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Lion Links: 1/14/22

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Orlando City promotes Luiz Muzzi and Ricardo Moreira, Head Coach Oscar Pareja prepares for the preseason, Orlando Pride draft picks called up for camp, and more.

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Training USWNT Photo by Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images

How’s it going, Mane Landers? My resolutions have been going well and I’m excited for the weekend. Here in Tampa, the weather has been nice enough to walk each day without worrying about freezing to death. Let’s dive into today’s links!

Luiz Muzzi and Ricardo Moreira Earn Extensions, Promotions

Orlando City promoted and extended the contracts of Luiz Muzzi and Ricardo Moreira. Muzzi will become the club’s general manager while Ricardo Moreira was named technical director. Both joined the club following Orlando’s 2018 season and helped rebuild the roster to reach the playoffs for the first time in 2020 and again in 2021. This was an important move by the Wilf family that ensures the club continues its growth. Muzzi and Moreira have done a great job finding talented players, particularly in South America, and hopefully that habit continues as the team aims to reload its offense before the 2022 season.

Oscar Pareja Prepares for the Preseason

After a shortened off-season, Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja is focused on getting the Lions ready for the upcoming season. With Nani, Daryl Dike, and Chris Mueller all leaving the club, Orlando’s offense will look different in 2022 and Pareja spoke about the club’s efforts to bring in new players.

“We’ve been working on which players to bring in. The brief time I was off, I had the opportunity to go to Medellín, Colombia, to visit my family, and now that I’ve been back, we’re finalizing plans for the preseason,” said Pareja, who’s entering his third year in charge of the Lions.

“And we’re [doing] everything we can regarding the signing of players, which isn’t easy during the pandemic, trying to reach the players who are going to come and represent the club.”

Pareja also mentioned the ongoing talks the club is having to bring in young Uruguayan forward Facundo Torres. Forward Alexandre Pato is also expected to return on a new deal after a season marred by injury. Orlando’s preseason will begin next week as players report in and have medicals done, but Pareja doesn’t expect new players to reach full training until later in the week.

While Orlando hasn’t released its preseason schedule, other teams throughout MLS have and we can piece together some of the teams the Lions will take on before the home opener against CF Montreal on Feb. 27. The Lions will face FC Dallas on Feb. 5, the Colorado Rapids on Feb. 11, and also FC Cincinnati on Feb. 18. It is unknown if any of the team’s preseason matches will be open to the public at this point.

Orlando Pride Draftees Called Up to U.S. U-23 Camp

Orlando Pride draftees Mikayla Colohan and Mia Fishel were both called up for the United States U-23 Women’s Youth National Team’s camp later this month. The camp will take place in Austin from Jan. 23-28 and will include a closed-door scrimmage against the USWNT, which is also training in Austin. Colohan and Fishel are unsigned but would be huge additions for the Pride.

Fishel was selected by the Pride with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2022 NWSL Draft and has experience training with the senior team. Colohan was drafted with the No. 14 overall pick in the 2021 draft and is coming off of a strong senior season with BYU that included a trip to the College Cup final. This is the first time the U-23 team will come together since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Daryl Dike’s Journey to England

The Athletic ($) provided a great profile following Dike’s meteoric rise through collegiate and professional soccer as he prepares for West Bromwich Albion’s game against Queens Park Rangers tomorrow at 10 a.m. Dike has always been a physical presence but has also shown his high soccer IQ and good feet over his two years in Orlando. The article also includes plenty of quotes from Dike’s coaches and mentors over the years, including Pareja and Nani.

Tomorrow’s game is an important one in the English Football League Championship as West Brom is only a point ahead of QPR in the standings. It sets up a perfect stage for Dike to make his mark should he take the field for the Baggies. The 21-year-old will wear No. 12 for the remainder of West Brom’s season and you can check out this gallery of him in training as he gets ready for his debut.

Albert Rusnak to the Sounders; MLS Roundup

The Seattle Sounders signed free agent Albert Rusnak as the team’s third Designated Player. Rusnak joins the Sounders after five seasons with Real Salt Lake and he signed a contract that will keep him in Seattle for the next two years. D.C. United was also reportedly in the mix to sign the attacking midfielder, so I’m glad he ended up staying in the Western Conference.

Minnesota United drafted Abu Danladi with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 SuperDraft, but he was chosen by Nashville SC in the 2019 Expansion Draft. Now, Danladi returns to Minnesota on a one-year deal with an option for an additional year.

Elsewhere, Austin FC added 25-year-old midfielder Jhojan Valencia from Colombia’s Deportivo Cali. Sporting Kansas City re-signed veteran defender Graham Zusi and 35-year-old midfielder Roger Espinoza for the 2022 season. Goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski signed a contract extension with the San Jose Earthquakes through the 2024 season.

Free Kicks
  • Orlando City’s logo was named the fifth best in MLS according to a study done by Quality Logo Products. Minnesota United claimed the top spot while Nashville SC finished last.
  • Here are some more highlights of Orlando draft picks Nathan Dossantos and Nick Taylor.

That’s all I have for you today, folks. I hope you all have a wonderful Friday and rest of your weekend!