Lion Links

Lion Links: 11/2/23

Tamia and Grant Hill discuss why they invested in OCSC, NWSL announces 2024 Expansion Draft rules, keeping up with the Americans abroad, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to today’s links! It’s been a hectic week for me, but I’m looking forward to seeing my parents this weekend to help curb some homesickness. I hope your November has been off to a fairly easy start. It’s always a busy month, so make sure to stay hydrated and take care of yourself amidst all of the holiday hoopla. For now, let’s dive into news from around the soccer world!

Tamia and Grant Hill Speak On Investing in Orlando City SC

After joining Orlando City and the Orlando Pride’s ownership group last week, Tamia and Grant Hill discussed what brought them to investing in the club. Both of their daughters played soccer growing up in Orlando around the same time the Pride started playing in the NWSL. Pride games introduced the family to the club, which parlayed into supporting the Lions and meeting owner Mark Wilf. The Hills talked about their love for soccer and the impact the club has on the Orlando community.

“For us, we understand our platforms in sports and music, so to be able to give back, to support those that need it. We’ve enjoyed being part of the community in a number of different fashions, and we enjoy being attached to a sports franchise. The beauty of sports is that it brings the community together. People from different walks of life, different people, find common ground cheering for the Pride and for Orlando City. So I think sports play a big role in bringing people together and using the platform of Orlando City and Orlando Pride to continue our efforts and making a difference here.”

NWSL Announces Rules for 2024 Expansion Draft

The 2024 NWSL season will introduce two additional clubs to the league, with Bay FC and Utah Royals FC joining. As a result, there will be an expansion draft and the league shared how it will work when it takes place on Dec. 15. Bay FC has the first pick and the two expansion sides will then alternate for 12 rounds, selecting NWSL players who were not protected by their teams. Each NWSL team can protect up to nine players who can’t be selected in the expansion draft, and no team can have more than two players selected. There are various rules in place regarding which players can and can not be protected, and each club’s list of protected players will be distributed to all other clubs on Dec. 12.

Analyzing How Americans Are Doing Abroad

Plenty of Americans were on the move in Europe over the summer and we have a decent enough sample size to get an idea of how some Yanks are doing across the Atlantic. In Italy, Christian Pulisic and Yunus Musah have both impressed while on the field for AC Milan, while Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie has taken advantage of suspensions to Paul Pogba and Nicola Fagioli. The PSV Eindhoven trio of Malik Tillman, Ricardo Pepi, and Sergino Dest are also finding their rhythm in the Netherlands. Meanwhile, injuries have limited Juventus winger Timothy Weah, Borussia Dortmund’s Giovanni Reyna, and Bournemouth’s Tyler Adams. Brenden Aaronson is having a hard time getting much going offensively for a Union Berlin side that’s lost its last 11 games across all competitions. As for the pair of Nottingham goalkeepers, Matt Turner is struggling a bit as the team’s starter and Ethan Horvath remains in a purgatory of sorts, unable to play until the January transfer window.

Saudi Arabia Hosting World Cup Raises Concerns

Forbes contributor Samindra Junti dove into the events that led to Saudi Arabia placing the sole bid for the 2034 World Cup. An unprecedented joint bid featuring hosts from three continents for the 2030 World Cup limited options for the 2034 edition of the tournament. Even though that World Cup is 11 years away, there was little time to debate and vote on options for a host, as the OFC backed Saudi Arabia’s bid after signing a memorandum of understanding and FIFA President Gianni Infantino urged the AFC to be united. Australia declined to bid and the announcement of the host is mostly a formality at this point. As with Qatar, there will likely be concerns about Saudi Arabia as a host due to human rights and labor rights violations.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando’s Thomas Williams and Alex Freeman both got the start in the United States’ 1-0 loss to Chile in the Pan American Games semifinals.

That’s all I have for you today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week.


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