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Lion Links: 3/1/21

Jonathan Suarez is out, Orlando Pride players with local ties, U.S. Soccer repeals kneeling ban, and more.

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SOCCER: OCT 17 NWSL - North Carolina Courage at Orlando Pride Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers! With the flip of a calendar page we are into March and that much closer to the start of the season. There are also the promises of warmer weather and St. Patrick’s Day on the way. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling pretty good. It might be that I can see the season just around the corner. Let’s get to the links.

Orlando City Parts Ways with Suárez

Orlando City and Jonathan Suárez mutually agreed to terminate his contract with the club. Suárez and his brother were arrested on sexual battery charges last week, resulting in his suspension by Major League Soccer and now both Orlando and Suarez can proceed without distraction after the termination. Suárez will focus on the charges while the Lions now need to find another left back to fill in for João Moutinho as he recovers from injury.

Florida Ties Strengthen Orlando Pride

More than a third of the players on the Orlando Pride roster have ties to the greater Orlando area. Carrie Lawrence is from Orlando, captain Ashlyn Harris is from Cocoa Beach and Toni Pressley is from nearby Melbourne. If you include college experience, Konya Plummer played for the University of Central Florida, Jordyn Listro played for the University of South Florida, and Erika Tymrak and Meggie Dougherty Howard both played for the University of Florida. Marc Skinner detailed how a club’s and player’s connection to the community is very important.

“As a coach, I try to connect with what it means to be from Florida, what it means to play for Orlando, what it means to be from the city,” Skinner said. “If you don’t do that, you’re not really working for the people. I think it’s so important we put everything into loving where we are. Even through the trials and tribulations that we faced in the last two years, that love has never doused.”

USSF Annual General Meeting Elects New VP, Addresses Kneeling Policy

In a tightly contested vote, Bill Taylor was elected as the new vice president of the U.S. Soccer Federation. Former United States Men’s National Team great Cobi Jones won the first vote but failed to get the required majority to be elected.

Meanwhile, back in 2017, Megan Rapinoe made news by kneeling in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick. The USSF responded by passing a new policy that stated, “all persons representing a federation national team shall stand respectfully during the playing of national anthems at any event in which the federation is represented.” Now, the USSF repealed the policy with 71% of the council in favor of the repeal. Players may now kneel during the anthem, though many of the players no longer feel the need as they are working for equality behind the scenes.

The Gender Gap in Coaching Continues

Only 20% of the coaches in women’s soccer are actually women. While this is better than only a few years ago, the disparity is still glaring. The last few years have seen a meteoric rise in women’s soccer with the European leagues growing, and the NWSL approaching its 10th year. Despite that, there is still a minority of female coaches in the game. This might be due to women not having the opportunities to get the experience necessary to apply for head coaching positions. Hopefully, this is changing.

Free Kicks
  • Kamal Miller landed on a list of players that could break out in 2021. He was picked up by CF Montréal in a trade with Austin FC after being selected in the 2020 MLS Expansion Draft. I suppose we’ll see if he does better with Montréal.
  • Former Orlando City striker Stefano Pinho is on the move.
  • Florida is partnering with sports teams in the state, including Orlando City and the Pride, to help tackle children’s mental health issues.
  • It seems I’ll be spending some money soon as the jersey reveal is this Friday.

I know I’ve said it before, but this year is flying by compared to last year. Mind you, I’m not complaining. Here’s to a great March!