The fallout from the Kevin Molino trade is just starting to settle over the landscape of the league two days later. Analysts and pundits are still trying to make sense of it and Orlando City is apparently looking to add another attacking player, no doubt utilizing some of that record amount of allocation money. Alicia DelGallo of the Orlando Sentinel says they’re in the market for a specific level of addition.
Seems Orlando City has decided to look. I'm hearing this is caliber of player club is after - relatively young, national team, on the rise https://t.co/OlC7OBPZs7— Alicia Rose DelGallo (@OSAliciaD) January 27, 2017
The mentioned player is Christian Cueva, a Peruvian midfielder currently with Sao Paulo. They have reportedly rejected any advances from Orlando, but it’s an interesting sign that they’re trying to reinvest that money and quickly. With only a few days left until most transfer windows around the world close. I wouldn’t mind seeing us wait until summer when clubs are more willing to sell. We have solid enough pieces to hold our own for the first half of the year. There are a lot of directions the club could go and rushing it would be a mistake. Nonetheless, I’ll be refreshing Twitter nonstop until March 4 hoping for a bombshell.
While you wait, likely doing something similar, here are some links for you to peruse.
Orlando City Adds GK Depth
As part of the blockbuster trade for Kevin Molino, Orlando sent away backup goalkeeper Patrick McLain. Boss Jason Kreis has been adamant about having experienced depth at every position and mentioned that the Lions were looking to replace McLain. The front office moved quickly, acquiring the services of MLS veteran Josh Saunders in exchange for the team’s natural fourth-round draft pick in 2019. Kreis worked with Saunders in 2013 and 2015 at Real Salt Lake and New York City FC, respectively.
It looks like a good deal on the surface for the Lions as Saunders has been a member of as many MLS Cup-winning teams as Patrick McLain has MLS appearances (3). He should be able to push Joe Bendik a little better than he was last year. The best part is that Earl Edwards, Jr. probably doesn’t have to spend another entire season on the bench and can get some meaningful game time with Orlando City B.
USL Announces Home Openers
It will be a miniature version of the I-4 Derby to start the United Soccer League season as OCB is slated to travel to St. Petersburg and open the year in Al Lang Stadium on March 25 against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. It will be weird to see Luke Boden wearing the green and gold hoops of the Rowdies for the first time. They’ll finally get to play a match in the new downtown digs on March 30 as the young Lions welcome former Lion James O’Connor and Louisville City FC. It’s unfortunate that they have to open the home schedule on a Thursday but I suppose that’s a drawback of having three teams sharing the same stadium. But I think the trade-off of centralizing the first and second teams is probably worth it. The rest of the schedule for OCB’s second season should drop soon.
Brek Shea is Feeling Good
Things haven’t gone according to plan for the former Stoke City winger since he returned stateside but that might be changing this year. Kreis has already done away with the left back idea and he’s back in an attacking role for 2017. There’s a common theme going around preseason training that everyone is feeling fitter after they were given workout regimens by Kreis to make sure they could focus on training. Shea is also overcoming a slight injury, but that shouldn’t be a concern entering the new year. Hopefully Brek can make his mark on the team in the coming campaign.
City Players Excited for New Stadium
There’s been a lot of talk about what Orlando City’s new downtown stadium will mean for the fans. The parking and tailgating changes, the safe standing section, and the march from Church Street just two blocks to the ground have all been talked about at length. But Jason Kreis has been adamant about how the new atmosphere will push the players, and as Simon Veness of MLSSoccer.com says, the players are just as excited as the fans.
“We shouldn’t lose any home game there,” said Cyle Larin. “The fans deserve it and I think it will create a great atmosphere when we play there.”
And even more important than the atmosphere could be the grass. The turf at Camping World Stadium has claimed several ligaments over the past two years so hopefully we can keep people healthy for the whole year.
“Playing on grass is totally different. It’s much better,” said Antonio Nocerino. “The speed and bounce of the ball; a player’s movement, directions, timing; everything is different. It is more natural and normal for us to play on grass again. Now we need to turn this stadium into the definition of a home advantage. We want to make teams coming in uncomfortable and make each home game feel like a cup final.”
It will be great to finally see it all put together on March 5.
Bruce Arena Selects Squad for First Friendly of 2017
The USMNT has cut some of the members of Camp Cupcake as the team prepares to face Serbia tomorrow. It’s a side almost entirely made up of MLS players including Dax McCarty and Graham Zusi of Winter Park and Longwood, respectively. Jozy Altidore is set to earn his 100th cap with the national side, a feat only achieved by 16 Americans so far.
Taylor Kemp, Keegan Rosenberry, Brian Rowe, Wil Trapp, and Chris Wondolowski were released back to their clubs and did not make the cut. It’s great to see guys that were left out in the cold under Jurgen Klinsmann back in the team like McCarty and Benny Feilhaber. Hopefully Arena’s new methodology will be enough to jump-start the team in the World Cup Qualifiers coming up in March.
Phoenix Joins Race for MLS Expansion
MLS likes the idea of filling holes in the map. So to fill the giant gap between Los Angeles and Dallas, as well as get involved in one of the largest media markets in the country, the league has invited Phoenix Rising FC to enter the expansion coversation. Fans of Orlando City during its USL days will remember the club as Arizona United SC, which at one point had City legends Rob Valentino, Dennis Chin, and Long Tan under contract at the same time.
The league has considered Phoenix for the last 13 years, ever since officials toured potential stadium sites. They join Detroit, Sacramento, San Diego, and Cincinnati, among others, who could potentially submit expansion bids for the next four teams allowed in. Having land for a stadium gives them a leg up over some outfits if the league wants to avoid another situation like Beckham’s Miami franchise. The deadline for submissions for places 25 and 26 is Tuesday.
Those are all of the Lion Links we have for you on this fine Saturday. Remember to check back in for our coverage of the national team’s friendlies in the coming days and enjoy the rest of your weekend.