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Lion Links: 2/8/22

Ercan Kara injury update, NWSL Challenge Cup schedule announced, MLS transfer news, and more.

Chicago Red Stars v Orlando Pride Photo by Jeremy Reper/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Happy Tuesday, everyone. Things didn’t go exactly as Orlando City fans were hoping in the club’s most recent preseason game, but there’s an opportunity to bounce back on Friday against the Colorado Rapids. There’s lots to talk about today, so let’s get right into it.

Ercan Kara Injury Update

There is news on the Ercan Kara injury front, Mike Gramajo has reported that the striker suffered an ankle sprain during the 1-0 preseason loss to FC Dallas, and is day-to-day on his return.

If a sprained ankle is indeed the injury, it’s a much better scenario than we feared when he seemed to have a left knee injury.

NWSL Challenge Cup Schedule Announced

The National Women’s Soccer League announced the schedule for the 2022 Challenge Cup yesterday. The league has been grouped into three regions of four teams each. The Orlando Pride have been placed in the East region alongside NJ/NY Gotham FC, the North Carolina Courage and the Washington Spirit. The Pride kick off the tournament on Saturday, March 19 at home against the Spirit. Each team will play the other teams in its group twice, and the top finishers from each group will advance to the semifinals, along with the best finishing second-place team out of all three groups. The NWSL Challenge Cup final will then be held on May 7. Matches in the knockout round will not include extra time, and instead will go directly to penalty kicks.

MLS Transfer News

There are a couple of big pieces of noteworthy MLS transfer news. First up, Toronto FC signed forward Jesus Jimenez from Polish side Górnik Zabrze. Jimenez signed a contract that runs through 2024 and has an option year for 2025. The Spanish forward is 28 years old and had previously spent his entire career in his home country before joining Górnik Zabrze, where he had played since 2018.

Staying in the Eastern Conference, New York City FC has signed center back Thiago Martins from Japanese side Yokohama F. Marinos. The 26-year-old Brazilian joins on a Designated Player contract that runs through the 2025 season and has an option for 2026.

Finally, Austin FC has signed midfielder Felipe Martins to a one-year deal that has an option for the 2023 season. The 31-year-old Brazilian was a free agent and brings a good deal of MLS experience to the side after stints with CF Montreal, the New York Red Bulls, Vancouver Whitecaps, and D.C. United.

National Team Roster Updates

There are a pair of roster updates to cover for the upcoming slate of international games on the women’s side. First off, Orlando Pride goalkeeper Erin McLeod has been called up to the Canadian women’s team for the 2022 Arnold Clark Cup. Congratulations Erin!

Secondly, defender Abby Dahlkemper has been ruled out of the 2022 SheBelieves Cup due to a back injury. Dahlkemper has been replaced on the roster by Washington Spirit forward Trinity Rodman. The striker had already been set to train with the team before the tournament started, but now she will be on the official roster instead.

Free Kicks
  • Big congratulations are in order to all of these young men!
  • Orlando Pride player Chelsee Washington had herself a great game in Canberra United’s last match while on loan in the Australian league, earning Player of the Match honors against Perth Glory.

That does it for me today. Y’all stay safe out there.