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Lion Links: 2/17/21

Alexandre Pato’s potential impact with Orlando City, notable MLS free agents, MLS adjusts transfer window, and more.

New York City FC v Orlando City SC - 2019 MLS Photo by Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope everyone is taking advantage of the warm weather. I’ve been working on school projects this week, but made some time to go work out. It seems like Orlando has been the place to be for all the soccer action as of late. Let’s get to the links!

Alexandre Pato’s Potential Impact With the Lions

With Alexandre Pato joining Orlando City for the next step of his career, some wonder if he can regain his form after struggling in recent years. Pato had bright spots with Internacional and AC Milan but has dealt with injuries while bouncing between clubs in England, Spain, China, and Brazil. He isn’t the first Brazilian to join Major League Soccer late in their career, but it will be interesting to see how his performance compares to others.

MLSsoccer.coms ExtraTime podcast discussed the Lions’ recent moves and what to expect from Pato this season. Pato may not be the star he once was, but he will compete with Tesho Akindele and Matheus Aias to lead the Lions up front while Daryl Dike is on loan at Barnsley FC. The 31-year-old could find his form once the preseason begins in a few weeks and have a renaissance of sorts this season in 2021.

Big Name MLS Players Still in Free Agency

With the MLS preseason set to begin next month, some notable free agents are still on the market. Former Orlando City forward Dom Dwyer is coming off of knee surgery but has a strong history in the league that could entice MLS teams. As for other names to keep an eye out for, Juan Agudelo is still waiting to contribute to a new club after a year in Miami. Former Minnesota United forward Kei Kamara is also without a team at the moment despite a proven scoring ability as a journeyman across MLS over the years.

MLS Updates Its Transfer Window

Major League Soccer amended the dates for the primary transfer window. Now, the primary transfer window will begin on March 10 and end on June 1. With the regular season starting on April 17, the primary transfer window will now be nearly a month longer than originally planned. The secondary transfer window will still begin on July 7 and end on Aug. 5. During these transfer windows, clubs can register any new players who were previously under contract with teams outside of MLS. All MLS in-season trades must take place during these windows as well.

NWSL Joins 2021 SheBelieves Cup Ambassador Program

We are one day away from kickoff for the 2021 SheBelieves Cup at Exploria Stadium. The National Women’s Soccer League was selected by the U.S. Soccer Federation as one of 10 organizations to serve in the first U.S. Soccer SheBelieves Cup Ambassador program. The NWSL will work directly with U.S. Soccer to continue empowering girls and women to help them achieve their goals. NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird expressed her thoughts on the league becoming members of the program.

“Joining U.S. Soccer in their ambassador program is another way for us to continue to work together to expand the opportunities and provide more resources to help young girls and women thrive on and off the field,” said NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird. “We are excited for this opportunity to help amplify these initiatives.”

Free Kicks
  • As mentioned in our SheBelieves Cup piece yesterday, Orlando Pride midfielder Jordyn Listro will be with Canada for the event and will take on the United States tomorrow in Exploria Stadium.
  • More details on the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup could be announced soon.
  • Sergiño Dest became the first U.S. international to play for a Spanish club in the UEFA Champions League’s knockout stage, but struggled in Barcelona’s 4-1 loss to Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg at home. Like many defenders, Dest failed to stop Kylian Mbappe, who scored a hat trick in the match.
  • In the other UEFA Champions League match yesterday, Liverpool defeated RB Leipzig 2-0 with goals from Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. Today’s matches at 3 p.m. on CBS All Access will feature FC Porto hosting Juventus while Borussia Dortmund travels to take on Sevilla.
  • FC Schalke has struggled in the Bundesliga this season and its hope to avoid relegation may hinge on American teenager Matthew Hoppe, who leads the club with five goals.
  • We end our links in England’s Football League One as a referee had a confrontation with a player after not awarding a penalty.

That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Wednesday, stay safe, and I’ll see you next time.