Happy Sunday, everyone. It’s been a minute since we’ve dropped a Sunday edition of Lion Links on you, but Saturday was an eventful day and I had a rare hour of free time for a change after taking down the Christmas tree, so I thought, ‘why not?’
I can’t promise this will be a regular thing. We simply don’t have the manpower at the moment, but if you’d like to get involved, we’re always looking for folks who love to talk about soccer to join the team. (Here’s how to do that.) And remember, if you can talk about soccer, you can probably write about it.
Today kicks off an exciting week as Orlando City begins training ahead of the 2023 season and we’re in the final days before the Orlando Pride get to add some talent in the NWSL Draft. So, let’s get to the news of the day.
Ojeda Officially Becomes a Lion
As you can tell from the photo above, Argentinian attacking midfielder Martin Ojeda has finally become an Orlando City player and he’ll be wearing Junior Urso’s old number 11 (there’s no official word on whether he’ll act like a bear if he scores a goal...stay tuned). Ojeda will address the Orlando media for the first time on Monday morning before training begins, so that’ll be cool, even if I have a real job that prevents me driving the hour from Sanford to Kissimmee to ask questions in person. Hear from the new guy, himself:
McGuire wins MAC Hermann Award
Creighton forward Duncan McGuire won the MAC Hermann Award on Friday as the nation’s best men’s soccer player in the collegiate ranks. That’s pretty cool, because it just so happens that he was a first-round selection of Orlando City in the MLS SuperDraft just days before Christmas. He scored 23 goals in 24 games with Creighton this past season, and Orlando City’s front office will be hoping he can continue to fill the net in Major League Soccer. McGuire was one of three new Lions selected in the first round on Dec. 21, as Orlando City picked him at No. 6 overall, just minutes after taking Shakur Mohammed at No. 2 and not too long before grabbing defender Abdi Salim at No. 17.
Muzzi Says He’s Happy with SuperDraft Haul
Speaking of the SuperDraft, the club dropped a short video on Saturday with some behind-the-scenes footage from Orlando City’s “war room” during the MLS SuperDraft. Executive Vice President and General Manager Luiz Muzzi spoke a little about the team’s 2023 draft class and stated that the Lions were able to get four of the top 20 players on their draft board that day. In addition to the three players mentioned in the section above, the club selected defender Luis Grassow out of Kentucky at No. 46 overall.
Zidane Reportedly Not Interested in USMNT Job
A story by L’Equipe reported Saturday that former Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane or his agent was contacted to gauge his interest in the national team jobs of Brazil, Portugal, and the United States. The former French international player, who won championships in both the UEFA Champions League and La Liga at Real Madrid, reportedly doesn’t have much interest in any of those jobs due to having to relocate and the language barrier.
Wrexham A.F.C. Pulls Off FA Cup Stunner
Spoiler alert! Fans of the Welcome to Wrexham docuseries got an unexpected treat on Saturday when the fifth-tier Red Dragons upset second-tier side Coventry City on the road, 4-3, to advance to the fourth round in FA Cup play. Wrexham went up improbably 2-0 to start the game, increased its lead to 4-1 and went up a man, and still had to fend off a furious rally by the Sky Blues to hold on for the win. For those unaware, the club is owned by actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney. ESPN+ threw a scare into viewers by losing the signal with the game still deep in stoppage time and Coventry absolutely all over Wrexham despite being down a man, but the Red Dragons prevailed.
- On the women’s side, Duke’s Michelle Cooper also won the MAC Hermann Award, joining McGuire at the top of the college game. It would be super cool if the Pride could draft her so that both senior sides would have the reigning trophy winner but Orlando traded out of the No. 2 spot and will pick third.
- Liverpool and Wolves will have to play an FA Cup replay after a 2-2 draw at Anfield. Wolverhampton Wanderers appeared to score a late winner but the would-be winning goal was wiped out after video review as the corner taker hadn’t established himself onside before the recycled cross. The “rule of cool” should have allowed the backheel goal to stand, if you ask me.
- Real Madrid fell on the road in La Liga play to Villarreal by a 2-1 scoreline.
- Manchester United is reportedly interested in acquiring Netherlands forward Wout Weghorst on a short-term loan through the end of the Premier League season.
That’s all I’ve got for you today. Please enjoy what’s left of your weekend. There’s plenty of soccer action today, including huge match-ups like Manchester City vs. Chelsea in FA Cup play and Atletico Madrid vs. Barcelona in La Liga.