Welcome to Friday! I have peach sangria and gulf shrimp with my name on them waiting for me after work, so I’m hoping that helps me through the day. It should be a pretty nice next few days, and there’s an Orlando City preseason match against the New England Revolution tomorrow night, but for now, let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world.
Orlando City Signs David Brekalo
After plenty of reports throughout the off-season, Slovenian center back David Brekalo is officially a Lion. Orlando City signed the 25-year-old from Viking FK in Norway, inking him to a contract through 2027, with an option for 2028 as well. He’s right-footed, comfortable with the ball at his feet, and decent in the air, making him a great option to complement Robin Jansson after Antonio Carlos’s departure. With Rodrigo Schlegel suspended, we may see Brekalo in Orlando’s season opener on Feb. 24 against CF Montreal. I’m pretty excited to see how well he does in purple with this new challenge in front of him.
Duncan McGuire Will Return to Orlando City
The Duncan McGuire winter transfer window saga is officially over. The EFL Board rejected Blackburn Rovers’ appeal for the forward’s loan to the English club to go through, meaning he will be on his way back to Orlando for the start of the 2024 season. While this has all been a bit of a headache for everyone involved, the Lions will have a familiar option up top to start the season and Concacaf Champions Cup off strongly. McGuire will be able to get some more playing time under his belt after a stellar rookie year. While he may not play the full season in Orlando, more goals and development should hopefully garner interest from teams that aren’t on the verge of relegation to England’s third division. Speaking of Blackburn, the club thanked McGuire and Orlando City for their patience and will come to the U.S. to reach a pre-contract agreement with the Lions for him to join this summer.
Orlando City B’s 2024 Season Schedule Announced
The 2024 MLS NEXT Pro season schedule was unveiled and Orlando City B will open the season on the road against Atlanta United 2 on March 16. The Young Lions will then go on the road the following weekend to take on Huntsville City FC, and will play their first home game on April 2 against Inter Miami II. The location for that home opener has not yet been determined, although the rest of OCB’s home games will be at Osceola County Stadium. The final game of the regular season will take place at TQL Stadium against FC Cincinnati 2 on Oct. 6.
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin Will Not Run in 2027
After a vote in favor of extending term limits, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin announced that he won’t be running for re-election when his current term is up in 2027. The 56-year-old stated that he made the decision six months ago due to family reasons and also spoke on how he was tired from the pandemic, wars, and Super League attempts in the time since he was elected in 2016. The previous rules dictated that someone could not run for a position more than three times or stay in a role for longer than 12 years, but the changes to that were voted through nearly unanimously.
- We’ve discussed it quite a bit this week, but Fabrizio Romano reported that the deal is complete for Luis Muriel to join Orlando City from Atalanta and he’s on his way for a medical.
- Former Orlando City midfielder Darwin Ceren was reportedly arrested in El Salvador on sexual assault charges.
- American forward Folarin Balogun scored from the spot but later missed what would have been the winning kick in the penalty shootout, as AS Monaco fell to third-division side FC Rouen in the French Cup.
- The FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup will kick off next week and here’s everything you need to know as the U.S. prepares for the tournament.
- Blue cards may be coming to the world of soccer, as the sport’s rule-making panel considers adding sin bins to temporarily keep players off the field for committing certain fouls. However, FIFA made sure to note that any trials would be done at lower levels first.
Thanks for checking out today’s links! It’s a pretty exciting time to be an Orlando soccer fan as we all get ready for the upcoming seasons. Have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend.