Good morning, Lion faithful. To be honest, I didn’t expect to be regaling you with your morning links again so soon, but here we are. Orlando City will be back on the pitch tomorrow against the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Sylvan Lake Park, but it’s closed to the public and the media only has access for the final 15 minutes, so...we’ll do what we can to bring you whatever newsworthy items come out of that. If a friendly happens, and no one’s there to see it, did it really ever take place at all?
It’s Friday, and the weekend beckons, so let’s bust these out quickly this morning.
Pride Defenders Catley, Kennedy Earn W-League Honors
While moonlighting in their native country, Orlando Pride defenders Steph Catley and Alanna Kennedy earned Team of the Season honors in the W-League. By all accounts, the Pride players who went to play in Australia have been killing it during the NWSL off-season and hopefully they’ll bring that quality back to the City Beautiful with them. Join me in a dramatic slow clap for the Pride’s finest while you check out these salutes:
Orlando City B Signs Young Cameroonian Duo
Orlando City B added left back Jules Youmeni and forward Albert Dikwa to the USL club, pending receipt of their P1 visas and USL and federation approval. OCB improves team depth heading into the new season, perhaps shaping the future stars of Orlando City. Both youngsters are in their teens and already have international experience with their youth national teams.
USMNT Falls Again in FIFA’s Rankings
The United States Men’s National Team has fallen and it can’t get up — in the FIFA rankings, at least. Despite not playing in a competitive match for a few months, the USMNT is down a spot in the latest world rankings, dropping to 29th overall. The recent African Cup of Nations was one of the reasons for the shake-up, raising Egypt ahead of the U.S., up to No. 23. Tournament champions Cameroon jumped up 29 spots to No. 33 on the world stage. Here’s the full FIFA table. The USMNT is just 32nd in the Elo Rankings. Personally, I don’t care where the team is ranked. I just want to see it win a meaningful trophy at some point. Maybe this 18-year-old midfielder can help?
Bayern Boss Backs U.S. World Cup Bid
Bayern Munich CEO and chairman of the European Club Association Karl-Heinz Rummenigge likes the idea of the United States hosting soccer’s biggest event in 2026. The head honcho of the Bundesliga’s top club got a good look at our country’s infrastructure when his team toured the U.S.
"It wouldn't be bad at all. The interest in football and the enthusiasm for it are in place in the U.S."
A competition stateside may be gladly received after the controversial upcoming World Cups in Russia (2018) and Qatar (2022), and Rummenigge was impressed by the facilities already in place when he toured the U.S. with Bayern in 2016.
"We had 42,000, 54,000, and more than 80,000 spectators in our third match," he noted.
Let’s hope those in charge align their thinking with Rummenigge (and that the bribe money from other parts of the world gets cut off before it ruins our chances again).
Andrew Wiebe of MLSSoccer.com put Orlando City’s home opener at the new stadium on his 2017 bucket list. I can’t argue with that. The Wall is going to be awesome...Real Salt Lake’s all-time leading goal scorer Alvaro Saborio is retiring...Looks like I didn’t make the cut at FourFourTwo...Those born on this date include Hollywood legend Jimmy Durante (1893), Lon “The Wolf Man” Chaney Jr. (1906), Robert Wagner (1930), Roberta Flack (1937), long-time Elton John drummer Nigel Olsson (1949), Mark Spitz (1950), Greg Norman (1955), John Calipari (1959), Lenny Dykstra (1963), Daryl “Moose” Johnston (1966), Laura Dern (1967), Breaking Bad show runner Vince Gilligan (1967), Elizabeth Banks (1974), and Colombian striker Radamel Falcao (1986).
That’ll do it for your Friday Lion Links. Enjoy the weekend.