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Lion Links: 2/9/17

Lions having to earn their opportunities, Orlando City’s kit reveal set, Pride players get USWNT call, U.S. soccer’s most important people, and more.

MLS: Orlando City SC at Philadelphia Union Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Thursday, Mane Land visitors. We’re now 24 more wake-ups away from Orlando City’s 2017 season opener against New York City FC. We’re getting close and you can almost feel the adrenaline building, as if we’ve all begun a really long march to the match.

What are you looking forward to most? The pregame tailgating? The first goal? The announcement of the opening day lineup? Kickoff itself? Personally, I’m looking forward to spending the first game of the season in the new and improved Wall. That safe-standing section looks like it will be a lot of fun and generate a lot of noise and I want to experience that for the opening game instead of watching from the press box.

But before we get to that season opener, let’s just go about our daily business and it’ll be here before you know it. On to your daily fix of Lion Links:

Kreis Making Lions Earn Their Opportunities

Head Coach Jason Kreis has spent the preseason so far instilling an atmosphere of competition. The Lions will be a meritocracy under Kreis, where players must force their way onto the field and into opportunities with their play.

“I believe in competition,” Kreis said. “At the end of the day, I believe that competition is what brings the best out of all of us. I’m not talking about competing in the games, I’m talking about the competition amongst the players for their position within the team.”

“[A player] has to show me, first and foremost, that he wants it. That he wants it more than anything else in the world. He has to show up every single day and deliver that, and make me walk away thinking ‘Man, that guy wants it and that guy deserves it,” Kreis said. “I’ve always told the players that, sometimes you’ll hear players say ‘Why don’t you give me a chance? Why don’t you give me an opportunity?’ Well, I’m not giving you anything. You’re earning it. When you’ve earned it, you’ll get it.”

It’s exactly what you’d expect from Kreis. It’s good to hear about the team being all about competition. Even the players are talking about the competition and intensity in training.

Looks Like We’ve Got a Kit Reveal Day

Some of our staff members have gotten the barest of glimpses of the new hotness that will be Orlando City’s new home shirts in 2017. Unfortunately, I am not one of those lucky few and have had to salivate over the mere description of them. Our Twitter followers are fond of asking when the new shirts will be revealed and it looks like the club dropped that information on us yesterday.

Get your credit cards ready.

Three Pride Players Get USWNT Call

Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, defender Ali Krieger, and striker Alex Morgan were among the 25 players Jill Ellis called up to the USWNT’s camp ahead of the 2017 SheBelieves Cup. Unfortunately, Kristen Edmonds didn’t get the call this time around. Perhaps with another season like she had in 2016, Edmonds can do even more to turn Ellis’ head. Among the squad are four uncapped players: goalkeeper Jane Campbell and midfielders Sarah Killion, Rose Lavelle and Brianna Pinto. The U.S. will open the tournament against Germany on March 1 at 7 p.m.

Morgan’s Importance in U.S. Soccer Lauded

FourFourTwo is counting down the 31 most powerful people in soccer in the United States — presumably a weird role of percentile dice decided the total during a crazy night of FourFourTwo staff. Anyway, Pride captain (still?) Alex Morgan checked in at No. 29.

And for as good as she is on the field, Morgan yields even greater influence off the field, with endorsements now bringing her total income into the low seven figures -- unheard of in women’s soccer. Her current sponsors are Nike, Coca-Cola, Chobani, Apple/Beats by Dre, AT&T, P&G and SKLZ, and her children’s book series, The Kicks, is on its seventh book and was turned into a scripted show by Amazon. So rare is her marketability that the very premise of the Orlando Pride franchise was built on the team’s ability to acquire Morgan from the outset. How many other players have that much influence?

Orlando City target (still?) Chicharito is No. 24. As of this writing, the Top 10 still had yet to be revealed. I assume they haven’t gotten to me yet. I am probably around No. 4 or so. I’ve got some work to do to move up into the top three.

Free Kicks

Wondering how the new Uniteds from Atlanta and Minnesota will affect FIFA 17? has you covered...Speaking of Minnesota United, the Loons have signed Danish winger Bashkim Kadrii on a year-long loan from FC Copenhagen...Those born on this date include actor Joe Pesci (1943), Mia Farrow (1945), Judith Light — the “other” actress from Who’s the Boss — (1949), baseball’s Mookie Wilson (1956), Scottish footballer and manager Gordon Strachan (1957), John Kruk (1961), Travis Tritt (1963), Vladimir Guerrero (1975), It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Charlie Day (1976), and former Orlando Magic guard Jameer Nelson (1982).

That’s all the time I have today. Enjoy your Thursday and the upcoming weekend.