Happy Thursday, Orlando.
We’ve made it to the other side of the hump, and with some holiday time off (hopefully) awaiting for all of us next week, it should all be downhill from here. Our fearless leader, Michael Citro, is on vacation this week, so naturally the off-season news has ramped up in his absence.
Not to worry, we’re on top of things and will recap all of the action in this morning’s batch of links.
Lions Sign Two from Louisville City
Orlando City used one source to address two areas of need on Wednesday. The club announced that two Louisville City FC players would be reuniting with Orlando City Head Coach James O’Connor in goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh and defender Kyle Smith, each of whom help fill holes on the Lions’ roster.
Goalkeeper has been an obvious area of need following the departures of former shot-stoppers Joe Bendik and Earl Edwards Jr., and Ranjitsingh boasts 33 career clean sheets since joining LCFC in 2015. Orlando’s league-worst defense can use all the help it can get, and Smith will bring 95 matches of USL experience to the Lions’ back line. Both players played key roles in Louisville City’s back-to-back USL titles and will now don a different brand of purple in MLS.
Not So Fast, Cruz Azul
Rumors were swirling on Tuesday regarding Orlando City midfielder Yoshimar Yotún being courted by Liga MX side Cruz Azul. That was disconcerting, to say the least, for Orlando supporters as any monetary benefit of dealing Yoshi would be countered by the on-field effects of losing the Peruvian, who was easily the Lions’ MVP in a disappointing 2018 campaign.
Fears were alleviated a bit on Wednesday, however, as Pro Soccer USA reported that Orlando City has no intention of selling Yoshi at this time. A club source confirmed to Pro Soccer USA that Cruz Azul made a proposal that was brought to Orlando City by Yotún and his agent, but the Lions don’t wish to sell and are currently negotiating options with Yoshi to keep him in Central Florida.
While it’s good to hear that the club doesn’t want to sell one of its most important players, the “at this time” qualifier and the fact that Yoshi and his agent brought Cruz Azul’s proposal to the OCSC front office leads me to believe that there will be more to come on this situation.
City Picks Up 2019 Second-Round Pick
Orlando City decided to part ways with backup goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr. when his contract expired at the end of the 2018 season. His rights, however, remain with the team through the end of the calendar year, and the club is leveraging those rights into a second-round pick from D.C. United. The Lions now have seven picks in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft. The 26-year-old goalkeeper took to twitter to thank fans for their support. Good luck in D.C. Earl!
Thank you to everyone in the @OrlandoCitySC organization. I’m very grateful to have gotten my career started in such a great (and underrated) city. These past 4 years have been amazing, but my time here has come to an end and I wish the club all the best in the future! #GoLions— Earl Edwards Jr (@earljrucla) December 19, 2018
Three from OCSC Eligible for Stage 2 of Re-Entry Draft
Stage 2 of the 2018 MLS Re-Entry Draft is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET this afternoon, and the league released a list of eligible players yesterday. Eligible players must meet a couple requirements:
· Players not eligible for free agency who will be at least 23 years old in 2018 with a minimum of three years of MLS experience.
· Players not eligible for free agency who have not received a Bona Fide Offer and who are at least 25 years old with a minimum of four years of MLS experience, or are at least 30 years old with a minimum of eight years of MLS experience.
Three now-former Lions fit within those parameters after having their contract options declined: Goalkeeper Joe Bendik, midfielder Richie Laryea, and forward Jose Villarreal. We’ll see if any of the three are selected, and good luck to them at their next respective stops.
USMNT News and Notes
The USMNT will be announcing its January camp roster this morning at 10 a.m. ET, and new Head Coach Gregg Berhalter will be speaking to media via a conference call at 10:30 to discuss it. That’s a nice touch from U.S. Soccer and the new skipper.
In other USMNT happenings, the Yanks are in negotiations to face Chile in an international friendly in late March, per CBS Sports. The match is expected to happen in Houston, but there have been no contracts signed to this point. The CBS report indicates that the match will take place on either March 25 or March 26, and it could happen at either NRG Stadium — home of the NFL’s Houston Texans — or BBVA Stadium, where the Houston Dynamo play.
U.S. Soccer has already announced friendlies against Panama in January and Costa Rica in early February as the two first matches of the Berhalter era.
- Orlando City announced a new youth development program for boys born between 2008 and 2014.
- American Weston McKennie provided an assist for American Haji Wright’s goal for Schalke against Bayer Leverkusen yesterday, marking the first goal to be scored and assisted by an American in the Bundesliga since 2004-05. Here’s the goal:
- The Orlando Pride’s Ashlyn Harris won U.S. Soccer’s Best Save of 2018 award via a Twitter poll.
- The Florida Cup will feature a 5-v-5 legends main event on Jan. 8.
- USL released its 2019 schedule, which is set to be the biggest in the league’s history.
- And finally, Asbury Park FC is not interested in José Mourinho, so stop with the fake news, people.
Have a wonderful Thursday, Mane Landers.