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Lion Links: 12/23/22

Reported Martin Ojeda transfer details, Junior Urso rejoins Coritiba in Brazil, Debinha won’t return to the North Carolina Courage, and more.

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Orlando Pride v North Carolina Courage Photo by Lewis Gettier/ISI Photos/Getty Images

How’s it going, Mane Landers? Today is Christmas Eve’s Eve, or Christmas Adam as I like to call it. Growing up, it was one of my favorite days of the year as my brother and I would draft up an itinerary for Christmas Eve geared towards making it fly by as fast as possible. Those were simpler times, but I still tend to feel giddy when Dec. 23 rolls around each year. Let’s get this Christmas Adam started off right with some links from around the soccer world!

More Reported Martin Ojeda Transfer Details Emerge

As the MLS off-season continues, teams continue to work at bringing in players who can make an impact in 2023. Orlando City is no exception and the move for Argentine winger Martin Ojeda to become the club’s third Designated Player is reportedly close to being finalized. The details are still not fully out, and no official announcement has been made, but Cesar Luis Merlo of TyC Sports reported on the price tag and how long Ojeda’s contract in Orlando would last.

Ojeda, especially at that reported $4 million fee, would be a great addition to Orlando’s attack, considering the team’s struggles to score at times last season. I don’t know about you, but a DP trio of Ojeda, Facundo Torres, and Ercan Kara with Mauricio Pereyra pulling the strings is pretty fun to think about.

Junior Urso Returns to Coritiba

After parting ways with Orlando City this off-season due to personal reasons, Brazilian midfielder Junior Urso was signed by Coritiba in Brazil’s Serie A. It will be a reunion for Urso, as he played for Coritiba back in 2013. The 33-year-old was also linked with a move to Vasco da Gama following his departure from Orlando. We wish the Bear a great season in Brazil!

Orlando Receives High Marks For MLS SuperDraft’s Travis Clark dished out grades for each team following the 2023 MLS SuperDraft and Orlando City was one of six clubs to receive an A. The Lions had a busy draft day, making three selections in the first round. The club traded away Ruan to D.C. United for the second pick and used that pick on Shakur Mohammed, one of the top prospects in the draft. Orlando added 2022 NCAA leading scorer Duncan McGuire with the sixth overall pick, and then addressed Ruan’s departure by snagging right back Abdi Salim with the 17th. Although only hindsight will tell how well Orlando actually did, I agree that bringing in two talented attackers and adding some depth to the back line is worthy of a high grade.

Debinha Won’t Return to the North Carolina Courage

The North Carolina Courage were informed by Brazilian midfielder Debinha that she won’t be returning to the club next season. Debinha has spent the past six years with the Courage and became a free agent this off-season. One of the best players in the league, Debinha helped the Courage win two NWSL championships and three NWSL Shields. She was also an MVP finalist this past season after scoring 12 goals and adding four assists.

It will be interesting to see if Debinha will stay in the NWSL or head to Europe. One interesting wrinkle to this is a tweet from former Orlando Pride General Manager Ian Fleming following the announcement that may indicate he was trying to bring Debinha to Orlando.

U.S. Moves Up in Final FIFA Rankings of 2022

The United States moved up three spots to 13th in FIFA’s latest world rankings after a decent campaign in the World Cup. Mexico fell two spots to 15th, meaning the U.S. is the highest ranked team in Concacaf. The U.S. was also the only Concacaf team to advance past the group stage in the World Cup. Costa Rica and Canada fell to 32nd and 53rd, respectively.

Morocco, which reached the World Cup semifinals, is the highest ranked nation outside of Europe and South America, finishing the year in 11th. Croatia, Australia, Japan, and Cameroon were some of the other nations to rise in the rankings. Brazil remained on top of the rankings, with Argentina in second and France in third.

Free Kicks
  • Orlando center back Rodrigo Schlegel revealed the tattoo he got to celebrate Orlando winning the U.S. Open Cup. Let me know in the comments if any of you have an Orlando City-related tattoo or if you’ll ever get one. I kind of want one now after seeing Schlegel’s.
  • Nashville SC Designated Player Ake Loba is reportedly set to be transferred to Mazatlan FC of Liga MX after the 24-year-old’s disappointing 2022 campaign.
  • LAFC added Honduran defender Denil Maldonado on loan from CD Motagua, with an option to make the move permanent as well.
  • Brazilian right back Geovane Jesus was signed by FC Dallas as a U22 Initiative player. The 21-year-old helped Cruzeiro earn promotion to Brazil’s top flight this past season.
  • American midfielder Luca de la Torre scored in Celta Vigo’s 3-0 win against Gernika in the Copa del Rey. The 24-year-old spoke about the importance of this goal after recovering from an injury.

That’s all I have for you today. The holidays are a fun time, but they can also be filled with stress. Find time to take care of yourself and I hope you enjoy your weekend!