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Lion Links: 1/17/21

Orlando City’s head scout says goodbye, Marta is a beacon of strength in Brazil, questions surrounding USMNT Olympic qualifying, and more.

MLS: Orlando City SC at Montreal Impact Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Sunday, everyone. Quick programming note. Due to the departure of a couple of staffers, we will be cutting weekend Lion Links out of the schedule for the foreseeable future. Once we get a few new hands on deck we will revisit that but at least for now, just know that Lion Links will be a weekday thing.

It’s a big week ahead, with a couple of USWNT friendlies at Exploria Stadium and the MLS SuperDraft. Before all of that happens, however, let’s get to the news of the day.

Orlando City’s Head Scout Departs

Leonardo Sousa Baldo, the head scout with Orlando City SC since May of 2019, announced he was leaving the club yesterday on Instagram. Baldo thanked Ricardo Moreira, Luiz Muzzi, and Orlando City as he bid goodbye to the club he helped build for success in 2020 and beyond. He joined the club from the Columbus Crew, where he worked alongside Moreira. While it’s never ideal to lose your head scout, have faith that Muzzi and Moreira will find a suitable replacement.

Marta a Symbol of Strength in Brazil

Orlando Pride and Brazil superstar Marta made news recently when she announced her engagement to teammate Toni Pressley. While that was big news here in Orlando, it’s an even bigger deal in Brazil, particularly with regard to the fight against homophobia and discrimination. Julia Santana, a council member for first division club EC Bahia, who happens to be a lesbian, said “Marta is a great idol in my life, a great inspiration.” Someone of Marta’s stature can hopefully help make Brazil a safer place for the LGBT community.

According to the campaign group Grupo Gay da Bahia, 297 people were murdered in attacks motivated by homophobia or transphobia in Brazil in 2019.

Santana says Marta’s marriage will not be a magic wand but it could have some positive impact because “the figure of Marta is strong beyond the four lines, off the football pitch”.

“A homophobe might rethink because of the influence of Marta, but I think the gain from Marta’s wedding is much more through what it represents. An LGBT child can see themselves represented in one of the greatest idols in the history of football, they can take strength from that to continue living.”

Will the United States Men Be Full Strength for Olympic Qualifying?

Among Charles Boehm’s three questions facing the U-23 USMNT is one big one — will the United States be able to secure the release of several key players for qualifying games? The Concacaf qualifying tournament will take place in March. The FIFA international window won’t cover the entirety of the tournament. Former Orlando City coach Jason Kreis said letting releasing players for U-23 national team duty in the Olympics can actually be good for the clubs.

“Every club has different motivations and different ways that they look at national team exposure, especially youth national team exposure,” said Kreis. “We think that these are tremendous opportunities for the players for two reasons. Number one is obviously to represent your country and experience soccer on an international level, just the experiences that these players get are, I think, quite unique, and really special for players to experience.

“And number two … you get these players in front of more scouts that are at different games and being exposed to different coaches watching these games, or different people that are coming from clubs to watch these games. And now you’ve certainly, I think, increased the market value of the player. And I think we’re getting more and more of an understanding and appreciation for that, especially with domestic clubs here in MLS.”

MLS Teams Interested in Lukas Podolski

FC Cincinnati is reportedly one of two MLS teams pursuing the services of German forward Lukas Podolski, according to Bild. The 2014 World Cup winner, now 35 years old, is currently playing professionally in Turkey with Antalyaspor. Currently injured, Podolski leads his team with three goals this season. He’d reportedly be available on a free transfer if he leaves the Turkish side.

Free Kicks
  • Former Philadelphia Union midfielder Brenden Aaronson scored a goal in his Salzburg debut.
  • Those born on this date include Benjamin Franklin (1706), Al Capone (1899), Betty White (1922), entertainer/Catwoman portrayer Eartha Kitt (1927), James Earl Jones (1931), Muhammad Ali (1942), Andy Kaufman (1949), singer Paul Young (1956), Steve Harvey (1957), Bangles vocalist Susannah Hoffs (1959), Berlin co-founder/singer John Crawford (1960), Jim Carrey (1962), Michelle Obama (1964), LOST star Naveen Andrews (1969), hockey’s Jeremy Roenick (1970), Kid Rock (1971), former Mexico and Chicago Fire star Cuauhtémoc Blanco (1973), Zooey Deschanel (1980), Dwyane Wade (1982), Epica lead singer Simone Simons (1985), and Star Wars films actress Kelly Marie Tran (1989).

That’s all I’ve got for you today. I can’t promise you any Lion Links next Sunday, but you never know what might happen, so stay tuned. Enjoy what’s left of your weekend.