Welcome to the Thursday edition of Lion Links! As the week grinds on, just remember we’ve only got 45 days until Orlando City kicks off the 2018 Major League Soccer season, and with it, our hopes for something a little bit better on the pitch this season!
Beckham United FC Announce an Announcement
Speaking of hope, how much can our neighbors to the South have left at this point? The David Beckham-led project tweeted out that they plan to announce their arrival soon. In typical MLS Miami fashion, it was cryptic with only loose details.
Miami are you ready? The official award of MLS Miami expansion team will happen this month. Make plan to attend this highly anticipated announcement. #MLS2Miami— MLS in MIAMI (@Miami_MLS) January 17, 2018
Adrian Heath Gets Emotional in Return to Orlando
Orlando City’s former coach returned to Orlando and got emotional as he checked out the stadium he helped to design during his time in the City Beautiful. The candid interview feels about as honest as they come, but we wouldn’t expect less from Inchy. Discussing his unceremonious firing:
“We had a three-year plan and I never got an opportunity to finish the plan. That’s what was disappointing for me. I get that people move on (and coaches get fired); I just felt I deserved a better and more dignified exit.”
Orlando City to Have a “Ball”
The club announced it will be holding “a celebration of the world’s game” in the form of a charity ball. A single general admission ticket will run you $150, but for that, you get a chance to meet Orlando City and Orlando Pride players, all-you-can-eat tapas, bottomless cocktails, a first look at the new Lions away kit, and a chance to help the Orlando City Foundation. Go slow with those bottomless cocktails though, we’d hate to have to feature your embarrassing drunken antics in a future Lion Links.
Last Day of MLS Combine at Orlando City Stadium
The 2018 MLS Combine is in the books with 60 college players hoping they did enough to impress the assembled scouts and hear their name called in tomorrow’s MLS SuperDraft. If you love stats as much as I do, you’ll love this data from the combine. Justin Fiddes was the fastest while midfielder/forward Ricky Lopez-Espin had the highest vertical leap at 33.5 inches.
Mike Gramajo has you covered on Wednesday’s action with coverage of Team X’s draw with Team Predator and the Team Nemeziz win over Team Tango. Don’t miss the Q & A with MLS prospect Tristan Blackmon as well.
Considering What Lando’s Mexican Adventure Means for MLS
Landon Donovan made waves with his second return from retirement to join Liga MX’s Club Leon. ESPN is here for all the hot takes, imagining that this could be a signal that more Americans will find their way south of the border to ply their trade. I’m not sure one high profile player coming out of retirement marks a larger trend, but I’ll let you decide for yourself.
In Other “Losing Players to Mexico” News
File this link from SB Nation’s Kevin McCauley about how U.S. Soccer is ignoring talented players in marginalized communities, under “must read.” McCauley hashes out the complicated nature of some of U.S. Soccer’s biggest failings emphasized by the high profile defection of dual national Jonathan Gonzalez to Mexico.
CONCACAF Teams Set Sights On France 2018
Trinidad and Tobago will host the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship beginning today. Eight teams are vying for three spots in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in France this summer. The United States, Canada, and Mexico are among the favorites, but look to be challenged this year by the likes of Nicaragua and Costa Rica, among others. The United States has won five straight regional titles and look to go for number six starting when they kick off against Nicaragua on Friday at 5:30 p.m. ET. The games will be broadcast on CONCACAF’s Facebook page.
That’s all I’ve got for you today. With a high of 53 degrees, you are going to want to make sure you bring an Orlando City scarf with you today. Trust me, purple goes with nearly any outfit! See you on the flip side, fellow Lions!