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Lion Links: 3/16/19

Orlando City sends a keeper out on loan, FIFA sort of makes some World Cup decisions, SeaWolves dump Florida, and more.

Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Welcome to home match day number two! I don’t know about the rest of y’all Mane Landers, but this past week couldn’t have gone by any slower for me. It feels as if it’s already been weeks and weeks since the Lions hosted a team at Orlando City Stadium, and it even seems like a while since last Saturday’s draw against the Chicago Fire. Maybe I’m just getting better at compartmentalizing when Orlando City breaks my heart, who’s to say?

Anyway, let’s get to Friday’s news before the boys in purple have a chance to emotionally damage me some more.

Lions Loan Out Homegrown Goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar

Either it’s simply my luck or Orlando City is not so great at keeping things under wraps, or perhaps a combination of both. Nevertheless, I have more news to bring you that we all saw coming. The Lions finally confirmed the loan of Homegrown Player, and fourth goalkeeper, Mason Stajduhar to the Tulsa Roughnecks of the United Soccer League’s Championship division for the remainder of the 2019 Major League Soccer season. Signed way back in 2015, Stajduhar has never seen any professional minutes, in part due to an unfortunate battle with Localized Ewing’s Sarcoma in 2017 and 2018 that the 21-year-old ultimately won. Hopefully, this will translate to meaningful game time for Stajduhar and perhaps see him return to the Lions ready to battle it out for the number one spot.

SeaWolves Dump Florida Tropics

The Orlando SeaWolves grabbed the lead in the Florida Indoor Derby last night with a 6-3 win over the Florida Tropics at Silver Spurs Arena. With one more home match-up against the Lakeland-based team remaining, the SeaWolves lead the season series, 3-2. Gordy Gurson and Osvaldo Rojas each netted a brace and former USL Lion Jonny Mendoza got a goal as well. Give it up for Tropics keeper Hugo Silva though, as he stood on his head to prevent Orlando from blowing the visitors back to Lakeland on the sheer force of goals. The SeaWolves are back in action tonight at home against the Kansas City Comets.

FIFA Makes One World Cup Decision and Delays Another to June

In somewhat normal FIFA fashion, Friday saw soccer’s governing body be both decisive and indecisive. The FIFA Council confirmed that video assistant referees (VAR) will be used throughout the 2019 Women’s World Cup this summer in France. When it comes to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, FIFA wasn’t quite ready to make a definitive choice to expand the competition. Gianni Infantino, current FIFA president, said that the expansion to 48 teams is “feasible,” though it will need to be given the go-ahead by the FIFA Congress this June. As of right now, the joint Canada, Mexico, and United States hosted 2026 World Cup will be the first to feature the 48-team format.

UEFA Champions League and Europa League Draws Are Made

After an intense and often unpredictable round of 16, the UEFA Champions League now has the eight teams that will fight it out in the quarterfinals for a chance to be one step closer to Europe’s ultimate glory. Four of the eight clubs are English Premier League sides and two will face each other — Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City — the latter of which is the odds-on favorite to win the competition. In a change back to the old format, this year’s quarterfinal draw also set up the bracket for the rest of the tournament.

The UEFA Europa League also drew its quarterfinal match-ups on Friday and the most interesting tie appeared to be that of Arsenal taking on Napoli, which currently sits second place in Italy’s Serie A behind only Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus. My Blues of Chelsea are up against Slavia Praha in what should be one of the easier battles, even considering the former’s performance to knock out La Liga’s Sevilla.

Orlando SeaWolves Players Visit Local Elementary School Before Last Night’s Match

As part of the club’s Anti-Bully Initiative with partners Mullinax Ford Kissimmee, players from the Orlando SeaWolves visited Mill Creek Elementary School Friday morning. Derek Huffman, Edwin Rojas, and Osvaldo Rojas handed out tickets for Saturday’s home match to a group of students.

Free Kicks

Now that I’ve bummed you out, get down to Church Street and the stadium to cheer yourself up by rooting for our Lions. Let’s all bring the noise and cheer the team on to its first three points of the season. Go City!