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Lion Links 2/18/17

Jason Kreis’ shot at redemption, Conor Donovan learning from Jonathan Spector, USWNT adds April friendlies, U-20 USMNT begins World Cup bid, and more.

Orlando City v Char
Get ready for the Home Opener in the New Stadium

I hope everyone is having a great morning. Welcome to a new chapter in Lion Links news. We’re one day closer to opening day, and there’s tons of news to share today. Hopefully everyone got a good look at Orlando City’s sweet new kits yesterday. They’ll be wearing them on the pitch in just 15 days.

Let’s get started:

Jason Kreis and his Opportunity for Redemption

After a rough time with New York City FC’s first ever MLS season, Kreis took a break and recharged his batteries. Now, having his first full preseason with OCSC, Jason has an opportunity to make a great statement like he did in Utah. Kreis, in an interview with, shared his insight on what he learned during his time at NYCFC, and how the leadership at Orlando City will play a key role during the third season in MLS.

“I really don’t. I don’t (have something to prove),” Kries said. “Am I hungry and do I want to win every single match I’m a part of … and coach one of the best teams in the league? I absolutely do. But I don’t think that way.

“For me, what happened in New York was an anomaly. I think that we were doing a job that was incomplete, so I don’t view that in particular as a big failure. I view it as a job that was left half done, because as I said from the very beginning, it takes time. So i just continue forward and don’t look at it that way.”

FourFourTwo Says Orlando City is a “Pretender” in 2017

Scott French over at FourFourTwo put together a prediction list for the 2017 MLS season and decided Orlando City is just a “pretender” for the upcoming campaign.

...the Lions need to find DPs who can contribute as Kaká does. Kreis just missed in his bid to steer OCSC into the playoffs in year two after taking over mid-season, and it's not going to be any easier this year.

French says the league’s contenders are Toronto FC, FC Dallas, Sporting Kansas City, New York Red Bulls, Montreal Impact, and Philadelphia Union. He put defending champion Seattle in the “who knows?” category.

Donovan Learning from Spector

Young Orlando City defender Conor Donovan is working hard to complete his comeback from a knee injury he sustained in his first MLS start. After an inconsistent year with OCB in 2016, Donovan is looking to work his way into the first team. It probably doesn’t hurt that he’s got former USMNT defender Jonathan Spector to mentor him.

“Obviously, Spector is a good guy to look up to. He’s had a really successful career and he’s gonna be successful here,” Donovan said. “The one thing I’ve really learned from him is that he’s so professional. He’s a very, very professional player off the field and on the field. He’s really well-spoken and he communicates really well.”

USWNT Adds Two Friendlies vs. Russia

The United States Women’s National Team will face Russia in a pair of April friendlies before the start of the 2017 NWSL season. Orlando Pride stars Ashlyn Harris, Ali Krieger, and Alex Morgan will take on the Russians twice in Texas, playing in Frisco on April 6 and Houston on April 9.

U.S. U-20s Begin CONCACAF Championship Chase

Today is the day our U-20 USMNT starts its journey in the CONCACAF Championship with two goals in mind: qualifying for the 2017 U-20 World Cup in South Korea and winning the CONCACAF Championship. The U.S. starts toward those goals today against Panama, then on Feb. 21 the team will face Haiti and finish the group stage Feb. 24 against Saint Kitts and Nevis. Here is a more in depth look at the tournament related to players to watch for from MLS, including Orlando City’s Tommy Redding.

A Guide to Picking a Liga MX Team

As most of you have heard by now, Liga MX will be streaming live in English on Univision’s Facebook Page. So you won’t feel lost during the games, this primer will give you the basic news to know about the teams, nicknames, and top players on each of them. Let us know in the comments section which team you will be following.

And this is all the news we have for today. Keep following our Twitter and Facebook page at @themaneland. The season is getting closer, and more news will be coming for our Orlando teams. Thanks again and have a great weekend.