Good Morning, Lions fans. Last night college football came to an end, which means the televisions and the good recliner seat in my house are finally open to watch some actual “football.” So, find your comfiest seat and check out these Lion Links.
Before we begin, The Mane Land staff and I would like to offer up a Happy Birthday to Khano Smith, Orlando Pride assistant coach. The retired midfielder is celebrating his 35th birthday. Happy Birthday, Khano, we hope your day is filled with celebration and cake!
Will Johnson Takes a Tour of Orlando City’s Stadium
New Orlando City player Will Johnson has officially landed in Orlando and is wasting zero time becoming acclimated with his new club. Yesterday he spent time visiting the downtown offices and the new stadium, stopping to take pictures and participate in a Facebook Live chat, where he answered questions about himself.
MLS and NWSL Draft Orders Released
The MLS SuperDraft and the NWSL Draft are both rapidly approaching, and now with the official announcement of the draft orders, both Orlando City and the Pride can begin preparing for future draftees. While the draft can be an opportunity to sign impact players, both Orlando City and the Pride may have a less-than-exciting day as they do not have picks until the third round. Orlando City has two of the 88 picks, which will fall at Nos. 64 and 74. Unless the team trades up, City will have to wait a couple of rounds before selecting a player. Likewise, the Pride does not have a draft pick until the third round. The Pride will select pick Nos. 22 and 32, and they also may have the chance to trade up.
Ashlyn Harris Awarded CONCACAF Goalkeeper of the Year
Orlando Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris was named the CONCACAF Female Goalkeeper of the Year. Harris became one of the starting goalkeepers for the U.S. Women’s National Team after Hope Solo was suspended. She was an alternate for the Rio Olympics and made three appearances in 2016, winning all three and allowing only two goals. The award was voted upon by fans, which may be why Harris won by such a large margin. Guatemalan Yoselin Franco received the second-most votes, and Costa Rican player Dinnia Diaz received the third-most votes. Alex Morgan was also in contention for a CONCACAF award for Best Forward, but she came in second to Christen Press.
USL Releases Updated Conference Alignment
The United Soccer League has announced the new alignment for the 30-team league. Teams will each play in 32 games during the regular season. The alignment still includes an Eastern Conference and a Western Conference, with the addition of three new teams. Among them, the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Ottawa Fury FC, will both be added to the Eastern Conference. Orlando City B will remain in the East.
The Best Recognized at FIFA Awards
The annual celebration of soccer’s best took place yesterday in Zurich, with the first installment of the Best FIFA Football Awards. The four major awards for best male and female player and best male and female coach were given to Cristiano Ronaldo, Carli Lloyd, Claudio Ranieri, and Silvia Neid, respectively. Several other awards were given out at the prestigious event, including the Fair Play award, presented to Atlético Nacional for their compassion following the events of the Chapecoense crash.
NC Courage Joins NWSL
The 2015 NWSL Champion Western New York Flash announced earlier this week that the club would be sold and relocated to North Carolina. The team will become the North Carolina Courage, with all the former Western New York Flash players’ contracts being transferred with the selling of the club. Flash Head Coach Paul Riley is in talks to become the first head coach of the Courage. The Courage will participate in the NWSL draft, holding the second, seventh, and 18th picks.
“Welcoming Steve Malik and the entire North Carolina Football Club organization represents a significant milestone in the history of our league,” NWSL Commissioner Jeff Plush said.
Unfortunately, that is all the links I have for you all today. Have a great Tuesday and once again, Happy Birthday Khano Smith.