Hello to all. Fans across MLS and especially those supporters of our beloved Orlando City Soccer Club should be enthralled that the season is only a few hours away. Tomorrow night marks the kickoff of the 2017 season as Minnesota United travels to Portland for an exciting opener at 9:30 ET. Orlando’s first match is Sunday and that will be something to look forward to all weekend long, but for now we have Lion Links. The Links are exciting today as we have a lot of news to share with you, so sit back, kick your feet up, and enjoy.
But before we jump into the Links The Mane Land would like to wish Orlando City goalkeeper Josh Saunders a very happy birthday.
Cyle Larin a Quiet Star
Yahoo! Sports soccer writer Leander Schaerlaeckens profiled Lions striker Cyle Larin, but an interesting thing happened during the interview. Schaerlaeckens noticed that, unlike many strikers, Larin was uncomfortable talking about himself.
At length, I crack up. “I have the impression you don’t enjoy talking about yourself very much,” I say.
He laughs at this. “I try not to,” he says.
“Why is that?”
“I guess I grew up in a humble house,” Larin offers. “I don’t know. My mom taught me not to, I guess.”
Check out the link above to get a unique look at a different kind of sports star.
New Home Expected to Help Bring Success
After two seasons of not making the playoffs, Orlando City is looking to make a push past the regular season in 2017. The desire to make the postseason is even greater now that the Lions have a home of their own.
The stadium should make an immediate impact this season, giving some of Orlando City’s more skillful players a natural surface on which to work. It will also ease the burden on the team’s current players, who now decrease their turf workload by 17 games. Trust that the grass surface will lessen the postgame training-room traffic.
The idea is that the new stadium will invigorate the fans and players with new hope. The team is looking better than ever, the fans are more ready than ever, and now is the time to shine in the Florida sun.
Orlando City Should be Better in 2017
SB Nation’s 2017 MLS Season Preview dropped yesterday, including predictions for the season and individual forecasts for every team. With new defenders presenting better stability across the back line, 2017 should be the year of vast improvement. The Orlando City preview points out that Jason Kreis’ emphasis on a stronger defense was apparent with recent signings.
The offseason concentration was on defense — the team’s Achilles heel through the first two years. Jonathan Spector, Donny Toia, and “PC” Victor Pagliari Giro bolster the defense, while the team may have taken a step backward offensively with the loss of Kevin Molino.
The ability to attack is prominent with the likes of Kaká and Cyle Larin leading the way, but if defense can stack up to the output of the Lions’ offense then fans will be treated to an improved season.
Orlando City Honors Parramore
With the new stadium sitting in downtown Orlando, the franchise has opted to honor the neighborhood it sits within — Parramore.
To honor Parramore, Orlando City unveiled a six panel historical display that illustrates the rich history of the people living in the community. The display will be a permanent addition to the stadium, on display outside the east gates. Kay Rawlins explained its importance to the stadium.
Six panels are to be located on the east side of the stadium to honor some of the more memorable and influential people and buildings in the community of Parramore.
USWNT Bests Germany in 1-0 SheBelieves Cup Win
The U.S. Women’s National Team hosted the German internationals in Philadelphia, where the Americans won 1-0 from a Lynn Williams clean-up shot. The rebound goal came in the 56th minute after a Christen Press shot ricocheted off of the crossbar.
GOAL! Press perservance and Lynn Williams with the clean up! 1-0 #USWNT #PlayLikeABadass pic.twitter.com/vVPcuUQDT4— The American Outlaws (@AmericanOutlaws) March 2, 2017
The win furthers advances the USWNT’s recent domination of Germany, with the latter failing to win a game against the U.S. women in 14 consecutive matches over a period of 13 years. Orlando Pride striker Alex Morgan came on in the 79th minute, but neither Ashlyn Harris nor Ali Krieger made an appearance. The USWNT continues to fight in the SheBelieves Cup, with an upcoming match against England scheduled for Saturday.
Speaking of the Pride’s USWNT players, this story on Philly.com quotes Jill Ellis on Harris and Morgan. Krieger and Morgan are also interviewed.
MLS Kits Ranked by FOX Sports
The purple of Orlando City stood out most to the critics over at Fox Sports. Orlando City proudly ranks number four among the league’s best uniforms.
With royal purple, the Lions are blessed with one of richest colors in all of MLS. They haven't gotten too adventurous with the primary kit, but they've implemented a lot more gold this year. Last season's secondary kit, which is fine, sticks around.
Best feature: The purple, duh!
MLS Preseason Power Rankings
Out of 22 teams in Major League Soccer, Orlando City ranks in at spot number 15 in the overall preseason rankings presented by Sports Illustrated.
Kreis built a reputation as one of the best coaches in the United States with Real Salt Lake, but at NYCFC he struggled to get an expansion team full of talent off and running. His hire at Orlando halfway through last season was sold as a fresh start in a place where he’d have more control, but he couldn’t really get them playing better than his predecessor Adrian Heath could. This being Kreis’s first full season in charge, anything less than a playoff berth will be considered a failure. It’ll be a real shame if Kaka ends his MLS career with no postseason games played.
With the foundation that OCSC has built plus new signings and Kreis finding his way with the team, fans should see this ranking move up throughout the course of the season.
2017 U.S. Open Cup Format Announced
The United States Soccer Foundation revealed the format for the 99-team Open Cup tournament. With 99 teams in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, it will mark the largest number of squads to take place in the modern version of the tournament. Below is a little of what to expect:
The opening round will feature a Modern Era record 56 amateur clubs. 17 Open Division teams will join 21 Premier Development League (PDL) teams and 18 National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) clubs.
Don Garber: MLS Expansion Will Stop at 28 Teams
Before his 18th season at the helm of MLS as commissioner, Don Garber sat and talked with Sky Sports. The following is transcribed by NBC Sports.
“We’ve just announced we are going to announce four new teams to go from 24 to 28 which would be the largest professional division one league in the world”
Thanks for taking a minute or two from your day to catch up on all things Orlando City and all things MLS. Your eyes are welcome travelers to The Mane Land each and every time. If you are in the mood for following someone on twitter that has awful opinions on all things nothing, then give me a follow: @awesomeniemeier.