Happy new year, everyone! Aren’t you glad to be rid of 2018? I don’t have to tell you what a miserable year it was from an Orlando City standpoint. The Lions were awful, the Pride were inconsistent, and there was no OCB. We lost Yoshi, Meram didn’t pan out, and we went through another coaching change and a GM change, which led to the current off-season rebuild. If 2019 isn’t better than 2018...well, I don’t even know how to finish that sentence.
Anyway, it is a new year and, because I’m an idiot, I’ll allow my hopes to rise — albeit more cautiously than ever before.
Anyhow, let’s get on with your first Lion Links of 2019.
OCSC Replacing Voice of the Lions
Longtime Orlando City play-by-play announcer Jeff Radcliffe announced that the club isn’t bringing him back for the 2019 season. Jeff has been doing Lions games since the first USL season and it will be weird not having his voice on the call. I had a long, candid conversation with him about Orlando City not renewing his contract and I can promise you that he bleeds as purple as the rest of us. Broadcasting is a tough business and Radcliffe told me he thinks the move is financially motivated. Here’s the (literal) money quote:
“It certainly appears budget is a big part of the reason I’m not back,” he said. “When they got rid of a club legend (Lewis Neal) as one of our analysts, our Emmy-winning producer, moved Tom Traxler to radio full time, and made me take a 20% pay cut prior to 2018. Heck they even pushed Tom and Dan, arguably the two most popular guys in central Florida out the door…didn’t want to pay them. That blew my mind. I knew my days were probably numbered. I’m under contract through the end of the year, yet the club tried to stop paying me at the end of October….again another sign.”
I want to personally wish Jeff good luck with the next steps in his career. I’ve enjoyed talking soccer with him over the years.
Lions Make Benji Michel Homegrown Signing Official
What was teased has come to pass and Benji Michel is officially a Homegrown Lion. One of the more promising players to ever roll through Orlando City’s academy, Michel is a striker who has long been adept at finding the net — precisely what the Lions need. Although it may take some time to make the leap into the pro game, this is an excellent addition to the club’s roster for 2019 and beyond.
Dom and Syd Baby News
It looks like we’re getting a future Pride player to go along with future Lion Cassius. Dom Dwyer and Sydney Leroux Dwyer revealed the gender of their impending arrival in exactly the way you’d expect — by showing a little soccer skill. I like to imagine this was done in one take, so that Dom didn’t have to repeatedly shower and the patio didn’t need to be cleaned over and over before they got the take they wanted.
No better way to ring in the New Year. pic.twitter.com/mUhTvslC7L— Sydney Leroux Dwyer (@sydneyleroux) December 31, 2018
USMNT’s Lynden Gooch Re-Ups with Sunderland Through 2022
Good news for USMNT pool player Lynden Gooch came yesterday when the lad inked a three-and-a-half-year contract that will keep him with Premier League side Sunderland until at least 2022. The 23-year-old made his first team debut at the Stadium of Light in 2015 and has been with Sunderland since leaving high school.
Speaking about the deal, Gooch said: “I am glad to get it all done because the manager has given me a lot of opportunities. He has shown faith in me when I haven’t been playing well at times, but I’m delighted to be in this first team and playing because that’s the most important thing at my age.”
- Here is how American players fared abroad this weekend.
- There’s one EPL match today featuring a U.S. player. Here’s your viewing guide for Arsenal vs. Fulham. Go Tim Ream!
- Could the Oakland Raiders really share a stadium with Tottenham in 2019?
- D.C. United finalized the deal for Lucas Rodriguez out of Argentine club Estudiantes.
- Former Chicago Fire forward Michael de Leeuw has signed with FC Emmen in the Eredivisie.
- The Ronaldo effect:
Despite leaving for Juventus in July, Ronaldo STILL ended 2018 as Real Madrid's top scorer. pic.twitter.com/ReICmy145g— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) December 31, 2018
- Great news for those of you who have Netflix:
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) December 31, 2018
Only eight countries have ever won the #WorldCup. A new series on Netflix called "Becoming Champions" looks at the stories behind those teams. Perfect holiday viewing!
FEATURING @URUGUAY pic.twitter.com/Ts3a1GDNlo
- Sky Sports looks back on some of the EPL quotes of the year from 2018.
- Those born on this date include Paul Revere (1735), Betsy Ross (1752), J. Edgar Hoover (1895), boxing’s Rocky Graziano (1919), American football’s Doak Walker (1927), Grandmaster Flash (1958), former MLS and USMNT goalkeeper Joe Cannon (1975), Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (1989), and former Orlando City striker Bryan Rochez (1995).
That will do it for me this morning. Enjoy not only your New Year’s Day, but the entirety of your 2019.