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Lion Links: 11/6/18

Orlando City in a contract jam, in defense of Gregg Berhalter, Revs make roster moves, ROTY winner announced, and more.

MLS: Eastern Conference Semifinal-New York Red Bulls at Columbus Crew SC Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Tuesday, Mane Landers. I hope you’re all doing well today and have been enjoying the MLS Cup playoffs. Personally, I’m feeling quite worn out, so I’m going to keep my intro short and get started on these links.

Orlando City Facing Sticky Contract Situations

Orlando City certainly didn’t put a quality product on the pitch in 2018, and it would be natural for Head Coach James O’Connor to want to retool his squad heading into his first full season at the helm. The Lions could be faced with some financial gymnastics, however, if they are going to enter 2019 with a different core of players than the group that led them to a 28-point season in ’18.

The official site of MLS details what the Lions will be looking at this off-season, as five players currently occupy 45% of City’s total payroll and are locked in under contract for 2019 as well. The Lions may need to work some trades and transfers to maneuver around the financial log-jam, but GM Niki Budalic sounds like he’s ready to do what he needs to do in order to jump through the salary hoops:

“It’s hard to say right now [how much there will be], but there will be turnover,” said Budalic. “We’ll do whatever it takes to improve the roster and upgrade positions we feel we can.”

Mueller Runner-Up for MLS Rookie of the Year

The 2018 MLS Rookie of the Year award has been announced, with the award going to Corey Baird of Real Salt Lake. Unfortunately, Orlando City’s Chris Mueller came up short, with an overall average of 18.62% of the vote to Baird’s 43.88%. Baird is a worthy winner though, with eight goals and five assists in 21 starts, having played in 31 total games. The forward was tied for third on RSL in goals, fifth in assists, and helped propel the team into the playoffs. While Mueller had a great start to the season for the Lions, he plateaued and eventually hit the rookie wall as the season went on. Congratulations to Baird, and best of luck to him in the playoffs.

An Optimistic Look at Berhalter

As the days tick on it seems more and more likely that Gregg Berhalter will be named as the new head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team. There are varying feelings about the potential new boss, but our pals over at Stars and Stripes FC have written an optimistic take on the idea of hiring the Columbus Crew’s head honcho. Among the reasons for optimism is his success in guiding the Crew to the playoffs in each of the past two seasons in a tough Eastern Conference — no small feat. Plus, last year they knocked off both Atlanta United and NYCFC in the playoffs, and his teams have a reputation for playing an organized and very tactically sound brand of soccer. There’s more that the article goes into, but for a team that has struggled tactically in recent years, having a good tactician like Berhalter at the reins might not be a bad idea.

Revs Announce Roster Moves

The off-season shuffling has officially started, with the New England Revolution announcing their roster moves following the end of the 2018 MLS regular season. Among the things to note is that Juan Agudelo is out of contract at the end of the calendar year. Although he’s said to be weighing up offers from abroad, he might not be a bad pickup considering Orlando City’s problems at the striker position outside of Dom Dwyer. Although there haven’t been any rumblings about such a deal, it’s still something worth thinking about. In total, the Revs exercised contract options on 15 players, declined options on six, had four players already under contract, and one player in addition to Agudelo who is out of contract at the end of the year.

No Visiting Fans For Libertadores Final

River Plate and Boca Juniors have agreed that there will be no visiting fans at either of the two legs of the upcoming Copa Libertadores final. There haven’t been visiting fans allowed at any matches between the fierce rivals since 2014, and even the Argentinian president said last week that he wanted away fans to be able to go to the Superclasico. But Boca and River have agreed to keep the rules against visiting fans in place for a couple reasons. Chief among those reasons were safety concerns, as well as the need to rope off a large area of seats to provide a buffer between home and away fans. All things considered, it’s probably a good move; Superclasicos are always hotly contested affairs, but this two-legged meeting will have even higher stakes with the most prestigious trophy in South American soccer on the line.

Free Kicks
  • Make of this information what you will, and speculate away about who you think the player in question might be.

That’ll be all for me. As always, be sure to keep it here for all your Orlando soccer news. Ciao.