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Lion Links: 1/10/20

Orlando City’s draft class through two rounds, SheBelieves Cup returns to Orlando, Pride success in Australia, and more.

W-League Rd 9 - Melbourne City v Canberra Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

How’s it going, Mane Landers? Congratulations on making it through most of the work week with only Friday left to conquer. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me the next few days, but hopefully things will be a bit lighter on your end as we head into the weekend. Now, let’s get this Friday started with some links about yesterday’s MLS SuperDraft and more from around the soccer world.

Orlando City Addresses Multiple Positions in Draft

With the fifth pick in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft, Orlando City selected center forward Daryl Dike. One of the best talents in the draft, it was a surprise Dike fell to fifth for Orlando as he finished his sophomore year with the University of Virginia as the Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA men’s soccer tournament. With imposing size and an ability to score, the 19-year-old draws comparisons to former Orlando draft pick Cyle Larin, but has an understated strength in holding play and distributing the ball after doing so. He’s a Generation Adidas player so that will help with the Lions’ cap situation.

The Lions had three picks in the second round, using them to shore up all the other position groups on the roster. Midfielder Joey DeZart was selected 31st overall and adds more defensive depth to the midfield after the departure of key players from 2019. Orlando then added defender Jonathan Dean, who captained UCF this past season, and goalkeeper Austin Aviza out of Providence. The third round of the draft will continue on Jan. 13 and the Lions have the fifth selection then as well to help fill the roster out further.

For the first two rounds, MLSSoccer.com gave Orlando City a grade of A. It’s not often we get to read nice things about our team on the league’s website.

Exploria Stadium Will Host 2020 SheBelieves Cup Opener

Orlando will be the host of the first set of games for the SheBelieves Cup on March 5, including probably the best match of the tournament with the United States Women’s National Team taking on England at 7 p.m. The two teams last squared off in the 2019 FIFA World Cup semifinals when the U.S. won 2-1 over England after the Orlando Pride’s Alex Morgan scored the game-winner and did her tea celebration.

This is Orlando’s second time hosting the tournament after doing so in 2017 in another showdown between the U.S. and England. While that match will surely be worth attending, don’t sleep on the earlier game at 4:35 between Spain and Japan as well.

Pride Players Score in W-League Round 9

Down in Australia, Round 9 of the W-League started off with a resounding win for Orlando Pride players Claire Emslie and Emily van Egmond as Melbourne City won 4-0 against Pride teammate Camila and Canberra United. After Kyah Simon opened the scoring, Emslie doubled it through a penalty in the 33rd minute after beating Canberra’s goalkeeper and forcing a foul. She nearly scored multiple more times and was named Player of the Match. Van Egmond had a strong game as well, leading all players in touches (92) and passes (80), and scored Melbourne’s final goal of the match with a nice volley.

After the win, she had plenty to say not only about how Melbourne is peaking at the right time and excelling not just on offense, but defense as well.

Orlando SeaWolves Hit the Road

With Head Coach Tom Traxler back at the helm, the SeaWolves head out for a three-game road trip that starts tonight against the Kansas City Comets. The team is coming off of its first win of the season, although momentum from that may be waning since it was back on Dec. 22 when the SeaWolves beat the Baltimore Blast 5-4 at home. However, there is plenty of energy around the club after the return of Traxler a little over a week ago and tonight’s game will be his first chance to right the ship although the SeaWolves haven’t won on the road since March 8 of 2019.

Elsewhere in the MLS SuperDraft

Let’s backtrack to how the rest of the draft went. With the first pick, Inter Miami went with Clemson forward Robbie Robinson, who then got a Skype call from David Beckham that was awkward to say the least. Nashville SC went on the road for the second pick, as a bus of staff and supporters showed up outside of the house of Indiana defender Jack Maher to select him.

In other draft news, the Philadelphia Union once again traded out of the first round. Thierry Henry and the Montreal Impact selected Jeremy Kelly and promptly shipped him to the Colorado Rapids for $75,000 in General Allocation Money. For those following UCF forward Cal Jennings, he fell to 17th where he was scooped up by FC Dallas.

Free Kicks
  • Orlando’s Homegrown Player Jordan Bender is joining the U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team for its pair of matches with Mexico after an injury to Kevin Bonilla.

That’s going to do it for me today, folks. I hope each and every one of you have a great Friday and weekend as 2020 rolls on.