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Lion Links: 1/6/19

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Orlando City transfer rumor, Luiz Muzzi focused on 2019, a new team from Central Florida joins the NPSL, and more.

MLS: Combine Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Sunday, Mane Landers! It’s a new year, and personally, my optimism is already fading for the prospect of a strong 2019 season. The recent departure of stalwart Yoshimar Yotún is still weighing heavily on me. Regardless, I’m curious how the remainder of the off-season will unfold, and can only hope that more moves are made to strengthen this Orlando City roster and finally push the club over the top and into its first ever playoff appearance. Time will tell. Until then though, I’m here to serve you up your Sunday helping of Lion Links. Enjoy!

Lions Linked with Young Zambian Midfielder

The latest Orlando City transfer rumor comes in the form of Lubambo Musonda from Zambia. The 23-year-old midfielder is currently playing in Armenia with FC Gandzasar Kapan and has 23 caps with Zambia, scoring two goals.

Luiz Muzzi is Focused on the Future

Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi, in an interview with ProSoccerUSA, stressed that the Lions aren’t done making moves this off-season, adding that be believes center back is the most pressing need, with youthful, pacey players to add to the flanks after that. Muzzi has always been a proponent of incorporating the younger players in the club earlier on, and it looks like we can expect to see that this upcoming season. He also touched on the Yoshi transfer, noting that the club had offered to match Cruz Azul’s offer but he declined the chance to stay. Muzzi didn’t want to keep a player that wouldn’t be happy, meaning he wouldn’t be as productive as he could. In regards to the numerous changes and rumors whirling around the club, Muzzi has preached for patience.

“What I’m going to ask fans is give us a chance. Give us a chance because it’s not only me, you’ve got a whole staff who is kind of new. They were here for four months, five months at the end of the season. They came in with something that was already in place. They didn’t have a chance to implement things that they wanted to. So, give us a chance. Hopefully you’re going to like what you see.”

Time will tell...but it’ll be an interesting season nonetheless.

Central Florida Soccer Club Joins NPSL

In an exciting move for the club and its former league, the Central Florida Soccer League, Central Florida SC will be elevating its level of competition by joining the NPSL. President Eddie Loyola is excited to finally have the opportunity to shine a light on the footballing talent tucked away in the middle of the Floridian peninsula.

“We expect to showcase the wealth of talent that participates in the Central Florida Soccer League and our affiliate, the Florida Suncoast Soccer League,” Loyola added. “With an NPSL membership, we will be able to provide a pyramid of opportunities for our league’s amateur players and coaches.”

It’s exciting to see the grass roots clubs growing into real competitors on the American landscape, and it’ll be interesting to see where CFSC goes from here.

MLS Combine Performance Results

The 2019 MLS Player Combine is underway, and early indications are that Michigan State forward DeJuan Jones has dominated the tests, running a 3.82 in the 30-meter dash, a 3-9-2 in the 5-10-5 shuttle run, and leaping 35 inches in the vertical jump. That performance was good enough for first place in all but the vertical jump, where he was bested by a half an inch and inch by Prosper Figbe (Virginia) and Roy Boateng (UC Davis), respectively. It’s becoming clear that the club that lands Jones — who scored the Combine’s opening goal for Team Nemeziz — may have a future superstar on its hands, so keep an eye on where he lands and how he performs in an impending preseason. Look for a story later today by Michael Citro on Orlando native Santiago Patino’s first day of Combine action.

Tim Howard Pegs Christian Pulisic for Chelsea Success

A former Premier League stalwart for Everton between the sticks himself, former USMNT goalkeeper Tim Howard has predicted a bright future for American footballing starlet Christian Pulisic at Chelsea. Howard’s reasoning is sound; Pulisic has already played for a massive club and found success, while becoming the focal point of his national team setup. While Howard acknowledged that Pulisic isn’t the “biggest guy in the world,” he also states that his specific style and talents will lend themselves well to Chelsea’s goals. The only question in Howard’s mind is Pulisic’s mental fortitude.

“The question for him will be can he handle the mental side of that. From all accounts, and from people around him that I know, he’s in a really good place and he’s ready to tackle the challenge.”

I think he’s ready to tackle the challenge too. Once he makes the move, as he’s been loaned back to Dortmund until the end of the current season, it’ll be fun to watch an American make an impact at on the of the most influential and successful clubs in the world — let alone one of the richest.

Free Kicks
  • The Pride’s Christine Nairn is absolutely killing it in the land down under, netting an olimpico from a corner kick for Melbourne Victory F.C.
  • FC Bayern Munich has raided the youth fields of America yet again, signing 18-year-old Chris Richards from FC Dallas. Richards is a promising center back that’s poised for great things. Hopefully he and fellow former MLS phenom Alphonso Davies can make an impact at the highest level in Europe.
  • Want a preview of Portland’s renovations to Providence Park? Me neither. (The rendering does look pretty cool though.)
  • Outgoing and typically controversial FC Bayern Munich winger Frank Ribery has been catching some heat for posting videos, photos, and a not-so-nice message to social media of him eating a golden steak in Dubai during the Bundesliga break. As a Bayern fan, I’m glad he’s leaving the Allianz Arena locker room, but that’s just me.
  • Stay tuned for more on this one... #WhenPoliticsAndFootballMix

Well, that’s all for today Mane Landers. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday, have a great week, and stay tuned for news on moves made during this rebuilding-oriented off-season. Ciao!