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Lion Links: 2/7/22

Orlando City reportedly interested in Carlos Tevez, Giovanni Reyna returns to action with Borussia Dortmund, Senegal wins AFCON, and more.

Boca Juniors v Racing Club - Copa de la Liga Profesional 2021: Semi Final Photo by Alexis Lloret/Getty Images

Happy Monday, Mane Landers! I hope you enjoyed a weekend filled with soccer as Orlando hosted a preseason match, the Africa Cup of Nations concluded, and the FA Cup continued. As we savor it all, let’s get to the links!

Orlando City Reportedly Interested in Carlos Tevez

New Orlando City striker Ercan Kara went down with an apparent knee injury in Saturday’s 1-0 loss to FC Dallas in preseason action. Later that day, TyC Sports’ César Luis Merlo tweeted that the Lions are interested in former Manchester City and Argentina National Team striker Carlos Tevez following D.C. United making an offer for the 38-year-old.

TyC first reported Friday night that Tevez’s representatives and D.C. United were in “very advanced” talks. However, a source told The Athletic that there’s just a “25 percent” chance Tevez and D.C. will strike a deal. The timing of Kara’s injury and the Lions’ reported interest in Tevez may just be coincidental, yet it bears watching as the severity of Kara’s injury remains unknown.

Thomas Williams Gets Physical

Orlando City Homegrown Player Thomas Williams logged 85 minutes in Saturday’s preseason match with FC Dallas. The 17-year-old center back came up with key blocks in the physical match and spoke about the difference between playing for the first team and playing at the youth level.

“You just have to try to match that physicality,” he said. “You just can’t be like, ‘Oh, I’m younger.’ You just have to step up to the level … because with the youth game, obviously, I’m the biggest guy out there, so when you step up to that pro level, everyone’s as big as you, so you have to match their physicality.”

Williams is just one of many young Lions receiving playing time and in Orlando’s preseason games. Orlando’s next preseason match will be open to the public on Friday at 7 p.m. in Exploria Stadium as the Lions take on the Colorado Rapids.

USMNT’s Gio Reyna Returns for Dortmund

Bayer Leverkusen went on the road and won 5-2 against Borussia Dortmund. United States Men’s National Team fans were surely delighted to see American winger Giovanni Reyna return to action after missing five months. Reyna subbed on in the 60th minute of the game, completed all 19 of his passes, and forced Leverkusen goalkeeper Lennart Grill to make a save. It was the 19-year-old’s first appearance since suffering a hamstring injury on Sept. 2 in the USMNT’s opening qualifier against El Salvador. A healthy Reyna will give USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter more attacking options to choose from when World Cup qualifying resumes in late March.

Luis Amarilla Will Reportedly Return to Minnesota United

Reports surfaced out of South America that a deal for 26-year-old Paraguayan striker Luis Amarilla to rejoin Minnesota United FC is nearly done. Amarilla spent the 2021 campaign on loan with Ecuadorian club LDU Quito from Argentina’s Primera Division side Vélez Sarsfield. Amarilla first joined the Loons on loan for the 2020 season and promised manager Adrian Heath he would net 25 goals. He ultimately only scored two goals in seven matches (five starts).

Senegal Wins AFCON for First Time

After missing a penalty early in normal time, Sadio Mané rocketed home the decisive penalty that beat Egypt and handed Senegal its first Africa Cup of Nations championship in three tries. Mané missed a penalty earlier in the match but was able to find redemption in the shootout after the game finished scoreless. Senegal supporters will be partying in Dakar for days.

Free Kicks

Fans clamored for opportunities to see Orlando City in live preseason action. The club responded by opening this Friday’s match up to the public. Let’s show demand for open preseason matches by cheering on the Lions in person. Have a great week!