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Lion Links: 1/28/23

Lions’ preseason continues, Erin McLeod’s retirement from international soccer, Copa America is coming to the U.S., and more.

Chicago Red Stars v Orlando Pride Photo by Jeremy Reper/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Welcome to the weekend, Mane Landers! The weather is giving us a rare January weekend in the low 50s here in Kentucky and with that, I will be spending today outside enjoying the sunshine. My buddies and I are rock climbers, so any time we can climb outdoors we will load up the car and hit the highway. I remember how cold I used to feel when I lived in Florida and it would be this cold, but thankfully my body has acclimated and adapted. I do miss those January trips to the beach, though. But enough about my beach nostalgia for now, let’s check out these links from around the soccer globe.

Orlando City Continues Preseason

Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja took his players to IMG Academy in Bradenton this week as the Lions continue preseason training, and the team will wrap up that portion of its preparations today. There are plenty of images of both old and new faces alike to get excited about. The men are looking fast, fierce, and ready for 2023.

Erin McLeod Retires from International Soccer

Former Orlando Pride goalkeeper Erin McLeod announced she and wife Gunny Jonsdottir were leaving the NWSL last week. On Friday, McLeod has announced her retirement from international soccer after over two decades of service. McLeod boasts 119 caps for Canada and turns 40 in less than a month on Feb. 26. She last played for Canada on Oct. 26, 2021 in a 1-0 friendly win over New Zealand in Montreal tallying her 47th clean sheet.

McLeod was in goal for the Canadian women’s bronze-medal run at the 2012 London Olympics and started throughout the 2015 World Cup on home soil. She was an alternate with the team that won gold at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. As she leaves the international game, McLeod takes pride in the Canadian women’s team on and off the field, citing its welcoming and inclusive culture.

“As I’m watching the team do unbelievable things on the field, the culture is there — the team is incredible. They stand not just for themselves, but all Canadians. I’ve been so incredibly lucky my whole career. I know I’ve had a lot of ups and downs but just to be surrounded by so many people I’m grateful to have worked with them for my country so many times.”

Canada Soccer gave her a warm video sendoff.

2024 Copa America Coming to United States

CONMEBOL and Concacaf will be partnering up through a new agreement to strengthen and develop football in both regions. The agreement includes both men’s and women’s national team competitions with an additional new men’s club tournament. As part of the new collaboration, the 2024 CONMEBOL Copa America will be played during the summer in the United States and includes 10 CONMEBOL teams and the six best Concacaf teams as guests. The Concacaf nations will have to qualify through the 2023-2024 Concacaf Nations League. This traditional CONMEBOL tournament will be co-organized by both confederations.

For women’s national teams, Concacaf has invited the top four CONMEBOL national teams to participate in the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup. The inaugural edition of this 12-team tournament will also be played in the United States. CONMEBOL and Concacaf will also organize a centralized final-four style club competition featuring the best clubs from the respective confederations. The four participating teams will qualify through existing CONMEBOL and Concacaf club competitions, and the two confederations are working towards the first edition of this tournament being played in 2024.

More Signings from Around MLS

A familiar face to Orlando City fans returns to Major League Soccer, as former Lion defender Amro Tarek signed with Austin FC after playing professionally in Egypt. Tarek is signed through this season with a club option for 2024. Meanwhile, U.S. international and former New York City FC goalkeeper Sean Johnson has signed with Toronto FC through 2024. The Pigeons, in turn, traded for Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Matt Freese on Friday. The Union will get a guaranteed $350,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM), a percentage of any future sell-on fee, and potentially up to $400,000 more in GAM if certain undisclosed metrics are met. The Colorado Rapids have added added Danish international center back Andreas Maxsø from Brøndby IF as a Designated Player through the 2025 MLS season, with an option for 2026.

Free Kicks
  • Former Orlando City — and my personal favorite Lion — Chris Mueller of the Chicago Fire tried his luck at the Continental Smart Choice Shootout.

That’s all I have for you today folks. I hope you all have a great weekend and can enjoy some nice weather as well. Vamos Orlando!