Welcome to Thursday’s edition of Lion Links! This Thursday has news coming in from all over the place. The transfer window is open for teams to do business, MLS has its annual draft and people from all over the world are trying to figure out the difference between real news and just rumors. Honestly, that is just the soccer world — a whirlwind.
Today also marks Cristian Higuita’s birthday as he turns 23 years old. If you feel like giving him a shout-out, head over to his twitter page @CristianHiguit2. Let’s jump in.
2016 SuperDraft Retrospective
Last year, MLS teams drafted 75 total players amongst them. Some draft picks were standouts and others never quite stacked up to MLS competition. Orlando City had four draft picks last year with only one of them getting minutes with the first team. Hadji Barry played in eight games and started four during his rookie campaign, earning one assist along the way. Barry was Orlando City’s second pick behind Richmond Laryea (Round 1, Pick 7) who never saw first-team minutes.
The David Beckham Impact
Jan. 11, 2007 was a huge date for Major League Soccer when the L.A. Galaxy signed superstar David Beckham from Real Madrid. It was a major surprise in the soccer world and had a massive impact on the direction of soccer in the United States.
The Galaxy had made a bold pitch to Beckham. ” ‘Only you can do it,’ ” Leiweke says he told him. ” ‘Come build not just build a team, build a league and build the sport. Change it in a way that no one else ever will. Only Pele can be compared to what you’re going to do. Nobody will ever forget that. They’ll write books about it.’ ”
Beckham helped MLS rise in popularity in the U.S. and other worldly places. Being the international superstar that he was and still is gave MLS credibility. With his signing, more big signings would happen in the coming years — the likes of David Villa to NYCFC, and Kaká to our beloved Orlando City all became a possibility.
SheBelieves Cup Dates Set
From March 1-7, U.S. soccer will host the SheBelieves Cup in Chester, PA,Harrison, NJ, and Washington, D.C. In this tournament, four of the top five ranked women’s national teams in the world will compete in three doubleheaders against each other.
“It’s fantastic to play these three teams in the first three games of the year,” U.S. head coach Jill Ellis said. “As I’ve said many times, one of our main goals is to play the best teams in the world as often as possible and we have tremendous respect for France, Germany and England, which all feature world class players at multiple positions. To hold this tournament at home is great for our fans and TV partners, but especially for our players and our coaching staff as these are the kinds of games where we get tested and can really learn a lot about ourselves.”
The USA won last year’s inaugural SheBelieves Cup by defeating France, England, and Germany.
SBNation’s Mock MLS SuperDraft
This Friday will be the MLS SuperDraft, where all teams will be looking to strengthen and add depth to their first team squads. Our very own SB Nation sites took part in our annual mock draft, illustrating the possibilities their teams could take in the first and second rounds of the draft. However, not mentioned in this mock draft is Orlando City. We didn’t participate due to the club not having a pick in the first two rounds. Be sure to check out the link and see if you agree with the selections of every team.
Jesse Marsch Marches On
Jesse Marsch moves on from New York Red Bulls to coach in Europe as manager of Red Bull Salzburg. With this move the Red Bulls have named Chris Armas their new manager.
Armas takes over in what will be his first professional coaching job, having joined Marsch's coaching staff in 2015 after a stint as coach of the Adelphi University women's team. A highly regarded coaching prospect who sources tell Goal once turned down an opportunity to coach the Chicago Fire, Armas is the third Red Bulls coach in three years, with Marsch having replaced former New York boss Mike Petke in abrupt fashion following the 2014 MLS season.
Good luck to Jesse Marsch over in Europe as the reign of Armas in New York begins.
Ronaldinho Posts Letter to Himself
The Players Tribune is an amazing publication for athletes across the world to post important pieces on many different issues — including themselves. Ronaldinho recently did this in a piece called “Letter to My Younger Self.” Ronaldinho brilliantly takes you through important moments of his life while consistently reminding himself to “be free.” This article is a must read, you can check out a quick excerpt right here:
Childhood is going to be very different for you. By the time you’re 13, people will have started talking about you. They’ll talk about your skills and what you’re able to do with a ball. At this time, football is still just a game to you. But in 1994, when you are 14, the World Cup will show you that football is more than just a simple game.
Five Americans That Should Come Home
Paul Tenorio looked at the USMNT players from a different angle. Usually a jump to Europe is the best option to be had when trying to fast forward your career. Playing significant minutes overseas can prove to be beneficial to players as they move up the ladder for the USMNT. Tenorio breaks down the five players who could benefit most from a move to MLS and how it could fast track their careers for the better.
That’s all from me today. Enjoy the rest of your Thursday and be sure to follow tomorrow’s MLS SuperDraft starting at 3 pm ET. Rounds 3 and 4 of the SuperDraft will take place via conference call on Tuesday, Jan. 17 at a time to be determined. And don’t miss our coverage of the NWSL Draft this afternoon as the Pride look to add talent entering Year 2. The NWSL Draft will be streamed live on Facebook and YouTube at 3 p.m. ET.