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Lion Links: 1/21/23

Orlando City learns Leagues Cup opponents, Lions’ draft pick Luis Grassow retires, El Pulpo is back in town, and more.

Sacramento Republic FC v Orlando City SC Photo by Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Welcome to the weekend, Mane Landers. It is a somber morning around SBNation’s MLS blogs as a lot of writers wake up wondering what’s next for our community. If you’re anything like me, checking for TML tweets in your timeline or scrolling the blog is a daily habit and one that would be hard to let go. While the future is currently uncertain, we at The Mane Land will continue to dish up your Orlando soccer news and links here for as long as we can and the show will go on in some capacity. There is a lot to cover this morning, so let’s just get right to it — the links!

Orlando City Learns 2023 Leagues Cup Opponents

Orlando City is set to take on Santos Laguna from LIGA MX and the Houston Dynamo of MLS in Leagues Cup 2023. The tournament will take place from July 21 to Aug. 19 and is an official Concacaf competition in which all MLS and LIGA MX clubs will participate. The tournament will follow a World Cup-style format, including a group stage followed by knockout rounds. In total, 77 games will be hosted at MLS stadiums throughout the U.S. and Canada. The group stage will see each club play a minimum of two matches, with the top two teams from each group advancing based on group points.

The three teams have been drawn into Group South 2. The Lions qualified to host both of their group stage matches by finishing in the top 15 of MLS regular-season standings in 2022. Santos Laguna finished fourth among LIGA MX clubs in combined points between the Clausura 2022 and Apertura 2022. Houston Dynamo FC was sorted into the group after finishing 24th in MLS regular-season standings.

While we know who Orlando will be playing against, the actual Leagues Cup 2023 bracket and schedule will be announced in the coming months.

Orlando City Rookie Luis Grassow Retires

It has been a very short stint in professional soccer for Orlando City center back Luis Grassow. The 2023 MLS SuperDraft second-round pick has announced his retirement for personal reasons. The 6-foot-1 defender was signed to add depth behind starters Antonio Carlos and Robin Jansson and first-choice backup Rodrigo Schlegel. While Grassow likely would have spent the season developing with OCB, the club clearly could use emergency depth at the position that saw both Kyle Smith and Joao Moutinho both fill in on occasion. It is unknown what Grassow’s personal reasons were for leaving the game.

El Pulpo Reports for Duty

Orlando City’s stalwart between the posts has officially returned to training. Pedro Gallese has re-signed a new contact that will keep him in Orlando through 2024, and the star goalkeeper joined his Orlando City teammates Friday for his first on-field workout of preseason training. Orlando City’s Twitter shared a short clip of Gallese moving well and making a couple routine saves. The video also shows the goalkeeper sporting a new ice-white haircut. Like the old adage says, “out with the old, in with the new.”

MLS Eliminates Allocation Order

The Major League Soccer Board of Governors approved an update to the MLS Roster Rules and Regulations involving the elimination of the Allocation Ranking List. Effective immediately, any players previously on the Allocation Ranking List will be assigned through the MLS Discovery Process. In lieu of holding the first position in the 2023 Allocation Ranking Order, St. Louis City SC has been provided the opportunity to retain the right of first refusal over one player of the club’s choosing who was on the Allocation Ranking List at the time of its dissolution.

Future players transferred out of MLS will become discoverable one week from when the player’s International Transfer Certificate is permanently transferred, and the league has notified all clubs.

Sanford-Based Seminole Ice Coming to WPSL in 2023

The Women’s Premier Soccer League announced that Seminole Ice will compete in 2023 as the league’s latest expansion side. The Ice will serve as the official WPSL side for the Seminole Soccer Club, which has been a staple of youth soccer in Florida since 1981. The club consists of over 2,000 players and encompasses a full spectrum of soccer programs ranging from youth recreational systems to competitive programs with its junior and senior academies.

“We are thrilled to be a part of the WPSL, the pinnacle platform for advancing player development in the United States at the amateur level,” Paul Shaw, Orlando City Soccer School Seminole and Seminole Ice general manager, said. “We now have the complete path from youth level to the professional level. The WPSL is an important step for the amateur pathway to allow our athletes to advance and continue player development before, during, and after their collegiate career. Seminole Ice’s goal is to deliver a full-service training model that helps more athletes compete at the highest levels.”

The club will base itself out of Seminole Soccer Complex. The 40-acre facility includes a 1,200-spectator stadium field that is expected to be the Seminole Ice’s home venue.

USWNT Sweeps New Zealand

The United States Women’s National Team completed a two-game sweep of road friendlies in New Zealand with a 5-0 win in Auckland on Friday night (our time). Whereas Tuesday night’s match was a sloppy and frustrating affair, the Yanks made things easy on themselves in the rematch. Rose Lavelle bagged a brace and the U.S. also got goals from Ashley Hatch, Mallory Swanson, and Taylor Kornieck. Alex Morgan was supposed to start but she was a late scratch due to muscle tightness.

Brian McBride Out as USMNT General Manager

Brian McBride became the general manager of the USMNT in 2020, but according to a report by ESPN’s Sam Borden, McBride will not return as the team’s GM. This is another change to the USMNT following its 2022 World Cup campaign. Currently, the review of USMNT Head Coach Gregg Berhalter continues while he remains under investigation for a 1991 domestic violence incident. Earnie Stewart will now be responsible for overseeing the review of Berhalter’s performance, the USMNT program at large, and for hiring the next coach to lead the program. Anthony Hudson is currently leading the team during its January Camp, but it is unclear who will coach or be the general manager for the team moving forward.

Free Kicks
  • Former Orlando City forward Benji Michel added his name to the scoresheet in the 78th minute against Portimonense on Friday — his first goal for his new club. The goal initially was ruled offside but was quickly overturned after video review.

That’s a lot of content out there for your scrolling needs today. I wish you all a restful and soccer-filled viewing weekend. It sure does feel extra good to see all the training videos of the boys in purple back out on the grounds lately. I’m really getting pumped up for the new season. Vamos Orlando!