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Lion Links: 2/1/18

Another Orlando City trade, another transfer may be near, Justin Meram’s first day as a Lion, and more.

Image courtesy of Orlando City SC.

Happy Thursday, everyone and welcome to February! It’s the final month without Orlando City regular-season matches. We’re now just 30 days away from the Lions’ opening match against D.C. United and hey, wouldn’t it be great if the squad had more than two center backs?

OK, so we’ve all been a little impatient and it will happen in due time, but instead of focusing on the moves that are still to come, we can bask in the glow of an endless parade of talented midfielders arriving daily in the City Beautiful (or, for now, Jacksonville, anyway).

Here are our top stories at this hour:

Yet Another Trade for Orlando City

While it didn’t add a player to the roster (yet), the Lions made another deal on Wednesday, sending an international roster slot for 2018 to the Montreal Impact for $100,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM). Apparently those Garberbucks won’t be in Orlando very long.

I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Orlando Closing in on a Center Back?

RC Lens center back Dušan Cvetinović could be the next off-season signing for Orlando City. According to this Ligue 2 site (that I didn’t know existed until yesterday), the Lions may be close to paying a release clause in the 29-year-old Serb’s contract that would free him for a move to MLS. Lens may be replacing Cvetinović with former Red Bulls defender Damien Perrinelle.

Meram’s First 24 Hours in Purple

It was a whirlwind for Justin Meram with Monday’s trade and he wasted no time getting to Jacksonville to meet his new teammates and get preseason with Orlando City started. This video hits the highlights of his first 24 hours as a Lion.

Goodbyes Galore

The two Pride players who left Orlando this week did so in a much more normal matter than the Orlando City striker who transferred out. All three offered their goodbyes on social media but one of them seemed completely out of place to me. I’ll let you decide which one.

Look, I’ve made my thoughts quite clear on the way Larin chose to force his exit from a team that was already willing to move him to a European club and looking to do just that. But it seems incredibly tone deaf to me that Larin didn’t at least apologize to the club’s fans for his part in the way things ended. Our friend Paul Tenorio had other things to say on the topic of Larin and how this whole mess could affect MLS rules moving forward.

Lions Learn Leadership

Six Orlando City players designated as core leaders for the 2018 squad — Jonathan Spector, Joe Bendik, Will Johnson, Yoshimar Yotún, Dom Dwyer, and Sacha Kljestanvisited Naval Air Station Jacksonville. The trip was the idea of Spector and his friend, Lt. Commander Mike Garcia.

“He’s a pilot in the Navy,” Spector said. “Him and I were talking and I got the idea to get a group of guys over there, sit down with the commanding officer of his squadron and a few other hand-picked members and just have a discussion on some of their core values, their culture, their leadership, how they establish teamwork and commitment that they have and how it can relate to us.”

Inchy Lauds Lions’ Off-Season

Christian Bruey from WFTV caught up with former OCSC gaffer Adrian Heath at Minnesota United’s training camp and discussed Larin’s prospects at Besiktas, among other things. Among the things that stuck out to me in the excerpt below (full interview to air this weekend) is “I think [Orlando City has] probably had the best off-season of anybody in MLS.”

Free Kicks
  • Former Lion Carlos Rivas scored a goal on a free kick in his New York Red Bulls debut, because of course he did. The Red Bulls, however, blew a 2-0 lead and lost to the New England Revolution, 4-3.
  • MLS and Liga MX are discussing an annual match between the two leagues’ champions. But, in true MLS fashion, it’s going to end up being weird.
  • The U-17 USWNT’s matches are set for the 2018 CONCACAF Championship. The matches begin April 20 with a match against Costa Rica. The U.S. will also play Bermuda and Canada in Group B. The tournament is being held in Managua, Nicaragua. The 2018 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup will be held from Nov. 13-Dec. 1 in Uruguay.
  • The USL instituted a few rule changes for 2018.
  • Among those born on this date include: Clark Gable (1901), SNL alum Garrett Morris (1937), The Jeffersons star Sherman Hemsley (1938), Monty Python’s Terry Jones (1942), Rick James (1948), Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell (1950), Warrant frontman Jani Lane (1964), former UCF and USWNT star Michelle Akers (1966), Pauly Shore (1968), Scottish footballer Darren Fletcher (1984), Ronda Rousey (1987), and Genoa forward Guiseppe Rossi (1987).

That’s all my time this morning, folks. Enjoy your Thursday. I’d tell you to get ready for Orlando City’s preseason opener in Jacksonville this weekend, but the club doesn’t want any of us to see it because reasons. I leave you with this screenshot from Dom Dwyer’s Instagram video where he smiled, then threw the focus onto the Pride magnet and then back to himself. He’s either very hopeful, a huge tease, or subtly leaking info on a Tom Sermanni target. You decide.

Are you trying to tell us something, Dom?