Greetings, Mane Landers! Happy Wednesday as usual. I usually give you some fun opening about where I’m writing from or about me drinking, but I’m actually home in Orlando, sober, and altogether just on the resolution track. Otherwise known as boring. But, there is so much awesome news, don’t let me being responsible distract you.
City Announces Preseason Schedule...But You Can’t See It
Orlando City has announced its MLS preseason schedule and it has five scrimmages prior to opening day against D.C. United:
- Saturday, Feb. 3 — Preseason scrimmage vs. Jacksonville University at Southern Oak Stadium, 12 p.m. ET.
- Saturday, Feb. 10 — Preseason scrimmage vs. Minnesota United FC at Sylvan Lake Park, Time TBD.
- Wednesday, Feb. 14 — Preseason scrimmage vs. Philadelphia Union at Sylvan Lake Park, Time TBD.
- Saturday, Feb. 17 — Preseason scrimmage vs. Real Salt Lake at Sylvan Lake Park, Time TBD.
- Saturday, Feb. 24 — Preseason scrimmage vs. Chicago Fire at Orlando City Stadium, 11:30 a.m. ET.
Unfortunately for all of us, we’re not going to get to see any of it. We’re not sure if this is being driven by the executive level or by Head Coach Jason Kreis, but it’s a bummer that we won't get to see the new pieces and how they’ll fit prior to the season. Some may not have always loved heading down to ESPN WWOS, but at least we got to see our team.
Stay tuned with us as we hope to give you as much information during preseason as we can!
Pride Learn Their New Season Format
The NWSL has announced its new season format, and here are the highlights:
- Preseason begins Feb. 19.
- 24 matches; 12 home/12 away.
- March 24/25 will be opening weekend.
- Championship will be played Sept. 22, location TBD.
This is a change from the past but I don’t believe it’s a bad move, as I think getting the championship in before full swing MLB and MLS playoffs is the right decision for gaining as much exposure as possible.
However, if you’re reading Links today and thinking, “Oh man, I’m so behind on hearing this news because it released yesterday,” well, don’t beat yourself up to much. That’s because we knew this news the same time as the players. That’s right, The players didn’t know any of this!
Excited for the upcoming season but VERY disappointed that we as players have to find this out on Twitter. That has been our single request of the league. Please have the courtesy to send us this information before it goes public. https://t.co/5KPYPMxN5M— NWSL Players Assoc (@NWSL_PA) January 16, 2018
I’m not sure how the NWSL releases a schedule format without informing its players first, but it just continues to show the disconnect between the league and the players. It sends the message that there’s no collaboration or respect being shown by the league for its Players’ Association. But that’s not a surprise, it’s not just the league throwing shade towards the women.
Orlando City Announces Kickoff To Soccer Month
The organization has put out a slew of events to get us all jacked up for the MLS and NWSL seasons. Take a look at the calendar of events:
- Soccer Ball | Friday, Feb. 23, 7 p.m.
- Purple Pride 5K | Saturday, Feb. 24, 8 a.m. race start.
- Kids vs. Pros | Tuesday, Feb. 27, 7:30 p.m.
- Scarf the City | Tuesday, Feb. 27.
- (TML Staff Favorite) Orlando City Pub Crawl | Friday, March 2, 5:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.
- Winning Women in Purple: Networking Event | TBA.
- Pride in the House | TBA.
Josué Colmán’s First Official Day as a Lion is All Smiles
You should already know by now that we have a new No. 10. And on Monday he got to see a little piece of what it means to be a Lion.
The kid couldn't stop smiling on his first day at the stadium. #VamosOrlando— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) January 16, 2018
ICYMI: The Lions have a new No. in town. #VamosOrlando— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) January 16, 2018
Read https://t.co/66LPDe53hl pic.twitter.com/ol0Mhc8ohb
And the fans look just as happy on Twitter.
MLS Gets 14% of USSF Presidential Vote, NWSL Percentage Equal with USL
You are reading this correctly. We have two professional top-flight leagues in the NWSL and MLS. But the latter means more in the upcoming player election, controlling nine of 16 seats on the Pro Council that overall accounts for 25.8% of the election.
“But,” you say, “the NWSL should at least have the second-highest number of votes? Surely the NWSL gets five, USL and NASL get one apiece.” Nope. The NWSL shares the same three votes the USL holds and the NASL gets the remaining vote. As you can imagine, the NASL isn't quite happy with it recently being named D-III, and now only having one vote.
