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Lion Links: 11/15/22

Orlando City announces roster decisions, Ashlyn Harris retires, USMNT will use rainbow flag crest at Qatar headquarters, and more.

SOCCER: SEP 17 MLS - Toronto FC at Orlando City Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Happy Tuesday, everyone. The start of the World Cup is less than a week away, and I’m finally starting to get excited for it. There’s some very important news to cover this morning, but before we get to that, let’s wish Orlando City defender Robin Jansson a happy birthday, as the Beefy Swede turns 31 today.

Orlando City Announces Roster Decisions

Orlando City announced its roster decisions on Monday, and while there weren’t any major surprises, there were a few interesting moves. Two of them were picking up the option on Jack Lynn, and extending a bona fide offer to Benji Michel to return to the club. Lynn barely featured for OCSC and didn’t make a huge impact during his loan to San Antonio FC, so it wouldn’t have been surprising for the club to decline his option, as the Lions did with Derek Dodson last year. Regarding Benji, while his goal contributions have dropped the last two seasons, the team’s decision to not renew Tesho Akindele might mean that Michel will be a more cost-effective backup than the Canadian. Now that we mostly know where the roster stands, the off-season work can begin in earnest.

Former Pride, USWNT Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris Retires

Ashlyn Harris, the United States Women’s National Team goalkeeper who backstopped the Orlando Pride for the club’s first six seasons in the NWSL has called it a career. News of Harris’ retirement dropped Monday evening, bringing to a close a professional career that began in 2010 after a stellar collegiate career at the University of North Carolina (winning two NCAA titles). She was in the USWNT senior setup from 2013, earning 25 career caps as she mainly served in a backup role with the Yanks. Harris won both the 2015 and 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup as a backup with the U.S. and was the starting goalkeeper for the U.S. squad that won the 2002 FIFA Under-19 Women’s World Cup. She has also had a distinguished club career, which included making 82 appearances with Orlando in the NWSL from 2016 through 2021.

USMNT Will Use Rainbow Flag Logo in Qatar

The United States Men’s National Team has released an alternate logo with the colors of the rainbow flag that it will use during its time in Qatar for the 2022 World Cup. While the crest will not be worn on the field during games, it will be seen at areas the team controls, such as training facilities, the team hotel, media areas, and parties. Sean Johnson spoke about the team’s desire to push the message “Be the Change,” and this is a small way for the team to make known its dissatisfaction with Qatari laws regarding homosexuality. It will be interesting to see if other nations, such as Germany, whose fans have been loudly outspoken against the tournament, will follow suit in similar fashion.

MLS Roster Decision Roundup

Orlando City was not the only MLS team to announce its end-of-season roster decisions Monday (Nov. 14 at noon was the MLS deadline), and there are some notable moves to cover. Josef Martinez’s future with Atlanta United has not yet been resolved but the club did pick up the options of Juan Jose Purata and the injured Miles Robinson.

Meanwhile, FC Dallas declined the option on Matt Hedges, meaning that the defender and club’s all-time appearances leader is now eligible to explore free agency. Dallas did pick up the options of Marco Farfan and Edwin Cerillo.

The biggest move though, comes from Vancouver, where the Whitecaps declined the option on club-record signing Lucas Cavallini, with the forward’s departure opening up a Designated Player spot for the team.

Mexico Finalizes World Cup Squad

Mexico made the final four cuts down to its 26-player squad that will take the field in Qatar next week, and there were some interesting choices. Raul Jiminez has been battling an ankle injury that’s kept him off the field since August, but has recovered enough to make the plane. On the other hand, the omissions of Diego Lainez and Santiago Giminez came as surprises. Giminez is currently tied for the most goals in the Europa League, while Lainez had a lot of success as a substitute for Mexico during qualifying. Mexico’s Group C also includes Argentina, Saudi Arabia, and Poland, and the USMNT rivals should have a decent chance of progressing to the Round of 16.

Free Kicks
  • Alexandre Pato and Tesho Akindele said their farewells to the Orlando City faithful.
  • Former Lion Kaká had some words of praise for the USMNT.
  • Manchester United is not particularly amused about the interview Cristiano Ronaldo gave over the weekend.

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