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Lion Links: 11/1/18

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Orlando City hires a scouting director, Mueller an MLS Rookie of the Year finalist, MLS playoffs begin, and more.

MLS: Orlando City SC at New York Red Bulls Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Happy November, everyone, as we now begin to turn our attention slowly away from candy and toward turkey, cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes. We’re now four months from the start of the 2019 Orlando City season. (I’m guessing the first weekend of MLS action in 2019 will be the weekend of March 1-3, so we’re officially in countdown mode!)

While it’s awful to be in such a mode with the first round of this year’s playoffs just underway, it’s all we’ve got right now, so...yeah. Just think, if you were a bear you could hibernate and wake up just in time for the season to start.

Let’s get to the links before things get too depressing, if they haven’t already, or before you try to research how to incorporate bear DNA into your body.

Orlando City Can Haz Scouting!

When you operate a professional sports franchise which relies on finding, evaluating, and recruiting athletes to come help you win games, it seems like a good idea to have some kind of organized scouting system in place. Orlando City took a big step toward doing that with the hiring of Ricardo Moreira as the club’s new director of scouting. The news was originally broken by ESPN Brasil correspondent Jorge Nicola.

Moreira was most recently the head of player recruitment and the international relations manager at Columbus Crew SC. He also used to be the scouting director for Brazil’s Grêmio Osasco Audax Esporte Clube.

Moreira will report directly to General Manager Niki Buldalić and “will support all player relations and recruitment matters for Orlando City,” according to the club.

Only time will tell if this will be a good hire, but the Crew have long been an MLS team operating with a lower end budget and Columbus doesn’t seem to miss on a lot of players. Orlando, meanwhile, has missed on a sizable percentage of players brought in from overseas and/or internationals over the last four years, including (but not limited to) Bryan Rochez, Carlos Rivas, Sean St. Ledger, Martin Paterson, David Mateos, Devron Garcia, PC, Stefano Pinho, and (so far) Josué Colmán. At least the last name on that list could still develop into something special, but when you’re spending a DP slot, you’d like to get a bit more production, even at a young age. Hopefully Moreira will help cut down on the misses and increase the hits.

Mueller a Rookie of the Year Finalist

Orlando City’s Chris Mueller is a finalist for the MLS Rookie of the Year award, along with Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake) and Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union). With three goals and seven assist, Mueller was directly involved in 10 of Orlando City’s 43 goals in 2018. The likely winner of the award will be Baird, who scored eight goals and assisted on five others in 31 games this season for RSL, helping his team reach the postseason. McKenzie, a defender, appeared in 19 games (18 starts) with the Union. Congratulations to Chris for becoming a finalist and maybe he’ll pull off the upset.

MLS Playoffs Kick Off with Knockout Round Matches

New York City FC got a pair of early goals and cruised to a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Union in the first knockout stage game of the 2018 MLS Cup playoffs last night on the awful baseball diamond field at Yankee Stadium. Ben Sweat got away with an obvious penalty that somehow never got reviewed that could have pulled the Union back into it before halftime, but instead the Pigeons move on to visit Atlanta United. So at least one of those teams will be out in the next round.

Out west, Diego Valeri scored on a screamer of a free kick to put visiting Portland ahead 1-0 in the first half at FC Dallas. The Timbers’ maestro scored a second goal in the 71st minute to lead his side to a 2-1 road win despite his team playing a man down from the 58th minute, when Larrys Mabiala was sent off for denial of a clear goal-scoring chance. Portland will play at Sporting Kansas City next if LAFC beats Real Salt Lake, or at Seattle if RSL upsets Bob Bradley’s expansion side.

Get a load of Valeri’s free kick golazo:

FIFA Gets Hacked

Hackers have apparently gotten information from FIFA after a cyberattack and President Gianni Infantino disclosed that private information was obtained from soccer’s governing body, although he didn’t say what information was accessed. I feel safe in that I don’t believe FIFA has any of my information but hopefully the kind of information that becomes public is anything that would expose any further corruption on FIFA’s part that is not already out there. I don’t have a lot of faith in the integrity of this organization as a whole. Let’s just put it that way.

Free Kicks
  • Former Orlando City striker Hadji Barry became a U.S. citizen. Congrats, Hadji!
  • Orlando Pride players Alanna Kennedy and Emily van Egmond — as well as former Pridesters Lisa De Vanna and Laura Alleway — have been named to a 20-player Australia squad that will face Chile in November friendlies. The matches will take place Nov. 10 and 13.
  • The move from 32 to 48 teams in the World Cup, scheduled to be instituted by 2026, could happen in 2022 in Qatar.
  • Christian Pulisic scoring goals? Christian Pulisic scoring goals!

OK, the degree of difficulty wasn’t too high on that goal from point-blank range. How about something a little sweeter from Pulisic?

  • Those born on this date include longtime Meat Loaf songwriter Jim Steinman (1947), baseball’s Fernando Valenzuela (1960), Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen (1963), and actress/model Jenny McCarthy (1972).

That’s all my time for today. Enjoy your Thursday and the entirety of your November. I leave you with Orlando Pride defender Ali Krieger’s Halloween getup. We always knew she was a warrior.

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Happy Halloween from Okoye and Wonder Woman!

A post shared by Ali Krieger (@alikrieger) on