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Lion Links: 3/9/21

Orlando Pride celebrate International Women’s Day with ticket campaign for girls, NWSL Challenge Cup announced, Montreal announces new coach, and more.

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

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I hope your week is off to a good start. I had an unexpected day off work yesterday so I’m feeling recharged and ready to get after it. As usual, there’s plenty to discuss today, so let’s jump in.

Orlando Pride Ticket Campaign Celebrates International Women’s Day

The Orlando Pride have announced the #ChooseToChallenge campaign as part of its celebration of International Women’s Day. If you purchase a ticket for a Pride game using the offer linked here, one ticket will be donated to a non-profit in the area that will give local girls a chance to attend a match. The ticket you buy can be used for any home game during the regular season. Whether you typically attend Pride games or not, I would encourage you to consider buying a ticket to one during the campaign. It’s a worthy cause, and benefits kids in our own backyard.

NWSL Challenge Cup Details Announced

While more information will come out today, the National Women’s Soccer League has announced some details for this year’s NWSL Challenge Cup. The tournament will kick off on April 9 in Houston with the Chicago Red Stars taking on the Houston Dash in a rematch of last year’s Challenge Cup final. The league’s 10 teams will be split into two divisions of five — East and West. Each team will play four games in home markets against the other teams in its division. The top team from each division will then face off in the final on May 8, at a site that will be determined at a later date. The Pride are in the East along with Racing Louisville, the North Carolina Courage, Sky Blue FC, and the Washington Spirit.

After the Challenge Cup ends, the NWSL will hold a 24-game regular season, which will start May 15 and end on Oct. 30. The NWSL Championship will take place on Nov. 21, two weeks after the beginning of the playoffs on Nov. 6.

Montreal Names Wilfried Nancy New Coach

CF Montreal have named Wilfried Nancy the team’s new head coach. Nancy was an internal hire, previously serving as a first-team assistant since 2016. He fills the role vacated on Feb. 25 by Thierry Henry, who stepped down in order to return to his family. Nancy has been at CF Montreal for a decade now, initially starting as a coach at the club’s academy all the way back in 2011. He worked his way up coaching varying levels of youth teams before joining the first team after five years. He will be tasked with building on what the club accomplished last season — namely, making the MLS Cup playoffs and reaching the quarterfinals of the Concacaf Champions League.

Montreal, like Toronto, will start its 2021 MLS season in Florida, playing at Inter Miami’s stadium, which is in Fort Lauderdale, obviously.

MLS Transfer Roundup

Transfers never stop in MLS, especially with the start of the season getting closer and closer. Here are a few moves to catch you up on. First, the LA Galaxy are said to be close to signing French winger Samuel Grandsir from AS Monaco. If a deal gets done it will be a good one for LA, with the team reportedly competing against Burnley, Alaves, and Real Valladolid for his signature.

Additionally, D.C. United has signed American center back Brendan Ike-Hines on loan from Belgium’s K.V. Kortrijk. The 26-year-old was picked by Montreal in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft but chose to sign a contract with Sweden’s Örebro SK instead. He should bring some extra punch to D.C.’s back line, with over 100 European appearances to his name.

Finally, Inter Miami CF has extended the contract of its MVP from last year, after it signed Lewis Morgan to a new deal. Morgan notched five goals and eight assists in his first MLS season, and extending his deal is a good piece of business for Miami.

Free Kicks

That’ll be all for me today. Y’all stay safe out there.