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Lion Links: 12/2/21

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Orlando City announces roster moves, Pride trade Jodie Taylor, overcoming adversity for one MLS playoff team, and more.

MLS: Playoffs- Round One-Orlando City SC at Nashville SC Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

Hello there, Mane Landers! I hope your Thursday is off to a great start. We have a special birthday shoutout today as it is Mason Stajduhar’s 24th birthday. Make sure to wish the Orlando City Homegrown keeper a happy birthday over on his instagram.

Lions Made Roster Decisions

The big news coming from Orlando City is what the Lions have decided to do with players on the roster moving forward. Some of the more well-known names leaving the club from this announcement include Emmanuel Más, Derek Dodson, Jordan Bender, and Rio Hope-Gund. While Georgetown teammates Dodson and Hope-Gund were both drafted by Orlando City in the first and second rounds, respectively, in the same 2021 SuperDraft, it is Dodson that is the most surprising to be let go, as the Lions traded up to the eighth spot in that draft to select the forward. With Orlando’s current track record of developing attacking players in the draft, including Cyle Larin, Chris Mueller, and Daryl Dike, it comes as quite the shock that the club would let him go so quickly after being loaned out to USL side Hartford Athletic this past season to get playing time. There is still hope for seeing Alexandre Pato, Uri Rosell, and Mauricio Pereyra remain in purple as they are currently in negations to return to the club. Overall, it seems the club is choosing to go in different directions for some spots on this roster and it will be exciting to see how the roster will come together at the start of next season, as there will certainly be more moves to follow throughout the off-season.

Pride Trade Jodie Taylor to San Diego

The Orlando Pride have made a roster decision of their own, trading forward Jodie Taylor to San Diego Wave FC in exchange for either a second- or third-round pick in 2023, or allocation money, pending unnamed conditions (likely performance-based). Playing alongside Sydney Leroux and Alex Morgan, Taylor scored three goals this season. Although her time here was short, the English international was able to contribute to the Pride as a veteran presence and now the club will have to look elsewhere for additional attacking talent at the forward position.

Real Salt Lake Overcoming Adversity

While the MLS Cup playoffs move on, Real Salt Lake is starting to turn heads as a club with no manager or owner. RSL is being dubbed a team of destiny. After losing manager Freddy Juarez to an assistant job with the Seattle Sounders in August and with owner Dell Loy Hansen forced out last year due to accusations of racism and a toxic culture, one might expect the club to be in disarray. Real Salt Lake has beaten the odds so far in its run to the Western Conference final and will play the Portland Timbers this Saturday. This will be a fun match to watch to see if the Cinderella story continues.

MLS Viewer Numbers Up on Thanksgiving

Viewership numbers have been released for Major League Soccer’s first ever game on Thanksgiving Day and the league did well on the national holiday with an NFL lead-in. The playoff game between the Portland Timbers and Colorado Rapids was broadcast on FOX right after the Chicago Bears vs. the Detroit Lions at 4:30 p.m. and it seems to have paid off. Excluding MLS Cup and All-Star games, the playoff game was the most watched MLS game since 2004, as it broke the record for the most viewers for an MLS playoff game at 1.89 million viewers. This is a great sign for MLS as the growing league has to battle for exposure with the other major sports league in the country, along with major college sports and other soccer leagues around the world. These numbers come at a perfect time as MLS is looking to build its brand domestically ahead of the 2026 World Cup to be held in the United States jointly with Mexico and Canada.

Free Kicks

That will do it for me today, Mane Landers! Let’s make it through this Thursday as we are one day away from Friday and then it’s the glorious weekend.