Happy Tuesday, everyone! I’m writing a rare edition of Lion Links on an Orlando City match day, and that’s because the Lions take on Tigres UANL in the Concacaf Champions League tonight in Monterrey. There’s a lot of things to talk over today, but before we get started, let’s wish a very happy birthday to OCSC’s Antonio Carlos!
What to Watch for in CCL
Orlando City plays its first ever Concacaf Champions League match tonight, and there are a few things that you should keep an eye on during the match. For one, the Lions enter tonight’s game having kept clean sheets in each of the team’s first two games in league play. If the men in purple can make it three in a row, then they’ll be in a fantastic position going into the second leg. This match is also a homecoming of sorts for every single member of the Orlando City coaching staff, from Oscar Pareja all the way to goalkeeping coach Cesar Baena, all of whom have worked in Mexico during their careers. Pedro Gallese and Wilder Cartagena also spent some of their careers playing in Liga MX, and El Pulpo took some time to speak about Orlando City’s preparation for the game, as well as what he knows of Tigres from his time in Mexico.
"We are going to leave Orlando's name on top."— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) March 6, 2023
El Pulpo is ready for the big stage @TheChampions x #OrlandoCity pic.twitter.com/y5v4yAk6xM
Orlando Pride Schedule Update
There has been an adjustment to the Orlando Pride’s road match against the Kansas City Current. Originally slated for Saturday, April 22, the game will instead be played on Sunday, April 23 at 5 p.m. It’s a move that’s actually quite beneficial for us here at The Mane Land, since Orlando City hosts D.C. United on April 22 at 7 p.m., and things are always a bit hectic when the men’s and women’s teams play on the same day. It also gives the Pride one more day to recover following their midweek game against the North Carolina Courage on April 19, so this seems like a situation where everyone wins.
Neymar’s Season Is Over
Paris Saint-Germain has announced that Neymar will undergo surgery on his ankle that will sideline him for three to four months, ending his club season. Neymar has not played since coming off injured against Lille back on Feb. 19. The Brazilian has struggled with right ankle issues for several years now, and the surgery is an effort to decrease the risk of further injuries to the area. The news is a big blow for PSG, as the Parisian side trails Bayern Munich 1-0 in its Champions League round-of-16 match-up, and will now be without the 31-year-old for the second leg tomorrow. With Brazil not set to play in any international competitions this summer, he should have plenty of time to recover.
Transfer Rumor Roundup
There are several interesting transfer tidbits to catch up on. Chief among them is that Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio is being linked with a move to hated rivals Barcelona. Asensio’s contract expires in the summer and with no extension talks reportedly taking place, the Catalan team is said to be interested in signing him as a free agent.
Staying with Real Madrid, Eden Hazard’s representatives are set to have talks with the club soon, as his last La Liga appearance came all the way back in September, and the club is ready to let him leave for the right price.
Discussions will take place in the next weeks between Real Madrid and Eden Hazard’s camp — his last appearance in La Liga was on September 11. #Real— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) March 6, 2023
Feeling internally is for Hazard to leave the club in the summer, in case of good bid/opportunity.
Turning to Hazard’s former team, Joao Felix says that he’s very happy at Chelsea and might be open to staying once his loan ends, but also emphasized the importance of playing in the Champions League.
Speaking of England, while he emphasized that he’s focusing on Serie A at the moment, Victor Osimhen was not shy about stating that he has his eyes on an eventual move the the Premier League.
Victor Osimhen: “I’m working so hard to make sure that I achieve my dream of playing in the Premier League one day” #transfers— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) March 6, 2023
“It’s a process and I just want to keep on this momentum, Serie A is in one of top five leagues in the world and it’s an amazing feeling for me”. pic.twitter.com/dPuE3rbTfm
- If you aren’t familiar with the Concacaf Champions League, here’s everything you need to know about the continental competition.
Are you ready for @TheChampions?— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) March 6, 2023
We've got the inside scoop on everything you need to know pic.twitter.com/va5S1gFkG1
- Sam Jones doesn’t hate Orlando City’s chances of winning the Concacaf Champions League, but he doesn’t exactly love them either.
- Orlando City’s under-15 and under-17 squads both earned draws with Tampa Bay United over the weekend.
- San Diego Wave FC might have finished third in its inaugural NWSL season but the team’s kit game leaves a LOT to be desired.
New threads rolling in Introducing the 2023 Wave FC jerseys @KPSCALnews pic.twitter.com/EX321S6KNJ— San Diego Wave FC (@sandiegowavefc) March 6, 2023
- Midge Purce has signed a new contract with NJ/NY Gotham FC.
- The NWSL will be a playable league in FIFA 23 starting on March 15.
That’s all I’ve got for you today. Vamos, Orlando!