How’s it going, Mane Landers? This week has flown by, but I’m not complaining too much about that. I’m looking forward to seeing some old friends over the next few days and enjoying some good food and drinks. We should finally be able to get some closure about the Duncan McGuire saga today as well. Let’s dive into today’s links!
Orlando City Beats Rhode Island FC in Preseason Game
Orlando City took on Rhode Island FC of the USL Championship in a preseason match Wednesday afternoon and won 3-1. Draft pick Jeorgio Kocevski was the only player who started against Flamengo to also start in this game, as the Lions rolled out a young lineup led by veteran midfielder Felipe. Forward Jack Lynn picked up from where he left things off for Orlando City B last season, scoring in each half for a brace.
Rhode Island pulled one back late, but an own goal minutes later gave Orlando its third and the win. It may have just been a preseason game against a Rhode Island side gearing up for its inaugural season, but it’s always nice to see Orlando’s younger players pick up some momentum heading into the season.
Nicolas Lodeiro’s Potential Impact in 2024
Midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro was noted as one of many free agent signings this MLS off-season who can make an impact in 2024. The Uruguayan joined Orlando last month after spending the past eight seasons in Seattle and will fill the void in the midfield left by Mauricio Pereyra’s departure. He’s no stranger to racking up assists in the league and will have plenty of weapons around him in Orlando’s attack. There are fair questions on just how much the 34-year-old will play during a busy year for the Lions, but I think Florida sunshine and actual grass will help him thrive here.
As for other Eastern Conference teams, FC Cincinnati did pretty darn well in free agency by bringing in defender Miles Robinson and forward Corey Baird. Josef Martinez, Julian Gressel, and Dax McCarty are a few of the other names who could impress with new teams this year.
USWNT Gold Cup Roster Announced
The United States Women’s National Team roster for the Concacaf W Gold Cup was announced. Of the 23 players called up by interim head coach Twila Kilgore, 21 were also called up for the team’s friendlies in December. Crystal Dunn and Alyssa Naeher are both back in the fold, while Mallory Swanson, Savannah DeMelo, and Gisele Thompson will be in training camp as non-rostered players. It’s a fairly young roster, with former Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Kristie Mewis as notable absentees. Alyssa Thompson will miss out on the tournament due to a back injury as well. The Concacaf W Gold Cup will kick off Feb. 20, with the USWNT facing off with a to-be-determined opponent that day at 10:15 p.m.
Kellyn Acosta Reportedly Headed to the Chicago Fire
The Chicago Fire are reportedly closing in on a deal to sign free agent midfielder Kellyn Acosta. The 34-year-old American’s deal with LAFC ended after last season and the Fire will reportedly use Targeted Allocation Money to bring him in. Acosta should help improve a Chicago side that missed out on the playoffs last season and his inclusion would be the latest swing during a busy off-season for the team.
Elsewhere in the league, FC Cincinnati added midfielder Pavel Bucha from Viktoria Plzen in the Czech Republic’s top flight. The 25-year-old bolsters Cincinnati’s midfield and is signed through the 2026 season. Out in the Western Conference, the San Jose Earthquakes added Brazilian left back Vitor Costa from CS Maritimo, which was relegated from Portugal’s first division last year.
Africa Cup of Nations Final Set
The Ivory Coast and Nigeria will face off in the Africa Cup of Nations final this Sunday at 3 p.m. Nigeria reached the final after besting South Africa in a penalty shootout following a 1-1 draw that included traded goals from the penalty spot. As for the Ivory Coast, the host nation beat DR Congo 1-0 thanks to a goal from Sebastien Haller. The final is a pretty interesting match-up to close out a tournament filled with surprises, as both teams were in the same group during the group stage and neither won it. Nigeria beat the Ivory Coast 1-0 back on Jan. 18 and is unbeaten in the tournament, while the Ivory Coast fired its coach following the group stage and battled its way to the final.
- Former Orlando City player Nani will return to the U.S. this summer for The Soccer Tournament, the seven-on-seven competition that will feature 48 teams. His team, Nani FC, will also include Italian striker Mario Balotelli, as the two play together for Adana Demirspor in Turkey.
- American goalkeeper Matt Turner made six saves, including a crucial one in the penalty shootout, to help Nottingham Forest advance past Bristol City to reach the FA Cup’s fifth round.
- In the AFC Asian Cup, host Qatar beat Iran 3-2 in a thriller to book its spot in the final. Qatar will take on Jordan in the final this Saturday at 10 a.m.
- West Brom has suspended the season ticket of a man who was arrested for allegedly racially abusing Birmingham City’s Juninho Bacuno in this past weekend’s match.
- Sergio Busquets had to exit Inter Miami’s preseason match against Vissel Kobe due to injury. Miami failed to score and lost the penalty shootout to the Japanese team in Tokyo.
That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week!