Brek will still be Brek.
Orlando City forwards on the preseason hype train
After a record-setting rookie season a year ago, it is no surprise to see Cyle Larin named as one of the most exciting young players to watch for in MLS this year. Not to be outdone is fellow OCSC forward Carlos Rivas, who also makes an appearance on the list. Although his first campaign was nowhere near as successful (zero goals, four assists) as Larin's, there is plenty to be excited about regarding Rivas and the attacking options at Coach Adrian Heath's disposal.
Forward Keegan Smith joins OCB
In a move that has gone under the radar, Orlando City B has added to its depth up front with the acquisition of forward Keegan Smith. Smith, a University of San Diego product, was selected in the second round of this year's MLS SuperDraft by Montreal with the 39th overall election.
U.S. Soccer legend Brandi Chastain to donate brain for CTE research
Former USWNT star Brandi Chastain has agreed to donate her brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation at Boston University for CTE study. Although never officially diagnosed with a concussion, she has said she suffered two during her college playing days, but did not experience any side-effects and returned to the game on both occasions. Her donation has the potential to offer insight into CTE in women, an area that currently lacks significant information.
"We currently know so little about how gender influences outcome after trauma," Ann McKee, the director of the BU CTE Program said. "Her pledge marks an important step to expand our knowledge in this critical area."
In related news, former U.S. international Davy Arnaud will retire and be a part of the D.C. United coaching staff rather than playing this season due to lingering concussion symptoms. Arnaud suffered the concussion in practice in August, and will hang up his boots after 14 MLS seasons.
- Today's soccer-related birthdays include: Kenny Dalglish (b. 1951), Omar Bravo (b. 1980), Érik Lamela (b. 1992), and the aforementioned Tyler Turner (b. 1986).
- Rumors abound that Didier Drogba will be training with NASL expansion franchise Miami FC for the next month while his Impact teammates begin their MLS campaign. Drogba will also likely not feature in games on artificial turf. Drogba is not the first star European transplant to voice concerns about playing on artificial surfaces in MLS.
- Players have had their say. Who do you think has the best singing voice on the team?