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Lion Links: 12/19/17

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Lions announce signings, Orlando City’s opening day opponent, Larin/Higuita rumors, MLS Combine coming to Orlando, and more.

MLS: U.S. Open Cup-FC Cincinnati vs Miami FC Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Tuesday, folks. I’m not used to talking to you so early in the week but I traded up to help Ben, so you’re stuck with me this morning. I hope that’ll do.

Yesterday was chock full of news, but some of it must be #FakeNews since all I’ve been hearing for a week is how Orlando City isn’t doing anything. Of course, the Lions have been working on stuff for quite some time, but negotiations can drag and sometimes it takes time for proper approvals and paperwork to become final. There was never any need to panic and there are sure to be more additions in the coming days, weeks, and/or months. It’s a long off-season, folks. Pace yourselves! Save some angst for the season opener.

Orlando Signs Pinho, Trades for Allen, Re-Signs Powers

Yesterday was an exciting day, as City added a forward and a fullback and brought back a defensive midfielder. Stefano Pinho showed off his scoring boots with a hat trick against Orlando City in the U.S. Open Cup. That alone isn’t why the Lions signed him, though. He’s a two-time MVP and Golden Boot winner in the NASL and is in the prime of his career, with his 27th birthday coming up in just a few weeks. RJ Allen joins from New York City FC and will provide depth at fullback and perhaps a challenge for Donny Toia. Orlando parted with a third-round pick in the upcoming SuperDraft to get his rights. He’s a guy Jason Kreis knows well. Powers didn’t get to show much of what he could do last year but he’ll battle for a position throughout camp and at the very least he’s an experienced backup.

Orlando City’s Opening Day Revealed?

One of the league’s most credible writers is Steven Goff over at the Washington Post. So when his sources tell him stuff, it’s usually pretty reliable. In this story about D.C. United’s schedule for 2018, it seems he’s dropped Orlando City’s opening day info. If Goff’s sources are accurate, the Lions will host D.C. on Saturday, March 3 to open their 2018 MLS schedule. If true, it would be Orlando City’s fourth consecutive year of opening the season at home after facing New York City in 2015 and 2017, and Real Salt Lake in 2016.

Cyle Larin and Cristian Higuita On the Move?

Look, I have no idea how reliable these sources are, I’m just letting you know they’re out there. First, a rumor about Cyl Larin being set to go to Besiktas in Turkey. Not the way I’d want to triumphantly arrive in Europe, but whatevs.

Also, there was nothing showing on their website as of last night so all we have is this tweet form Caracol Radio saying that Cristian Higuita is headed to Colombian side Millonarios F.C.

We’re keeping an eye on these, and neither would be shocking, but we’re not ready to say goodbye just yet. Stay tuned.

MLS Combine Coming to Orlando City Stadium

It’s been known for some time, but Major League Soccer officially announced yesterday that the 2018 MLS Player Combine will take place at Orlando City Stadium from Jan. 11-17. It’ll be yet another showcase for the Lions’ home grounds in a long line of prestigious events.

An invited group of top college, youth and international players will arrive in Orlando beginning on Thursday, Jan. 11 for the Combine. Technical staffs from all 22 current MLS clubs and incoming expansion team LAFC will be in attendance for the showcase, which will feature physical testing and interviews and full-field matches on Saturday, Jan. 13, Monday, Jan. 15 and Wednesday, Jan. 17. All Combine matches will be played at Orlando City Stadium.

The league also announced that the SuperDraft will take place in Philadelphia on Jan. 19.

Laurent Blanc Turns Down USMNT Job He Wasn’t Offered

It kicked up a bit of a stir on Twitter when ESPN ran a story about ex-France boss Laurent Blanc turning down the USMNT head coaching position. In truth, he never really was offered the job. At any rate, Blanc offered up an explanation on why he wasn’t interested.

“I was asked, but for a national team, it’s a no,” Blanc said to Le Parisien, which pointed out that he was talking about the U.S. position. “It’s especially difficult if you’re not from that country. A national team must make the national fibres shake. So, I declined it.”

Toronto FC Signs U.S. U-17 International as Homegrown

As if the Reds weren’t stacked enough after winning the treble in 2017, Toronto FC signed U.S. U-17 youth international Ayo Akinola to a Homegrown Player contract. Akinola, who was born in Detroit but lives in Brampton, Ontario, went through the club’s academy and is thus eligible to become a Toronto Homegrown. He was part of the United States U-17 team, scoring a goal and adding an assist. He also scored four goals in the CONCACAF U-17 Championship in April

Free Kicks

That’s it for me today. I leave you with three years of Kaká in 30 seconds’ worth of photos, courtesy of Orlando City SC.