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Lion Links: 1/28/20

The Lions honor Bryant and head to Mexico, Tom Traxler speaks on the SeaWolves, an update from Gregg Berhalter, and more.

MLS: BodyArmor-Press Conference Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Tuesday, Mane Landers! That’s weird for me to type, as I usually dish out Links on Sundays, but here we are. We have a full plate today, so let’s skip that small talk and hop right into it, shall we?

Orlando City Honors the Black Mamba

As we all know by now, in a cruel, sudden, and tragic event, basketball icon Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna Bryant, Sarah and Payton Chester, John, Keri, and Alyssa Altobelli, and Ara Zobayan all passed away following a helicopter crash on Sunday. I grew up watching the Black Mamba, admiring his tenacity and prowess both on and off the court, so this news hit me like a brick to the face as I was walking into Camping World Stadium to catch the NFL Pro Bowl. Truthfully, I couldn’t enjoy the event, because this was the only thing on my mind, but I was grateful that they acknowledged the tragedy and held their own moment of silence. You could see the shock on the faces of the players. It was clear that some of them didn’t know until it was announced to a crowd of about 54,000 people. In a show of solidarity, support, love, and respect, Orlando City held a moment of silence for those affected by the horrific tragedy. I don’t know what else to say, quite frankly. Bryant was an inspiration to millions and I know his legacy will live on.

Lions Look to Improve Fitness, Chemistry in Mexico

Following their aforementioned moment of silence in honor of Kobe, the Lions got in one final training session before they jetted off to Mexico for a nine-day training camp. The club is hoping that this getaway will serve as a catalyst for the players in many ways — most notably in improving the overall fitness of the squad, and probably more importantly, helping the lads in purple jell as a team. The trip, which began yesterday, will include spending time in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and the Lions plan to use this trip as a primer for the 2020 campaign. New OCSC Head Coach Oscar Pareja made it clear that this isn’t a vacation; it’s a business trip.

“We’re going to overload the group,” Pareja said. “We’ll use this week to level many of the players who came in from the off-season. Preseason is like that. We have youngsters that this is going to be the first preseason that we’re very excited to bring on the trip, some others that already have many preseasons on their bodies and they know this time is to overload themselves.”

I’m coming off of a preseason with my own club team (Vamos Orlando United FC), and I can only imagine the difference between the levels of fitness training, quality, and competition for spots in the starting 11. Get ready, lads. It’s going to be a long nine days.

Orlando SeaWolves’ Tom Traxler: A Candid Interview

Let’s be painfully honest; it’s been a disaster for the SeaWolves so far this season. In 10 matches, the boys have only managed a single win, while putting up an embarrassing goal differential of -52. Ouch. But, we should keep in mind that this is a new franchise, and things take time. Tom Traxler, the head coach of the SeaWolves, sat down and explained to the fans what’s been going on behind the scenes with the club. It’s well worth a watch, and the insight does help me empathize with this struggling squad. Hopefully the SeaWolves get this season turned around, but if they don’t, at least it appears that Traxler is laying a foundation for success in the future (fingers crossed).

Gregg Berhalter Provides Updates

We all know that Christian Pulisic has been out for a few weeks now with a thigh injury that he picked up in London with Chelsea, but we haven’t heard much concerning when he’ll return. Fear not, for U.S. Men’s National Team manager Gregg Berhalter is here to provide us with some details. According to Berhalter, Pulisic and his club’s staff have worked closely with the USMNT staff to ensure a proper recovery, and neither expect the American dynamo to be out for an extended period of time (well, moving forward at least). Meanwhile, Zack Steffen’s knee held him out of Fortuna Dusseldorf’s first match back after the winter break, but Berhalter also stated that they’re working closely with his club, much like they are with Chelsea, to aid in the goalkeeper’s return. Keep an eye on that. Tyler Adams, recovering from a groin injury, has made his return, playing right back for Red Bull Leipzig. That’s interesting to say the least. And finally, and unfortunately, Josh Sargent hasn’t quite been up to snuff for Werder Bremen, last scoring in October of last year. I mean Werder Bremen hasn’t been up to snuff in general as they sit near the bottom of the Bundesliga table, but Sargent’s struggles have been well documented as of late. That’s another situation to keep an eye on as the Summer Olympics creep up on us.

Free Kicks
  • Former UCF Knight and Jamaican National Team captain Konya Plummer, only 22 years of age, helped her country reach its first World Cup in 2019, and she believes that the experience gained during that triumphant appearance will push the Reggae Girlz even further. Keep an eye on these ladies. Something tells me they’re on the come up.
  • We heard rumblings of how much allocation money the Pride used in the deal that sent Rachel Hill to Chicago and brought back the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft. Now the NWSL has (correctly) made the amounts public and will do so moving forward in the name of transparency. It’s a good decision by the league and the only one that should have been considered. The Pride parted with $50,000 in the aforementioned deal.
  • Speaking of the Pride...in case anyone was wondering, yes, Alex Morgan is still putting her boots on and getting training in while pregnant, much like Sydney Leroux did last year. If yesterday’s session was anything like the last one we saw via social media, then she’s still burying balls into the upper 90. Sheesh.
  • Fanendo Adi is headed from southwest Ohio to central Ohio, where he’ll reunite with his former head coach, Caleb Porter.
  • I touched on this on Sunday, but I need to give props where they’re due — Espanyol, a club with supporters who hurled racist insults at Inaki Williams of Athletic Bilbao, has identified nine “club members” who will immediately be punished for their part in this disgusting incident. Good on you, Espanyol, and let this be a lesson to others who have sadistic urges to spew racist garbage from their face holes.
  • In closing, I don’t often feel old — I’m only 27. But this? This made me feel old.

All right, that’s about it from me today, folks. Have yourselves an excellent day, and enjoy the USWNT match tonight. I fully expect a rout (no offense, Haiti).