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Lion Links: 2/5/21

Daryl Dike’s first day with Barnsley FC, Orlando Pride trade Carson Pickett, Orlando City hosts tryouts, and more.

SOCCER: AUG 24 NWSL - Orlando Pride at Washington Spirit Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

How’s it going, Mane Landers? To those who don’t know, I live down in Tampa and things are pretty crazy heading into this weekend. Given the Tampa Bay Lightning and Tampa Bay Rays success last year, I’ve heard some folks calling Tampa the sports capital of the country right now. But honestly, most of Florida’s professional sports teams have been doing really well considering Orlando City’s playoff run and the Miami Heat’s trip to the 2020 NBA Finals. All in all, it’s a nice time to be in the Sunshine State if you’re a sports fan.

Before we dive into today’s links, let’s wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride midfielder Marisa Viggiano!

Daryl Dike is Already Popular on His First Day

Without even playing a game for Barnsley FC yet, Orlando City forward Daryl Dike is already getting the attention of English Premier League clubs. Barnsley CEO Dane Murphy spoke about how Dike is now on the radar of EPL teams now that he will practically be playing in their backyard after a stellar rookie season with the Lions.

“When it became known that he was coming to us, there have been several Premier League teams who have reached out and said they are going to monitor him and they have him on their radar,” Murphy told Wobschall. “We will see how that unfolds. But he was an unknown quantity because of his first year in MLS and MLS is getting more eyes on it.”

Dike could make his debut as soon as tomorrow in Barnsley’s match against Derby County, with an FA Cup match right around the corner against Chelsea on Feb. 11. Only time will tell how the loan will shake out, but I’m excited for Dike to take the field again and get more people interested in Orlando City and Major League Soccer moving forward. But for now, enjoy these photos from Dike’s first day abroad.

The Pride Trade for Jodie Taylor’s NWSL Rights

In yet another move ahead of the 2021 NWSL season, the Orlando Pride traded defender Carson Pickett to the North Carolina Courage in exchange for forward Jodie Taylor’s NWSL rights. Taylor has been playing in France with Olympique Lyon since August 2020, scoring twice in nine appearances. The move adds needed depth to the Pride’s striker pool, although the English forward could still be called up for international duty. That’s also only if Taylor does join the Pride since the club only has her rights at the moment.

The acquisition comes with the departure of Pickett, a left back known for her excellent crossing ability. Ali Riley will primarily take over at the position, but Pickett will definitely be missed by Pride fans.

Orlando City Announces Tryouts for Elite Prospects

In an effort to find the best young talent in the region for its academy, OCSC is teaming up with local clubs to host tryouts through the end of May for prospects born between 2005 and 2009. In the first of such tryouts, Orlando Head Coach Oscar Pareja personally evaluated players and conducted some of the training at Osceola Heritage Park. Praised for his successful academy at FC Dallas, it’s nice seeing him and Orlando City Academy Director Marcelo Neveleff build a strong foundation for the club.

Major Changes Coming to Concacaf Champions League

Starting in 2023, the Concacaf Champions League will have a new format that includes a whopping 50 clubs from across the confederation. The competition will start in the fall with regionalized group stages and then a 16-team knockout stage will take place in the spring. As for MLS clubs, 20 clubs from the United States, Canada, and Mexico will be drawn into four groups of five, playing two matches at home and two away. The top two from each group, along with another three from a play-in round after the group stage, will qualify for the knockout stage.

It’s a lot to digest at the moment, but should be plenty of fun with an expanded field. Not only will we get more soccer to watch, but it should bring some attention to smaller clubs who normally get overshadowed by the likes of Tigres and Cruz Azul.

Free Kicks
  • Orlando City’s former head scout who left the club in January, Leonardo Sousa Baldo, is now joining AS Monaco.

That’s going to do it for today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and enjoy the weekend!