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Lion Links: 1/28/22

Orlando City signs Ercan Kara as Designated Player, Orlando Pride trade Ali Riley and sign Julie Doyle, USMNT beats El Salvador, and more.

Mark Thor / Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

How’s it going, Mane Landers? Temperatures are expected to take a nosedive later tonight, so make sure to bundle up this weekend. I have a few good books lined up to keep me entertained over the weekend if the weather keeps me indoors. But for now, let’s enjoy these links from around the soccer world.

Orlando City Adds Ercan Kara as Designated Player

The Lions signed Austrian center forward Ercan Kara as a Designated Player on a three-year contract through 2024 with two club option years. Transfermarkt reports that Orlando paid a $2 million transfer fee to Rapid Vienna for the 26-year-old, which would be another hefty amount paid by Orlando during the Wilf family’s first off-season as owners.

At 6-foot-4, Kara will help fill the void left at center forward following Daryl Dike’s departure. The 26-year-old scored 14 goals and contributed four assists in 32 appearances across all competitions for Rapid Vienna this season. He also featured for Austria during its World Cup qualifying campaign and may miss a couple of games if called up for Austria’s playoff match against Wales on March 24.

Kara sat down with former Lion Miguel Gallardo to discuss his role as the team’s striker and his first impressions of Exploria Stadium and Florida. The club also released some fun facts about Kara such as how he has 16 blood-related aunts and uncles and also a cat named Zilli.

Orlando Pride Trade Ali Riley to Angel City FC

The Orlando Pride traded the rights to defender Ali Riley to Angel City FC in exchange for a natural third-round pick in the 2023 NWSL Draft and $15,000 in Allocation Money. While not a great return for a player that started in 18 games last season, the Pride lacked leverage as Riley was out of contract and now returns to her native Los Angeles to play for Angel City.

The Pride offered Riley a new contract for 2022, but she will instead join a growing list of players leaving Orlando this off-season. Among that group of players offered new contracts for 2022, 31-year-old midfielder Jade Moore also won’t be in Orlando next season. Moore is headed to her native England to reunite with former Pride head coach Marc Skinner at Manchester United.

Pride Sign Draft Pick Julie Doyle

The Pride also announced that they have signed forward Julie Doyle to a one-year contract with a club option for an additional year. Doyle was selected 11th overall in the 2022 NWSL Draft and was one of three players chosen in the first round by the Pride. In four years at Santa Clara University, Doyle scored 16 goals and added 14 assists in 70 games. With Alex Morgan, Taylor Kornieck, and Jodie Taylor no longer with the team and fellow draft pick Mia Fishel choosing to play for Tigres in Mexico, signing Doyle was crucial for the Pride. The Pride’s rebuild continues as more young talent joins the team while veteran players depart.

USMNT Wins as World Cup Qualifying Returns

In its first World Cup qualifier of 2022, the United States Men’s National Team won 1-0 against El Salvador in Columbus, OH. Left back Antonee Robinson scored the game’s only goal after pouncing on a headed pass in the box by Jesus Ferreira. The win was far from comfortable for the Americans as they struggled at times in the final third, but El Salvador wasn’t able to put any shots on target. It will be interesting to see how the USMNT lines up on Sunday in Canada as Sergino Dest and Weston McKennie were seen limping late in the match.

Elsewhere in Concacaf, Jamaica managed to take the lead over Mexico despite playing a man down after a red card to defender Damion Lowe late in the first half. But Mexico stormed back with goals in the 81st and 83rd minutes to win 2-1 and take all three points in Kingston.

MLS Transfer News Roundup

The New England Revolution and Arsenal FC have reportedly reached a verbal agreement for goalkeeper Matt Turner to join the English club this summer on a deal that would be $6 million with additional incentives. Turner was named 2021 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year last season and started in goal for the USMNT’s win last night.

Kara isn’t the only Rapid Vienna forward headed to MLS as D.C. United signed Grecian forward Taxiarchis Fountas to a pre-contract that will have him join as a Designated Player this summer. United also acquired left back Brad Smith from the Seattle Sounders in exchange for $750,000 in General Allocation Money. The Philadelphia Union signed Danish striker Mikael Uhre as a Designated Player. Uhre recorded 21 goals and six goals for Brøndby IF to claim the Danish Superliga Golden Boot last season.

Free Kicks
  • Enjoy these photos of Kara, Alexandre Pato, Silvester van der Water, and Andres Perea taking shots at training. The big guy sure didn’t waste much time getting to work.

That’s going to be all I have for you today. I don’t know about you, but I’m incredibly excited for Orlando to take the field next month. I hope you all have a wonderful Friday and make sure to stay warm this weekend.