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Lion Links: 8/3/18

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Meram trade rumors, Orlando City adds to its coaching staff, USWNT wins Tournament of Nations, and much more.

MLS: Atlanta United FC at Orlando City SC Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

What’s up, Mane Landers? The Tournament of Nations has come to a close and attention now turns to this weekend’s action, with both Orlando City and the Pride playing here in Orlando. Both teams will be looking to get results at Orlando City Stadium as their seasons head into the home stretch. It should be a great next couple of days, so let’s kick them off with some links!

Justin Meram Reportedly Headed Back to Columbus

Reports came out yesterday that Justin Meram will be traded back to the Columbus Crew after just six months with Orlando City. Sam Stejskal of mlssoccer.com writes that the Crew would send $750,000 in Targeted Allocation Money and a 2019 international slot to Orlando for Meram after already selling him to the Lions earlier this January for $1.05 million in combined allocation money. Essentially, the Lions paid $300,00 for six months of service from Meram. In that time, Meram had only scored one goal apiece in MLS and the U.S. Open Cup, and could not seem to find his form in Orlando. The Lions and the Crew will meet later this season in Orlando City’s last regular season home game, with Meram possibly on the opposing side.

Orlando City Hires Assistant Coach

Sean McAuley has joined Orlando City’s coaching staff after seven seasons as the assistant coach for the Portland Timbers. This isn’t the first meeting between McAuley and Orlando City Head Coach James O’Connor as McAuley actually coached O’Connor when he was a player for Sheffield Wednesday from 2008-2011. Part of the staff that won the Timbers the MLS Cup in 2015, the 47-year-old assistant coach hopes to bring a winning attitude to Orlando when he joins the Lions some time next week.

USWNT Wins 2018 Tournament of Nations

The United States Women’s National Team has won the Tournament of Nations after beating Brazil, 4-1, to edge out Australia by goal differential. Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan finished as the top scorer of the tournament, with four goals in three games. Morgan’s last goal was the last of the competition as she got on the end of a set piece cross by Megan Rapinoe to put the USWNT comfortably up by three goals. There was a little scare late in the game when Morgan had to be taken off the field after what looked like an ankle issue, but it doesn’t seem serious as she was seen celebrating fine after the victory.

For Brazil, Marta and Monica both started while Poliana and Camila came off the bench but the Brazilians were unable to upset the Yanks, with Brazil’s lone goal coming from an own goal by the U.S.

In the earlier game between Australia and Japan, the Matildas scored twice in the second half to win 2-0 and finish second in the tournament. Pride defender Alanna Kennedy scored the first goal for Australia with a perfect free kick that snuck into the bottom left corner of the goal. Sam Kerr scored to secure the win and although they did not win the tournament, the Matildas exit unbeaten with their heads held high.

Niki Budalic Assesses Orlando City Transfer Plans

With the summer transfer window ending on Aug. 8, Orlando City General Manager Niki Budalic fielded questions in regard to the Lions’ transfer plans. So far, the Lions have only added center back Shane O’Neill to the squad while the team has lost 12 of its 13 games. The hiring of James O’Connor came at an inopportune time as he tries to evaluate his players and identify areas that need improvement while the transfer deadline looms. Regardless of the complications from a new coaching hire, Budalic is optimistic that the Lions will straighten things out, even if that means not bolstering the squad and just getting more out of the players already on the team.

United States Men’s National Team Schedules October Friendly

The USMNT’s slate of games this fall just got even more enticing with a friendly scheduled against Colombia on Oct. 11 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL. Colombia is the fifth of an expected six opponents that the Yanks will face off against before 2018 ends, joining heavyweight teams like Brazil and England. The last time the U.S. played against Colombia was in the Copa America Centenario in 2016, when the U.S. lost two times against its South American foes.

Free Kicks
  • With a tough stretch of games ahead as the NWSL season’s end nears, Orlando Pride defender Toni Pressley believes the Pride will rise to the pressure and are ready to get back on the field this Sunday against Sky Blue FC.
  • Ex-Orlando City striker Cyle Larin has kicked off his 2018 campaign with Turkish club Besiktas on the right foot, scoring a hat trick in a 6-0 win against a B36 Torshavn of the Faroe Islands. Congratulations to Cyle as he leads his team into the third qualifying round of the Europa League.
  • The Orlando SeaWolves of the Major Arena Soccer League have added a third former Lion to their squad by signing defender Tyler Turner. The 22-year-old joins Lewis Neal and Johnny Mendoza as former Orlando players to become SeaWolves.
  • Speaking of past members of Orlando City on the move, former Orlando Vice President of Soccer Operations Paul McDonough is headed to Miami to help David Beckham with his still unnamed new MLS team. Jumping from Orlando to Atlanta and now to Miami, it is nice to see that one of the league’s top executives is dedicated to making the south a popular place for soccer. Congrats, Paul!
  • James O’Connor’s old team has found a new head coach as Louisville FC has appointed John Hackworth to take over.
  • 17-year-old Alphonso Davies has won MLS Goal of the Week for his strike against Minnesota United in the Vancouver Whitecaps 4-2 victory over the Loons. Davies’ well-placed shot was only overshadowed by his footwork as he sent a defender the wrong way with a beautiful cutback.
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic was rightfully named MLS Player of the Week for his hat trick against Orlando last Sunday night. Although it is a sour feeling losing to Zlatan and the LA Galaxy 4-3, there is a small comfort that comes knowing it took an incredible performance by one of the league’s best players to defeat the Lions.
  • Regarding the other team in Los Angeles, LAFC midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye will miss the remainder of the 2018 season.
  • Reports have surfaced about the future of Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal throughout yesterday, with a move to Barcelona being a “done deal”.
  • We end our links with a little remix put together by our past contributor and current Orlando City writer Austin David about how Dom Dwyer is feeling. Our managing editor told him to give it a beat and Austin ran with it.

That’s all from me, folks. Make sure to check back in later today for more coverage of soccer here in the City Beautiful. Vamos Orlando!