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Lion Links: 1/17/23

Orlando Pride re-sign two players, Chicago Fire’s Jhon Duran bound for Aston Villa, previewing USWNT vs. New Zealand, and more.

Daytona Soccer Fest - Racing Louisville v Orlando Pride Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Happy Tuesday, everyone. If you were lucky enough to have the day off for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I hope you had a restful three-day weekend. If not, you have my sympathies, for all the good that will do you. As usual, there’s lots to talk about today, so let’s get going.

Celia Signs Two-Year Deal to Stay with Orlando Pride

On Monday, the Orlando Pride announced that defender Celia Jiménez Delgado has signed a new two-year deal that will run through the end of the 2024 season. The right back enjoyed a solid first year with the Pride, and was the starter for a large part of the season. The 27-year-old has plenty of experience and chipped in two goals from the fullback position during her maiden year in purple. Whether she continues as the starter this year remains to be seen, but if nothing else, her new deal helps further flesh out the Pride’s roster and provides an important depth piece ahead of the new season.

Pride Re-Sign Midfielder Jordyn Listro

The Pride weren’t done there though, as news dropped later in the day that the team has re-signed midfielder Jordyn Listro to a one-year deal with a club option for an additional season in 2024. The 27-year-old Canadian international will be back after spending the 2022 season in Orlando and logging 1,233 minutes across 19 appearances. She doesn’t add much in terms of attacking firepower, but she brings grit, depth, and experience to the defensive midfield position, and helps strengthen a position group which needed more bodies in it. The option year gives the Pride some nice flexibility for roster decisions made once the season is over.

Jhon Duran to Join Aston Villa

Aston Villa has announced the club has reached a transfer agreement with the Chicago Fire for forward Jhon Duran. Villa will reportedly pay $18 million up front to secure his services, and could pay an additional $4 million in add-ons, with the Fire also retaining a sell-on percentage. The 19-year-old had eight goals and three assists in 1,363 minutes for Chicago last year, and has already earned three caps for Colombia at the international level. The deal is Chicago’s second big outgoing transfer of the window, following the sale of Gabriel Slonina to Chelsea in a deal that could be worth up to $15 million.

If the full $22 million fee is reached, it will make Duran the third-most expensive outgoing transfer in MLS history, with Daryl Dike’s move to West Brom coming in at no. 10.

Previewing USWNT vs. New Zealand

The United States Women’s National Team has two clashes with New Zealand on the slate this week, and our friends over at Stars and Stripes FC took the time to preview the matches. The U.S. women come in on a shaky run of form, with two wins and three losses in their last five games, although they admittedly came against high-level opposition, while New Zealand has two wins, two losses and a draw in its last five. The USWNT will not have Sophia Smith, who led the team in goals during 2022, so Alex Morgan, Trinity Rodman, and the other forwards on the roster will need to pick up the slack created by her absence. This will be the final pair of games before the Yanks kick off the SheBelieves Cup at Exploria Stadium on Feb. 16 against Canada, so these games should give us a good idea of what to expect in a little under a month’s time.

Free Kicks
  • If you have your eye on single match tickets, make sure you have Thursday circled on your calendar.

That’s all for today. Y’all stay safe out there.