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Lion Links: 1/6/18

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Lions sign new ‘keeper, Kljestan the missing piece, Orlando City breaks top 50, and more.

MLS: Eastern Conference Knockout Round-New York Red Bulls at Chicago Fire Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Saturday, Mane Landers! There are just two more days of this cold weather in Central Florida and then it is back to the 70s on Monday. I hope you find somewhere warm to watch the beginning of the NFL playoffs and enjoy the beginning of a three-day football marathon, ending with the college football NIT on Monday night.

If football isn’t your thing, there is plenty of MLS and other soccer news, starting with today’s Lion Links.

Orlando City Signs New Goalkeeper

There has been plenty of transfer news in MLS this past week and the Lions have made yet another splash, signing former Saint Louis FC goalkeeper Adam Grinwis. The 25-year-old will not be starting, unless something extremely unforeseen happens in the off-season, as Joe Bendik is the number one ‘keeper for the indefinite future. Instead, Grinwis will battle Earl Edwards for the backup spot.

“Adam impressed in our preseason friendly last season and has a track record of success in the USL,” General Manager Niki Budalic said in a club press release. “His athleticism, character and competitiveness will fit in well with our group of goalkeepers.”

Orlando City Cracks the Top 50

The top 50 most-attended games in the U.S. that is. Not surprisingly the International Champions Cup drew the biggest crowds. Teams like Manchester City, Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Manchester United all were in the top 10 multiple times.

Orlando City made the list three times. Sept. 16 in Atlanta the Lions drew over 70,000 fans for the fifth-most attended game in 2017 and the second-highest MLS game. The two teams played to a 3-3 draw. Another Atlanta-Orlando City game cracked the top 50. Coming in at No. 28 was the Lions’ match up in Bobby Dodd Stadium on July 29, which also ended in a draw.

Orlando made the list again, albeit another away game — this time in Seattle. The Lions and Sounders played to a 1-1 draw at CenturyLink Field in the 47th-highest attended game in 2017 with 42,333 fans present.

Lions Due For a Breakout Season?

After a poor 2017, the Lions have been nonstop in improving their roster the past few weeks. If things come together nicely this off-season, Orlando could break out to a quick start in 2018. This may not be all too comforting to City fans though, as the same thing happened last year.

Local vs. Non-Local Ownership

Ever wonder about where MLS owners live in relation to their teams’ success? If you haven’t, I don’t think you are alone, but there is actually a proven track record that local owners are more successful.

“Eight of Major League Soccer’s 25 franchises have never had a majority-local ownership group. Three of those clubs, Chivas USA, the San Jose Clash/Earthquakes (I) and the Tampa Bay Mutiny, either folded or moved. Two more, D.C. United and the Chicago Fire, rank 19th and 20th out of 23 teams in average attendance since 2013. The most promising duo of the group, the Houston Dynamo and New York City FC, recently saw large attendance drops in the years following their new stadiums or inaugural seasons, respectively.”

The eighth team is the Columbus Crew which the article focuses around. As for Orlando City, thank the soccer gods that Flávio Augusto da Silva got on board with the club. The work that he, the rest of the owners, and the executives have done is why Orlando is the Soccer Capital of the South.

Indy Eleven Join USL

The USL will have another team in 2018. Already five teams have been confirmed to be expanding to the second division — Nashville SC, Las Vegas Lights FC, Fresno FC, North Carolina FC, and Atlanta — Indy Eleven will reportedly also join the group.

The former NASL team will play its 2018 in Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts. Indy Eleven was founded in 2013 and has been part of the NASL since 2014.

Free Kicks
  • Sacha Kljestan could be the missing piece for Orlando City.
  • Orlando City has been involved in four of the top TAM/GAM trades.
  • Barcelona winger Arda Turan is rumored to be joining Bastian Schweinsteiger in Chicago.
  • Soccer is a sport that we all love, but it has the power to affect some people more than others. Here is a great story on how Soccer Without Borders has made an impact in the California Bay area.
  • Today’s famous birthdays include Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys (1986), American football players A.J. Hawk (1984), Asante Samuel (1981), and James Farrior (1975), actor Eddie Redmayne (1982), NBA player Gilbert Arenas (1982), and actor Rowan Atkinson — a.k.a Mr. Bean — (1955), and Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd (1946).