Today is a bittersweet day in the brief history of our Lion Links series. Bitter, because today will be the last morning links post of 2014. Sweet, because we'll literally continue doing the same exact thing tomorrow and throughout 2015.
So we've got that going for us. Which is nice. Happy New Year, I guess!
Let's do this:
Z-Day for the U.S.
Gedion Zelalem, whose name I can now spell correctly at least 93% of the time, has officially become a United States Citizen and declared his allegiance to the U.S. Men's National Team. At 17, the Arsenal attacker immediately becomes perhaps the top U-20 prospect in the USMNT pool.
Soccer twitter, predictably, went absolutely bonkers. While the reaction was over the top though, the ceiling here is immense. Zelalem is likely to feature prominently in the FIFA U-20 World Cup in June, Olympic qualifying, and perhaps even the Gold Cup with the senior team in July. Shout out to Steven Goff at the Washington Post for the incredible work he's done in reporting on Zelalem.
New Year's Eve in O-Town!
Need somewhere to be for the ball drop? Well, Orlando Weekly claims to have compiled Every New Year's Eve party in Orlando they could find. I don't see "Andrew and his dog sitting on their couch making fun of Ryan Seacrest" on the list, so clearly they didn't find every party. [Editor's note: our managing editor will continue his tradition of cranking up Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll" at midnight, followed by U2's "New Year's Day.]
It sounds as if Everton keeper Tim Howard will miss 4-6 weeks with a calf injury suffered on Dec. 26. That's a tough break for the USMNT star, as Everton is struggling to climb back into the top half of the EPL table.
Keeper is an incredibly cutthroat position in top European leagues. Miss two weeks and your starting job can be history. This is unlikely in Howard's case to be sure, as he's been such a reliable starter for Everton for so many years. Still, U.S. fans will likely be happy to see the keeper return to the pitch in February.
Shea Back With the USMNT?
Nothing substantiated here, but rumors are beginning to circulate that Orlando City SC's Brek Shea may be joining the U.S. Men's National Team at the upcoming January camp. John Halloran at Soccer Over There has him as a 'long shot', but Shea has always seemed to be a favorite of Jurgen Klinsmann, even when he's struggled at the club level.
Some whispers Brek Shea will be involved with #USMNT January camp.— MLS Transfers (@MLSTransfers) December 30, 2014
That Other Football...
Want to catch some American football this week? It's OK, we won't tell soccer you cheated. SB Nation has got you covered! Check out the Interactive College Football Bowl Schedule.
That's it for me. Be safe tonight, Lion faithful. Happy New Year!