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Lion Links: 1/7/17

Orlando City signings, Boden to Tampa is official, Bradley has options, NWSL champs on the move and more.

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Whew! It’s finally Saturday, which means we’ve gotten through the first work week of 2017. So far, so good, right? As a programming note, I’m filling in for the vacationing Logan Oliver today and just as he returns, Adam Dupere goes on his vacation so I’ll be back tomorrow. Sorry, you’re stuck with me this weekend.

Right up front I want to wish Orlando City midfielder Richie Laryea a very happy 22nd birthday. Richie spent all of 2016 with Orlando City B, but he’s still a young dude and he could develop nicely under Anthony Pulis into a future MLS regular. The No. 7 pick overall in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft, Richie is still searching for his first professional goal, but he did notch two assists in 23 matches with OCB last year. Hopefully, he can step up his game in 2017.

Let’s dive head-first into today’s Lion Links.

Three Newest Lions are Old Lions

Orlando City announced the club re-signed Servando Carrasco yesterday, to a two-year deal. That was expected. What wasn’t quite as expected by Lion Nation is that City also re-signed defenders Seb Hines and Kevin Alston. Hines rejoins on a three-year deal and Alston got one more year in the City Beautiful.

Jason Kreis knew exactly what he had in those players and decided they were all worth bringing back. Presumably Alston and Hines are coming back for less money based on the fact their options weren’t picked up by the club back in November. When those guys are your starters and there’s little depth behind them, it’s probably not a good thing. When those guys are part of a deeper squad…well, that could be a good thing. A lot of people expressed surprise with the length of Hines’ deal due to his recurring knee issue and…well, let’s call it a whole lot of blame for the team’s defensive struggles. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be here three years.

Boden to Tampa Bay is Official

So long, Luke. We told you in yesterday’s Lion Links about Bodz ending up on the wrong end of I-4, but it became official on Friday. Boden was a class player and person for Orlando City since 2011 and he helped build the success that the Lions enjoyed over their time in the USL and grew up with the club as it advanced to the top flight. But after two seasons in MLS, the club declined Boden’s option and now he stays in the state while returning to the USL. It’s going to be weird having him line up on the other side for the I-4 Derby, but such is soccer. Our Scott Carnevale will look back at Boden’s time in Orlando later this morning.

We may not like Tampa Bay but at least Bodz is going to a team with ambition. The Rowdies have hired a couple of the guys who helped Orlando City get into MLS and they’ve got a plan for their stadium.

Bob Bradley Back?

Although no human seems capable of turning Swansea City around, former USMNT boss Bob Bradley didn’t get much of a chance to do much while he was with the EPL club. But now it seems that Bradley has some intriguing options. This story from’s Sam Stejskal chronicled that not only does the former U.S. manager have an offer on the table from the Norwegian national team, but incoming MLS club LAFC may also be rekindling its interest in hiring Bradley as the club’s first skipper.

NWSL Champions Moving to North Carolina

The Western New York Flash won the NWSL title in 2016 but the team will defend it elsewhere. According to FourFourTwo, league sources are saying the club is moving to North Carolina prior to the 2017 season. WNYF, which formerly played in Rochester, NY, will be on the move. North Carolina FC (formerly the Carolina Railhawks) owner Stephen Malik raised eyebrows a month ago when he boldly declared he intended to bring an NWSL franchise to North Carolina within six months. Now it appears that has happened. The news led to the saddest soccer tweet ever.

USL Gets Division II Status

It was a long wait, but the U.S. Soccer Federation has finally ruled on sanctioning. The USSF has elevated the USL to Division II status but, for now anyway, the NASL is also Division II. So when Orlando City B kicks off this season, it will be in the country’s second division rather than the third.

"After an exhaustive process working with both leagues, in the best interest of the sport the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors has decided to grant provisional Division II status to the NASL and USL," said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. "U.S. Soccer will create an internal working group that will work with each league to set a pathway to meet the full requirements for Division II and allow for the larger goal of creating a sustainable future. We look forward to another productive year for professional soccer in this country."

It’s the perfect solution, really, because nobody is 100% happy.

Free Kicks

Las Vegas is making another push to join MLSReal Salt Lake signed Slovak international Albert Rusnak to a DP deal…D.C. United product Ian Harkes of Wake Forest is your MAC Hermann Trophy winner and DCU is trying to negotiate a Homegrown Player deal with the son of former USMNT star John Harkes…Today’s birthdays include U.S. president No. 13, Millard Fillmore (1800), Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner (1946), singer Kenny Loggins (1948), NYPD Blue and CSI: Miami star David Caruso (1956), Katie Couric (1957), Go-Go’s bassist Kathy Valentine (1959), Nicolas Cage (1964), Avenger Jeremy Renner (1971), Cleveland Indians slugger Edwin Encarnación (1983), and Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard (1991).

Later today, we’ll drop our January episode of the Mane Land PawedCast on you and our special guest is none other than Orlando City Head Coach Jason Kreis. You’ll definitely want to check out what he had to say about the team, the off-season, new acquisitions Will Johnson and PC, and lots more. We spoke to him Thursday night, so we didn’t get any insight on yesterday’s signings but I’m sure we’ll hear from him soon enough on that subject. Enjoy your weekend!

Oh, and don’t forget that you can get discounted tickets for select Florida Cup matches just by entering the code TML1. Here’s how.