Lion Links

Lion Links: 1/6/23



Welcome to the first Friday of 2023! This Florida weather makes it hard to remember that it’s still technically winter. Still, it has felt nice outside and I can’t complain too much. I don’t have many weekend plans beyond working and enjoying some good drinks afterwards. Let’s dive right into today’s links!

Brazilian Defender Rafael Santos Joins Orlando City

Orlando City signed left back Rafael Santos to a two-year deal, with club options for 2025 and 2026 as well. The 24-year-old joins Orlando from Cruzeiro in Brazil’s top flight and this will be his first time playing for a team outside of his home country. Santos has 92 professional appearances across all competitions under his belt and he should help fill the void left by Joao Moutinho’s departure. He and Luca Petrasso are the team’s left backs now, and Santos’ experience and crossing ability may give him an edge.

Orlando City Preseason Schedule Unveiled

The Lions will begin their preseason training on Monday at Osceola Heritage Park to start getting ready for the 2023 MLS season. There are six scrimmages scheduled during the preseason and all are behind closed doors except for the last one against the New England Revolution on Feb. 18. The club will reveal its new primary jersey on the same day and tickets to both events are complimentary to season ticket members and those who RSVP before Feb. 11. In the closed-door scrimmages, Orlando will face Minnesota United, the Colorado Rapids, Florida International University, Stetson University, and a team that is yet to be announced. The Lions will also head down to Bradenton for five days for a training camp at IMG Academy.

Orlando Pride Trade Away No. 2 Pick for Allocation Money

The Orlando Pride will give away the second overall pick in next week’s NWSL Draft to NJ/NY Gotham FC in exchange for $350,000 in Allocation Money. It’s a nice haul for the Pride, especially considering they still have the third overall pick in the draft. However, it’s how this Allocation Money will be used that will determine whether this was a good trade, as that draft is valuable for a team undergoing a rebuild like the Pride.

However, this trade and others reportedly hinge on the condition that 18-year-old American forward Alyssa Thompson goes pro for Angel City FC to select her. Angel City traded away the fifth overall pick, a 2024 second-round pick, and $200,000 in Allocation Money to the Portland Thorns in exchange for the rights to midfielder Yazmeen Ryan. Angel City then dealt Ryan and another $250,000 in Allocation Money to Gotham for the first overall pick in the draft. Thompson has until Monday at midnight to register for the draft, which is set to take place on Thursday.

USWNT Roster for Upcoming Friendlies Revealed

United States Women’s National Team Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski named the 24 players who were called up for a training camp and friendlies against New Zealand later this month. Kansas City Current forward Lynn Williams is back with the team after a hamstring injury kept her sidelined for most of 2022. Gotham’s Midge Purce, who was not called up for the USWNT’s final four games of 2022, was also called up. There are many notable absences due to injuries, including Sophia Smith, Catarina Macario, Megan Rapinoe, and Christen Press. Despite scoring 17 goals in 17 games for Tigres UANL this past season, Mia Fishel is still awaiting her first call-up to the senior team. Former Pride players Alex Morgan, Taylor Kornieck, and Emily Sonnett are all headed to New Zealand as well. The USWNT will play New Zealand on Jan. 17 and again on Jan. 20. Given the USWNT’s group matches in this summer’s World Cup are in New Zealand, this should be a great way to prepare.

Free Kicks

  • Make sure to share your favorite photos from Orlando’s Open Cup campaign for a mural that will be installed in Exploria Stadium.
  • Former Lion Dom Dwyer is moving on from Atlanta United and took to Twitter to bid farewell to the Five Stripes and their fans.
  • Josef Martinez may move from one Orlando City rival to another, as Atlanta United and Inter Miami are reportedly in discussions over the 29-year-old striker.

That’s all I have for you today, Mane Landers. Stay hydrated and have a wonderful weekend!


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