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Lion Links: 4/8/17

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Marta joins the Pride, Antonio Nocerino now comfortable with Orlando City, the Orlando Pride new home uniforms look fantastic, Brook Lopez is a huge Lions fan (apparently), and more!

MLS: Philadelphia Union at Orlando City SC Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports

Yay! It’s the weekend! It’s Saturday!

So much excitement and so many links to get to again today! Good thing we all love reading about soccer early on a Saturday morning. So grab your cup of coffee, sit back and enjoy the links, because, of course, it’s Saturday.

So just relax!

Antonio Nocerino Getting More Comfortable with Orlando City

It’s no mystery that the first few months of last season were a struggle for 31-year-old midfielder Antonio Nocerino. He only featured in 21 games last season after coming over from AC Milan. Nocerino struggled to break into the lineup, and was frustrated with his lack of playing time a year ago.

Even with that rough season a year ago, Nocerino was one of the first names on coach Jason Kreis’ team sheet. And this season, his box-to-box play has been critical to OCSC’s success this season, especially with the absence of Kaká in the midfield.

Blaming communication as one of his downfalls to last season, Nocerino said of this year, “I speak better English now, and I am happy [with my communication]. This is good because the coach is able to ask me, and I can ask the coach, because it is important to have that relationship. I work for the team, for the coach.”

Nocerino is fully expected to be on the team sheet again this Sunday, as Orlando City faces New York Red Bulls.

Marta!

In what may be the NWSL’s biggest signing ever, the Orlando Pride are bringing legendary Brazilian star Marta back to play in the United States. The Pride announced the move yesterday as the team was kicking off a 3-0 win over the U-23 USWNT to close the preseason schedule at Sylvan Lake Park. Marta is a five-time FIFA World Player of the Year and will certainly help boost a Pride offense that went missing at times last year, especially when Alex Morgan was away.

Orlando Pride Release New Home Uniforms

If you haven’t heard or seen, the Orlando Pride released their new home uniforms Friday morning, and wow they are awesome.

The new jersey closely resembles Manchester City’s home jerseys (in style, not color, obviously) with the interesting design on the sleeve, which has now become a Nike trademark. It looks even better when you see the one waiting for the club’s newest member:

What a big day for the women’s team! New, crisp home uniforms and one of the best women’s players in the world? What more could you ask for? Big things are in store for the Pride this season, no doubt.

Orlando City U-16s Open GA Cup Play

The Generation Adidas Cup is underway and Orlando City’s U-16 team squared off yesterday in Premier Division Group C action against Liga MX side Chivas. The Lions fell behind 2-0 but showed tremendous character in rallying back to tie the match before succumbing, 3-2. Ale Pereira and an own-goal off a Mario Licor cross provided the scoring for Orlando City.

The Lions share Group C with Chivas, Columbus Crew SC, and the San Jose Earthquakes. The team is off today but will take on the Crew tomorrow at 12:15 p.m.

Brooklyn Nets’ Big Man Brook Lopez is a Big Orlando City Supporter

Well, this is a bit of an odd link I must say.

Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez, a native of North Hollywood, has said that he an avid OCSC supporter. The 7-foot beast apparently loves Central Florida and has decided to purchase a home in the Orlando area after making so many previous trips to the area, mainly to visit Disney World. Lopez has been an Orlando City supporter since the club made the move to MLS, saying in an interview that he has supported the club for two years now and has been to some games before.

“It was spectacular. And the fans? They just brought it. It was so much fun, so energetic that it really won us over.”

However, Lopez is yet to visit the new Orlando City Stadium due to his busy schedule in the NBA, but said he watched the home opener on ESPN.

“It looked incredible...Once I’m down here, I see myself going to a good amount of games.”

CONCACAF to Create a New ‘League of Nations’

CONCACAF wants to follow what UEFA has done and do away with ‘friendly games’ and rather make more matches competitive and not waste time or money on matches that no one cares about. Its newly proposed ‘League of Nations’ calls for a new league competition for national teams in North and Central America and the Caribbean islands. The new competition will be more like the ICC we have come to see with the biggest European clubs participating in a competitive, yet non-competitive preseason format with a trophy winner at the end.

The league has yet to be formally agreed upon, but meeting today in Aruba should bring about the final discussion of the matter, and result in the formation of the League to take place in the near future.

That’s going to do it for this week’s links, enjoy your weekend and have a great time watching the Lions play the Red Bulls tomorrow!