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Lion Links: 12/28/17

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Two new Lions added, Larin to Turkey talk heats up, Sacha Kljestan rumored to Orlando, and more.

Fc Partizan v Fc Crvena Zvezda - Serbian Football Cup Final Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

Happy Thursday, everyone. We’re three days past Christmas now, but the gifts just keep on coming (more on that below). We’re almost out of Christmas leftovers at my house, which is how you know it’s almost New Year’s Eve.

One thing we know about 2018 is that Orlando City’s roster is going to look a bit different. How different is still up in the air, but the puzzle is coming together. One thing that won’t change is that we will continue bringing you your daily dose of soccer news, and with that said, let’s get to today’s.

Lions Add El-Munir, Villarreal

Orlando City added two players yesterday when the Lions signed a new international left back and made a trade for the rights to LA Galaxy Homegrown Player Jose Villarreal. I found at least five different spellings of El-Munir’s name online yesterday so I contacted Orlando City’s communications department and their spokesperson told me they took the name right off his passport, so this should be the right one, although several soccer sites list him as El Monir. What’s in a name, really? With the 25-year-old El-Munir requiring an international slot, I’m assuming the Lions are bringing him in to start at left back and with Donny Toia backing him up and Scott Sutter ahead of RJ Allen on the other side, this is shaping up to easily be the deepest the Lions have been at fullback in MLS.

As for Villarreal, he’s a player with a lot of potential upside at just 24 years old. He’s seen 68 regular season games already although he hasn’t been able to lock down a starting spot in LA due to a combination of injuries and veteran and DP-level players ahead of him. He’ll give the Lions an additional attacking player and that’s a club need, so I’m down for it, especially since it only cost Orlando a third-round SuperDraft pick in 2019.

By the way, with the additions of Villarreal and RJ Allen this off-season, we’re clearly going to have to start listening to Guilherme Torres more.

Larin Closer to Besiktas Move?

According to a report on goalbien.com, Besiktas’ transfer committee — dude, their club has an entire transfer committee — will visit the U.S. to finalize a deal to send Canadian international striker Cyle Larin to Turkey. Besiktas definitely needs a striker after this:

I, for one, will hate to see Cyle go, but I hope Orlando City gets a nice monetary haul for the Lions’ top goal scorer. Cyle will get a chance to experience UEFA Champions League, which is one of his dreams, and you should never stand in the way of a player’s dreams. If and when he goes, I’ll wish Larin well and look back fondly on his three years worth of goals in purple.

Sacha Kljestan to Orlando?

A faint rumor that Orlando City might also be interested in acquiring New York Red Bulls attacking midfielder Sacha Kljestan got much louder on Wednesday when MLS writer Jeff Rueter tweeted this:

I’m not sure what to think of this rumor, really. On the one hand, Kljestan is an accomplished veteran attacking midfielder with 16 goals and 51 assists over the last three seasons. On the other hand, he’s also perhaps the league’s worst offender when it comes to flopping to get calls. I still have a bad taste in my mouth from 2015, when he got Larin sent off for absolutely no reason (red card later rescinded). Also, he’s suspended the first two games of the year for his actions against Toronto FC in the playoffs. That’s not a deal breaker, but it will be interesting if this trade happens to see what the Lions are willing to give up.

The Numbers Game

In case you missed it yesterday, some Lions will be wearing new numbers in 2018. Dom Dwyer, Jose Aja, and Will Johnson will all be switching shirt numbers according to Orlando City’s roster page. Dom will return to the No. 14 he wore in Kansas City, while Aja will grab Dwyer’s old No. 18 and Will Johnson will take Aja’s No. 4. Musical numbers is a fun game.

Free Kicks
  • Congratulations to former Lion Darwin Ceren, who tied the knot.
  • Vitaly Mutko’s temporary stepping down as head of the World Cup organizing committee has become permanent.
  • FC Dallas accidentally leaked its transfer targets with a Twitter post.
  • Uruguayan Sebastian Abreu set a record with his 30th transfer and 26th professional team. Man, as much as I hate moving. I can’t imagine that.
  • Those born on this date include Canadian brewer John Molson (1763), 28th U.S. president Woodrow Wilson (1856), comic book icon Stan Lee (1922), original Star Trek actress Nichelle “Uhura” Nichols (1932) Dame Maggie Smith (1934), MLS co-founder Philip Anschutz (1939), Denzel Washington (1954), hockey legend Ray Bourque (1960), Seth Meyers (1973), and John Legend (1978).

That’s all my time for today. Enjoy your Thursday as we get revved up for another holiday weekend.