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Lion Links: 12/21/22

MLS releases 2023 season schedule, Tesho Akindele retires, 2023 MLS SuperDraft is today, and more.

New York Red Bulls v Orlando City SC Photo by Roy K. Miller/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. I’m visiting family in Texas for the holidays for the next week, but will make the most of the vacation and watch some soccer. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

MLS Releases 2023 Season Schedule

Major League Soccer released the schedule for the 2023 season and Orlando City will start its season at home for the ninth consecutive season. The Lions will host the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, Feb. 25. The Lions will play every Eastern Conference team twice, including rivalry matches with Inter Miami on May 20 and Sept. 24 and against Atlanta United on May 27 and July 15. Orlando City will also play on the Fourth of July again next year, with Toronto FC coming to Exploria Stadium. The Lions will take on new MLS expansion team St. Louis City SC for the first time on Aug. 26 at Exploria Stadium. Decision Day will be on Oct. 21 and the Lions will end the regular season on the road against Toronto. Which matches are you looking forward to the most in 2023? Let me know in the comments below.

Tesho Akindele Retires from Professional Soccer

Canadian forward Tesho Akindele went on social media to announce his retirement from professional soccer on Tuesday.

Akindele was named 2014 MLS Rookie of the Year and played nine seasons in the league, recording 43 goals and 16 assists across 237 regular-season matches with Orlando City and FC Dallas. He also won the U.S. Open Cup with both clubs, lifting the trophy for a second time this past season with Orlando. Akindele also made 19 appearances at the international level, scoring three goals. We wish Tesho all the best moving forward.

2023 MLS SuperDraft Takes Place Today

The 2023 MLS SuperDraft will be today at 5 p.m. and there are many talented players for MLS teams to select. Orlando City has two picks in the first round of the draft, including the sixth overall pick it acquired from the Chicago Fire. In a mock draft, MLSsoccer.com’s Travis Clark predicts the Lions will select French forward Bertin Jacquesson, who scored eight goals and added five assists for Pitt this past season. The Lions also have the 17th pick in the first round and Clark predicts the Lions will select Holden Trent, one of the top goalkeepers in the draft.

Players Out of Contract to Keep an Eye On

There are some notable MLS players who are out of contract as some clubs work on either re-signing them or letting them walk away. In Orlando, goalkeeper Pedro Gallese and the Lions are still reportedly negotiating a new deal. The 32-year-old has been an integral part to Orlando City’s success since joining the club in 2020. Alejandro Pozuelo is out of contract with Inter Miami after joining from Toronto FC midway through the 2022 season. Charlotte FC declined the option of former Leicester City defender Christian Fuchs, but could bring him back for next season regardless. Jozy Altidore, Santiago Rodriguez, and Caden Clark are a few of the other players to watch for during this off-season.

Goalkeeper Joe Bendik Will Return to the Union

Former Lion Joe Bendik has re-signed with the Philadelphia Union on a one-year deal for the 2023 MLS season. Bendik was the backup goalkeeper to Andre Blake and made five appearances for the Union this past season. Bendik has 22 clean sheets in his career in over 181 appearances in MLS, playing for various other clubs in his career such as Orlando City, the Portland Timbers, Toronto FC, and the Columbus Crew.

Free Kicks
  • Here are some more details on Boston’s bid for an NWSL expansion team.
  • Sevilla and Spanish midfielder Isco have reportedly agreed to part ways.
  • Manchester United reportedly decided to extend the contracts of Marcus Rashford, Diogo Dalot, Luke Shaw, and Fred. The Red Devils are also reportedly still in negotiations with goalkeeper David de Gea as well.
  • According to reports, the Houston Dash will announce Sam Laity as their new head coach later today.
  • MLS may be close to making some drastic changes to its playoff format.

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