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Lion Links: 1/4/17

Larin involved in Florida Cup tribute, Molino asks out of international duty, former Orlando City execs hired by Rowdies, and more.

Mickey at Florida Cup Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

Happy Wednesday, Mane Landers. The first week of January is always rough. We’re all still in holiday mode and just getting back into a normal work routine can be difficult. But if we stick together and remember that opening day against New York City FC is only 60 days away, we might just be OK.

If you can’t wait that long, remember that MLS will be dropping the full season schedule soon, plus next week we’ll have both the NWSL and MLS drafts. TML senior columnist Austin David has his credentials and will be covering both drafts for us this year, so we’re pretty amped about that.

In the meantime, we can waste a few minutes with some Lion Links to start your day.

Larin Part of Florida Cup Tribute to Chapecoense

Orlando City striker Cyle Larin will take part in a 20-minute Florida Cup All-Star exhibition on Jan. 15 as the international tournament honors the victims of the Chapecoense tragedy. Former Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath will manage one of the teams and Kaká appeared in a video thanking the Florida Cup for honoring the 71 victims. The exhibition will take place between the double header at UCF’s Bright House Networks Stadium with River Plate vs. Millonarios FC followed by Bahia vs. Estudiantes and $10 from each ticket will go to families of those affected. See? There’s another reason you should go see Florida Cup matches.

Molino Asks Out of International Duty

Lions midfielder Kevin Molino has had a rocky year with his national team, getting suspended twice for violating team rules. But after Trinidad & Tobago changed managers, things seemed to have turned around for the Orlando City goal scorer. Molino was among those at the first training sessions under Tom Saintfiet, who is trying to get his team qualified for this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup. But apparently Molino isn’t ready to return to T&T just yet.

Saintfiet also said that Molino, who, along with Jones, was punished in September after breaking camp ahead of a World Cup qualifier, asked not to be named to the roster for this month’s qualifiers.

“[Molino] said he was not available for his country at that point in time,” Saintfiet said. “He told me he didn’t feel motivated or ready for that. And later, I [heard] he played games at lower league or social level.”

Whether Molino did or didn’t play in “social” or “lower league” games, we don’t know, but without Molino and Seattle’s Joevin Jones, who Saintfiet says didn’t show up as scheduled, T&T will have a tougher time with qualification.

Former Orlando City Executives Joining Rowdies

You never want to see one of your own go work for the enemy but former Orlando City chief operating officer Brett Lashbrook and former OCSC chief financial officer Forrest Eber are heading to the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Lashbrook, as first reported by The Mane Land, resigned as Orlando City’s COO back in April of 2015 after helping build the club’s ticket base to 14,000 with a wait list. He was instrumental in helping the Lions sell more than 62,000 tickets for the club’s inaugural MLS game and presided over the franchise’s ticket sales, corporate sales, marketing, communications and operations departments. Lashbrook was hired by Orlando City in June of 2013 to help spearhead the campaign to bring MLS to Orlando and he also helped with securing a soccer specific stadium. Eber served as Orlando’s CFO from 2013 until 2016. He was involved in organizing the financial aspect of Orlando’s MLS bid and worked with the team’s youth programs in the area.

Crystal Dunn Leaves NWSL for England’s Chelsea

In a blow to the NWSL, USWNT rising star Crystal Dunn has left the Washington Spirit and signed with Chelsea in England. Unlike Alex Morgan, who went to play with Olympique Lyonnais in France, Dunn – a teammate of Orlando Pride defender Ali Krieger in Washington – is not planning to return to the NWSL for the 2017 season. It’s never good for a league to lose a star player, but it remains to be seen how much this will affect the NWSL. Certainly it’s a blow to the Spirit.

Free Kicks

USMNT goalkeeper Ethan Horvath has transferred from Norway’s Molde FK to Belgian champion Club Brugge for the next four and a half years…The Columbus Crew added a second Designated Player in the person of Ghanaian international defender Jonathan Mensah…Former Orlando Pride midfielder Lianne Sanderson is on the short list for DIVA Magazine Sports Personality of the Year…It appears NWSL expansion could find its way to Vancouver soon…Today’s birthdays include Sir Isaac Newton (1643), The Dukes of Hazzard actor Sorrell “Boss Hogg” Booke (1930), legendary NFL coach Don Shula (1930), actor Matt “Max Headroom” Frewer (1958), R.E.M. front man Michael Stipe (1960), Dave Foley from NewsRadio and The Kids in the Hall (1963), racer Graham Rahal (1989), and Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos (1990)...Among those who passed away on this date in history are a pair of standout musicians: Thin Lizzy guitarist Phil Lynott (1986) and singer-songwriter and former Stealers Wheel vocalist/guitarist Gerry Rafferty (2011).

That’s it from me today. Enjoy your Hump Day.