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Lion Links: 2/14/22

Orlando City draft pick Nick Taylor’s journey, USMNT player news, the SheBelieves Cup is coming, and more.

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SOCCER: FEB 11 MLS - Colorado Rapids at Orlando City SC Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Happy Valentine’s Day, Mane Landers. In the words of Elwood Blues, just “remember, people, that no matter who you are and what you do to live, thrive and survive, there’re still some things that makes us all the same. You. Me. Them. Everybody. Everybody.” What Mr. Blues is so eloquently saying is we should be understanding of those around us as we’re all in this together. Let’s get to the links!

Nick Taylor’s Long and Winding Road

Orlando City selected Nick Taylor from UCF with the 74h pick in the MLS Draft. He is now trying to earn a spot on the Lions’ roster. His journey to this point has been full of twists and turns. He started his collegiate career at New Mexico, and when that program ended he transferred to SMU, before he finally made his way to Orlando and UCF. After his collegiate career ended with the Knights, he wanted to come back to the town he had grown to love, and now he has his chance.

USMNT Player News

Gregg Berhalter told us at the start of his tenure that he was going to bring in a lot of players as the Octagonal is a grind. In that respect he’s been true to his word, and there are several players we saw early on that we haven’t seen more recently. Josh Sargent might be the most obvious recent example given his performance for Norwich City days before the U.S. played El Salvador. He’s not the only one, with other big names like Gio Reyna, Aaron Long, and Jonathan Pefok.

The success of young American players abroad was noticed by Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernández. He credited the growth of MLS for the number of American transfers to Europe helping the U.S. to become a better national team. He extended that compliment to the Canadian National team as well. Of course, Ricardo Pepi has not scored a goal since October for either club or country. Hopefully, his drought won’t last.

SheBelieves Cup Begins This Week

The USWNT will compete in the 2022 SheBelieves Cup along with Iceland, New Zealand, and the Czech Republic. The U.S. will start the the tournament with a match against the Czech Republic at 11 p.m. this Thursday, followed by a match against New Zealand next Sunday at 3 p.m., and finishing with a match against Iceland next Wednesday, Feb. 23, at 9 p.m.

The USWNT will be without Lindsey Horan for the tournament as the midfielder has suffered a knee injury. Horan will continue to attend the U.S. training camp so she can be evaluated by the USWNT medical staff. In her place Vlatko Andonovski has called up former FSU and current Racing Louisville FC midfielder Jaelin Howell. The 22-year-old Howell is the most recent MAC Hermann Trophy winner and has two international caps to her name.

Mueller Finally Scores for Hibs

I know that there are many mixed feelings regarding the departure of Chris Mueller from Orlando City to Hibernian FC. It took a little while, but the Money Badger finally scored his first goal for Hibs in the 3-1 win over Arbroath FC. You can check out a video of the goal on Reddit. You could read his (evidently) best-selling book, Bet On Yourself: How to Build Unshakeable Confidence, Tune Out the Noise and Rise to the Occasion. As someone who has read part of the book, I can tell you it is very much Chris and all of his positivity in written form. Hopefully the lessons in the book have helped him in the slow start at Hibs, and the challenges the club has had since he arrived.

Free Kicks
  • There are some big UEFA Champions League matches coming up this week in the last 16 with Paris Saint-Germain vs. Real Madrid, Sporting CP vs. Manchester City, Salzburg vs. Bayern-Munich, and Inter-Milan vs. Liverpool.

We’re less than two weeks until the season opener, and if you don’t already listen to The Mane Land PawedCast, you’ll want to do so this week as we welcome a special guest. Vamos Orlando!