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Lion Links: 5/14/19

MLS debuts its own TV channel, Cristian Higuita earns praise following Sunday’s performance, a possible concussion solution in soccer, and more.

MLS: Orlando City SC at Atlanta United FC Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, everyone. In what has recently become a very frustrating refrain for me to type, it was yet another tough weekend for Orlando soccer as Orlando City, the Orlando Pride, and Orlando City B all recorded losses. Rather than dwelling on the less-than-stellar weekend that was, let’s jump right into today’s links.

Praise for Higuita

Cristian Higuita got his first minutes in quite a while during Sunday’s loss to Atlanta United, and by all accounts he was pretty impressive. During his time on the field he created a chance, passed at a 77.5% clip, and made a pair of tackles. His good performance was noticed by the man who handed him a role in the starting lineup, with Orlando City Head Coach James O’Connor praising his composure on the ball, a sentiment that was echoed by teammate Will Johnson. For his part, Higuita spoke after the match about how JOC has asked him to be patient and keep working hard and how his consistency in training led to his well-taken opportunity to start the match.

Orlando Pride GM Discusses Roster, Salary Cap Situation

Jordan Culver of ProSoccerUSA.com talked to Pride General Manager Eric Ustruck about a number of topics, including how the club has been trying to add a player prior to the May 23 transfer deadline.

“I had the approval from her club to bring her over at the beginning of April, end of March,” Ustruck told Pro Soccer USA. “So now we’re nearing the middle of May, closing in to the end of the transfer window, so I’m starting to get a little bit nervous. But I still feel confident that we can get it over the line. It’s just a matter of language and working through the two federations, trying to get on the same page.”

Ustruck talked about how limited the Pride are in regard to the salary cap due to backloaded contracts of some of the team’s current players. It’s an enlightening read for any fan of the Pride.

Orlando Pride’s Australians Called Up for World Cup Duty

Australia coach Ante Milicic has named his World Cup squad and to no one’s surprise it includes Orlando Pride defender Alanna Kennedy and midfielder Emily van Egmond. For van Egmond it will be her third trip to the world’s largest soccer stage. Milicic also included three former Pride players — Laura Alleway, Steph Catley, and Lisa De Vanna — on his roster for the big tournament in France.

Orlando City B Waives Two Players

Orlando City B has parted ways with a pair of players. Forward Sebastian Joffre and midfielder Ignacio Cubeddu are both gone after mutual agreement with the USL League One side. Joffre appeared in three matches with OCB. Cubeddu was a Montverde product who had not appeared in a game for OCB this season.

MLS Launches TV Channel

Major League Soccer has launched its own television channel on streaming service Pluto TV. The channel will offer ’round-the-clock MLS content and, like Pluto TV itself, is free. Among other things, the channel will have highlights, classic matches, and original features as well as other existing MLS series. Pluto TV is the top free streaming service in the U.S. and the channel could be a very savvy move in getting the league’s product out to the young people who make up a large portion of streaming service users. It’s also the only professional sports league that currently has a channel on the service, so its certainly filling a niche.

A Potential Solution to Soccer’s Concussion Problem

The United Soccer League has presented a potential rule change to the International Football Association Board that would see the introduction of a “head injury substitution” into USL rules. The IFAB, which determines the laws of the game in soccer, will review the proposal, which would allow teams more time to examine a player who has suffered a potential head injury.

The current three-player substitution limit puts managers and particularly medical staff in a very uncomfortable position when a player receives a head injury, and countless incidents in recent years have called into question soccer’s handling of on-field concussions. A temporary substitute like the one the rule change is proposing would give teams all the time they needed to evaluate a player and ensure no danger is present before returning to the field, and as an athletic trainer who is very familiar with the pressure that comes with making a decision about an athlete’s health status during a game, I can’t tell you how much I support this. Hats off the the USL.

Possible UCL Ban for Man City

Newly minted repeat Premier League Champions Manchester City could potentially be facing a one-year UEFA Champions League ban due to investigations into allegations over the club misleading a financial fair play probe. UEFA investigators are reportedly seeking the ban for the Manchester club, with a decision to be made by the head of the investigatory panel. It’s important to distinguish that the ban would be for misleading the investigators who probed into potential financial wrongdoing by Man City, rather than for actual financial wrongdoing, which the club has quite stringently denied. Additionally, even if a ban were to be handed down, City would almost certainly appeal it, meaning that the chances of a ban for the upcoming 2019-2020 UCL verge on ludicrous.

Free Kicks
  • Ex-Orlando Pride player Christine Nairn has become the first international to win the Westfield W-League’s Julie Dolan Medal, given to the best player in the league.
  • Grasshopper Club Zurich were relegated from the Swiss Super League over the weekend and fans didn’t take it well, threatening to rush the field if not given players’ shirts and socks during the game that sealed the team’s relegation. This summarily resulted in the match being called off with the team down 4-0, the second time this year a Grasshopper game was called off.

That’ll be all for me today. Don’t forget that Orlando City is on a short week and takes on the Seattle Sounders at 10:30 p.m. ET tomorrow. Y’all stay safe out there.