How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope you’ve all had a relaxing work week as we shift gears and get ready for the weekend. I’ve spent most of this week either working or driving, so I’m looking forward to kicking my feet up a bit. Today has me pretty excited since another episode of WandaVision comes out. The Little Things, a detective movie starring Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, and Jared Leto, also comes out today on HBO Max. I’m a sucker for ensemble casts, so it should be a good time. But enough about what’s streaming, let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world.
Brandon Hackenberg Will Spend Spring in College
The Lions used the No. 22 overall pick in the 2021 MLS SuperDraft to select Penn State defender Brandon Hackenberg and it looks like the 21-year-old won’t train with the MLS club until this summer. After the NCAA fall season was called off due to the pandemic, Hackenberg chose to play for the Nittany Lions during a spring campaign instead. Because of this, Orlando won’t get a true evaluation of him until the middle of the MLS season.
“It’s a unique opportunity, something that no one else has had to deal with,” Hackenberg said. “The NCAA has given all the seniors an extra year; it’s not just me, it’s everyone in the draft who has a decision to make. Right now, the best thing for me is to come back this season. I got a little bit of unfinished business that I want to take care of here.”
While the Hackenberg story linked above contains some good information, it’s a bit misleading to those who have spent more time following the Nittany Lions than the Lions from Orlando City. Author Otis Lyons mentions Orlando City starters Antonio Carlos and Robin Jansson as being part of “a notoriously leaky defense.” Orlando, of course, had one of the best defensive clubs in MLS in 2020 — allowing the fourth fewest goals in the Eastern Conference and sixth fewest in the league in Carlos’ first MLS season and Jansson’s second.
Orlando Pride Brazilians Called Up for SheBelieves Cup
Both Marta and Camila made Brazil’s roster for the SheBelieves Cup set to kick off on Feb. 18 at Exploria Stadium. This will only be the second time Brazil has participated in the tournament. Marta captained the squad to a fourth-place finish in 2019. It will be nice to see both Pride players take the field at Exploria Stadium again, especially considering Camila has been on loan with Palmeiras since August.
Brazil won’t be the only South American nation in the tournament this time around as Argentina will replace Japan to make its SheBelieves Cup debut. It all sets up for an exciting Western Hemisphere showdown with the first matches pitting the United States against Canada and Brazil against Argentina.
MLS Players Association Makes Counteroffer
As of midnight last night, we are officially past the 30-day deadline set after Major League Soccer invoked a force majeure clause back on Dec. 29. Before that deadline — which can be extended — was reached though, the MLS Players Association submitted a proposal in an effort to reach an agreement. In the proposal, the collective bargaining agreement would extend through another year and there would be changes to free agent eligibility. The MLSPA also offered reductions in both the salary cap from 2022 through 2025 and future revenue sharing. While it is uncertain how these negotiations will ultimately shake out with a work stoppage as a possibility, the MLSPA was very clear in its statement. The players are ready to play.
MLS News and Notes
In other MLS news, Inter Miami re-signed Frederico Higuain for the upcoming season. The Columbus Crew added midfielder Perry Kitchen to its loaded roster. D.C. United broke ground for its new training complex. USMNT and New York Red Bulls center back Aaron Long has gotten European attention. And finally, the Chicago Fire are putting in the effort to nail their next new look.
- Oscar Pareja will help conduct the draw for the Concacaf Champions League, even though Orlando won’t be participating.
- Orlando Pride 2021 draft selections Viviana Villacorta and Mikayla Colohan have been named to the Mac Hermann Trophy watch list. The award will be given out in late May following the spring season that some conferences opted to play due to the pandemic.
- In some arena soccer action today, the undefeated Florida Tropics will travel to face the St. Louis Ambush at 7:35 p.m. It will be the first road game of the year for the Tropics after wining five straight in Lakeland.
- In some pretty exciting news for the National Women’s Soccer League and sports in general, Tennis star Naomi Osaka is now a part owner of the North Carolina Courage.
- After allegations of sexual abuse of players in Haiti, FIFA announced an education program to combat player harassment and abuse.
- Cristiano Ronaldo is being investigated for breaking protocols in Italy after he travelled for his girlfriend’s birthday.
That’s going to do it for me, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a swell weekend and enjoy yourselves!