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Lion Links: 2/1/19

O’Connor shifts focus, Ubogagu praises W-League, U.S Open Cup schedule revealed, and more.

W-League Rd 5 - Newcastle v Brisbane Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images

Welcome to February, Mane Landers. This year is just flying by, but at least that means we’re only a month and some change away from the 2019 MLS season. There’s plenty of change happening here in Orlando, but it looks like MLS itself will look much different this season with plenty of players on the move. Let’s start a soccer-filled weekend off on the right foot with some links!

O’Connor Leaning Towards Multiple Formations

With its first preseason game set for tomorrow morning at 10:30 a.m. against the New York Red Bulls, Orlando City is shifting its focus from conditioning to working on tactics. Head Coach James O’Connor wants to harp on the principles of the play he wants to see and seems to wants his players to be able to fit many different shapes or formations so that they can adapt to in-game situations.

“Multiple formations. I think that’s probably the best way. I think it’s important that you have an understanding of what you want but that you can make in-game changes and [it’s] seamless, which is very easy to say, but when you’re trying to get the level that we’re trying to get to, the understanding becomes really, really important.”

Thankfully, O’Connor also noted that there have not been any major injuries but that the team is still waiting for Josué Colmán and Ruan to join the team down in Bradenton, FL.

Chi Thankful, Nairn Scores in W-League Final Round

Like many other players on the Orlando Pride, Chioma Ubogagu headed to Australia for the W-League season, joining Carson Pickett with the Brisbane Roar. Including her game a few hours ago, which saw the Roar lose 1-0 to Adelaide United, she’s played in 10 games this season, scoring twice, and helping the Roar reach the finals. Ubogagu recently praised the league for its high levels of competition and personally thanked her head coach, Mel Andreatta, for driving her forward.

“Right off the bat, I’ve felt truly welcome, I felt I could give my opinion even if it’d been one or two weeks. Everyone was extremely receptive and that just speaks volumes of what Mel’s done and what the staff’s done and the girls, too. I think it’s awesome. It’s really cool when you do all those things off the field right and then on the field you’re rewarded”

In a game that should be reaching its conclusion any minute now in the W-League (as I’m writing this), Christine Nairn and Dani Weatherholt are currently ahead of Rachel Hill and the Perth Glory. It was Nairn who struck first in the match with a close-ranged header in the 17th minute and she followed up the goal with an assist in the 35th.

Giovinco Leaving Toronto FC

Toronto FC icon Sebastian Giovinco is the latest MLS star to be transferring out of the league as the 32-year-old forward was moved to Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal FC. Undoubtedly the best player in Toronto FC history, Giovinco has been the gold standard for Designated Players and helped the club win the 2017 MLS championship. While Giovinco is excited to join Al-Hilal, an Instagram post by Giovinco has more than hinted at tension between the club and him over his transfer. Regardless of the drama behind the scenes, Al-Hilal FC is ready to bring Giovinco on board and he will be with the club in the coming days.

2019 U.S. Open Cup Format Revealed

The 106th edition of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup’s format has been unveiled for the 2019 year. More than 80 teams will participate this year and the first round will start on May 7, although some local qualifiers will begin in April. Because Orlando City B is affiliated with Orlando, it will not be eligible to participate once the USL League One teams take the field in the first round.

Orlando City and the other MLS teams will join the tournament when the fourth round starts on June 12, with the draw for that round slated for May 30. Make sure to check out the full schedule to know when some of your favorite local teams will be drawn into the fray.

Free Kicks
  • Orlando City’s first-round draft pick Santiago Patino will take over the club’s Instagram account today so keep an eye out for that.
  • Seeing Scott Sutter in Vancouver Whitecaps gear just feels wrong, but good luck to him in the Western Conference.
  • The Seattle Reign are headed to Tacoma, WA where they will play on a grass field in an alcohol-friendly stadium with plans for a new stadium in the future.
  • Tyler Booth becomes the latest American to head to the Bundesliga after Bayern Munich signed the 17-year-old.
  • Check out the latest video in the Behind The Crest series. This one followed the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 3-0 win over Panama.
  • We end our links with Sydney Leroux scarring her kid for life. I’m not sure who designed that toy but it makes a Furby look harmless.