Happy Saturday, Mane Landers. It has been a stressful week for me as I was traveling for work. I am looking forward to this weekend more than most just to decompress and try to get life back to normal. To kick the day off, I will be tuning into the early round of EPL matches before rooting for the Seattle Sounders in the FIFA Club World Cup at noon. I personally feel that MLS obligation pulling my heartstrings as I really want to see the league and its representative push deep into the tournament. Following up on Sunday, Tottenham and Manchester City should be a great top half of the table clash to round out my own weekend of soccer action. Now, let’s check out some links from around the soccer world!
Orlando Pride Bid Toni Pressley Goodbye
Following the 2022 NWSL season, the Orlando Pride announced decisions regarding the roster. With the NWSL opening the path to free agency for qualifying veterans, defender Toni Pressley — the last remaining member of the Pride’s inaugural roster — was one of the four Orlando players out of contract but in discussions with the club. It seems the writing is on the wall as the Orlando Pride and new Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter wished Pressley the best in her future after seven years in the City Beautiful.
From playing with you in Houston to watching you in Orlando, thank you, @Toni_Deion. Your contributions to the league and our game have been tremendous. Wishing you all of the very best as you move forward! https://t.co/aQmVgPkR1P— Haley Carter (She/Her) (@H_C_Carter) February 3, 2023
Jack Lynn Recaps Orlando City Preseason
After three weeks of training camp, Orlando City and Minnesota United met in a preseason scrimmage. Orlando forward Jack Lynn was a breakout player for OCB last year but is loving the intensity of the preseason with the first team.
“Training has been really good. We’re still keeping it intense. Obviously, we want to win all these competitions but we realize we’re building towards the regular season so we’re keeping the intensity high. We played a quality opponent in Minnesota, so it feels good to play another team. I think everyone was itching to play after three weeks of playing each other to get some outside competition to get the result and build off it tomorrow.”
Getting better every day.@orlandohealth | #VamosOrlando pic.twitter.com/XwUQUiC2df— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) February 3, 2023
Orlando City continues with another closed-door preseason scrimmage today against Florida International University.
Mark Geiger Named PRO Referees General Manager
The Professional Referee Organization announced the appointment of two-time MLS Referee of the Year Mark Geiger as general manager. PRO manages the refereeing of all MLS matches and oversees officiating for other professional leagues and competitions in the United States and Canada, such as the U.S. Open Cup and NWSL. Geiger refereed for fifteen years in MLS along with a resume of officiating at two FIFA World Cups, four FIFA Club World Cups, three Concacaf Gold Cups, and the Olympic games. Geiger officially retired from whistleblowing in 2019 to become PRO’s director of senior match officials.
Since his retirement, Geiger has become an educator on a global level serving FIFA as a technical and Video Assistant Referee instructor for a plethora of international competitions, including the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup and 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Seattle Sounders Enter Biggest Stage Yet
The journey to lift the FIFA Club World Cup begins for the Seattle Sounders in Tangier, Morocco. Seattle is a veteran side matched up against Egypt’s Al Ahly in the quarterfinal. While this is Seattle’s first taste of the tournament, the Cairo-based, 10-time African champion is playing in its eighth Club World Cup. Al Ahly won bronze in each of the last two editions and defeated Monterrey, 3–1, in last year’s quarterfinals.
The Egyptians took silver in the 2022 African Champions League but qualified for the Club World Cup as “host” because Morocco’s Wydad Casablanca won the continental title. Al Ahly has already eased past Oceania champ Auckland City, 3–0, in Wednesday’s first round. No matter the resume that Al Ahly is entering with, the Sounders are not ready to back down, according to goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
“This is our first time, for an MLS side, to be part of this. For them, this is charted territory. So we know we have to give them the utmost respect,” Frei said Wednesday at the Sounders training camp in Spain. “In a knockout phase right away like this, there’s no room for error. We have to be able to bring a result onto the table right away for us to move on and go to the next round. We’ve tried to work hard in preseason to make sure we’re ready, but it will be a challenge nonetheless.”
- The New York Red Bulls have signed Belgian international forward Dante Vanzeir from Union SG as a Designated Player through the 2026 MLS season with an option for 2027.
- Louisville City FC has signed 2022 USL Championship Young Player of the Year finalist Josh Wynder to a new contract that extends through the 2025 season.
- The Vancouver Whitecaps’ bid to acquire Yokohama F. Marinos goalkeeper Yohei Takaoka is reportedly edging closer to completion.
- Julian Araujo’s move from LA Galaxy to Barcelona will not be permitted by FIFA after documentation for the transfer was filed too late.
- Rumor has it that the United States, Mexico, Canada, and Concacaf are negotiating to have the 2025 Gold Cup expand to include 24 teams.
- Weston McKennie could debut for Leeds United on Sunday. Here is how to catch his match and the rest of the USMNT players abroad.
- Wrexham AFC will compete in The Soccer Tournament, a $1 million winner-take-all event in North Carolina this summer.
- Additionally, Wrexham AFC will make another national American broadcast as the FA Cup fourth-round replay at Sheffield United — set to kick off at 2:45 p.m. on Tuesday — will be televised on ESPN2.
- Cristiano Ronaldo scored his first goal for Al Nassr with a last-gasp penalty to salvage a 2-2 draw at Al Fateh on Friday.
That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have an enjoyable weekend. Vamos Orlando!