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Lion Links: 3/16/18

Kljestan set to return, Orlando makes World Cup bid shortlist, video review going to Russia, FIFA women’s league, and more!

Serbia v United States Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images

Good morning, Mane landers! Happy game day eve! I hope you enjoy the last day of the work week, and get to kick back and relax during the weekend! Orlando City takes on its 2015 expansion rivals, New York City FC, tomorrow and it will feel great to get to see Sacha Kljestan in purple!

Kljestan Set to Return

Sacha Kljestan missed the first two games of Orlando City’s 2018 season and the Lions have definitely felt the loss. Between injures and suspensions Jason Kreis has had trouble finding a makeshift starting XI that could get results. This resulted in earning just one point in two home games. One of the new players will finally get to see the field on Saturday, and NYCFC will not be looking forward to it. Kljestan has 10 assists against New York City, the most among all active players against any team.

“I was brought in here to do a job and I know they gave up a lot to bring me here.” Kljestan said. “None of that weighs on me as much as the pressure I put on myself.”

Orlando Makes World Cup Bid Shortlist

Great news for international soccer fans in Orlando came out Thursday. Orlando was named to the 23-city shortlist as a candidate host city for the united North America World Cup bid, meaning if the joint bid by the U.S., Mexico, and Canada wins, the World Cup will be coming back to Orlando! Up to 16 cities will ultimately be chosen from the shortlist of 23 and nothing is settled yet — least of all the location of the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

On the other hand, this story by outlines FIFA’s ridiculous demands of its World Cup host locations. These demands are reportedly causing cities to rethink whether they’re interested in hosting.

International Women’s League Coming?

FIFA President Gianni Infantino wants to start a 16-team competition that would feature the best women’s teams in the world, as well as four regional leagues. The move is part of an effort to increase the visibility, quality and appeal of women’s soccer and to boost Infantino’s standing before his bid for re-election next year. Investing in the women’s game was a plank in Infantino’s campaign platform in 2015.”

“We are also thinking of creating a world women’s football league so that all federations can participate, because we should not lose sight of the fact that 50 percent of the world’s population is female,” Infantino said.

Actually 48.1% of the population is female, Infantino. But regardless, this is an interesting move that puts the president in a good light prior to his re-election. This would definitely be a good competition and could help grow the women’s game, but I want to see some more movement on it before I believe it will actually happen.

USMNT to Play in Philadelphia

The United States Men’s National team is set to play Bolivia on May 28 in the home of the Union. This game will be a great chance for younger players to break into the national team and interim head coach Dave Sarachan is looking to take advantage of it.

“With the addition of the Bolivia game, we have a great set of experiences on the table for our young players this summer,” said Sarachan. “Bolivia presents different challenges than Ireland and France. We’re thrilled to be starting the tour in Philadelphia, one of the great soccer communities in the United States and a fan base that has always supported the National Team.”

VAR Coming to World Cup

The FIFA Council is set to begin on Friday and Infantino has been talking highly of Video Assistant Referee technology. VAR will be used in Russia on goals, penalties, red cards, and to correct if an official sanctions a wrong player. There are both pros and cons of video review and it will not be perfect in a few months. In fact, get ready for the VAR controversy now so that when it happens in Russia you won’t be surprised. But it will also help referees make the correct call in other situations.

Free Kicks
  • Former OCB player Albert Diwka has his own YouTube show.
  • Uri Rossell may be getting closer, but he is still not going to be ready for game action, as he’s still not fully integrated with the group.
  • MLS Works has launched a new initiative called “Soccer For All” and it is a great step forward. The goal is for everyone to be treated fairy and given an opportunity “regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status.”
  • Phoenix Rising’s MLS expansion bid got a boost when the club revealed renderings for a planned 21,000-seat soccer stadium.
  • The NWSL released its roster and competition rules and regulations. Among the changes is the salary cap gets a small boost, but minimum player salary is still under $20,000.
  • Happy birthday to James Madison, Flavor Flav, and Blake Griffin.