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Lion Links: 7/25/17

A Dom nugget, World Cup bid contacts Orlando, Fabian Johnson may stop playing international games, Zidane on Kaká, Marta Q&A, and more.

MLS: Toronto FC at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Tuesday, everyone. We’re now just four days away from Atlanta United getting dumped when the Lions invade the Peach State. It’ll be glorious, of course, like when Ramsay Bolton got fed to his dogs.

Sorry if that seems a bit graphic for this early in the morning, but I’ve been Thronin’ it up more than ever and wondering when ol’ Euron Greyjoy will get his comeuppance, even if he did us a favor by ridding us of at least two Sand Snakes.

Anyway, that’s all Greek to those of you who aren’t down with Game of Thrones, so let’s just move into today’s Lion Links.

World Cup to Orlando?

The City of Orlando has been contacted by the joint bid for the U.S., Mexico, and Canada to host the 2026 World Cup. Mayor Buddy Dyer has been a friend to soccer and has been ambitious in chasing the sport’s largest events. Getting the World Cup to the City Beautiful would be the icing on the proverbial cake.

“We received the formal bid documents on Friday and are currently evaluating the bid and what this would involve from our community,” read a statement released by the city on Monday evening. Fox-35 was the first to report Orlando’s invitation to join the U.S. World Cup bid.

Orlando would make a great location for the event, with plenty of infrastructure, including hotel rooms, world-class training facilities, and several stadia which could host matches. We’ll continue to follow this story as it develops.

More on Dom; Why Off-Year Gold Cup Should be Scrapped

Embedded in this column about doing away with the off-year Gold Cup and holding it only once every four years, FourFourTwo writer Paul Tenorio provided a small nugget about the recent Dom Dwyer-to-Orlando transfer rumors.

Two league sources confirmed that Orlando City and Sporting Kansas City are engaged in trade talks and that a deal could be completed early in the week. Those sources were not able to confirm what Orlando City would send back to Kansas City as part of the deal. Stay tuned...

OK, so it’s not much, but it’s nice to have a second (and third) source on the story and that there is a potential timeline. Don’t hold your breath, though. As we explained, this could be a complicated deal.

The main section of the column is accurate. There’s little need for the two-year Gold Cup cycle. In the off years, the bigger CONCACAF teams have no incentive to field a top squad, and the quality of play suffers, as we’ve seen this year in the group stage. What do you think? Are you in favor of the status quo, or going to a four-year rotation?

Zidane Expects Tough Test from Kaká, MLS All-Stars

Real Madrid Manager Zinedine Zidane spoke about his club’s upcoming match against the 2017 MLS All-Star Team. Zidane is looking for his club — going through its preseason — to gain fitness and chemistry, while he says the difficulty of playing the MLS guys is that they’re in mid-season form.

“Obviously, it’ll be nice to see Kaká,” Zidane told reporters through a translator Sunday after Real Madrid’s loss on penalty kicks to Manchester United in an International Champions Cup exhibition.

“He’s an important player in the history of Real Madrid. It’ll be nice for his ex-teammates so see him, as well.”

Fabian Johnson Mulling International Retirement

Borussia Monchengladbach and USMNT star Fabian Johnson may be done with international soccer after the 2018 World Cup. Further, his appearances in lower profile games between now and then will also drop off a bit.

In a wide-ranging Q&A, Johnson also revealed that he has an agreement in place with Bruce Arena to only play for the U.S. men’s national team in the “more important” matches. While he was among the lengthy list of regular first-team players to be omitted from the current Gold Cup roster, he has missed several friendlies in the past several years.

When asked if the 2018 World Cup could be a good stopping point for his international career, the 29-year-old didn’t rule it out saying that it “could very well be” for him.

Need a Striker or Midfielder? Here are Some:

FourFourTwo put together a list of five strikers who could be realistic options for MLS teams in this transfer window. As someone who follows a team that needs more scoring punch, this interested me greatly. Interestingly, writer Steve Davis didn’t see Orlando City as a potential fit for any of the players listed, despite a need for another target man. Of these five, I’m most intrigued by Andre-Pierre Gignac (obviously) and Bryan Ruiz. Which of these guys, if any, would you like to see in purple?

Davis also pushed out a list of midfielders. Interestingly, he did not list Orlando City as a possible good fit for Juan Quintero, but he did think Adam Maher of PSV might fit the bill.

Another Obstacle to Beckham’s Endless Miami Deal

If David Beckham’s group ever brings an MLS team to Miami, the book about the journey is going to dwarf the length of anything Stephen King ever wrote. The latest obstacle for the group is a wealthy Miami resident who is suing Beckham in an effort to kill the stadium plan. Bruce Matheson contends the stadium will destroy the Overtown neighborhood's quality of life with noise, traffic, and pedestrian congestion because it will also host concerts. I’m sure the fact that Matheson owns nearby land has nothing to do with it.

“It’s apparent that Mr. Matheson hates professional sports,” Michael Hernández, the mayor's spokesperson, told the Herald. “He’s doing his best to drive out the Miami Open from Key Biscayne, and now he hopes to block Major League Soccer from coming to Miami.”

Free Kicks
  • Howard Megdal from Vice Sports posted an interesting Q&A with Orlando Pride star midfielder Marta.
  • Predictably, Atlanta United is up for MLS Goal of the Week and MLS Save of the Week, because that’s what it takes sometimes to beat Orlando City in the Purple Palace. Villalba and Guzan definitely turned in super human efforts for the bad guys, with the latter also making MLS Team of the Week.
  • In a Sports Business Journal story that created some Twitter buzz yesterday, Major League Soccer rejected a $4 billion global media rights deal from international media company MP & Silva, which stipulated the league adopt promotion and relegation. It’s not clear why the offer was made, as the league is contractually forbidden from participating in media rights discussions with other distributors.
  • Among those born on this date are actor Walter Brennan (1894), football’s Walter Payton (1954), model — and David Bowie’s widow — Iman (1955), baseball’s Doug Drabek (1962), hockey’s Tony Granato (1964), Friends actor Matt LeBlanc (1967), hockey’s Evgeni Nabokov (1975), MLS and USMNT striker Conor Casey (1981), Brazilian footballer Hulk (1986), and Chicago Fire midfielder John Goossens (1988).

That’s all for me today. I leave you with this brilliant tribute to Full House put out by the Orlando Pride: