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Lion Links: 7/12/22

Cesar Araujo makes MLS Team of the Week bench, Orlando Pride partner with Special Olympics Florida, Gabriel Slonina set for Chelsea deal, and more.

MLS: Inter Miami CF at Orlando City SC Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Tuesday, everyone. It was a pretty good weekend for Orlando soccer, as the ladies and gentlemen in purple took six of the nine points on offer. Unfortunately, things aren’t always perfect, but we’ll take what we can get. There’s lots of stuff to talk through today, so let’s get to it.

Cesar Araujo Makes Team of the Week

Following his performance in Orlando City’s 1-0 win over Inter Miami on Saturday, Cesar Araujo has been named to the bench of the latest edition of the MLS Team of the Week. Frankly, a place on the bench seems a little harsh considering he had a mildly absurd eight tackles while also drawing nine fouls. In general, Araujo was the best player on the field for either team, and only a goal or an assist would have improved what was already an excellent performance. Regardless, it’s nice to see him recognized in some way. Here’s hoping he keeps up the good work.

Orlando Pride Partner With Special Olympics

The Orlando Pride have partnered with Special Olympics Florida as part of the 2022 Nationwide Community Impact Program. Gunny Jónsdóttir will serve as the Pride’s ambassador for the program. The club has already held events as part of that partnership, as Exploria Stadium hosted last month’s opening ceremony of the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games. The Pride also welcomed Orlando’s OUC Eagles at last Friday’s victory over the Houston Dash. The Eagles won the 7-v-7 Division 1 Unified Soccer event, and were honored at halftime of the Pride’s win as a result.

USWNT Squeaks Past Mexico, Wins Group A

In the final match of the Concacaf W Championship, the United States Women’s National Team struggled in the offensive end against Mexico and needed an extremely late goal from Kristie Mewis to defeat the host nation, 1-0. The United States moves on to the semifinals on Thursday at 7 p.m. with plenty to improve on after struggling to put away Mexico — even after the hosts had a player sent off with about 20 minutes remaining. Still, the Yanks found a way to get the result and made it through the group without conceding a goal.

Meanwhile, Ashley Hatch’s tournament is over for the USWNT, as the Washington Spirit forward picked up an injury and was replaced by Sam Coffey.

Gabriel Slonina Set for Chelsea Deal

According to Fabrizio Romano, Chelsea has reached a verbal agreement with the Chicago Fire for the transfer of goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina. The transfer guru notes that the deal will be for $10 million, not including add-ons, and that Chelsea will submit an official bid later this week to confirm the deal. Slonina will then be loaned back to the Fire, although it’s unclear for how long. Current Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy is 30 years old, and likely still has a decent amount of time at the peak of his powers. It’s possible that Chelsea could look to duplicate what the club did with Thibaut Courtois — signing the Belgian in 2011 but sending him on loan deals until the 2014-2015 season, when he took over the starting job from Petr Cech.

Landon Donovan Reportedly a Finalist for San Jose Job

Landon Donovan is reportedly one of six finalists to become the new head coach of the San Jose Earthquakes. San Jose fired Matias Almeyda back in April, with Alex Covelo managing the team as interim head coach ever since. Donovan has reportedly made it to the final round of the interview process, and if he gets the job he will return to the team where he won two MLS Cups before joining the in-state rival LA Galaxy. Donovan is in his third season as the head coach of the USL Championship’s San Diego Loyal, and he led the team to the playoffs last year. If he gets the job, Donovan will join fellow United States Men’s National Team players Steve Cherundolo and Pablo Maestroni as U.S. internationals coaching in MLS.

Luis Suarez Speaks On MLS Offers

Luis Suarez said he has received offers from several Major League Soccer clubs, and that he has not closed the door on anything. However, he also said that he wants to be in the best possible shape for November’s World Cup, and that if a team fails to qualify for the playoffs and his season ends in October, he doesn’t like the idea of not playing for a month. He also noted that some of the interested parties don’t have “slots” (either Designated Player, international, or both) open at the moment, meaning any deal would need to wait until after the 2022 MLS season. Suarez also shot down rumors that he and Lionel Messi have plans to end their careers together at Inter Miami — something that will be welcome news to the ears of Orlando City fans. Although, I suppose he’d hardly come out and tell the world if that really was their plan, would he?

Free Kicks
  • A rumor no longer, former Orlando City captain Nani has signed in the A-League with the Melbourne Victory for two years.
  • The United States Women’s National Team will reportedly play a game at Audi Field during the August/September international window.
  • The Iranian national team has fired its manager, Dragan Skokic, just four months before the start of the World Cup. The news should prick the ears of USMNT fans, with the Yanks set to take on Iran in their final group stage match of the 2022 World Cup.

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