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Lion Links: 12/29/22

Orlando linked with Uruguayan midfielder, Tesho Akindele discusses his future plans, the NWSL Draft is coming soon, and more.

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

How’s it going, Mane Landers? It’s hard to believe there are only a few days left of this year. I’m already getting sick of people telling me they won’t see me until next year, though. As stressful as this year has been for me at times, I also did a pretty great job at my resolutions from last year and plan on making more for 2023. But for now, let’s just enjoy these links from around the soccer world.

Orlando City Reportedly Interested in Mateo Barcia

According to TyC Sports reporter Cesar Luis Merlo, Orlando City made an offer for Uruguayan midfielder Mateo Barcia. The 21-year-old currently plays for Renistas, which was relegated to Uruguay’s second division after this past season.

Orlando could use the depth at midfield after the departures of Junior Urso, Andres Perea, and Joey DeZart this off-season. While Barcia may not be a superstar, his name is one to keep an eye out for this off-season. Considering the success of Mauricio Pereyra and Cesar Araujo, Orlando has a pretty decent track record with Uruguayan midfielders.

Tesho Akindele Discusses Past, Present, and Future

Former Orlando City forward Tesho Akindele may be retired, but he is still hard at work. Akindele spoke about how he did not plan to play soccer for as long as he did and why he retired when he did. Rather than coaching or moving to the broadcast booth, the 30-year-old is aiming to make a difference in urban planning. Akindele’s platform as an athlete helped bring attention to issues in housing, transportation, and infrastructure that are rampant throughout the United States. He is moving to Charlotte to work with ATCO Properties & Management on a project to transform a 75-acre warehouse district into housing.

“They’re basically turning it into an ideal neighborhood and I want to be a part of that project, and things related to that,” he said of Camp North End. “Basically, I want to walk the walk. I think I’ve been talking the talk a little bit for a year – and of course, I was playing soccer, there’s nothing I could have done, really, too much back then. But I want to also walk the walk and build those buildings.”

Premier League Fan Fest Coming to Orlando

Registration is open for the Premier League Fan Fest that will take place in Orlando at Universal Resort on Jan. 21 and 22. Rebecca Lowe, Tim Howard, and the rest of the Premier League Mornings Live team will all be in Orlando for an exciting slate of English Premier League action. The first game of that weekend is a 7:30 a.m. clash on Saturday between Chelsea and Liverpool. That Sunday then finishes up with a match between Manchester United and Arsenal at 11:30 a.m. It should be a fun way to enjoy some soccer while we await the return of MLS and the NWSL.

Looking Ahead to the NWSL Draft

The NWSL Draft is set to take place on Jan. 12 and the Orlando Pride have the second and third overall picks. Registration is still open for players to make themselves eligible for the draft and it will be interesting to see which players decide to make the jump. Stanford midfielder Sierra Enge and TCU forward Messiah Bright have both played for the U.S. U-23 Women’s National Team and will be up for selection come draft day. Duke sophomore Michelle Cooper is another player who could make an impact in the NWSL should she register this year. However, don’t expect to see UCLA midfielder Maricarmen Reyes in the NWSL next season as she decided to follow in Mia Fishel’s footsteps and signed with Tigres in Mexico. The Pride drafted Fishel with the fifth overall pick last year. Hopefully this draft goes a bit better.

Free Kicks
  • The Seattle Sounders are reportedly close to trading for New York City FC forward Heber. Should he leave NYCFC, Heber would join Maxi Moralez and Valentin Castellanos as key players who have departed the club this year.
  • Enjoy this breakdown of some MLS players who could leave the league this off-season as European clubs eye winter moves. Thiago Almada, Brenner, and former Lion Kamal Miller are a few of the notable names.
  • American midfielder Malik Tillman continues to impress in Scotland. The 20-year-old scored his fourth goal of the season in Rangers FC’s 3-0 win over Motherwell.
  • Erling Haaland’s breakneck scoring pace continued as he found the back of the net twice in Manchester City’s 3-1 win over Leeds United.
  • Neymar was sent off after receiving two yellow cards in the span of two minutes in Paris Saint-Germain’s 2-1 win over Strasbourg. The Brazilian forward was carded for catching a Strasbourg player in the face and then handed another for simulation soon after.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week!