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Lion Links: 12/10/21

Facundo Torres rumors continue, Daryl Dike focuses on USMNT qualifiers, Young Lions play in MLS NEXT Fest, and more.

SOCCER: OCT 02 MLS - DC United at Orlando City SC Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

How’s it going, Mane Landers? It may be December, but a fairly warm weekend is ahead of those here in Central Florida. If you’re a Mane Lander dealing with harsher temperatures elsewhere in the world, I’ll be sending some warm vibes your way this morning. Now, let’s get this Friday started off on the right foot with some links!

Facundo Torres Rumors Continue to Develop

Uruguayan winger Facundo Torres was linked with a move to Orlando City earlier this week and more rumors surfaced that Orlando could close the deal for $9 million on Monday.

Torres scored in Peñarol’s 1-1 draw against Plaza Colonia before his club won the penalty shootout to claim the Uruguayan Primera Division title. You’ll need the help of google translate, but reports indicate this was Torres’ final game with Peñarol and he has offers from European clubs, including one from Villarreal.

Daryl Dike Focuses on World Cup Qualifying

Despite having a goal or an assist in Orlando City’s last 10 games of 2021, forward Daryl Dike was not called up for the United States Men’s National Team’s friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Dec. 18. USMNT Head Coach Gregg Berhalter stated that Dike was excluded so that he could recover before World Cup qualifying resumed in 2022. Dike spoke to ESPN regarding Berhalter’s decision.

“Of course, I want to be in every single camp and every single game, but at the same time, having coming off recent knocks with the shoulder, with the tendinitis, with other things, I think maybe it could have been for the better that I did not go [to those camps].

“But I always want to be included. And for me, it’s how can I get into the next game? How can I get into the next roster? And yeah, of course, it’s disappointing not to go but at the same time, it’s just more fuel for me to push myself to where it’s a no brainer to bring me to every single match.”

It’s been a busy year for Dike, who was on loan with Barnsley FC in England before playing for the USMNT in the Gold Cup and returning to Orlando during the Lions’ playoff push. The 21-year-old also spoke about the USMNT’s other skilled forwards and how the different skill sets they bring to the team. The USMNT will take on El Salvador on Jan. 27 and it will be interesting to see if Dike will be called up for his first World Cup qualifier.

Young Lions Compete in MLS NEXT Fest

Orlando City’s U-15 and U-17 academy sides participated in the inaugural MLS NEXT Fest. Over 300 youth teams from across the country came together for the five-day event. Orlando’s U-17 side played three matches against other MLS academy teams, with forward Ethan Subachan scoring a brace in a draw with FC Dallas. The U-15 team also played three matches and Jackson Platts scored against both Austin FC and the Philadelphia Union. With the event over, the academy teams will turn their attention to their seasons with the Generation Adidas Cup set to take place in April.

State of Florida Votes to Support World Cup Bids

Enterprise Florida’s Board of Directors voted to support Orlando and Miami’s bids to host the 2026 World Cup by making $10 million in funds available. If Orlando or Miami is selected as a hosting venue for the World Cup, this money would help provide the cities with the necessary logistical resources such as security and transportation to host the event. Orlando faces stiff competition from around the country to be one of the 10 U.S. host cities for the World Cup, but these funds will help the city’s bid.

“Bringing the FIFA World Cup back to Florida would be an ideal complement to the attractions, amenities, and events already staged in the Sunshine State,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Today we are making sure that Orlando and Miami have the resources they need to bring the World Cup to the state.”

Europa League Group Stage Wraps Up

We now know the 24 teams that will compete in the Europa League knockout round as the group stage came to a close. Napoli came up with a big 3-2 win over Leicester City to advance and drop the English club down to the Europa Conference League. Napoli still finished second in its group behind Spartak Moscow, meaning the Italian club will face one of the eight teams joining the fray from the Champions League.

A couple of the other teams joining Napoli in that group include a Real Sociedad side that won 3-0 against PSV Eindhoven and Dinamo Zagreb, which handed West Ham United its first loss in the group stage after winning 1-0. West Ham, Monaco, Lyon, and Galatasaray are a few of the teams that will avoid the first round of the knockout stage after winning their groups. Leicester City isn’t the only notable club headed to the Europa Conference League as Marseille and Celtic both finished third despite winning on the final day.

Speaking of the Europa Conference League, AS Roma went on the road to beat CSKA Sofia 3-2 in Bulgaria and win its group. Tottenham Hotspur’s fate is still up in the air after its match with Rennes was postponed. If that match does take place, Tottenham will need to win in order to advance.

Free Kicks

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a wonderful Friday and rest of your weekend!