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Lion Links: 1/25/21

Orlando City makes Facundo Torres signing official, Lions called up to U-20 USMNT, at least six dead outside AFCON stadium, and more.

Uruguay v Argentina - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Qualifier Photo by Raúl Martínez-Pool/Getty Images

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Not only did Orlando City finally sign an attacking player, thereby sparing me from a horrible death at the hands of consumption, but the United States Men’s National Team plays three games over the next seven days. Even better, I’m making the trip from Tampa to attend Thursday’s match in Columbus! Which might mean I’ll die of exposure considering the current forecast calls for temperatures of 24 degrees on Thursday night. Enjoy your time with me while you still can, dear readers, and let’s get into the links.

Facundo Torres Officially Signed

In what feels like maybe the longest incoming transfer saga Orlando City has been involved in, the Lions announced the signing of Facundo Torres Monday morning. The Uruguayan international has been signed to a four-year deal as a Young Designated Player, with an option for the 2026 season. Given the reported cost of between $7.5 million and $10 million, Torres will be expected to be an immediate contributor to an Orlando team looking to re-tool offensively after the departures of Nani, Daryl Dike and Chris Mueller. Look for the left-footed Torres to slot into Nani’s old left wing position. Welcome to Orlando!

Lions Called Up to U-20 USMNT

A pair of familiar faces have been called up to the Under-20 U.S. Men’s National Team. Orlando City defenders Michael Halliday and Thomas Williams have been called up as part of the 26-man squad that is set to train for a little over a week at IMG Academy, with the first session held yesterday. It’s an important year for the U-20 team, which is preparing to compete in this summer’s Concacaf U-20 Championship. That tournament will serve as qualification for the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup and the 2024 Summer Olympics. The week will mirror the longer January camp that the senior team traditionally does at the start of every new year. Best of luck to our two Lions!

Six or More Dead Outside AFCON Knockout Game

At least six people have died after a crush of people accumulated outside a stadium hosting an African Cup of Nations round of 16 match. Spectators were attempting to get into the stadium to watch the match between Comoros Islands and hosts Cameroon. The stadium has a capacity of 60,000 people and while only 50,000 people are estimated to have tried to attend, the capacity was supposed to be at no more than 80% due to COVID-19 restrictions. Officials at a hospital nearby said they had received at least 40 people with injuries, some of whom had to be sent to other facilities better equipped to handle their injuries. Cameroon is hosting the tournament for the first time in 50 years, after it was supposed to host in 2019 — only for the tournament to be given to Egypt instead due to concerns over the quality of Cameroon’s preparations and stadiums.

Watford Sacks Ranieri

Claudio Ranieri has been sacked by Watford after 13 games in charge. The Italian took over on Oct. 4 after previous manager Xisco was fired, and presided over 10 defeats in the 13 games he was at the helm. The last time Watford won was a 4-1 victory over Manchester United that doomed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to the sack. Watford’s recent 3-0 defeat to fellow relegation battlers Norwich City sealed Ranieri’s fate, with Josh Sargent’s brace putting the final two nails in his coffin. Watford is by no means out of the relegation fight, sitting a mere two points from safety and with one and two games in hand over Newcastle United and Norwich City, respectively — the two teams immediately above them in the table. The team’s first game after the international break is an absolutely titanic clash against bottom-of-the-table Burnley.

Free Kicks

That does it for me today. Keep your fingers crossed that I don’t freeze to death!