All of this said, a president presides over all of U.S. Soccer. They're not cutting into percentages (per se). This is just another example of the women’s side being marginalized and it’s not a good look for U.S. Soccer as they could use some good PR.
Bombshell Trade Involves Two USWNT Players and the NWSL RotY
Crystal Dunn is headed back stateside. In a shocking move that no one saw coming — as Dunn was reportedly happy on the second-place Chelsea Ladies squad — the North Carolina Courage acquired the rights to Dunn and she’s expected to join them for preseason. While her contract was only until 2018, this still remains a surprise as Dunn had very high praise for the FA Women’s Super League.
The 2017 Shield winners and NWSL finalists didn't get her for nothing, though. USWNT defender Taylor Smith and 2017 NWSL Rookie of the Year Ashley Hatch go over to the Washington Spirit for Dunn and an additional international spot.
This is a big coup for the NWSL, as the league has been seeing national team players consistently leaving for overseas ventures, i.e. Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Dunn, and, most recently, Morgan Brian. Anytime the league can get back one of its stars, it’s a plus.
I would have to think this has more to do with her rights being moved since Washington hasn't had a great track record lately of holding onto talent, but it’s still a great move for the NWSL. And Washington is now able to put two quality players next to starlet Mallory Pugh. Also, under the radar of this, they traded for the third overall selection in this week’s NWSL Draft.
However, for us Pride fans, this does mean that the Courage attack gets that much stronger. Hatch and Smith will be losses, that's without a doubt, but gaining a player like Dunn to combine with Sam Mewis and Lynn Williams in the attack is something no defense wants to see.
CEO Leitão Answers a Fan’s Question
So let’s triple down on Alex Leitão’s response to this fan’s questions and say we can’t wait to see it!
We know the draft is upcoming this week, but this is an encouraging sign as Niki Budalic and Kreis continue to reshape this roster — and, spoiler alert, Budalic is our special guest on the latest episode of the PawedCast, which drops this afternoon. As usual, TML was on top of this with a piece about City’s need for central defenders just yesterday.
And shout out to the social media team and Leitão for the banter. Much appreciated.
Budalic Gives Us Insights on What It Means to be a GM
Niki sits down and gives us business nerds a bit of insight into the role of GM. All in all, after this most recent month of off-season, I’d take a listen to the man who’s been very active — and will continue to be — leading up to the 2018 season.
There are a lot of moving pieces in acquiring a new Lion.— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) January 16, 2018
GM Niki Budalic breaks the process all down with @KenzieThirkill. #VamosOrlando pic.twitter.com/PuO6euGujC
Orlando City’s SoccerCast Has a New Cast
If you followed Orlando City’s SoccerCast, then there’s some news for you: They've got a new team this season! Mackenzie Thirkill, Ryan Martinez, and Rick T. are now your hosts. And in their first cast of the season, you’ll hear from Sacha Kljestan and Tom Sermanni. Enjoy!
New Season, New Hosts, New Episode: "A Tale of Two Mustaches". Get it while it's hot https://t.co/Oie8otCQG7 #myfirstTweet pic.twitter.com/nWEKxsWD8v— OC SoccerCast (@OCSoccerCast) January 16, 2018
- Kyle Beckerman is invincible — or at least Real Salt Lake believe so — as he’s garnered a new contract at 35 years old that appears to be at least two years.
- Chelsey Bush of Equalizer Soccer has her wishes for women’s soccer in 2018. Included are quite a few that directly or indirectly involve Pride players.
- Tim Hanley, a much-revered MLS goalkeeping coach, gives his take on the system and American keepers. He has Tim Howard as his No. 6 all-time. Absolutely not, respectfully.
I leave you with news that one of the greatest players to ever touch a ball is officially hanging up his boots. Ronaldinho is finally done, folks. While he hasn't played for two years, he officially announced his retirement yesterday.
Ronaldinho has officially retired from professional football— Goal (@goal) January 16, 2018
Thank you for the memories, @10Ronaldinho pic.twitter.com/qcaNKmIukH
.@AleMorenoESPN: “Not only was [Ronaldinho] special on the field, he was also special off the field.” pic.twitter.com/zkUTtbUnA4— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) January 17, 2018
Thank you, Ronaldinho, for so many amazing memories and best of luck in the future!
That’s it! Until next week, stay with us as we cover the upcoming MLS and NWSL drafts this week!