Happy Saturday! I hope everyone is having a great weekend. I’m excited to be working on my first Lion Links and I hope the news is helpful for everyone.
Big news came out Friday about the future of Orlando City B as well as some eSports news. The MLS Combine matches begin today as well.
So let’s get on to the links.
OCB to take a 2018 Hiatus
As reported by uslsoccer.com and then by the club, Orlando City B will not be playing in the USL for the 2018 season. According to the USL, “Orlando City B elected not to participate in the USL at the Division II level in 2018 while it evaluates its future options.” The club went on to say that it will continue its discussions with USL to evaluate its options for the future participation in the league. Time will tell what this will mean for the main team and the organization as a whole. OCB tickets were offered to Orlando City season ticket holders as an incentive but were soon replaced with four Orlando Pride games instead. The Mane Land wrote up an extended piece on the OCB situation, so be sure to check it out for additional details.
NEWS: Orlando City B Elects to Forgo 2018 USL Division II Season.— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) January 12, 2018
Details https://t.co/phYLAQFPkh pic.twitter.com/bq74nR4GpG
PSV Draws Fluminense in Florida Cup, Then Wins Shootout
PSV Eindhoven had an exciting Florida Cup. Both of the Dutch side’s matches ended in last-second 1-1 draws and finished with 5-4 penalty shootouts. After scoring the equalizer at the death Wednesday and falling one penalty short against Corinthians, PSV flipped the script Friday night at Spectrum Stadium, allowing a last-gasp equalizer in a 1-1 draw with Fluminense. PSV then went on to win the shootout, 5-4, to collect an additional point and end the team’s tournament run on three total points. Sam Lammers, a 20-year-old forward, was the star man for PSV, scoring both normal time goals for the mid-season Dutch Eredivisie leaders.
MLS Launches an eSports League for FIFA 18 World Cup
EA Sports and MLS have partnered together to create an organization that will compete worldwide in FIFA 18’s competition. The group named eMLS (not a real exciting name) will be structured like the NBA 2k league, where competitors will represent real-life sports teams. Of the 23 MLS teams, 19 will be represented, including Orlando City. Here’s another opportunity for Orlando City and MLS to be represented on the world stage.
Pulisic: U.S. Should Copy Germany to “Conquer” Soccer
In an interview with ESPN, Pulisic touted the youth systems in Germany, saying “I would say the youth systems in Germany are the things that have impressed me the most…How they grow their youth players into full professionals… you’re fighting really for a pro contract [and] it’s something we can definitely learn from.” As the young talent of the USMNT, Pulisic’s words may create some ripples in the U.S. Soccer community.
Cyle Larin in Turkey?
According to BeIN Sports Turkey, Cyle Larin has made his way to Istanbul. At this point, we are not certain why Larin is in Istanbul but the Turkish Twitter community has claimed that Besiktas has reached a deal with the 22-year-old striker, but no such word has come from the U.S. side of the pond. As soon as we get more details we will be sure to share it with all of you. It has been rumored this transfer window that Larin could be on his way to Europe as he expressed interest in playing soccer abroad.
Beşiktaş'ın transfer gündemindeki Cyle Larin, İstanbul'a geldi #beinsportshaber pic.twitter.com/jM4TSi966q— beIN SPORTS Türkiye (@beINSPORTS_TR) January 12, 2018
Translated from Turkish to English via Google Translator
“Besiktas transfer on the agenda, Cyle Larin came to Istanbul.”
MLS Combine Matches Begin Today
The MLS Combine got underway this week but today the matches between the four combine teams kick off. Players were split into four teams: Nemeziz, Predator, X, and Tango. Today will feature two matches, one at 12:30 p.m. and one at 2:30 p.m. Matches will continue Monday and Wednesday as each team will play three times before the end of the combine. Details can be found on mlsoccer.com. Oh and if you wanted some good news about the combine:
Some have been asking, and yes, combine scrimmages are open and free to the public. #VamosOrlando— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) January 12, 2018
Schedule: https://t.co/r0GozAgQ8I pic.twitter.com/ROGoMhUkaT
If you can’t get enough of the combine news coming out, be sure to check out Matt Doyle’s latest article on the five things to look for at the combine. He puts together a few interesting points as to what you should look for when watching the combine matches.
ESPN FC Questions USSF Presidential Candidates
As the USSF presidential election approaches in February, various outlets have been questioning the candidates on soccer positions as well as a variety of issues pertaining to USSF. ESPN FC has the latest responses to their questions but with a bit of a twist. Each candidate was asked to answer the questions but in 150 words or fewer. The candidates interviewed were Paul Caligiuri, Kathy Carter, Carlos Cordeiro, Steve Gans, Kyle Martino, Hope Solo, Michael Winograd, and Eric Wynalda. This election will decide the future of U.S. Soccer for years to come so be sure to check out how each candidate responded to the various questions asked.
Atlanta United Sets MLS-Record Highest Paid Transfer Fee for Barco
It would appear that the Ezequiel Barco saga is now coming to an end. According to ESPN, Independiente and Atlanta United have reached an agreement to send Barco to Atlanta United. Independiente has agreed to sell the 18-year-old for $15 million dollars plus 30% of any future transfer before December 2019. The highest fee an MLS team paid to bring in a player before this deal, was when Toronto FC brought in Michael Bradley for $10 million from Roma. ESPN says neither club will confirm the deal but sources say it’s close to being completed. This move bolsters an already impressive Atlanta United attack. Time will tell how Barco will translate to MLS.
- Follow up: As was previously reported, Dom Dwyer had left USMNT camp after dealing with a hamstring strain. Mike Gramajo of Orlando Soccer Journal reported that Dom would be undergoing tests on Friday and should be good to go for the preseason. Big sigh of relief.
Status on Dom Dwyer left hamstring (strain) injury, I’m told by OCSC official he will be evaluated and have a diagnostic by the end of the week — seems like a minor injury that will not prevent him from starting preseason camp on Jan. 22. #OCSC #VamosOrlando— Mike Gramajo (@byMikeGramajo) January 12, 2018
- The Montreal Impact are targeting a 31-year-old French center back, Zakaria Diallo. Diallo made two appearances in Ligue 2 for Stage Brestois.
- Former (or maybe current?) Orlando City target Gregory Sertic has been linked to the Chicago Fire. Sertic was linked to Orlando City last winter window but the agreement fell through and Sertic went to Marseille. There have been rumors claiming that Marseille will be looking to get some players off the books and Sertics’ name has surfaced.
- Though the merger between Orlando City and Montverde was reported a few days ago, Top Drawer Soccer goes a bit more in-depth about the relationship.
- The USL is closer to expanding into D.C. and Baltimore. According to USL President Jake Edwards, the league is looking closely at adding a team in D.C. by the 2019 season. This team would be owned by MLS side D.C. United, who have been looking for a USL side in recent years.
That’s about it for today! Before I go, I leave you all with this wonderful image of Orlando City presenting the Puerto Rican governor with a check from the friendly fundraiser. It’s amazing to see this image, as Orlando City and its supporters have made a great impact on the Puerto Rican community.
We are honored to present a check from our #FuerzaPuertoRico friendly fundraiser to Puerto Rico Governor, Ricardo Rosselló. pic.twitter.com/c8BrLdn1NE— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) January 12, 2018