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Lion Links: 1/1/21

Orlando City’s terrific 2020, Claire Emslie signs with Everton, MLS transfer news, and more.

Nashville SC v Orlando City SC Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images

Welcome to 2021, Mane Landers! It took an eternity but we are all finally able to say farewell to 2020 and hang up some new calendars. It’s been a hard 12 months for everyone and I for one feel like a giant storm cloud has been lifted and the skies are a little bit clearer. I’m happy to bring you all the first Lion Links of the year and hopefully they will get your year started off on the right foot.

Orlando City Was a Bright Spot in 2020

While most of 2020 was a dumpster fire, Orlando City gave fans plenty to be excited about after a great year. The Lions went deep in the MLS is Back Tournament and made the MLS playoffs for the first time. Even outside of Orlando, the club’s reversal after years in the league’s basement was a major talking point during 2020. It was a long year that came with a lot of hurt, but there were highlights as well. Black MLS players came together against racism, clubs like Orlando, Nashville SC, and the Columbus Crew bounced back, and young MLS talent continued to prove that this isn’t a retirement league. One such young player was Orlando forward Chris Mueller, who posted his thoughts on 2020 and the year ahead.

In a year that didn’t give much joy, the Lions delivered it themselves and some of my happiest moments of 2020 involved cheering for this team.

Claire Emslie Signs With Everton

Orlando Pride winger Claire Emslie will stay in England after signing an 18-month contract with Everton. Emslie signed with the Pride in May of 2019 and the Pride offered her a new contract after the 2020 season. Instead, Emslie opted to stay closer to her home of Scotland and continue playing with Everton, the club she was loaned to due to the pandemic. Although she only made 11 appearances with the Pride, it’s tough news for Orlando considering her potential and proven ability at the club and international level. Regardless, we wish her the best of luck with Everton and maybe she will return to the Pride someday.

MLS Clubs Add New Players for New Year

While the Lions won’t have much of an overhaul after last season, many MLS clubs are entering 2021 with new faces. Former Toronto FC head coach Greg Vanney is expected to return to the LA Galaxy as their next head coach and that move could be announced as soon as next week. Meanwhile, former New York Red Bulls head coach Chris Armas had multiple interviews to fill the vacancy in Toronto as the coaching carousel spins and spins.

In plenty of other news, the Houston Dynamo signed Joe Corona to a multi-year contract, Real Salt Lake will reportedly sign American forward Rubio Rubin, and the Chicago Fire locked Homegrown Player Mauricio Pineda in for a long-term contract.

Americans Starting the Year Abroad

We’ll thankfully get to see more Americans playing in the stars and stripes this year compared to 2020, but for now we can still enjoy them playing abroad in Europe this weekend. Tyler Adams had a remarkable 2020 with RB Leipzig and will ride that momentum into his team’s match against VfB Stuttgart tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. Josh Sargent will look to score again for Werder Bremen in a match-up with Union Berlin tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m.

In an English Premier League showdown this Sunday, Christian Pulisic and Chelsea take on Manchester City at 11:30 a.m. Earlier that morning, Antonee Robinson and Fulham will face Burnley at 7 a.m. and DeAndre Yedlin could continue starting for Newcastle United against Leicester City at 9:15 a.m.

NBCSN is your best bet to watch all of the EPL action, so make sure to check out this weekend’s schedule so you don’t miss out.

Free Kicks
  • To celebrate the new year, enjoy this goal celebration montage that features plenty of Lions.
  • Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris had some choice words for 2020.
  • Manchester United’s Edinson Cavani was banned for three games and fined for an Instagram post using a term that carries racial connotations in England. It’s also a term of endearment in South America and the Caribbean and the Uruguayan footballer apologized for and deleted the post and did not contest the charge out of solidarity for the Football Association’s fight against racism.
  • Just a few days after announcing it would have to shut down, Swedish women’s league champion Goteborg FC will still compete to defend its title after investors reached out.

That’s going to do it for today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and do well on all of your resolutions this year.