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Lion Links: 1/16/19

Orlando City’s preseason schedule revealed, Alex Morgan named Female Player of the Year, O’Connor to speak at U.S. coaching course, and more.

Soccer: 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship-Canada at USA Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Mane Landers, and happy hump day! I hope your week is going well so far, and if not, well, it’s halfway over. We are loaded with links today for you, as the 2019 season inches closer and closer.

Orlando City Preseason Schedule Revealed

The Lions will play New York City FC and the New England Revolution in the first ever Orlando City Invitational. This tournament will be held on Feb. 16 and Feb. 20, with Minnesota United also being invited. The winner of this round-robin style tournament will be given a trophy.

“The Invitational is a fantastic new tradition we hope to start here in Orlando,” Orlando City SC Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi said in a club press release. “For us, it’s a great opportunity to get returning and new players back into the fold gaining valuable minutes against league teams. And for our fans, we invite them to come be part of the process and see their team come together ahead of a new year.”

The Invitational is open to the public. Orlando City also plays a number of closed-door friendlies before kicking off the season at home against NYCFC on March 2.

Alex Morgan is the 2018 CONCACAF Female Player of the Year

The Orlando Pride’s star forward was named the top female in Concacaf for the third year in a row, and fourth total. Morgan’s seven goals won her the Golden Boot in the United StatesWorld Cup qualifying campaign. The 29-year-old led the Yanks to a perfect 5-0-0 in qualifying. This is the second major award Morgan has collected for her work in 2018 after winning the U.S. Female Player of the Year last month.

James O’Connor Dubbed an Expert in Coaching

U.S. Soccer is having its fourth ever Pro License Course. Ten candidates will begin the year-long process of earning the top coaching license in North America. Among the candidates are former Orlando City assistant Mark Watson, U.S. youth coach Dave Van Den Bergh, and longtime MLS head coach Mike Petke.

U.S. Soccer has asked “guest speakers that are experts in coaching, leadership, teaching and more” to help in this course. Orlando City’s head coach is one of the six presenters that will speak this upcoming week.

Promotion/Relegation Coming to the U.S.?

USL President Jake Edwards is hoping the lower league will have a promotion and relegation system by 2026. If pro/rel is going to happen, it would be just within USL. Do not expect it to happen in MLS any time soon.

Edwards also sees there being 80 teams between USL Championship and USL League One and youth academies for all teams. There will undoubtedly be expansion in the USL in the coming years, and as early as this summer. Edwards said that he wants three more teams by the summer and the league “is in advanced discussions with two high-profile European clubs about owning teams in League One.”

MLS Makes Austin Expansion Official

Austin FC officially became the 27th franchise in MLS. Former Columbus Crew owner Anthony Precourt leads the ownership group. The team will join MLS in 2021. Austin is building a new 20,000-seat stadium that costs $225 million and is expected to be completed for its inaugural season.

“Austin is a thriving metropolitan city–the embodiment of what we mean when we say MLS is a ‘League for a new America,’” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “We are extremely proud to be the first major professional sports league to become part of the fabric of this important and thriving American city.”

NWSL Names Amanda Duffy as President

Amanda Duffy will continue in the role that she has been performing for the past year, but now she has the title as well. She was named managing director in Jan. 2018. In her new role, Duffy will “continue to oversee all aspects of the league’s day-to-day operations” and work closely with the league’s owners on the strategic direction and objectives for NWSL.

“Amanda has been instrumental in operating the league as Managing Director,” said North Carolina Courage Owner and Executive Committee Chair Steve Malik. “She’s an extremely talented professional and we feel that she will continue to foster the league’s growth as President. As we look to the future, her experience and talents are a great fit for taking the league to the next level.”

Legendary Goalkeeper Calls it Quits

Petr Cech will end his 20-year career and retire after this Premier League season. The keeper’s historical career includes 13 trophies and a club record 228 clean sheets with Chelsea, one Champions League and four Premier League titles, and 124 caps for Czech Republic.

Free Kicks
  • Former Lion Richie Laryea has been training at Toronto FC’s facilities, though MLS preseason doesn’t officially kick off until Monday. The Canadian is from the area and could catch on with TFC or perhaps be a target for TFCII.