Lion Links

Lion Links: 2/1/24

Duncan McGuire move to Blackburn reportedly off, Orlando City nears deal for David Brekalo, Lions linked with Luis Muriel, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Welcome to February! The first month of the year is officially behind us and the MLS and NWSL preseasons are in full swing. It was a rather hectic month for Orlando’s soccer teams, as players came to the City Beautiful and others bid it farewell. It’s likely going to be a day filled with refreshing and scrolling due to the transfer window, so make sure to stay hydrated, limit screen time, and respond to others responsibly. Now, let’s get into it.

Duncan McGuire Blackburn Deal Reportedly Falls Through

Orlando City found itself in the center of a dramatic transfer deadline day saga that still shows no signs of calming down. The day began with reports that Orlando City forward Duncan McGuire left Orlando’s training in Cancun to head to England to sign with Blackburn Rovers. The new deal Orlando reportedly agreed to was for nearly $4 million, along with another $2.5 million in add-ons and a sell-on percentage.

In a vacuum, that’s a great bit of business from Orlando for a drafted player with only one year of professional experience. However, just when it seemed like a done deal, pending a medical, Blackburn reportedly pulled out of the deal while McGuire was still in the air.

It’s unclear where things go from here. Sheffield Wednesday, which had bids rejected by Orlando already, is now back in the mix again. It’s not certain if McGuire wants to join a team staring down the barrel of relegation, or if Wednesday can come close to the fee Blackburn was willing to pay. Regardless of how this all shakes out, I wish the best for McGuire and relegation for Blackburn.

David Brekalo Saga Continues

Orlando City’s negotiations with Viking FK for Slovenian center back David Brekalo are reportedly back on and nearing completion. You’ll need a translation tool for the full details, unless you can read Norwegian, of course. The latest fee being reported is $2.8 million, with performance-related bonuses and a 15% sell-on percentage involved. Viking has also told Brekalo that his wish to leave the club will be honored.

However, the very same Blackburn that spurned Orlando and McGuire is reportedly trying to sign Brekalo as well. It’s a fairly bizarre development for Blackburn to swoop in at the last minute to pip the same team it was trying to negotiate another deal with. Blackburn’s offer is reportedly a loan with an option to buy in the summer. Have I mentioned I wish relegation upon Blackburn?

Orlando City Linked with Luis Muriel

If McGuire doesn’t return to Orlando, it would definitely leave the Lions thin up top heading into the 2024 season. Reinforcements may be on the way though, as Orlando is reportedly interested in Atalanta forward Luis Muriel.

The 32-year-old has played in Spain and Italy since making the move from Deportivo Cali to Udinese back in 2010 and scored four goals in five games for Atalanta in this season’s Europa League. He’s a veteran player who could fit in well with Orlando’s other attacking players should he make the move to MLS. Even if McGuire does play for Orlando, adding Muriel would be beneficial, considering the club still hasn’t replaced Ercan Kara.

Leagues Cup Groups Revealed for 2024

The second edition of the revamped Leagues Cup, which pits MLS and Liga MX teams against each other, will take place this summer and we now know the groups for the tournament. Orlando City was grouped up with CF Montreal and Liga MX’s Atletico San Luis. A tiered-ranking system was used to determine the groups, and Orlando was in the top tier after finishing second in the Supporters’ Shield rankings last season. The Lions won their group in last year’s tournament, finishing above the Houston Dynamo and Santos Laguna, which is no small feat. Montreal and San Luis are somewhat less daunting, but the tournament’s format with penalty shootouts instead of draws makes for a tense affair regardless. The bracket for the knockout stage wasn’t revealed, so it’s not clear who the Lions will face should they advance out of their group.

Orlando City SC Announces Year-Long Celebrations

This season will mark Orlando City’s 10th since joining MLS, and the club announced a slate of events this year to celebrate. A commemorative logo that incorporates the red from the club’s USL days will be used throughout the year. There are multiple events in place for fans leading up to Orlando’s 10th MLS season, including the kit reveal on Feb. 15, a trivia night on Feb. 22, and a talk with Head Coach Oscar Pareja on Feb. 13. There’s also a reverse car wash on Feb. 17, which I can only imagine involves jumping into a car trunk filled with soap and water and being driven on I-4.

A vault to showcase Orlando City’s and the Orlando Pride’s history will also be installed at the stadium and opened on March 9. Theme nights, honoring of past players, and more are on the docket this year, so it should be a fun time for fans.

Free Kicks

  • The Pride tied with Angel City FC for the NWSL clubs with the most talent returning from last season, with minutes used as the metric. The Pride were at the bottom of this list the past two years, so it’s nice to see how drastically that’s changed heading into 2024.
  • Orlando City midfielder Wilder Cartagena was on fire in training. I think the club should bottle up some Cancun sand for him to use as a talisman this season.
  • Montreal signed Uruguayan forward Matias Coccaro from Huracan in Argentina’s top flight using Targeted Allocation Money. The 26-year-old is signed with the Canadian club through 2026, with option years for 2027 and 2028.
  • LAFC also added a forward, signing Tomas Angel through 2026 on a free transfer. He is the son of Juan Pablo Angel, who starred for the New York Red Bulls.
  • Not to be outdone, the Chicago Fire are reportedly close to signing Belgian forward Hugo Cuype for a hefty transfer fee.

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


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