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Lion Links: 5/6/17

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Kaká’s star power, Toia one of the best low-key MLS signings, Pride to welcome attacking player, U.S. U-17s qualify for World Cup, and much more.

MLS: Orlando City SC at Toronto FC John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Happy match day, Mane Landers. Hopefully you’re not smarting too much from yesterday’s Cinco de Mayo festivities. Orlando City is back in action tonight on the road at the Houston Dynamo. It’s a homecoming of sorts for two Lions – Giles Barnes and Servando Carrasco – who both used to wear orange in Houston. We’ll have all the coverage you need both in the lead-up to tonight’s game and in the aftermath.

If you like podcasts, I was asked to be on The Peel this week to discuss Orlando City’s game at Houston tonight. Also, here is some light reading in today’s Lion Links to make your match day morning go by a little quicker:

Kaká Still Has Star Power at Age 35

Cory Roepken of the Houston Chronicle profiled Orlando City captain Kaká, what he’s brought to MLS, and how he’s still got it at age 35. You can’t really argue that the Brazilian hasn’t been a huge player for the Lions. He’s been part of 37 goals in 55 games in MLS and has scored twice in 95 minutes since returning from a hamstring injury sustained just minutes into the season opener. Houston’s coach had this to say about Orlando’s No. 10:

"He is a talented player. He thinks better every day," said Dynamo coach Wilmer Cabrera, who once played in a Copa America game for Colombia while Kaká sat on Brazil's bench. "When you're with that quality and you have that kind of experience on the field he is ahead of everyone else with his through process. He's coming from an injury, but he's ready to play. He is going to be dangerous."

Toia Among Top MLS Low-Key Signings

Andrew Wiebe of MLSSoccer.com posted this story yesterday about the top under-the-radar signings in MLS this season. The second one listed is Orlando City fullback Donny Toia. Per Wiebe:

He may not be spectacular in the open field like [Raheem] Edwards, but there’s a reason why Orlando’s defense went from allowing 60 goals in 2016, most in MLS, to behind only Sporting KC and FC Dallas at the 2017 quarter mark. Toia is consistent, he’s dogged and he understands the unique vagaries MLS throws at players on a weekly basis.

If Orlando make their first MLS Cup Playoffs appearance this season – I’m putting a Ben Baer-esque 100 percent guarantee on that one, assuming they hold on to Cyle Larin – Toia will deservedly stand out as some of the best low-key transfer business of 2017.

Rachel Hill to Join Orlando Pride Next Week

Rookie Rachel Hill, whose rights the Pride acquired from the Portland Thorns this off-season, has finished her studies at the University of Connecticut and will join the team next week, per Women’s Soccer Weekly. The 22-year-old must still be signed by the club, which only has a few more days to do it. The speedy forward can only help Tom Sermanni’s club by providing another attacking option. She scored 61 goals and added 18 assists in 89 games (all starts) with the Huskies in four seasons. The Pride have a roster spot available after trading Cami Levin to Houston.

U.S. U-17s Advance to World Cup

The United States U-17 team turned in another dominating performance in the CONCACAF Championship to win Group D and earn a berth in the 2017 U-17 FIFA World Cup with a 6-2 win over Cuba on Friday night in Panama City. The U.S. squandered a few opportunities, including a penalty, and Cuba’s goalkeeper made several outstanding saves, but the Yanks were still just too much. Here’s the play of the game, finished by Atlanta United prospect Andrew Carleton:

Wow. Just...wow.

The U.S. will take on Mexico on Sunday for the CONCACAF title. The FIFA U-17 World Cup will take place in India from Oct. 6-28.

Aron Johannsson to MLS?

USMNT forward Aron Johannsson may be on the outs at Werder Bremen. Is a move to MLS in the cards? Sam Stejskal from MLSSoccer.com writes that the 26-year-old would have to go through the MLS allocation process. The Houston Dynamo have the No. 1 allocation ranking right now and would get the first crack at Johannsson, but they could trade the spot with a club with a more glaring need at forward, such as the Colorado Rapids or Philadelphia Union, writes Stejskal. Hmm...might not be a bad second option in purple, though the price tag would likely be prohibitive.

Free Kicks

That’s all I’ve got for you today. Check back today and tomorrow for more coverage of Orlando City at Houston and the Pride’s trip to FC Kansas City.

Play me out, Lonely Robot.