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Lion Links: 2/3/18

Sydney Leroux is in purple, Orlando City bolsters its back line, former Pride player retires, and much more.

2017 Tournament Of Nations - Japan v United States Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Happy weekend, Mane Land readers! Orlando City had a very busy week with signings galore, social media videos posted everywhere, and some great interviews. The Orlando Pride got in on the fun as well.

Orlando City has its first preseason match today against Jacksonville University, it’s the first whiff of true soccer for the Lions!

Oh, and in case you are keeping track, only a month until the kickoff of the 2018 season.

Now, onto the links.

Sydney Leroux Joins the Pride via Trade with Utah Royals

Ladies and gentlemen, the day has finally arrived! Sydney Leroux will be playing soccer in Orlando this year in the same stadium as her husband, Dom Dwyer, as the Orlando Pride have traded a 2019 first-round NWSL draft pick for the 27-year-old USWNT striker. Fans have yearned for this trade since Dwyer was added to Orlando City last year and he has said in multiple interviews that he hopes his family can join him in Orlando.

Leroux came to Orlando after FC Kansas City’s season ended last year and has been in Orlando with Dom for the holidays. Coming into the season, Leroux was contracted to the Utah Royals (previously FCKC before that team folded) and was going to have to travel to Utah so she could play this season. Sydney adds a physical, dynamic piece to the Orlando attack. The Pride struggled with physical play last year so Leroux should fix this issue on the forward line. Welcome to Sydney on her move to the Pride!

Orlando City Acquires Amro Tarek on Loan from Wadi Degla FC

Orlando City has made a much-needed addition to its back line by adding Amro Tarek, a 25-year-old center back/left back from Wadi Degla FC. Originally from Los Angles, Tarek also has Egyptian roots and has played for various teams in the country. He’s had a variety of appearances with teams like Real Betis, VfL Wolfsburg reserves, and Columbus Crew, among others. Tarek also has one cap with the Egyptian national team and is a former teammate of newly acquired winger Justin Meram.

Mohamed El-Munir Takes His First Touches with Orlando City

Mohamed El-Munir has not only landed in Florida but has also joined the team in Jacksonville ahead of its scrimmage against Jacksonville University today. El-Munir ran into some issues with his visa and travel pushing back his arrival in Florida by at least a week. Many fans were concerned that the Libyan international had not arrived in camp yet. Now, since he is in camp, it should take a few days for him to get acclimated with the squad and the training schedule. He won’t be playing today, having only spent one session with his new teammates. I, for one, look forward to seeing what he can provide for this team. Here’s an interview with the new defender to learn a bit more about him.

Former Orlando Pride Player Sarah Hagen Retires

As we’ve mentioned in previous Lion Links, Orlando City’s youth system is gaining a quality coach in its ranks, in former Pride player Sarah Hagen. Hagen, who has played eight years in professional women’s soccer, announced her retirement from playing yesterday via Instagram. She spent the 2016 season with the Orlando Pride, appearing 17 times and scoring two goals. Hagen also had two caps with the USWNT back in 2014. Congratulations to Sarah on her wonderful career and we can’t wait to see what she can do coaching at the youth level.

Report: Orlando City Attempted to Add Paulo Henrique Ganso

According to a Spanish newspaper, Orlando City was interested in the services of Paulo Ganso, the Brazilian footballer who is currently playing with Sevilla. It was reported that Ganso was falling out of favor with Sevilla and Orlando City reached out to inquire about his services. The club was allegedly offering a $2 million salary to the Brazilian but he was not interested in a move to Orlando. The club then turned its attention to other players, resulting in the addition of Josué Colmán. Ganso would have been a nice piece for Orlando City but, even if the report is true, the club has responded in an impactful way.

Anti-stadium Protest Begins in Overtown

It appears that there are some Overtown residents that are not thrilled with the newly announced Miami MLS team. Announced on Monday of this past week, Miami will return to MLS under the ownership of David Beckham and a few others. During the group’s search for a stadium site, land in the Overtown neighborhood was selected.

Free Kicks
  • Current Orlando Pride Development Academy player Taylor Fox received a call-up for the U-16 USWNT. Fox is one of three goalkeepers called into camp which is taking place in Bradenton this weekend. Congrats to Taylor and here’s to hoping more Orlando Pride Development Academy players get called up in the future.
  • Diego Maradona, the infamous Argentinian footballer, was reportedly refused entry into the United States. Maradona was attempting to acquire a visa but, according to his lawyer, his request was denied because of his comments toward President Trump and the administration. He was attempting to go to Miami for a civil court case.
  • Rubio Rubin signed with Club Tijuana. Rubin had a very nice camp and made a solid impact in the USMNT match against Bosnia on Jan. 28. The striker was being coveted by a few unnamed MLS teams but the salary was lower then expected with Club Tijuana swooping in at the last minute and grabbing him. He should have a good impact for the Liga MX side in their upcoming season.
  • A special event will be held for a group of fans down at Lions Pride on Feb. 9. There will be players and coaches as well as the media team who will be hosting a Q&A. The club will also discuss the idea of “Face of a City.” Be sure to sign up!

As I always do, I like to end on a positive note and this week I have been very impressed with the way the team has bonded over this entire week. Players seem to be getting closer with each other, learning about each other, and even having a bit of fun at the others’ expense. My favorite thus far is #RichieCam. If you haven’t checked it out you need to! One relationship that appears to really be growing is the one between Yoshimar Yotún and Pierre Da Silva. Enjoy this clip of the two of them dancing in the halls of their hotel.

Have a great Saturday and an awesome weekend!