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Lion Links: 1/14/23

Orlando City linked with Colombian defensive midfielder, Orlando Pride draft grades, Tyler Adams named U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year, and more.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Saturday, Mane Landers! I hope you all are happy and healthy. Unfortunately, I have succumbed to a sinus infection lately but am on the mend with some much-needed antibiotics. Thankfully, there are some great early morning matches to catch today as I rest up. Personally, I’m looking forward to the clash between Manchester City and Manchester United. For the afternoon matches around the world, Milan traveling to Lecce in Serie A is what I will be tuned into.

Before we dive right into today’s links, let’s all wish a happy birthday to newly acquired Orlando Pride third-round draft pick, Tori Hansen!

Andrés Colorado to Orlando?

Diego Saviola from Colombian outlet Deportes Sin Tapujos reported via social media on Friday that a deal was close between Orlando City and defensive midfielder Andrés Colorado. The Colombian midfielder was most recently on loan from Cortuluá in his country to Brazilian side Sao Paulo.

The 24-year-old is 6-foot-4 and has played primarily central midfield, but according to Transfermarkt, he can also play center back. He scored two goals in 24 appearances with Cortuluá from 2017 to 2019, before going on loan to Deportivo Cali, where he scored eight goals in 102 matches from 2019-2021. He played in eight matches in the Brazilian Serie A with Sao Paulo last year but did not score. Colorado got his first cap with Colombia in 2022, playing in a 2-1 win over Honduras in Fort Lauderdale, and he scored on his debut in the 67th minute. It’s just a rumor at the moment, but if signed, he would add depth to the Lions’ defensive midfield and could fill in at center back in an emergency with his versatility.

Orlando Pride Draft Graded Success

The 2023 NWSL Draft is officially over and league experts are weighing in on their opinions of how successful each club fared in making additions. Sports Illustrated has given the Pride a grade of “A” for the shrewd business dealings and work finding value late in the draft. For the Pride, Orlando participated in a multi-team deal ahead of draft day and acquired a bunch of allocation money in the process. While the club ultimately lost out on the free agency race for Brazilian international Debinha, it made good selections with the draft picks available. Orlando also got an A- grade from CBSSports.com.

Defender Emily Madril was the most highly rated defender coming into the draft and the Pride needed to target the back line. The Pride also potentially found the steals of the draft, selecting Messiah Bright as the No. 21 pick after the TCU forward surprisingly fell to the second round. Bright is a top-rated forward out of TCU who scored 49 goals in her collegiate career. Orlando followed the pick up later with more firepower, as attacking midfielder Summer Yates slipped down the board into the fourth round.

Adams Named 2022 U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year

Tyler Adams has been voted the 2022 United States Soccer Male Player of the Year after captaining the USMNT at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. At 23 years old, the New York Red Bulls youth product led the USMNT to a Round-of-16 appearance in Qatar before the Yanks fell to the Netherlands. He also won the DFB-Pokal with RB Leipzig prior to securing a reported $24 million summer move to English Premier League club Leeds United.

Of the five finalists, Adams earned 71.6% of the overall votes. Chelsea forward Christian Pulisic was next in line with 14.7%, followed by Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Turner at 8.2%. A collection of fans, coaches, players, executives, media members and more were among the those making the vote.

MLS Expands Content Requirements

As part of the new MLS deal with Apple TV, each club will be required by the league to put out a large quantity of video content surrounding the team for the MLS Season Pass. This content includes player profiles, historic moments, community involvement, and more. The project is called “club rooms,” offering a backstage view at each of the teams both before and during the campaign. Some of the required content is what you would expect from a team, such as postgame press conferences, weekly training updates, injury updates, match previews, and other news.

MLS also requires that clubs put together content that is both historical and present. For example, clubs must create five pieces that focus on memorable players or coaches. Additionally, there are iconic moments that clubs immortalize that will be highlighted. The five-part series looks back at each club’s most memorable scenes.

Finally, some things are fairly new. MLS has created one concept named “The Ritual.” This series focuses on the community aspect of MLS clubs and their fan involvement and various traditions. Similarly, MLS wants clubs to provide a monthly community report to highlight the efforts made to improve the surrounding community.

Al Hilal May Open Pocketbook for Messi

Saudi Arabian club Al Hilal is reportedly set to offer Lionel Messi a ludicrous deal of up to $350 million a year. Messi is currently a Paris Saint-Germain player, but his contract expires in the summer, making him a free agent in less than six months. This deal comes on the heels of another massive move in the league as Ronaldo joined Al Hilal’s rival club, Al Nassr, at the turn of 2023 and will reportedly receive $210 million a year.

As Saudi Arabia prepares a bid to host the 2030 World Cup alongside Greece and Egypt, the country having two of the greatest footballers of all time starring in its domestic league could be helpful. It should also be noted that Messi is no stranger to Saudi Arabia after becoming an ambassador for the “Visit Saudi” tourism campaign in 2022. Regardless of whether he suits up for Al Hilal or not, we should get to see him take on Ronaldo later this month as PSG travels to play against Al Nassr in a friendly.

Free Kicks

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you have a restful weekend and stay healthy. Vamos Orlando!