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Lion Links: 10/18/17

Orlando City B might be gone, world class U.S. U-17s, life without Kaká, drones, and more.

MLS: MLS All-Star-Homegrown Game Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the last week of the regular season with no hope, the USMNT is out, and a long NBA season of me listening to whether or not LeBron is leaving or not kicking off has me super enthused for this week. But that doesn't mean there aren’t plenty of topics to keep you all busy! Seriously. We’re starting today off on one hell of a rumor. Read on!

Orlando City B Gone? Are Others Following Suit?

A bombshell, late-night tweet, from Sports Illustrated’s Brian Straus just dropped out of nowhere, and it appears that OCB may be on the outs:

This is interesting if you consider the following:

  1. Orlando City offered free OCB tickets for 2018.
  2. No development academy players were offered contracts in 2017.

While we have no confirmations from the club, OCB isn’t the only club supposedly in danger:

There has been a lot of talk lately of the independent USL owners vs. the MLS/USL owners, and this could be a product of those conversations behind close doors. While again, we have nothing confirmed, this is worrisome — stay tuned for more news from the club.

Orlando City Focusing on the Future in Final Match

With nearly nothing to play for in its last week, Orlando City Head Coach Jason Kreis still believes there’s merit to the final match this weekend against Philadelphia, as Alicia DelGallo reports:

Kreis said he’s still looking for “reactions” from players in the final match. He wants to see whose got life and is still fighting when there’s nothing on the line.

Life without Kaká is on the horizon, and when you combine that with a team at the bottom of the table, you’re sure to see a lot of new faces next year. While Kreis can’t confirm anything, you can infer by this message that you probably want to watch this weekend if you want to see some of your favorite Lions:

“There’s still some evaluating to do, but if you’re asking me a direct question, I’m not going to lie and say that Ricky is going to be the only one that’s not back next year,” Kreis said, referring to Kaká by his first name. “That’s part and parcel of playing professional sports and being a part of a team that’s not successful.”

Hackworth Believes the U-17 USMNT Has World Class Qualities

Could we be upon a “Golden Generation” of U.S. Soccer? We can only hope that is the case as the U.S. U-17s just won 5-0 against Paraguay in the U-17 World Cup knockout round. This could very well be the best team since Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, and Kyle Beckerman’s fourth-place finish in the 1999 competition.

Coach John Hackworth talks very highly of his side as the Baby Nats look to move past the bar set by what so far has been the best U-17 generation to date:

"I think [the victory] validates the fact that this group of young men and that this particular pool of players we have in the U.S. right now is a special group. I think it also validates the fact that player development in the country is on the right path. This is a team that has quality, that is coachable, that has the grit when it comes to these kind of games. If you look at the goals that we scored tonight, it’s hard to argue that some of those weren’t world class."

Here’s hoping that Hackworth is right and the road to U.S. Soccer recovery is quick with a ground-breaking performance at the U-17 World Cup.

Compensation Pay to Come in U.S. Youth Soccer?

Lance Reich, attorney for the Crossfire Premier on the an ongoing landmark case for compensation pay in the USA, gives his updates to SoccerAmerica on the current state of training compensation and solidarity payments possibility into the U.S. youth scene.

The USMNT flaming out spectacularly has put the limelight on development and the revamping of the U.S. system. The introduction of FIFA-mandated training compensation and solidarity payments could be a great first step in helping development academies in both their reach and their ability to improve training situations.

As we keep a close eye on a new presidential race for the U.S. Soccer Federation, I’m wondering if this topic doesn't play an important role in the coming months.

Drones Are Cool. Especially When You Get to Hit One

Marta and Alex Morgan recently featured with COPA90 U.S. in trying to hit a drone with a soccer ball. Spoiler, it’s not easy.

NWSL Championship has a Dilemma on its Hands

Last Saturday, Orlando City Stadium hosted the 2017 NWSL Championship match as the Portland Thorns beat the reigning champion North Carolina Courage 1-0 in front of a crowd of 8,124. While Orlando continues to be a benchmark for soccer fandom with great to respectable crowds for multiple teams and U.S. National Team events, this attendance was both under the season average of the Thorns — nearly 18,000 — or the semifinal attendance in North Carolina the week before, which was just over 10,000.

This presents a problem for the NWSL moving forward as it continues to weigh media and logistics vs. attendance, with the added variable of giving home-field advantage in your league’s most important match.

FourFourTwo discusses the challenges involved and offers solutions to many potential outcomes. Notably, one idea — one I agree with — is the disbanding of playoffs. In a league of 10 teams, why is this even needed? It’s a constant American-vs.-European sports debate that they continue to push again.

Sights and Sounds from Kaká’s final match

He will be missed. You can have your opinions, but I’m very happy to have had the opportunity to watch him. If you didn't get a chance to be there last Sunday, then see Kaká in his final match for the Lions (and for those on Apple News):

Is Columbus Really Leaving? Don't Be So Sure

There has been a lot of chatter about the Columbus Crew and owner Anthony Precourt on the potential of relocation to Austin, TX. Our own Michael Citro, my Ohio native in arms, weighed in with his own thoughts, and much to my agreement. But as a fellow Ohioan, and one who cares deeply for his childhood team, and one of the MLS’s original franchises, I had to look into this more.

The key topic appears to be around public stadium funding — a topic, to this point, Columbus has shut down on all occasions. However, we have to wonder if the public nature of Precourt’s statement isn't a political play. If you look into Austin and where their government has positioned itself on multiple occasions, it would seem very odd for Precourt to look at Austin as a viable source.

The mayor has gone on record, once right before the return of the Aztex announcement, and another yesterday morning, saying that he and the city are not in favor of publicly funding a stadium.

If you add that together with the fact that Austin has failed before as a professional soccer city, that getting trademarks is just good business practice so you don't have to buy them later, and the news above, then it is safe to assume that there may be more smoke than fire in this instance. Either way, one side isn't giving the full story.

Free Kicks

And if you’re looking for a team to root for in the next World Cup, why not start by following a team in the UEFA qualifying playoffs?! The draw has happened and here are your options:

Personally, I’m pulling for Switzerland, Croatia, Rep. of Ireland, and Italy. Some of that is business, some of that is for friends. None will be my No. 1 team come next summer, as that distinction goes to my 50% Polish heritage. But if you don't have a strong heritage to fall back on, why not start now? At least you buy yourself some time to watch and find that supporting option.

So enjoy the last week of the regular season, my friends, and may the off-season be swift.