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Lion Links: 3/10/17

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OCSC replies to NYCFC fans, Marta signing a possibility, Orlando City history lesson, and more!

Soccer: U.S. Men's National International Friendly-Serbia at USA Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday to all and to all a happy Friday. I quote Niccolò Machiavelli: “It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.” It seems The Office’s Michael Scott was the ultimate Machiavellian because he once said, “Would I rather be feared or loved? Easy. Both. I want people to fear how much they love me.” I’m not sure what that had to do with soccer but I think it’s interesting. Today I bring you, alongside philosophical thoughts from Michael Scott, today’s Lion Links.

NYCFC Fans Claim They Fell Victim to Harm, OCSC Responds

Amid reports asserting harassment and lack of safety at last weekend’s game, Orlando City has officially made a statement regarding the “unacceptable level of abuse and harm in around the stadium” NYCFC fans claimed to be victim to.

Fans of New York City FC have written and published an open letter where they declare lack of protection and security protocols that eventually led to “abuse” before, during, and after Sunday’s match. One notable exclamation from The Third Rail, NYCFC’s support group, includes detailed harassment occurring during the fans’ walk away from the stadium.

OCSC disputes these claims, affirming that the NYCFC fans were not in danger and that they would not fall victim to any type of harm. An escort of police officers helped walk the NYCFC fans to and from the stadium and multiple officers were on guard protecting the fans in their seat section. The Orlando City affidavit also made note that there were not any complaints from New York fans whilst they occupied the stadium.

Marta May Sign for Orlando Pride

The five-time World FIFA Player of Year is expected to join the Pride within the next few days or weeks, which is anticipated to be the biggest signing in NSWL history. Marta, a forward, currently plays for Swedish side FC Rosengård and the Brazil women’s national team. She is considered to be one of the best women’s soccer players in the world, and you can see her stats and accomplishments here.

Though the club has not yet made an official statement, the deal is not unlikely. Orlando City owner Phil Rawlins called up Brazilian billionaire Flávio Augusto da Silva to help with club investments a few years ago — one of these investments being an MLS bid. Flávio brought money and Kaká with him when he became one of the primary owners, and it seems such Brazilian relationships have possibly helped Marta become a Pride player. Marta has numerous connections with the Pride already, having previously played alongside the likes of Alex Morgan, Ashlyn Harris, and Ali Krieger.

The Conception of Orlando City Soccer Club

From Phil Rawlins’ time in Texas to his beautiful work in Orlando, passion pushed Rawlins to create something remarkable. Jason Davis wrote a great feature article about the growth of Orlando City as a club and the man who started it, Phil Rawlins. The story talks about Rawlins’ project and the work he put into it. This story compels readers and opens their minds to the founding of OCSC.

Bruce Arena to Announce USMNT Squad Soon

USMNT head coach Bruce Arena said he’s prepared to complete the team sheet and announce the squad for upcoming World Cup Qualifying matches against Panama and Honduras. Arena dropped a few names for the team yesterday, but the official squad is to be expected before March 15, with Arena stating that he should be ready to finalize the team roster by then.

Notable players who may or may not make the squad are goalkeeper Tim Howard and forward Clint Dempsey. The former is recovering from a groin injury, and Arena commented that he might only call up the 37-year-old if he’s able to make an appearance against the New York Red Bulls tomorrow. Dempsey is in a similar boat, but his call-up is more unlikely. The forward has just recently recovered from a heart condition, making an appearance and scoring a goal in the Seattle Sounders’ 2-1 loss at Houston last week.

The U.S. plays Honduras on March 24 and Panama on March 28. The American lads currently sit at the bottom of the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying group, but only two matches have gone by, so there’s still time for the Americans to clinch a spot for Russia in 2018.

FIFA President Comments on Trump’s Travel Ban

Gianni Infantino stated that President Trump’s ban would impact the possibility of the U.S. hosting the 2026 World Cup. The ban restricts travel from six countries — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Infantino commented on the executive order, stating that access to a country is necessary to host a worldwide soccer tournament.

"It's obvious when it comes to FIFA competitions as well, any team, including the supporters and officials of that team, who qualify for a World Cup need to have access to the country, otherwise there is no World Cup," Infantino said.

This could be devastating blow to investors looking to hold the World Cup in America. The U.S. currently has competition from Canada and Mexico for the honor of hosting such event, but the U.S. is also exploring an option for a joint bid to have all three countries host the World Cup.

MLS players also commented on the ban, and you can read their statement — a previous Lion Link — here.

That’s all for today, comrades. I hope you all have a dope Friday. Many MLS games are on tomorrow, including the match between Orlando City and the New England Revolution, which starts at 2 p.m. ET. We wish safe travels to our Lions as they make their way to Boston.