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Lion Links: 2/10/23

Rafael Santos arrives in Orlando, Haley Bugeja called up by Malta, Tigres manager Diego Cocca leaves for Mexican National Team, and more.

Malta v Azerbaijan - FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 Qualifying Round Group Stage Soccer Photo by Domenic Aquilina/NurPhoto via Getty Images

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope you all are doing well as we get ready for the weekend. Thankfully, I have some free time lined up over the next few days and plan on checking out some new shows on my list, with Poker Face at the top of it. It’s been a busy month, so it will be nice to unwind for a bit. Now, let’s enjoy today’s links from around the soccer world!

Rafael Santos is Finally Training in Orlando

After visa issues delayed his move to the City Beautiful, Orlando City left back Rafael Santos is with the team and training in preparation for the upcoming season. Orlando City signed the Brazilian defender on Jan. 6 to help fill the void left by Joao Moutinho’s move to Italy. It may take some time for Santos to settle in with his new club and teammates, but he could still feature in Orlando’s next preseason game tomorrow against the Colorado Rapids.

Malta Calls Up Haley Bugeja

Orlando Pride forward Haley Bugeja was called up by Malta for a pair of friendlies against Luxembourg during the international break later this month. Although Malta did not qualify for this summer’s World Cup, Bugeja did well during qualification last year and scored a hat trick against Georgia. The 18-year-old will miss out on the Pride’s closed-door scrimmage against NJ/NY Gotham FC on Feb. 18, but should be back in Orlando in time for the preseason match against the Kansas City Current that’s open to the public on Feb. 23.

U.S. U-23 Women’s National Team Names Roster for Friendlies

The United States U-23 Women’s National Team is headed to Paris later this month for a pair of friendlies against France’s U-23 team. Although no Pride players were named to the 20-player roster, Mia Fishel was called up. Fishel was drafted by the Pride with the fifth overall pick in the 2022 NWSL Draft, but chose to play with Tigres Femenil and has been excellent in Mexico. She joins other promising forwards on this roster, including Alyssa Thompson, Michelle Cooper, and Alexa Spaanstra. Brisbane Roar goalkeeper Hensley Hancuff, UCLA defender Lily Reale, and Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Korbin Albert are a few of the other talented players called up.

Tigres Head Coach Departs for Mexican National Team

Tigres UANL announced that it terminated Diego Cocca’s contract after learning he will accept the job as Mexico’s next head coach. Cocca hasn’t been with Tigres for long, joining the club this past November after coaching Atlas for two years. Marco Antonio “Chima” Ruiz, who has been an assistant coach for the past three years, will serve as an interim manager for Tigres in the meantime. It’s potentially good news for Orlando City, which will face Tigres twice next month in the 2023 Concacaf Champions League.

Free Kicks
  • As part of Stars and Stripes FC’s commemoration of Black History Month, former Pride forward Chioma Ubogagu was recognized as the first American to play for Real Madrid.
  • It’s always nice to see the Lions enjoying themselves while training, although Shakur Mohammed’s performance in table tennis may keep him up at night.

That’s all I have for you today. Make sure to stay hydrated out there and enjoy your Friday!