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Lion Links: 1/5/22

MLS off-season moves continue, MLS mock draft results, Ricardo Pepi hopes to bring success to FC Augsburg, and more.

Leagues Cup 2021: Quarterfinals - Santos Laguna v Orlando City SC Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope the new year is starting off well for you down in Florida. It’s been really cold up here in Chicago but I made it through the first winter storm of the year up here. There is plenty of soccer news to get to today so let’s get right to the links.

MLS Teams Continue Making Moves

While Orlando City hasn’t signed a new player yet, many players are on the move this MLS off-season. Inter Miami will look fairly different next season as Rodolfo Pizarro was loaned to CF Monterrey in Liga MX with an option to buy and reports surfaced that midfielder Blaise Matuidi won’t be with the club in 2022. The club also sent $100,000 in General Allocation Money to LAFC in exchange for 20-year-old midfielder Bryce Duke.

Nashville SC made a splash by signing veteran midfielder Sean Davis as a free agent, while FC Cincinnati added forward Dominique Badji. Rangers FC is reportedly close to adding James Sands from New York City FC on an 18-month loan. Minnesota United signed forward Bongokuhle Hlongwane from South African club Maritzburg United FC to a U-22 Initiative deal. Also, Real Salt Lake is reportedly close to a deal for former New England Revolution midfielder Scott Caldwell.

MLS Mock Draft Sees Orlando Choose Forward

Unless a trade takes place, Orlando City will make three selections when the MLS SuperDraft takes place on Jan. 11. Top Drawer Soccer unveiled a mock draft on how the first round could play out, with Orlando choosing Florida Gulf Coast University forward O’Vante Mullings with the 18th pick. Selecting a forward would make sense for an Orlando offense that will be without the services of Nani, Daryl Dike, and Chris Mueller in 2022. Other players in the mock draft who could be good fits for Orlando include Air Force forward Tristan Trager, 6-foot-4 central defender Ryan Sailor, and left back Charlie Ostrem.

The Lions have done well finding talent through the draft in the past, selecting players such as Cyle Larin, Mueller, and Dike over the years. Orlando has the 18th pick in all three rounds of the draft and it will be interesting to see if the club trades up for an earlier pick.

Analyzing Ricardo Pepi’s Move to Germany

I think it’s fair to say it was surprising to see FC Dallas forward Ricardo Pepi transfer to FC Augsburg, which is just a point above the relegation zone in the Bundesliga. Augsburg paid $20 million to acquire the 18-year-old with hopes he can solve the team’s scoring woes. Pepi had a stellar performance last year, scoring 13 goals in 31 appearances for FC Dallas while also getting called up to the USMNT for World Cup qualifying. He has experience training in Germany after a three-week trial with Bayern Munich last year and has studied Bundesliga strikers Robert Lewandowski and Erling Haaland. Pepi can be reckless with the ball at his feet at times, but is a promising attacker with a strong work ethic and great finishing skills. Joining Augsburg will give Pepi significant playing time, although there will be pressure to perform as the club fights to avoid relegation.

Carlos Cordeiro May Run for USSF Presidency

According to U.S. Soccer Federation sources that spoke with ESPN, former USSF president Carlos Cordeiro is planning on running to become president once more. Cordeiro resigned as president two years ago amid backlash related to the equal pay lawsuit made by members of the United States Women’s National Team. Cindy Parlow Cone took over as president following his resignation and ran unopposed in last year’s election. She will be running for re-election again this March to continue serving as USSF president with the 2026 World Cup approaching.

Free Kicks
  • Fabrizio Romano expects Toronto FC’s move for Napoli striker Lorenzo Insigne to be made official soon.

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