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Lion Links: 3/3/21

Oscar Pareja builds on Orlando City’s success, Orlando Pride update preseason roster, Alex Morgan launches media company, and more.

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Orlando City SC v Montreal Impact: Knockout Round - MLS Is Back Tournament Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope you all are having a good week as we’re halfway towards the weekend. How is everyone doing as we get closer to kickoff next month? I’ve been finishing up my final projects for my sportscasting classes this month as I get ready for graduation in April. Besides that, I’ve been busy working at Disney Springs. We have plenty of news to cover, so let’s get to the links!

Oscar Pareja is Building on Orlando City’s Success

By adding both Alexandre Pato and Silvester van der Water during the off-season, Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja is focused on improving the team’s scoring ability after 2020. The Lions created many chances throughout last season, but struggled putting them away and both players should help address that while Daryl Dike is on loan with Barnsley FC. Pareja also stated that the team will first look internally to fill the void at left back left by Jonathan Suarez’ dismissal while João Moutinho recovers.

“The first is just to see our academy, and that’s what we’re doing right now,” Pareja said. “Secondly, we will see if there is another option. We don’t want to rush. I really have faith on having the recovery in full with João, but at the same time we’re taking the natural steps to just get somebody else.”

Orlando City midfielder Uri Rosell also spoke about how his first day of training went. The 28-year-old made it clear that expectations are high for the team to win every trophy in sight this season.

Orlando Pride Sign Abi Kim and Update Preseason Roster

The Orlando Pride signed forward Abi Kim, who was selected in the third round of the 2020 NWSL College Draft. Kim is the sixth Pride player signed from the 2020 draft class and brings speed to the Pride’s offense. The 21-year-old is coming off of a season with Fiorentina of Italy’s Serie A, where she scored two goals in seven appearances across all competitions.

The Pride also announced updates to their 2021 roster after one month into the preseason. Along with Kim, former Washington Spirit forward Crystal Thomas was added to the roster after being signed on Feb. 23. Goalkeeper Gabby English and defender Lauren Silver are also listed as non-roster invitees. The only player not with the team since the original preseason roster was announced is Carson Pickett, who was traded away to the North Carolina Courage last month.

The Pride’s first preseason game is today when they host Kansas City today. The match should be good practice before the NWSL Challenge Cup kicks off on April 9.

Alex Morgan Launches Media Company With Sports Stars

The Orlando Pride’s Alex Morgan has teamed up with four-time WNBA champion Sue Bird and Olympic gold medalists Chloe Kim and Simone Manuel to start a new media and commerce company for young women called Togethxr. Through daily content and docuseries, the platform aims to bridge the gap between women participating in sports and the media coverage devoted to them. Morgan first floated the idea after the United States Women’s National Team won the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup and wanted to create an outlet for girls to view content created by athletes who are women.

Toronto FC Considers Playing Games in Orlando

Due to COVID-19 restrictions in Canada, Toronto FC is considering starting the MLS season in Orlando. The Canadian club is also considering Tampa, where the NBA’s Toronto Raptors call home. Currently in Canada while preparing for the 2020 Canadian Championship final, Toronto FC is evaluating which city to choose. Both options will have good weather and fellow Eastern Conference opponents aren’t too far away if the league opts for a regional schedule to start the season. The club will also find ways for families to safely stay and travel, as well as plan an exit agreement with hotels when it’s safe to return to Canada. Orlando has many hotel options and training facilities that Toronto is accustomed to, which may give it an edge over Tampa.

Free Kicks
  • With the Lions back at training, Nani is motivated and bringing good vibes to the squad.
  • Former Orlando City B player Luc Granitur will play college soccer at the University of North Carolina.

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