Lion Links

Lion Links: 2/23/23



Hello, Mane Landers. I hope you guys are excited about the Lions' home opener almost being here, as we're two days away. I’ll be in Orlando this weekend to attend a wedding on Saturday, so I’ll miss the match, but don’t worry, I’ll make sure to check my phone for score updates. Before we get into the news of the day, join me in wishing Orlando City goalkeeper Pedro Gallese a happy 33rd birthday.

There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the Links.

Orlando City Announces Duncan McGuire Signing

Orlando City SC officially announced the signing of first-round draft pick Duncan McGuire on Wednesday. The club confirmed that McGuire signed a professional contract before the MLS SuperDraft, agreeing to a one-year deal with club options for 2024, 2025, and 2026. The Lions have now signed all their top 2023 MLS SuperDraft picks. The only player that wasn’t signed was their second-round pick, defender Luis Grassow from the University of Kentucky, who retired last month for personal reasons. McGuire has been playing well in preseason with the Lions, scoring one goal and adding an assist in their 3-1 win against Florida International University on Feb. 4. Ercan Kara will lead the attack, but with little depth at forward, it will be crucial for McGuire to develop his game quickly.

USWNT Edges Brazil 2-1 to Win SheBelieves Cup

The United States Women’s National Team defeated Brazil 2-1 and won its fourth straight SheBelieves Cup title. Former Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan and Chicago Red Stars forward Mallory Swanson scored the goals for the USWNT. In case you missed it, here is Morgan’s curling shot to give the U.S. the 1-0 lead in the first half.

Swanson’s goal in the second half was her fourth of the tournament, and she won the 2023 SheBelieves Cup MVP. Japan shut out Canada 3-0 in the early match-up to finish second, while Brazil took third place, and Canada finished in last place in the four-team, round-robin tournament.

MLS Targets Las Vegas and San Diego for Expansion

Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber gave his perspective on the league choosing its 30th expansion team. Garber said that he hopes the 30th team will be announced by the end of the year and that Las Vegas and San Diego remain the favorites for that spot. He also didn’t close the door on other expansion cities being considered, such as Detroit, Phoenix, Sacramento, and Tampa. The commissioner also defended the recently announced new playoff format, where we’ll see 62% of the league’s clubs making the postseason. In addition, he said that he hopes that MLS season ticket holders will get preferred access to tickets for the 2026 World Cup, but FIFA has not yet decided on the ticketing process.

UEFA Champions Leagues Round of 16 First Legs Conclude

The UEFA Champions League's first legs concluded on Wednesday with its final two matches. In Italy, Inter Milan got a late goal from Romelu Lukaku to give the Nerazzurri a 1-0 win against FC Porto. In the other match in Germany, Manchester City got off to a good start, with Riyad Mahrez striking first to put his side ahead 1-0 in a dominating first half. In the second half, Josko Gvardiol headed in the equalizing goal for RB Leipzig to secure a draw in the first-leg match at home. The second leg match-ups will begin on Mar. 7 when Benfica hosts Club Brugge with a 2-0 advantage while Chelsea looks to bounce back at Stamford Bridge down 1-0 against Borussia Dortmund.

Free Kicks

  • Ireland will play the U.S. Women’s National team in two friendlies in April. The first match is on April 8 in Austin, TX, while the second will be played three days later in St. Louis.
  • The NWSL is reportedly considering changing its season to a fall-to-spring format.
  • Major League Soccer and Adidas announced a new multi-year extension to their partnership to see Adidas continue being the official supplier for the league, its clubs, and youth academies.
  • Sporting Kansas City Head Coach and Sporting Director Peter Vermes has agreed to a five-year contract extension to remain at the club through the 2028 MLS season.
  • Austin FC has signed midfielder Diego Fagúndez to a new contract through the 2025 season, with a club option in 2026.
  • D.C. United winger Martín Rodríguez has suffered a torn right ACL during preseason training camp and is expected to be out for the 2023 season.
  • Atletico Madrid’s Alvaro Morata called for a lifetime ban for fans who make racist chants.

That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Thursday, and I’ll see you next time.


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