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Lion Links: 12/6/18

Orlando City linked with new GM and Brazilian player, Pride players named among world’s best, and more.

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

Happy Thursday, everyone. While this week seemed to be a bit quiet, things picked up yesterday, which shows you how quickly things can change.

Next week should be a busy time, with the half-day trade window on Sunday, the Expansion Draft and start of free agency on Tuesday, the Waiver Draft on Wednesday, Stage 1 of the Re-Entry Draft on Friday afternoon, and the SeaWolves hosting defending champion Baltimore on Friday night.

But before we get to all of those events, let’s check in on the top stories at this hour.

Orlando City Reportedly Hiring Luiz Muzzi as GM

The Lions might not be without a general manager for long. Just days after parting ways with Niki Budalic, Orlando City is reportedly close to hiring Luiz Muzzi. The 49-year-old has served as FC Dallas vice president of soccer operations since September and has previously worked closely with former FC Dallas Technical Director Fernando Clavijo. Muzzi has been with Dallas since 2012 and is currently responsible for overseeing all aspects of player personnel, scouting and team administration. His experience in MLS and the fact that he’s Brazilian makes Muzzi a terrific candidate for the job and he’d fill the criteria I listed in addressing Orlando City’s biggest priority.

Ideally the hire should be someone with previous GM experience and a wide knowledge of both Major League Soccer’s rules and the worldwide talent pool.

Lions Linked with Brazilian Attacking Player

Speaking of the worldwide talent pool and Brazilians in general, Orlando was reportedly in the mix to sign Vasco da Gama midfielder and right back Yago Pikachu. The speedy, shifty, and smallish attacker won’t likely be coming to Orlando, however, per our source with knowledge of the situation. It’s unfortunate that Pikachu won’t be joining Yoshi in Orlando so that we can make all of the video game jokes, but a new contract for the 26-year-old drove up his price and the Lions have little flexibility at the top end of the roster. Expect mainly mid- to low-end roster moves this off-season unless Orlando can shed one of the bigger contracts.

Orlando Pride Players Make Top Footballers List

The Guardian is putting together a list of the top 100 women footballers in the world and releasing them in chunks. A couple of Orlando Pride and Australia stars are side-by-side on the list so far, as Alanna Kennedy and Emily van Egmond checked in at No. 99 and 98, respectively. So far the list has revealed No. 41-100 and you can bet there are a few Pride players — notably Marta nad Alex Morgan — yet to come as the list unfolds. The list was compiled using a wide variety of judges including players, coaches, journalists, and broadcasters.

Krieger Among NWSL Players Nearing Final Assessment in Coaching Course

A while back we linked to a story about 21 NWSL players who are taking a C License coaching course. Those players are nearing their final assessments after a week of 12-hour sessions and 10 weeks of homework and practicums. Those players include Orlando Pride star defender Ali Krieger, who is coming to appreciate what coaches go through.

“We’ve had to kind of take our player hat off and put our coaching hat on,” said Orlando Pride defender Ali Krieger. “I can say I respect my coaches a little bit more now that I’ve been through the course. It’s pretty demanding, yet very rewarding. We’re learning a lot. Our instructors are super-knowledgeable. They’re inspiring and now have become some of our mentors throughout this process.”

“We need more female coaches in the world, especially in the NWSL and in youth development,” she added. “With us having all the knowledge that we have from playing at the highest level and going through different levels throughout our careers, I think we already have that advantage over a lot of other coaches who might just be starting out. And I think we need to start being willing to take these courses and give back in a way.”

Give the full story a read at the link above.

Martinez Named MLS MVP

Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez was named Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player on Wednesday, finishing ahead of his teammate, Miguel Almiron. Martinez set a new MLS goal-scoring record this season. I wouldn’t say that either Atlanta player is undeserving but the Five Stripes would have likely still been among the league’s best teams without one or the other — though perhaps not without both. On the other hand, Zlatan Ibrahimovic nearly carried a bad LA Galaxy team to the playoffs by himself, without all the helpful teammates that Martinez and Almiron had. Additionally, Wayne Rooney brought D.C. United back from the dead over the last third of the season. Personally, my choice is Zlatan, although I won’t argue too hard about the other top finishers. Ibra’s 22 goals and 10 assists in 27 games (24 starts) is absurd and he had less talent around him than the others, particularly the Atlanta guys.

Free Kicks
  • Speaking of Almiron, his transfer to Newcastle United is nearly a done deal. Good riddance.
  • James O’Connor reportedly went to Lima, Peru, to check on Yoshi and Carlos Ascues and perhaps to find more Peruvian talent to bring back to Orlando.
  • Bruce Arena could be headed to the Columbus Crew as general manager.
  • U.S. Soccer has two Berhalters in key positions and here’s why the federation is OK with that.
  • Columbus city leaders and partners announced a new plan for the Mapfre Stadium grounds to house the team’s training facility and a sports complex after the team moves into a new stadium. The new facility and stadium would help the new ownership group level the playing field in terms of the club’s assets.
  • Those born on this date include songwriter Ira Gershwin (1896), notorious gangster Baby Face Nelson (1908), football legend Otto Graham (1921), actress JoBeth Williams (1948), Animal House and Amadeus actor Tom Hulce (1953), comedian Steven Wright (1955), R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck (1956), late Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Randy Rhoads (1956), filmmaker Judd Apatow (1967), Australian international footballer Tim Cahill (1979), and 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny “Football” Manziel (1992).

That’s all I’ve got for you today. Please enjoy the rest of your Thursday and I’ll be back to do this again with you before you know it.