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Lion Links: 2/17/18

Chioma Ubogagu re-signs, Pride open the season at home, another move for Orlando City on the horizon(?), and more.

Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

Happy Saturday, Mane Land readers! I’m glad that the weekend is here and I’m sure most of you feel the same.

Orlando City will have its fourth preseason scrimmage against Real Salt Lake today and it also signals that the season is only two weeks away!

Now on to the links.

Chioma Ubogagu Re-signs with Orlando Pride

Chioma Ubogagu will be in purple for the foreseeable future as the young attacking player inked a new deal with the Orlando Pride on Friday. No details of the contract were released but re-signing Ubogagu sets up the season nicely for the Pride. She contributed pretty heavily last year, playing in 20 games for the Pride as she scored four goals and added three assists. With Chi re-signed, the Pride has one remaining player to wrap up in Alanna Kennedy before their preseason. The Pride will get to work on Feb. 19, as preseason begins, and they will participate in a few preseason matches as well. Chi will look to contribute large minutes this upcoming season.

Pride Open at Home for the 2018 Season

For all of us National Women’s Soccer League fans, we have been waiting for the 2018 season schedule and it’s finally here (kind of — the league announced all the home openers). NWSL announced Friday that the Orlando Pride will open the 2018 season at home against Utah Royals FC on March 24 at 7:30 p.m. The following week the Pride will travel to Washington D.C. where they will take on the Washington Spirit in Washington’s home opener on March 31. After the FIFA break the following week, we also know that the Pride will travel to Portland to take on the Thorns on April 15, which will be Portland’s home opener. The rest of the NWSL schedule is expected to drop on Tuesday, Feb. 20, so expect more details then.

Another Move on the Horizon?

Orlando City CEO Alex Leitao dropped his classic eyeball emoji tweet on Friday about mid-afternoon, telling fans to look out for news on Monday. In the past, this normally signals some kind of move from Orlando City, so we’ll have to see what happens. It was announced at Media Day that the club was still looking to bring in a defensive piece but it has been relatively silent since the statement. Depending on the signing, this could be a great move for the club and solidify its back line going into the season which still remains a weak spot on the squad.

Cyle Larin Could go out on Loan

Cyle Larin has had a rough couple of months and it appears to be getting worse for the young Canadian striker. After the Larin saga was resolved last month, he has been looking to get playing time with Besiktas but appears to be the fourth striker on the roster. According to reports, Larin could be on the move, as Besiktas is looking to loan him out so he can get playing time. China, Ukraine, and Russia are all leagues that are looking at his services. Regardless of what happens, it appears Larin’s tough beginning of the year will continue.

Kaku Saga Finally Comes to an End

The New York Red Bulls have been working on replacing Sacha Kljestan ever since he was traded to Orlando City and it appears they finally got their man. The Red Bulls targeted 23-year-old playmaker Alejandro “Kaku” Romero Gamarra to fill a need but there were some hiccups in the transfer. According to ESPN:

“the deal was held up while lawyers involved in the transfer refuted their payment for their participation.”

This saga has been going on for weeks and looked bleak for some time but they finally worked it all out between the club, the player, his agent, and the lawyers that were involved. This continues a trend of young South American players making the move to MLS this off-season. It should be fun to see what these young players can do in this league.

Free Kicks
  • The first two teams have booked their tickets into the FA Cup quarterfinal with Leicester City edging out Sheffield United with a 1-0 victory and Chelsea blowing out Hull City, 4-0. The remainder of the round of 16 games will take place this weekend, so there will be some great soccer to watch.
  • In a Ligue 1 match between AS Monaco and Dijon, the referee missed an obvious penalty kick call. In the 64th minute, Monaco’s Youri Tielemans was taken down in the corner of the 18-yard box. Tielemans immediately looked to the assistant referee and the head referee for the call but neither official called the PK. Take a look at the video and see what you think.
  • A few West Brom players allegedly stole a taxi from a McDonald’s drive-thru while in Spain. It was said that a few players took the taxi and drove it back to their hotel, where it was found parked outside a few hours later. The club acknowledged the incident and said that they would be investigating the situation.

Those are the links, but, as you all know, I like to end on a positive note, so I have a fun one for you. We know that a lot of fans out there have been wanting to see some preseason action and it looks like your wish is coming true. The Lion Nation Twitter account announced on Friday that the club will be streaming the final 15 minutes of the training scrimmage against RSL, for those that are Lion Nation premium members. So, be sure to tune in for the stream if you can!