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Lion Links: 1/25/17

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Orlando City gets its defender, Pride make a coaching addition, Kaylyn Kyle could be leaving Orlando, Lions’ academy ranked highly and much more.

Birmingham City v Leicester City - npower Championship Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

Hello, Mane Landers. There are now just 39 days until Orlando City’s 2017 MLS season opener against New York City FC at the brand spankin’ new as-yet-unnamed downtown stadium. The lads in purple are on the pitch daily working hard for Jason Kreis in preparation for the campaign to come. I, for one, cannot wait.

Despite the lack of games for Orlando City and the Orlando Pride, there is plenty going on. Let’s just dive headfirst into today’s Lion Links.

Lions Get Their Defender

Well, now we know the rumors were true. Orlando City signed former USMNT defender Jonathan Spector yesterday, giving the club an experienced veteran anchor for the back line. Spector can help a number of positions, but if he can partner with one of the Lions’ incumbent center backs to nail the middle shut, Orlando City’s playoff prospects will improve dramatically. It would be nice for Joe Bendik not to have to make nearly so many spectacular saves in 2017.

Speaking of rumors about defenders, this one popped up suggesting Orlando City may have had other thoughts about the defense that didn’t quite come to pass.

Pride Switch Goalkeeping Coaches

Tom Sermanni added former Washington Spirit goalkeeper coach Lloyd Yaxley to his staff yesterday, replacing Marcos Machado. Machado, you may recall, was the goalkeeper coach for Orlando City in 2015 before moving over to the Pride last year. There’s no proof he’s going to work for OCB next, but hey, he might as well complete the full set. Machado did a solid job in his time with the Pride, but it certainly won’t hurt to bring in someone with whom Ashlyn Harris is familiar.

Kaylyn Kyle Out?

Staying with the Pride for a moment, it certainly appears that Canadian international midfielder Kaylyn Kyle is on her way out of the City Beautiful. She has been tweeting about big changes coming and the inclusion of a soccer ball makes it seem like those changes involve her career.

Also there’s this, from a respected journalist who covers women’s soccer:

Kyle had a bit of an inconsistent season in 2016 with the Pride, but she was also asked to take on several different roles over the course of the season, including center back. Still, Sermanni seems to be overhauling a roster that just wasn’t good enough after a surprisingly successful start. Let’s see how this plays out and whether we’ve seen the last of Kyle in an Orlando uniform.

Orlando City Academy Stacks Up Well in MLS

Will Parchman over at Top Drawer Soccer ranked the pro academies of all the MLS clubs. Despite not having been around for nearly as long as some, Orlando City’s did well, grading out at No. 9 on his list. His objective:

This list more or less serves as a heat check, a plunging thermometer into each MLS team’s academy system to gauge the vitality of its lifeblood. It should be taken as an objective measure of each academy’s collective coaching acumen, the technical level of its players and its connection to the first team.

Minnesota United is the only club not represented on the list because, as Parchman put it, the team “has yet to fire up its academy.”

Parchman names Pierre Da Silva as the Orlando City pro academy’s best prospect and forward Joe Gallardo as its best current player, and said some nice things overall about the academy:

Orlando City’s academy is loaded with talent, and the captures of U.S. U19 teammates Pierre da Silva and Joe Gallardo, the latter of whom played in the 2015 U17 World Cup, were the stories of 2016. Homegrown talents like Mason Stajduhar prove the club is actively scouring its academy for talent, and recently added academy head David Longwell (formerly of St. Mirren) has said all the right things. We’ll have to wait for an Orlando City academy kid to crack the first team before moving the club further, but Orlando City gets high marks.

Evidently Parchman is quite high on Da Silva, because over at MLSSoccer.com he also wrote that Pierre is one of five up-and-coming players who deserve playing time in 2017.

Free Kicks

Orlando City Life-President Phil Rawlins was featured in the Orlando Business Journal, discussing the club’s use of technology. The takeaway is a new app should launch “in the next few weeks” and folks in VIP seats will be able to order concessions from their seats...Former Orlando Homegrown defender Tyler Turner is on trial with New England Revolution...Freddy Adu never seems to go away. He is apparently getting a try-out with the Portland Timbers...Seattle Sounders and USMNT star Clint Dempsey has been cleared to practice. If Deuce continues to progress, he might be able to play in the March World Cup qualifiers...Those born on this date include writer Virginia Woolf (1882), legendary sportscaster Ernie Harwell (1918), kicker Lou “The Toe” Groza (1924), Disney film star Dean Jones (1931), blues/jazz/R&B/gospel star Etta James (1938), NASCAR’s Buddy Baker (1941), horror film director Tobe Hooper (1943), hockey’s Chris Chelios (1962), Spain and Barcelona soccer legend Xavi (1980), Alicia Keys (1981), Bayer Leverkusen forward Stefan Kiessling (1984), and Brazilian forward Robinho (1984).


That’s all the time I have, folks. Stay tuned for more Orlando City news. We expect the club’s full preseason schedule to be released any day now...maybe today!