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Lion Links: 12/8/22

Orlando Pride re-sign Viviana Villacorta, MLS College Showcase begins tomorrow, discussions between Gregg Berhalter and U.S. Soccer reportedly begin, and more.

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, Round of 16”The Netherlands v United States” Photo by ANP via Getty Images

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I’ll confess that I’ve been able to get so much more done each morning during this brief break in World Cup action. This has also been nice for the needed holiday shopping I need to get done as we sprint through December. I still miss the daily dose of soccer though, so it’s a good thing the quarterfinals start tomorrow. Let’s dive into today’s links!

Orlando Pride Re-Sign Viviana Villacorta

Viviana Villacorta will be back with the Orlando Pride next season after re-signing a new two-year contract. This move keeps a talented, young player with the team while it continues to rebuild. Villacorta was drafted by the Pride with the ninth overall pick in the 2021 NWSL Draft, but the pandemic and a torn ACL resulted in her not making her Pride debut until this past season. The 23-year-old didn’t have a goal or an assist in her 15 appearances with the Pride, but she passed the ball well and was solid on the defensive side of things in the midfield.

MLS College Showcase Invites 44 College Players

The third-ever MLS College Showcase will begin tomorrow in Raleigh and run through Monday as 44 invitees will aim to impress MLS technical staffs through training sessions, interviews, and more. It is a closed-door event and will give MLS clubs a chance to scout players ahead of the MLS SuperDraft on Dec. 21. Three University of Central Florida players were invited — senior winger Gino Vivi, junior forward Lucca Dourado, and sophomore left back Anderson Rosa. Orlando City has two picks in the first round of this year’s draft, including the sixth overall pick courtesy of the Chicago Fire.

Discussions Reportedly Begin Over Gregg Berhalter’s Contract

Preliminary talks are reportedly set to begin between Gregg Berhalter and the U.S. Soccer Federation in regards to a new contract as his existing deal expires at the end of the year. Berhalter led the United States Men’s National Team to the Round of 16 in the World Cup before falling 3-1 to the Netherlands. Although the road to qualifying for this World Cup included some bumps along the way, Berhalter’s time at the helm included wins over Mexico to win the 2021 Gold Cup and the Concacaf Nations League. Berhalter is reportedly interested in coaching opportunities in Europe, and these discussions should help both sides find a satisfying solution as the U.S. starts preparing for the 2026 World Cup.

Looking Ahead to the World Cup Quarterfinals

The World Cup quarterfinals kick off tomorrow and every remaining team has a decent case for winning the whole thing. This tournament has featured plenty of upsets, but the favorites still loom large over the knockout stage. Brazil was unstoppable in its 4-1 win over South Korea, but faces a Croatian team that knows how to manage a game and advance. Those two nations will square off tomorrow at 10 a.m., with Argentina taking on the Netherlands later at 2 p.m. in what should also be a great match. On Saturday, Portugal’s explosive offense will battle against a formidable Moroccan defense that’s only allowed one goal so far. But the match I’m most looking forward to is Saturday’s heavyweight clash between England and France at 2 p.m. to close out the quarterfinals.

Free Kicks
  • Following a strong showing at the World Cup, American midfielder Yunus Musah is reportedly garnering interest from a trio of English Premier League teams. A bidding war could break out between Arsenal, Liverpool, and Chelsea over the 20-year-old, whose contract with Valencia doesn’t expire until 2026.
  • D.C. United signed left back Mohanad Jeahze to a three-year deal through 2025, with an option for 2026. Jeahze joins D.C. after three seasons with Hammarby IF, contributing five goals and 19 assists in 89 appearances with the Swedish club.
  • Rumors are swirling about the United States participating in the 2024 Copa America, but the U.S. may end up hosting the tournament as well.

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