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Lion Links: 12/30/17

Where Kljestan fits Orlando’s scheme, youth showcases in Central Florida, blockbuster NWSL trade, and more.

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Orlando City SC
Will these guys be teammates soon?
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Well, we’ve nearly run out of 2017. It’s been a crazy year and, like most, was full of ups and downs, highs and lows, good and bad. The turn of the year is often a time of optimism and I hear a lot of people say things like, “well, it’s got to be better than this year was!” I think if you take a good, long look at the year that was, most years you can find plenty of good in them, but everyone’s different and has their own prism to see things through.

Anyway, it’s time to see today’s piping hot soccer news through the prism of these Lion Links, so let’s get right on it as we enjoy our final weekend of 2017.

Sacha Kljestan: How Would He Fit with Orlando City?

As we await word on whether the mustachioed assist machine from New York Red Bulls will be wearing purple next year — and please, don’t @ me with your scalding hot takes on how you don’t want him on your team, when he would clearly be an attacking midfield upgrade — Jeff Rueter put together a piece on how he might best fit into Jason Kreis’ scheme. You may recall that it was Rueter who broke the news that Orlando City was finalizing a deal to bring Kljestan to Central Florida. Yesterday there was this:

I personally take whatever this account says with a gargantuan grain of salt, but it occurs to me if the clubs were ‘finalizing’ a deal, then you’re talking details more minute than players at that stage. Pierre Da Silva is a talented young prospect who I’d like to see kept and developed into a starter here. However, he’s also a guy the Lions didn’t protect in the recent MLS Expansion Draft. We’ll find out how this plays out in due time and even if a Kljestan deal doesn’t go through, isn’t it good to know the club is showing ambition? So many people were complaining just over a week ago about how the Lions weren’t doing (or at least seeming to do) anything.

First Ever U.S. YNT Summit Coming to Florida

Tab Ramos has named 153 youth players to U.S. U-16, U-17, U-18, U-19 and U-20 teams for what the federation is calling the “first ever U.S. Soccer Men’s YNT Summit Camp.” The camp will be held Jan. 2-11 in nearby Lakewood Ranch, FL. The camp includes nine players native to the state of Florida including Orlando City U-19 midfielder A.J. Seals. Why are they doing this? Per the USSF:

With the 2018-2019 player cycle officially kicking off at the turn of the new year, Ramos and the coaching staff will look to continue fostering a program-wide effort to develop world class players, coaches at the summit, which represents a first its kind youth training camp that will focus on integration between players, coaches and staff from the five oldest Youth National Teams, while laying the first foundational elements for qualifying the U.S. for the 2019 FIFA U-20 and U-17 World Cups.

National Boys and Girls ECNL Events to Kick Off in Central Florida

Orlando City will co-host the inaugural boys ECNL Florida national event in Sanford, FL from tomorrow through Jan. 2. The girls ECNL Florida national event, entering its eighth consecutive year in the area, will be held from Jan. 6-8. Games will be held at Seminole Soccer Complex, Sylvan Lake Park, and Central Winds Park. While events like World Cup qualifiers, the College Cup, and SheBelieves Tournament grab all the headlines, it’s the large number of major youth events like this one that makes Orlando the soccer capital of the south, in my opinion.

Blockbuster NWSL Trade Involves Kelley O’Hara

New NWSL franchise the Utah Royals and Sky Blue FC completed a blockbuster trade yesterday that sends USWNT fullback/midfielder Kelley O’Hara, midfielder Taylor Lytle, and the 25th pick in the 2018 NWSL College Draft to Salt Lake City, in exchange for forward Shea Groom, defender Christina Gibbons and the fourth overall selection. This is an interesting trade that looks like it will help both teams. It will be interesting to see how Laura Harvey completes her Utah roster.

Free Kicks
  • Once rumored as an Orlando City target, it appears defender Jonatan Maidana may be headed to FC Dallas soon.
  • In case you’ve been busy, Charles Boehm gives an overview of the off-season signings so far.
  • ICYMI, Arsene Wenger equaled Sir Alex Ferguson's record of managing 810 Premier League games. That’s a lot of games (I’ll still take Fergie, though, despite the respect I have for Wenger’s accomplishments through the years.)
  • Those born on this date include Rudyard Kipling (1865), former Miss America pageant host Bert Parks (1914), Bo Diddley (1928), Sandy Koufax (1935), Michael Nesmith (1942) and Davy Jones (1945) of The Monkees, singer/poet Patti Smith (1946), ELO’s Jeff Lynne (1947), Tiger Woods (1975), Eliza Dushku (1980), Smallville’s Kristin Kreuk (1982), LeBron James (1984), and Carson Wentz (1992).

That’s all the time I’ve got for you today. Be sure to stick around this weekend to check out our top two moments of 2017 for Orlando City SC. In the spirit of these year-ending top 10 list thingies, here are my picks for best television shows of 2017:

10. Mindhunter
9. Better Call Saul
8. American Vandal
7. The Punisher
6. The Deuce
5. Legion
4. Game of Thrones
3. Stranger Things 2
2. Mr. Robot
1. The Leftovers

Honorable mentions: Fargo, Atlanta, The Expanse, American Gods, Lucifer, Friends from College, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Halt and Catch Fire.