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Lion Links: 1/8/19

New GM for the Pride, Orlando City schedule announced, talking to Luiz Muzzi, and more.

MLS: Combine Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Tuesday, Mane Landers. Today is my first day back at work following a break for the holidays, and as happy as I was to get some time off, it’ll be nice to get back in the groove of things. There is an absolute smorgasbord of Orlando City news to get to today, and even better, it’s all good news! Let’s get right down to it, folks.

New GM for Pride

Former Orlando City SC player Erik Ustruck has been hired as the new general manager for the Orlando Pride. Ustruck will report to Luiz Muzzi, the recently hired executive vice president of soccer operations, while he manages the technical aspects of running the NWSL team. Speaking on the hiring, Muzzi stressed that the Pride needed someone to manage them and them alone, rather than splitting duties managing both the men’s and women’s teams. Ustruck logged 61 appearances during his time with Orlando City and spent time as a manager of soccer operations for the Lions and the Pride after his retirement. Also included in the news about the Ustruck hiring is the information that the new Pride coach will not be announced until after the NWSL College Draft has ended.

Orlando City MLS Schedule Released

Major League Soccer has released the full regular season schedule for the upcoming 2019 season. That of course means that Orlando City now knows its full slate of games for the first full season under James O’Connor. While we already knew that the season opener would be a home showdown with NYCFC on March 2, we also know that the season will close out on Sunday, Oct. 6 against the Chicago Fire at home. Of note is that there are no more than two consecutive home games this year, with the longest away stretch being three games. Additionally (and mercifully), there are no afternoon home games during June, July, August, or September, meaning that fans have a better chance of avoiding being roasted alive in the Florida heat.

Talking with Luiz Muzzi

New Executive VP of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi had a sit down with members of the local media during the MLS Combine yesterday and chatted about a wide range of topics. Among them was his firm statement that he was content with Orlando City’s goalkeeping situation. He left the door open to signing another net-minder at some point, but specifically said “that’s not our top priority right now.” He also mentioned that he wants to sign more Homegrown Players, something that has already started to happen since his arrival. He also stated that every single player on the Orlando City B roster should have the potential to play for the first team, giving an indication for how he views the USL League One club. He also spoke about the club’s international partnerships, MLS SuperDraft strategy, scouting information, and other things.

Florida Cup News

The Florida Cup is right around the corner, with the festivities actually kicking off today. To start, there will be the Florida Cup Legends 5-v-5 game with names like Edwin Van der Sar, Zico, and Denilson taking part in the match.

The tournament proper then begins on Thursday with Eintracht Frankfurt taking on São Paulo, and Flamengo facing off with Ajax. Speaking of Flamengo, the club currently sitting second in the Brasileirão has announced its roster for the competition. Included on the squad is the man rumored to be linked with Orlando City, attacking midfielder Diego Ribas. The games will provide Orlando fans the opportunity to see the 33-year-old up close and allow us to make our own decisions about whether or not we want the rumors of a potential signing to be true.

Free Kicks
  • A message from Yoshi Yotún reflecting on his time in Orlando.

That’ll be all for me today. I’m off to do some budgeting and try to find a way to make it to as many games as possible this year. May you all have a wonderful day. Ciao.