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Lion Links: 1/16/17

Niki Budalic on what led him to the Lions, Brek Shea’s USMNT status, U-20 MNT roster, Zusi’s new role and more

Courtesy of Orlando City SC

It’s Monday and, more importantly, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. MLK once said “We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” That quote still rings true.

While I hope everyone has a most wonderful day, the soccer world still requires your attention and with that said, lets get into some links.

Niki Budalic's Passion for Soccer Led Him to be a Lion

Orlando City general manager Niki Budalic recently did an interview with the Orlando Sentinel in which he discussed the reasons as to how he got into the game from a business perspective.

Prior to joining Orlando City, he was the director of soccer operations for Premier Development League team Kitchener-Waterloo United FC, which won the PDL title in 2015.

“I was coming off of a high from the summer and it was a great experience to prepare for a role like [general manager] because it was essentially the same thing, just at a lower level,” Budalic said. “I really learned about roster building and strategy, and it came naturally to me.”

Budalic discussed how he initially got into the game after working for a brokerage firm in his first job after playing soccer professionally in Canada. It wasn't long before he decided that soccer was his only real passionate option and decided to get into the game, however he could.

Brek Shea Still in USMNT Discussions

Brek Shea is a quality player but has been put in a position of unfamiliarity as of late. If Bruce Arena is truly interested in the Lions player then he needs to play at the left midfield position as opposed to the left back position. Thankfully, this might be the case moving forward. While Shea misses out on the January camp, we can only hope he gets an eventual call up.

U-20 MNT Camp Named

Tab Ramos recently named his 24-man roster for the USMNT camp taking place this week. The camp will be held at the U.S. Soccer National Training Center in Carson, California.

“We are very excited to be getting closer to competing for a U-20 World Cup spot,” Ramos said. “We are now working with players within our core group of 35, and I am confident that with the hard work during this camp we will be closer to achieving our goals.”

Tommy Redding will represent Orlando City as a defender in this upcoming January camp.

Boden’s First Rowdies Appearance

Former Orlando City defender Luke Boden recently saw 45 minutes of action for the Tampa Bay Rowdies against Atletico Mineiro in the Florida Cup. The 28-year-old came into the game at the half and found a way to contribute by way of a cross that led to a goal-scoring opportunity.

“Obviously it’s good to blow some dust off,” Boden said. “We’ve got a long way to go until the first game of the season, a lot of training and a lot of hard work, but I think it was good. We can take some positives out of the game and push on to the beginning of the season.”

Boden will look to get back to the form that earned him the 2014 USL All-League selection.

Graham Zusi in New Role for USMNT

Graham Zusi is being asked to test life out as a fullback in play for the USMNT. This January camp will be Zusi’s first look into his new role under the guidance of manager Bruce Arena.

“I think it’s going pretty well,” Zusi said with a smile. “Every day is a learning experience with me. It’s a little bit different, but the good thing about the transition for me is that with Sporting, we’re so required to play defense even as wingers and attackers, it’s made that transition a little easier for me.”

A switch like this has proved to be good for some and bad for others, so only time will tell if this will be a good move. Someone like DeMarcus Beasley has extended his career with the USMNT by playing in the back and Zusi will be looking to do the same.

Thank you for your time today and have a wonderful Martin Luther King Jr. Day.