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Lion Links: 2/16/22

Orlando City signs Alex Freeman, Concacaf Champions League gets started, UEFA Champions League continues, and more.

A-League Women’s - Western Sydney Wanderers v Canberra United Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope you all are doing well as we reach the middle of the work week. It’s been a pretty rough week for me so I’m looking forward to some time off this weekend. Orlando City has a preseason match at Osceola County Stadium today at 2 p.m. against USL Championship side Miami FC, which is coached by former USL Lion and Orlando City B head coach Anthony Pulis. Season ticket members were invited and media will be there to report on it. Let’s get to the links!

Lions Sign Alex Freeman as Homegrown Player

Orlando City signed 17-year-old defender Alex Freeman as a Homegrown Player on a contract through 2025 with an option for an additional year. The Florida native made 30 appearances (28 starts) for the academy’s U-17 squad, contributing eight goals and 15 assists to help the team win the U-17 MLS NEXT Cup last summer. Freeman has impressed during the Lions’ preseason as well, scoring off of a corner kick against Minnesota United on Feb. 3.

He becomes the 12th Homegrown Player in the club’s history and the sixth currently on the team’s roster. General Manager Luiz Muzzi mentioned MLS NEXT Pro as a way for Freeman to earn minutes and continue developing.

“Alex is an exciting young player for us and another important example of hard work and dedication producing results,” said Orlando City General Manager and Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi. “Having him in the first team group for training on a regular basis and the opportunity to get consistent minutes in MLS Next Pro should create a great environment for him to develop his game even further than he already has.”

Concacaf Champions League Gets Started

New York City FC started its Champions League campaign with a 2-0 win in Costa Rica against Santos de Guapiles. Valentin Castellanos converted a penalty in the fifth minute and then scored another goal in the 30th minute. NYCFC midfielder Santiago Rodriguez was sent off in the 68th minute, but the MLS side was able to hold on for the win.

CF Montreal fell 1-0 to Santos Laguna in Mexico, with Alberto Ocejo scoring the game’s only goal in the 88th minute. The second leg will take place in Montreal on Feb. 22 as Wilfried Nancy’s side aims to bounce back.

The New England Revolution are through to the quarterfinals as Haiti’s Cavaly AS withdrew from the competition after being unable to obtain the required visas to travel to the U.S. for the series. In the quarterfinals, the Revolution will take on whichever club advances between Pumas UNAM and Deportivo Saprissa.

UEFA Champions League Returns

The knockout stage of the UEFA Champions League knockout stage is underway. One thing to remember is that away goals won’t serve as a tiebreaker for the first time in over 50 years. Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain faced off in Paris, with Kylian Mbappe scoring the game-winner in stoppage time to give PSG a 1-0 win.

In the other game, Manchester City scored four goals in the first half to cruise to a 5-0 victory against Sporting CP in Lisbon. Riyad Mahrez struck first in the seventh minute and Bernardo Silva had a brace with goals in the 17th and 44th minutes. Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling also found the back of the net to all but secure City’s place in the next round barring a complete collapse at home on March 9.

In today’s action, American midfielder Brenden Aaronson and RB Salzburg will host Bayern Munich while Liverpool and Inter Milan will square off at San Siro.

More MLS Clubs Unveil New Kits

It’s that time of the preseason where MLS clubs show off their new kits for the upcoming season and there are some interesting ones this year. The Colorado Rapids revealed their new primary jersey featuring a design meant to reflect the mountainous region.

The Portland Timbers’ new secondary jersey includes plenty of pink and florals as a nod to the city’s moniker as the Rose City. A checkerboard of blue diamonds against a green background highlights the Seattle Sounders’ new Legacy Green kit. The LA Galaxy opted for a simple design for its primary jersey that includes plenty of white and stars. Orlando City’s jersey reveal will take place this Friday and the club has been teasing it on Twitter.

Free Kicks
  • Orlando Pride midfielder Chelsee Washington is on loan with Canberra United in Australia and scored her second goal in three games.

That’s going to be all I have for you today. Have a good Wednesday and rest of your week!