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Lion Links: 2/24/21

Orlando City acquires Silvester van der Water, Jonathan Suarez arrested, Orlando Pride sign Crystal Thomas, and more.

SOCCER: SEP 19 MLS - Chicago Fire FC at Orlando City SC Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Hello, Mane Landers. We’ve reached the middle of the week and I can’t believe March is almost here. It means we are getting that much closer to the kickoff of the 2021 MLS season. We have plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links!

Orlando City Adds Silvester van der Water

Orlando City SC officially acquired 24-year-old Dutch winger Silvester van der Water via transfer from Heracles Almelo of the Eredivisie using Target Allocation Money. The contract is a three-year deal with a one-year option. In 53 league appearances since joining Heracles, van der Water scored 10 career goals and had eight assists. The Dutch attacker was linked with Orlando City back in September and will now bring quality to Orlando’s offense to help with rotation during the season.

Jonathan Suárez Arrested

Orlando left back Jonathan Suárez and his brother were arrested and booked into Osceola County Jail without bond on a charge of sexual battery. According to the county sheriff’s office, the pair were accused of sexually assaulting a woman earlier this week. Suárez, who turned 24 on Monday, joined Orlando City on a one-year loan from Querétaro of Liga MX earlier this February. The club released this statement:

“Late Tuesday night, Orlando City SC became aware that defender Jonathan Suárez was arrested in Osceola County. The club takes these allegations very seriously and is currently gathering more information. No further comment will be provided by the club until additional investigation of the alleged incident is complete.”

Lions Named to U.S. Preliminary Olympic Qualifying Roster

Orlando City’s Andres Perea and Benji Michel both made the United States preliminary roster for the Concacaf Olympic qualifying tournament next month. The tournament kicks off in Mexico on March 18 and ends March 30, meaning the pair of Lions will miss a portion of the preseason but will be back in time for the start of the season on April 17. The preliminary roster features 48 players and the finalized 20-player rosters must be submitted closer to the tournament. Along with Daryl Dike and Chris Mueller, Perea and Michel were named to Gregg Berhalter’s 25-man roster this January so it will be interesting if the pair will head to Mexico in March.

Orlando Pride Sign Forward Crystal Thomas

The Orlando Pride signed Crystal Thomas to a one-year contract after a preseason trial period. Thomas originally signed with the Washington Spirit as an undrafted trialist in 2017 before heading to Europe to play for clubs in Norway and Iceland. She later returned to the Spirit and scored three goals in 13 matches during the 2019 and 2020 NWSL seasons. Thomas will be a good addition at the forward position, especially with Alex Morgan and Marta likely gone for the Olympics this summer.

Erika Tymrak Looks Forward to a Fresh Start

After coming out of retirement to join the Orlando Pride this season, Pride midfielder Erika Tymrak said she is excited about training and the upcoming season. Tymrak announced her retirement in early 2020 and unplugged from soccer and social media, moving to California to focus on building her identity outside of soccer. A year later, Tymrak aims to bridge the gap between veterans and young players with the Pride as she works on returning to the physical strength needed to play in the NWSL. Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner is working alongside Tymrak so that she is in the proper mindset to challenge herself and her new teammates.

“We will work with her in order to not create the old Erika, but create a new version of Erika,” Skinner said. “She knows who she is. ... We’re here to create a new version of her that she’s happy with, so that she can extend that happiness onto the field.”

Canada’s World Cup Qualifying Path Starts at Exploria Stadium

The Canadian Men’s National Team’s first game of Concacaf 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying will be at Exploria Stadium when it takes on Bermuda on March 25. The match will be the first of four in the first round of qualifying and Canada must top its group to advance to the next round. It will be Canada’s first match since the pandemic forced sports to shut down nearly a year ago. Canada currently restricts travel for most foreigners who are not considered essential. This has resulted in some Canadian sports teams such as the Toronto Raptors and Toronto Blue Jays calling Florida home for now.

Exploria Stadium has become a hub for soccer during the pandemic, hosting the United States Men’s National Team, the final rounds of the Concacaf Champions League, and the SheBelieves Cup.

Nick O’Callaghan Signs With Tormenta FC

Former Orlando City B defender Nick O’Callaghan signed with South Georgia Tormenta FC on a one-year contract with a club option. O’Callaghan was the 57th overall pick in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft by Orlando City and was also a part of the Orlando City Development Academy. At OCB, O’Callaghan had six appearances, making 19 clearances and eight blocks.

Free Kicks
  • Pride draft pick Viviana Villacorta had successful surgery to repair her torn ACL and is staying positive.

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