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Lion Links: 1/28/20

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Exploria Stadium will host Special Olympics opening ceremony, NWSL announces key dates, MLS sends lockout warning, and more.

Chicago Red Stars v Orlando Pride Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images

Happy Thursday, lionesses and lions. As always, I hope you overcame your hump day with ease. Furthermore, I hope you’ve been enjoying the recent, Floridian weather returning — it’s been cold out there for Floridians like me as of late, but now things are going back to normal. Anyway, there was a decent amount of interesting news in the soccer world yesterday, so let’s get right into the links.

Exploria Stadium Will Host 2022 Special Olympics Opening Ceremony

Yesterday, it was announced that the Exploria Stadium will host the 2022 Special Olympics opening ceremony from June 5-12. Coverage will be broadcast on ESPN and the ABC family of networks.

“We are so excited to be able to partner with such an important and impactful organization in the Special Olympics,” Orlando City SC CEO Alex Leitão said. “We are honored that our home, Exploria Stadium, has been chosen to host the 2022 USA Games Opening Ceremony and bring the start of these games, not only to the City of Orlando, but to those participating and those watching all around the world. We can think of no better place to kick off an event that will showcase some of the best athletes in the United States. Our organizations have been working together for a while, building toward today’s announcement, and I’m confident our work leading into next year will make 2022 the biggest and best Opening Ceremony to date.”

The City Beautiful is set to host yet another top-level event — you love to see it.

NWSL Calendar Takes Shape; League Won’t Break for Olympics

The NWSL has announced key dates for the 2021 season. The 24-match regular season is set to begin in May. Be sure to mark your calendars. One of the biggest takeaways is that the league will not stop play during the Olympics, which will obviously affect teams heavily laden with international players.

“Players will report to camp on Feb. 1, 2021. Following the Challenge Cup, the NWSL’s 10 teams will face off in a 24-game regular season beginning May 15, 2021. The league will not break for the 2021 Olympic Games and the regular season will conclude on Oct. 30, 2021. Full details on the Challenge Cup format and the complete regular season schedule will be released at a later date.”

The NWSL Medical Task Force is working tirelessly to ensure the environment is as safe as possible for the players and staff. Let’s hope all goes to plan this time around.

MLS Memo Advises Teams to Prepare for Possible Lockout

MLS has reportedly sent a memo stating that teams and staff should prepare for a possible lockout as CBA negotiations are still ongoing. The contract is nearing its deadline so preparing for a lockout is a normal procedure. That said, if a stoppage does occur and no agreement is met, it would be the first one in MLS history.

“The January 29 deadline provides all constituents ― the League, the clubs, and the players ― adequate time to prepare for the upcoming season,” the memo reads, in part. “At this point, however, we are required to plan for the possibility that the CBA may be terminated and that a work stoppage could occur. Therefore, we will be providing the clubs with guidance later today regarding the rules that must be followed during any such work stoppage.” If a stoppage comes to fruition, it would be the first in league history. “We want to be clear ― our hope is to reach an agreement and avoid a work stoppage,” the memo said. “But we must be prepared in the event that we are unable to reach an agreement.”

The MLSPA is expected to submit another counter offer prior to the deadline according to sources close to ESPN. It will be interesting to see how the negotiations transpire.

Galatasaray Expresses Interest in DeAndre Yedlin

The current contract in which DeAndre Yedlin is tied down to at Newcastle United expires in June. Because of that, a number of suitors have shown interest in the American. Galatasaray is the latest team to be linked with Yedlin. That said, the 27-year-old apparently wants a new deal with his current club and a deal could still happen for the former Seattle Sounders man. However, as time passes a new deal looks less and less likely — it seems as if Yedlin’s time in England could be nearing its end.

Free Kicks
  • Orlando City’s Andres Perea is among the 10 young players Andrew Wiebe of MLSSoccer.com is rooting for in 2021.
  • Chris Mueller is settling in with the USMNT. Let’s hope Cash can build on his dream debut against El Salvador with another stellar outing against Trinidad and Tobago at the Exploria Stadium. The quotes in the video aren’t new (they’re from Monday’s presser) but the footage is.
  • Former Orlando City winger Josue Colman has found a new club. All the best to him with his future endeavor.
  • USMNT youngster Brenden Aaronson bagged his first assist for Salzburg yesterday. His side is currently atop the Austrian Football Bundesliga table.

That’s all for this Thursday’s set of links, folks. Enjoy the second half of your week.