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Lion Links: 2/24/17

Carlos Rivas on playing up front, new stadium naming rights update, OCB’s first friendly, MLS player competition, and more.

MLS: D.C. United at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning lads, lasses, goons, and silly billies. It’s Alex Mohr writing the Lion Links today for the first time ever. Many happenings have occurred over the past 24 hours, and it’s my duty to inform you about some lovely news regarding Orlando City, the USL, the USWNT, and MLS.

Carlos Rivas on Playing in a Striker Duo

Rivas mainly played on the left wing for the Lions the past two seasons, tallying just three goals and eight assists in 48 appearances. But with a new manager comes new tactics, and with new tactics comes a new formation. Head Coach Jason Kreis has been playing a 4-4-2 throughout the preseason, which is obviously different than the 4-2-3-1 that Rivas has played in previously.

The change means players have to adapt to a different attacking shape. For Rivas he will have to get used to playing in front of a No. 10 with another striker beside him for the upcoming 2017 season. The Colombian seems to welcome the slight change, scoring two goals and adding a few assists in four preseason games, and both he and Kreis had plenty to say regarding his new role up top with Larin.

Kids vs. Pros Game Preview by Kid Korrespondent

A lovely introduction as to what to expect for the upcoming game on March 2 as players from the Lions, Pride, and OCB take on 100 kids at Orlando City’s brand new stadium.

Orlando City Stadium Naming Deal Update

The wait for the highly-anticipated name for the new stadium continues. In January, the club announced that OCSC was close to a confirming a partnership deal regarding stadium name rights, but the agreement hasn’t been settled yet.

“The New Stadium,” as many call it, will continue to lack a formal name for an unknown amount of time.

“The timeline remains the same: whenever it’s right. These are long-term partnerships, minimum 10-15 years. Could be done tomorrow, could be done in a few weeks. This is not something we’re going to rush into.

“We continue to be in discussion with people and on the phone every day with brands looking at us...value is there for the right partner,” Parker said.

Maybe City executives are just stalling until the right company contacts them, or maybe there aren’t any companies actually interested. Maybe I should call and try to buy the name rights.

The stadium, though now unnamed, has been praised by many for its soccer-specific design and beauty. Bruce Miller, the architect in charge of designing the 25,500-seat stadium, describes details about our new home here.

OCB Draws in First Friendly of Preseason

The young Lions of Orlando City B took to the pitch for their first friendly of the 2017 USL preseason against the University of Central Florida. At the final whistle, the teams had played to a 0-0 draw, which isn’t a bad result when you consider that OCB Assistant Coach Rob Valentino played center back for a bit, to give some stability to trialists along the back line. The USL Lions used a different group in the second 45 minutes than the first, and it was a good result as far as Head Coach Anthony Pulis is concerned.

“It was a really worth little exercise for us,” Pulis told reporters after the game. “We’ve been back in training for 10 days, but it’s only so much work you can do on the training ground. I think they’ve been itching to get into a game situation for some days now. It was definitely a positive for us to get them out and get them together, and see what they’re like a real game situation.”

Checking in on an Old Friend

Congratulations to former goalkeeper and Orlando’s sweetheart Tally Hall for being awarded some rather special silverware. It’s not an MLS Cup trophy by any means but I’m sure it feels just as special. Jokes aside, thank you for your service and for protecting our streets.

USL President has Plans Beyond Division 2 Upgrade

The United Soccer League has officially jumped from U.S. Soccer Federation’s Division 3 label to a lovelier, advanced, gnarlier Division 2 ranking. This means that both the NASL and USL are now second-tier leagues.

But USL president Jake Edwards believes there’s more in store for the MLS-partnered league. The USL’s next step is launching USL Productions, a project that will allow the USL to broadcast 500 games itself.

USWNT Friendly Against Norway Officially Announced

On the women’s international stage, the USWNT is set to play Norway in an international friendly on June 11. The last time the U.S. women played Norway, they won 2-1, with both goals from Carli Lloyd.

The game may become extremely heated, as there is an intense history between the two teams. In 1991, the USA and Norway squared off in the Women’s World Cup in China, with the U.S. winning, 2-1. The U.S. also ended Norway’s hopes by defeating them 2-1 in the semifinal knockout round of the 1996 Women’s World Cup in Atlanta. Norway went on to beat the U.S. women in two significant World Cup matches, but I don’t want to go into those as losing is depressing and I don’t want to be depressed.

MLS Growth Creates Global Competition for Roster Spots

With MLS growing rapidly, more and more players are needed. Both newly-inducted clubs Atlanta United and Minnesota United will likely sport more foreign-born players in the starting lineups than Americans. This is a slight microcosm for Major League Soccer, as around 45% of MLS players are American.

The league improves as more non-domestic players are imported for play. Competition amongst American players will grow as new talent is brought in, but these challenges only improve the athletes. The competition for roster spots encourages both more talent in the league and an increased pressure for players to fight and claw for a spot in MLS.

MLS is proposing an order that would allow two more roster spots for clubs. The rule would bump up the roster from 28 to 30 athletes, but only if the two extra players are American. MLS executives want it to be known that the addition of foreign-born players must match the development of domestic competitors.

That’s all that I have for today, my friends. Try not to hit that comment section too hard. Spread positivity by trading memes and drinking water.