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Lion Links: 12/3/22

Orlando City signs Favian Loyola as a Homegrown, LA Galaxy violations and sanctions, USMNT begins knockout stage, and more.

Orlando City B v New England Revolution II

Happy Saturday, Mane Landers. It seems like just yesterday that the World Cup was getting underway. Now, we wake to jitters and nervous optimism as the USMNT begins its knockout-stage run this morning. It might be a morning kickoff here in the United States, but I hope it doesn’t detract from you getting to a watch party or gathering with family. The breweries are open, the brunch spots have their TVs on, and/or your grandma is up cooking pancakes. No matter where you choose to catch the match, I hope you know and believe in your heart of hearts that we will win. I know I believe that we will win! Now, on to the links!

Favian Loyola Signs Homegrown Contract

Orlando City has added the club’s 13th all-time Homegrown Player. Midfielder Favian Loyola has been signed to a three-year contract through the 2025 season with club options for 2026 and 2027. That contract officially goes into effect this upcoming Jan. 1. At only 17 years old, Loyola has plenty of time to grow into a fan favorite for Lions’ supporters. Loyola began the year on an academy contract, but ultimately played his way to the 2022 MLS NEXT All-Star Game, in which he was named MVP. Signing with the first team is clearly the icing on the cake for a player who earned his minutes and accolades every step of the way.

“Favian is an exciting young talent that we’re happy to have been able to help grow throughout the course of the last few years,” Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi said in a club press release. “His development and impact in the last year with Orlando City B amplified his continued improvement at every step since joining our academy, and we look forward to seeing his continued growth with our first team.”

LA Galaxy Sanctioned for 2019 Salary Violations

Major League Soccer has imposed sanctions on the LA Galaxy for violating salary budget and roster guidelines during the 2019 season. The LA Galaxy entered into undisclosed agreements and made unaccounted payments in the calculation of Cristian Pavón’s salary budget and roster category. The undisclosed agreements and payments resulted in the improper classification of Pavón as a Targeted Allocation Money player in 2019, when he should have occupied a Designated Player slot. The sanctions for the Galaxy include a $1 million fine and a $1 million loss of available future General Allocation Money. Additionally, the Galaxy will be prohibited from registering a player who requires the receipt of an International Transfer Certificate (ITC) from outside of the United States and Canada during the Secondary Transfer Window in 2023.

For his involvement in the agreements, Galaxy President Chris Klein has been suspended from any sporting-related responsibilities through the conclusion of the Primary Transfer Window in 2023. Additionally, former general manager Dennis te Kloese will be required to submit an application with the league should he wish to secure employment with any MLS club.

USMNT-Netherlands Preview

The United States Men’s National Team will kick off the knockout stage of the 2022 FIFA World Cup with a Round of 16 clash against Netherlands today at 10 a.m. The team is coming off an undefeated run through the group stage, including a 1-0 victory against Iran to clinch its knockout-round berth. With a victory today, the USMNT would claim its first quarterfinal appearance since 2002. The Dutch are currently ranked eighth in the world and back in the World Cup after missing the 2018 tournament. They enter the knockouts after going undefeated (2-0-1) and winning Group A.

Today marks the sixth meeting between the U.S. and the Netherlands all-time, with the Dutch holding a 4-1-0 advantage. However, it’s the two nations’ first meeting in official competition. The teams last met in a friendly match on June 5, 2015 in Amsterdam with the Americans walking away victorious, 4-3. After going down 3-1, the USMNT rallied to a comeback victory, with goals from John Brooks in the 70th minute, Danny Williams in the 89th, and Bobby Wood in the 90th. Current USMNT players Jordan Morris and DeAndre Yedlin both appeared in the match as second-half substitutes.

The news that everyone has eyes on since the USA-Iran match was that of injury status of star Christian Pulisic. We now all breathe a collective sign of relief, as Pulisic has been cleared to play.

Previewing the Round of 16

The 2022 FIFA World Cup group stage has come to a close. We now know which 16 teams will be moving on and have taken one final step closer to raising the greatest trophy in soccer. There are squads filled with world-beaters like Brazil, France, Argentina, and Spain. There are underdogs such as Japan, Australia, and Morocco. If you want to find a secondary team to support beyond the United States, all eight matches have something special to watch for. Following this morning’s match between the U.S. and the Netherlands, Argentina and Australia will kick off at 2 p.m. Tomorrow will see clashes between France and Poland followed by England and Senegal. In what could shape out to be an interesting affair, Japan will look to defeat Croatia on Monday morning, with Brazil likely to topple South Korea in the afternoon match. Finally, Morocco looks to continue its Cinderella story against Spain on Tuesday, while Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo are clear favorites against Switzerland.

Notable absentees from the knockout stage include Belgium, which finished in third place in its group. Germany and Uruguay, which were both heavily touted entering the group stage, also both failed to qualify for the Round of 16. Let us know in the comments below who you are most shocked did not reach the elimination stage. Also, who are you pulling for the rest of the way if the USMNT’s run comes to a close?

Free Kicks

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you find time this morning to cheer on the Yanks to victory. I have a feeling today is going to be a good day. Vamos Orlando!