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Lion Links: 6/2/21

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Barnsley FC declines option to buy Daryl Dike, Orlando Pride keep thriving together, MLS to start a lower-division league, and more.

SOCCER: JUL 25 MLS - Orlando City SC v Montreal Impact

Hello, Mane Landers. It’s hard to believe it’s June already and I hope you all are doing well. I’m still getting myself settled in here in Chicago with my new job, but so far so good. We have plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Daryl Dike to Return

Barnsley FC decided not to exercise its option to buy Daryl Dike and he’ll return to Orlando City after spending four months on loan in England. The purchase option was reportedly $20 million with an additional 20% stipulation on any future sale. Dike put Europe on notice with his stellar performance during his time with the Tykes. He scored nine goals in 19 league appearances to help Barnsley reach the English Football League Championship playoffs. Dike is currently training with the United States Men’s National Team and is expected to return to the Lions after the international break. The earliest we could see Dike suit up for the Lions would be June 19 against Toronto FC.

Orlando Pride Coming Together to Find Success

The Orlando Pride’s National Women’s Soccer League season is off to a great start with three consecutive wins and the team now finds itself on top of the NWSL. After three consecutive losing seasons, the Pride have found better chemistry and built on that connection this season by staying undefeated in the first four games. Pride captain Ashlyn Harris shared her thoughts on how the team is coming together to win.

“We’re building an incredible culture here that people should want to be a part of,” Harris said. “That’s always been what we’ve wanted here. We’re so set up, we have everything possible we could need. The training facilities, the stadium, the support staff — the organization is incredible. And finally it was time to just put results up.”

Prior to this season, the team never really had a culture built within the club. Coach Marc Skinner had the Pride set up a leadership committee and encouraged young players to find their voice and become leaders themselves. Let’s hope the Pride can keep this momentum going with the Olympics coming up next month.

MLS Reportedly Launching Lower-Division League

According to The Athletic, Major League Soccer is in the advanced stages of putting together a new lower-division soccer league ($) for 2022. Although there are no details on a format, this league would likely help fill the gap between MLS Next sides and MLS first-team rosters. It’s expected that the league schedule would follow the MLS schedule from spring to fall, with a postseason as well. The league would launch with over half of the MLS clubs fielding a team, but more independent clubs may join as the league grows. Even though the league may make its debut next season, it won’t require existing MLS secondary teams to move from the USL Championship or USL League One to play in the new league. MLS is expected to file a third-division sanctioning request this week to the U.S. Soccer Federation.

Lionel Messi Continues Talks with FC Barcelona

FC Barcelona President Joan Laporta stated that Messi wants to stay with the club, but no deal has been signed yet. Messi’s contract will end at the end of June unless the sides come to terms on a deal. Laporta returned to the club to replace Josep Maria Bartomeu and has been working towards convincing Messi to stay while building a team capable of winning silverware. Last year, Messi requested to leave the club after losing 8-2 to Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League. Barcelona added former Manchester City players Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia on a free transfer. The club has plenty of targets to consider this transfer window and Laporta also hinted that manager Ronald Koeman would return as well.

Free Kicks
  • The NWSL corrected who scored the Pride’s goal in their 1-0 win over Kansas City. Now, Alex Morgan is credited with the goal instead of Marta, with Courtney Petersen earning the assist.
  • Here are some broadcasting changes to Orlando City’s upcoming matches.

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