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Lion Links: 7/30/22

Orlando City at D.C., Lions linked with Peruvian midfielder, Luiz Muzzi on Niko Gioacchini, and more.

MLS: D.C. United at Orlando City SC Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Good Saturday morning, Mane Landers. Today, we look at the calendar and find zero Orlando matches. It is always bittersweet when that happens. On one hand, you could have had a match on both weekend days, but on the other, you get a double dosage day. Hopefully, you can use today off to catch up on some rest, chores, yard work, and time with family before a double header tomorrow. Orlando City travels to D.C. United to try to find revenge over its previous 5-3 defeat. Later, the Orlando Pride will look to gain another result under Interim Head Coach Seb Hines in Kansas City. Before we head to the links, let’s all wish Orlando Pride midfielder Parker Roberts a happy 25th birthday!

Orlando City Set for Match at D.C. United

The Orlando City and Wayne Rooney saga unfolds yet again tomorrow night. This chapter will be written with Rooney at the helm of D.C. United. The Black and Red are currently in last place of MLS having only claimed victory once in their last 11, although that victory did come in Orlando at the start of this month. The match is set to begin at 5 p.m. at Audi Field.

The Lions enter the weekend off a historic 5-1 victory on Wednesday night over the New York Red Bulls in the semifinal of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. It was a season-high night for the club with five goals scored — and four different Orlando City players finding the back of the net. Notably, César Araújo scored twice for the club in the match in what also served as his first finishes throughout the entirety of his professional career. The Lions have taken two of the last three matches against D.C. United; however, D.C. United own the most recent result with a 5-3 victory this past Fourth of July.

Midfielder Wilder Cartagena Linked to OCSC

Orlando City has been linked to an incoming transfer for a midfielder. Peruvian international Wilder Cartagena of Al-Ittihad Kalba SC is rumored to be making the jump to MLS from the UAE Pro-League. If this happens, Cartagena would be joining Pedro Gallese, his Peruvian international and former club teammate if he were to make a move to the Lions.

Cartagena has been a journeyman of late, with six clubs in the past 10 years. Most recently, Cartagena and Gallese were both at Alianza Lima for the 2019 season. In 2020, Cartagena transferred to Godoy Cruz of Argentina and then he was signed by Ittihad Kalba SC of the Arab League. With the recent departure of the Sebas Méndez to LAFC, this move has the looks of one to add depth to the defensive central midfield.

Luiz Muzzi on Nicholas Gioacchini

Orlando City made a key late-season addition last week by adding USMNT forward Nicholas Gioacchini from French second-division side Caen on a free transfer. Gioacchini debuted Wednesday night for the Lions in the last five minutes of their 5-1 victory over the New York Red Bulls in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals. For diehard USMNT fans, there is always pushback for players who choose to leave Europe for MLS. Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi said it’s a move that others should consider when deciding their career path.

“I honestly think a lot of the young guys – there are so many good players, American players who end up going to Europe when they’re not ready to go. Then they get lost in the shuffle. It’s something every young player in America should be thinking about and analyzing because sometimes you want to go to the top of the ladder and skip steps. Then when you fall it’s a much bigger fall. If you just take your steps as you should, you’re going to reach the top. I think MLS has proven, time and time again, that this is a great league and you play a great quality of soccer here. All the Eurosnobs out there, this is a great league. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Gioacchini will have ample time to develop a bit more under Head Coach Oscar Pareja and is not called upon to be Orlando’s savior for this campaign. With Designated Players like Facundo Torres and Ercan Kara already in the attack and garnering most starts, Gioacchini will find minutes as the schedule ramps up.

“We’re playing a game every three days, so if you have only two or three guys you’re in trouble,” Muzzi said. “You’re going to need everybody to play and contribute and be ready.

“When you have a guy of that quality that you can get for a salary-cap number that makes sense and a deal that makes sense, we’re helping ourselves, we’re helping him as well. You’re right, everybody needs to play and contribute if you’re going to be successful on the fronts as we want to.”

Pride Travel to Kansas City

The Orlando Pride travel to Children’s Mercy Park to battle the Kansas City Current. Only five points separate the two sides going into the match set to kick off tomorrow at 7 p.m. The Current are in great form entering the match and currently on a seven-game unbeaten streak and three-game winning streak.

The Pride will be sure to keep eyes on Kansas City’s newest signing, French international midfielder Claire Lavogez, who is available for selection. Additionally, Current midfielder Lo’eau LaBonta has found the back of the net twice in the club’s last three games. Earlier in the regular season on May 14, the teams played to a 2-2 draw at Exploria Stadium.

Free Kicks

Well, that’s a wrap on today’s links. I wish you all the best as we take the day off from Orlando soccer. Hey, maybe get out there yourself today and knock the ball around with some friends and family. Yes, that sounds like the right idea. Get after it. Vamos Orlando!