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Lion Links: 1/4/22

MLS coaching vacancies filled, new (interim) position for James O’Connor, MLS exports part of a continuing pattern, and more.

MLS: New England Revolution at Orlando City SC Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Tuesday, everyone. Soccer never sleeps and it’s actually sped back up a little after La Liga’s return from its winter break and the upcoming returns of Serie A and the Bundesliga later this week. We’ll also likely be getting news about who will be included in the United States Men’s National Team’s January camp, so keep an eye out for that. In the meantime, let’s get into the links.

MLS Coaching Vacancies Filled

Two of the coaching vacancies in Major League Soccer have been filled. First up is probably the biggest vacancy of the offseason, the LAFC job. Steve Cherundolo has become the second ever coach for LAFC, after coaching the team’s USL Championship affiliate, the Las Vegas Lights, during the 2021 season. Cherundolo replaces the team’s first head coach, Bob Bradley, who departed at the end of the season and subsequently became coach of Toronto FC.

The second job to be filled is that of the Houston Dynamo, who officially hired Paulo Nagamura to the top job after that had been reported before the end of the year. Nagamura was previously the head coach at Sporting Kansas City II from 2018-2021, and like Cherundolo, he had a lengthy career in MLS. He will be tasked with rejuvenating a Houston franchise that has not made the playoffs since 2017.

James O’Connor’s New (Interim) Role

In the wake of Brad Estes departing his role as the president of Louisville City SC, former Orlando City head coach James O’Connor will be stepping into the job on an interim basis. O’Connor has been the executive vice president of Soccer Holdings LLC since 2020, a job that he stepped into after departing from Orlando City at the end of the 2019 season. In his role at Soccer Holdings he was involved in the roster construction of NWSL side Racing Louisville and the formation of the club’s youth academy. The club did not specify if there’s a possibility he will take on the job full time in the future, only that he would be taking on the duties during the transition.

Recent MLS Transfers Continue Pattern

The recent big money transfers to Europe by Daryl Dike and Ricardo Pepi shouldn’t have taken anyone by surprise. While the respective fees in the neighborhood of the reported $9.5 million and $20 million would have once been considered the exception instead of the rule, that’s no longer the case. It used to be once in a blue moon that someone like Jozy Altidore or Miguel Almiron would command a double-digit fee. Now though, Dike and Pepi are only following in the footsteps of players like Brenden Aaronson and Bryan Reynolds, whose transfers will both likely be worth double digits once incentives and various clauses kick in. It isn’t likely to stop either. While young American players are especially en vogue at the moment, the world seems to be waking up to the fact that MLS is becoming more comfortable as a selling league, which can be a pretty good niche to slide into.

Transfer Rumor Roundup

The big transfer wheel in the sky continues to turn as 2022 kicks off and there are a few important rumors to cover. First up, in a move that is no longer a rumor, Ricardo Pepi officially completed his move to FC Augsburg from FC Dallas.

Moving firmly into the realm of rumors, Manchester United is said to be considering making a bid for Declan Rice, and are prepared to pay West Ham’s £100 million asking price. There are also reports that United would block a move to West Ham for Jesse Lingard as they don’t want to sell him to a rival for a spot in the top four.

Elsewhere, Newcastle United reportedly is interested in acquiring Atletico Madrid’s Kieran Trippier as the Magpies look to strengthen their back line.

Free Kicks

That does it for me today. Y’all stay safe out there.