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Lion Links: 1/5/18

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Niki Budalic says to expect more announcements, Orlando City’s 2018 schedule, Florida Cup to support hurricane evacuees, and more.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s casual Friday here at Mane Land Towers, and as usual that means pants are optional. It also means that the weekend is upon us and even though many of us have enjoyed a couple of short work weeks, the weekend is always a welcome sight.

Hopefully you’re staying warm. We wouldn’t want you falling out of trees like the iguanas in South Florida.

While we anxiously await even more announcements from Orlando City, let’s kick back, put our feet up, and sink luxuriously into today’s links.

Budalic: More to Come

Alicia DelGallo spoke with Orlando City GM Niki Budalic and he said a lot of great things, but none greater than “There will be more announcements this week.” It’s already been a heck of a first week of 2018, with the Lions locking up Dom Dwyer for three more years and acquiring MLS assist king Sacha Kljestan. But about that more to come...

“That is the plan, yes,” Budalic said when asked if a centerback signing was coming. “We’re still looking to bringing in several players. We’re down the line with each of those positions. This window, a lot of players are in the middle of their seasons in Europe and because of that you can’t speak too soon.”

Budalic also spoke about Kljestan, not wanting to trade Tommy Redding, and a lot more, so check out the full story linked above. And you can check out how MLSsoccer.com’s Charles Boehm broke down the Kljestan deal and what it means for both teams. Boehm’s fellow MLS writer Sam Stejskal called the move the No. 4 deal of the off-season so far.

Orlando City’s 2018 Schedule Drops

The Lions’ schedule for 2018 came out yesterday and there are good and bad points to it. One of the bad things is that we’ll have to wait until 2019 to welcome LAFC to Orlando City Stadium. One of the good things about it is that City will get a bunch of home games early to try to build some momentum. Hopefully the team will be able to hold onto it this year. Other highlights:

  • Three games each against Atlanta United and New York City FC.
  • Very few midday summer games.
  • Only seven games in the heat of August and September combined, with four at home and all at night.
  • 13 nationally televised games.
  • The return of Adrian Heath in Week 2.

It’s shaping up to be an interesting and pivotal year for the Lions. I can’t wait to get this thing started.

Florida Cup to Support Hurricane Evacuees

The devastating hurricane damage in Puerto Rico has left many people without power and forced the evacuation of countless others. This year, Florida Cup is stepping up to help those who were evacuated from the island in the wake of the storm. The tournament will work with Orlando’s Hispanic Office for Local Assistance (HOLA) and the Department of Families, Parks and Recreation, and will offer more than 1,500 free tickets to Puerto Rican evacuees displaced to Central Florida, as well as children who participate in local after-school programs.

Additionally, the tournament will host evacuees at the Florida Cup Fan Fest at Universal on Jan. 13, and will collect sporting goods, coats, sweaters, quilts, and comforters at the Florida Cup All-Star Game at Montverde Academy on Jan. 9 (8 p.m., free admission). Fans are asked to bring any of the listed items for donation. Montverde Academy graduate and Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor will be on hand. The donated items will benefit CASA (Coordinadora de Apoyo, Solidaridad y Ayuda), which provides support to families still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Florida Cup and Adidas will also donate uniforms to local youth development soccer programs. It’s a lot of good deeds and everyone should come out to support the tournament in these efforts.

Will USMNT, Mexico Fight Over Jonathan Gonzalez?

Monterrey midfielder Jonathan Gonzalez, an 18-year-old dual citizen, is apparently on the radar of the Mexican National Team. and could be called in for a friendly Jan. 31 against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Our friends over at Stars and Stripes FC lay it out like this:

It was widely reported that the USMNT considered Gonzalez but decided not to call him up due to Monterrey’s playoff schedule. Gonzalez said he didn’t get that call. That, coupled with the fact that the USMNT cannot cap-tie Gonzalez until possibly the 2019 Gold Cup means that every bit of news that links Jonathan Gonzalez to Mexico will only make us wonder what he will decide.

The USMNT January Camp roster will be announced on Monday at noon, so that will likely shed some light on whether Jonathan Gonzalez will remain in the United States player pool, but until then, fans just hope Mexico doesn’t beat the USMNT to the punch.

Hopefully the U.S. won’t lose a promising young player to its most bitter rival.

Free Kicks
  • One of the things lost in last weekend’s W-League action is that Orlando Pride defender Steph Catley played in her 100th league game.
  • It got so cold that Orlando City’s grounds crew covered the field at the stadium on Thursday.
  • One of Orlando City’s founding fathers, Steve Donner, has taken over as president and CEO of the ECHL’s Greenville (SC) Swamp Rabbits after the minor league hockey team was sold to a new ownership group.
  • Apparently it’s not just Orlando fans who yell “Knights!” in place of “night” during the national anthem at MLS matches (although not for the same reasons). So, congrats to those of you who do it, you’re just like Atlanta fans!
  • Details about Memphis’ USL team are expected on Monday.
  • Columbus unveiled a new black secondary kit that some Crew fans are referring to as the “funeral kit” in a bit of dark humor about the continuing dire possibility of the club moving to Austin, TX, after this season.
  • Those born on this date include TV’s Superman of the 1950’s, George Reeves (1914), Jane Wyman (1917), Robert Duvall (1931), longtime Steelers coach Chuck Noll (1932), legendary sound engineer and record producer Phil Ramone (1934) — his work on Billy Joel’s 52nd Street is top notch and won him one of his 14 Grammys — Diane Keaton (1946), The Love Boat actor Ted Lange (1948), Blondie guitarist Chris Stein (1950), Marilyn Manson (1969), Bradley Cooper (1975), and January Jones (1978).

That’s all I’ve got for you this morning. Bundle up, enjoy your weekend, and check The Mane Land regularly for those additional announcements Niki Budalic mentioned.