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Lion Links: 6/16/20

OCSC resumes full team training, Pride facility renovations unveiled, Emslie rejoins Pride, and more.

Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

Happy Tuesday, everyone. Major League Soccer and the NWSL are another week closer to returning, the English Premier League returns this weekend, and La Liga also got back to playing games last weekend. We aren’t out of the woods yet, but things are starting to look up a bit. Let’s get to the links.

OCSC Resumes Full Team Training

Orlando City has resumed full team training as of yesterday morning. The team’s training plan was approved by Orlando Health, Major League Soccer, and local experts in infectious disease, so the club was finally able to kick off full team training on Monday morning.

Team captain Nani spoke after the session, and said he was both excited to get back to practicing as a team, and looking forward to the upcoming MLS is Back Tournament next month.

Pride Facility Renovations Unveiled

The renovations that were taking place at the Orlando Pride’s training facility at Sylvan Lake Park have been completed and unveiled for all to see. The facility used to be the home of Orlando City, but after the Pride began using it as the team’s home it became apparent that renovations were necessary and the club went to work. The Pride are now the first team in the National Women’s Soccer League to have their own training facility. The complex has two full grass fields, offices for the club’s technical and medical staff, and a host of other things to make it feel like home. It also looks absolutely great.

Emslie Rejoins Pride

Claire Emslie was finally able to rejoin her Pride teammates on Friday, and she was very happy about it. With travel restrictions flying thick and fast in light of COVID-19 Emslie was stuck in Europe and unable to enter the U.S. to rejoin the Pride. She was understandably frustrated and even more so once the team resumed training sessions. Eventually she was able to re-enter the country though, and after being quarantined for seven days she was able to begin training with her teammates last Friday. She spoke about being quarantined in Manchester for the majority of the pandemic and how training in the cold weather was easier, and also touched on being happily reunited with her teammates.

“It’s so nice to be back...I’ve just finished my seven-days quarantine, so I was getting a bit crazy not seeing anyone. So it’s so nice to see everyone’s faces again and get on the pitch with them.”

Durant Officially Buys Union Stake

Kevin Durant has officially entered the world of sports team ownership, with the announcement that he has completed the purchase of a 5% stake in the Philadelphia Union, with the option to buy an additional 5% at a later time. Durant’s purchase also includes a deal with his business/philanthropic organization, Thirty Five Ventures, with the aim of both growing the team’s brand and increasing the Union’s community outreach efforts. With the Union valued at over $325 million, KD’s 5% stake means he’s in for at least $16.25 million, which isn’t exactly a small-potatoes kind of investment. Durant joins Russell Westbrook and James Harden as high-profile American athletes with stakes in MLS teams.

Robinson Linked to English Clubs

Now that Antonee Robinson has had surgery to fix an irregular heart rhythm, the USMNT left back is reportedly being targeted by a pair of English clubs. Championship side West Bromwich Albion and Premier League club West Ham United are both said to be interested in the 22-year-old, with West Brom reportedly looking the likelier of the two to secure his services as long as they get promoted. While the Baggies are currently in second place in the Championship, West Ham’s fortunes aren’t looking as good. The team is 16th in the EPL only due to a marginally better goal difference than Watford and Bournemouth — the 17th and 18th placed teams. With Robinson’s winter transfer to AC Milan falling through due to discovering his heart condition, hopefully he can get a good move that will allow him to continue growing and improving.

Free Kicks
  • Check out some scenes from Pride training.
  • Luka Modric thinks Kylian Mbappe needs to challenge himself in a more difficult league. Presumably the Croatian means that Mbappe should move to La Liga and play for Real Madrid.

That’ll do it for me today, y’all stay safe out there.