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Lion Links: 11/24/15

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Happy anniversary to us, the USMNT needs a lot of improvement, women's Olympic qualifying groups set, Blatter says he almost died, and more in your Tuesday Lion Links.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Lion Nation. One year ago, our little old blog left our small Wordpress site and stepped into the bright lights of the big city known as SB Nation. If you didn't know us then, this was our first post on SBN.

Our first year as a blog of any kind ended on Sept. 23 and our second began. Now we'll embark upon our second year with SB Nation. We've done some things wrong and made a few mistakes during that time, but we feel like we've learned from those and will be better for them, moving forward. We also think we did some things well. Our goal is to give you a good mixture of news, analysis, opinion, and humor, and I think we've mostly done that.

We also broke some stories a time or two although we've known other things and have had to keep it under our hats to get someone on record. I try to hold our staff to traditional journalistic standards when breaking news (i.e. we will always try to find a second source unless the original source is impeccable, and we will not report things 'off the record' -- unless told the same thing 'on the record' by another source). We will sometimes report rumors already out there in circulation when we think they're interesting (or sometimes ludicrous), while trying to avoid creating the rumors ourselves. We will strive to be very clear if/when a column delves into the realm of speculation.

We appreciate you being along for the ride, and the comments section at the bottom of each story is a chance for you to tell us what we're doing right and what we're doing wrong. We can't be all things to all people, so we will try to do things the way we feel they should be done (and as our resources allow), but that doesn't mean we're always right. On the other hand, sometimes we try to provide honest analysis and it's taken the wrong way. There's a vocal minority that feels we're bashing the team when we're being critical, and that we should never say anything negative about the team. That's not realistic and you shouldn't expect any outlet aside from maybe the club's own website to proceed like that.

We should all hold the club we love accountable. Remember, even tough love is a form of love.

Personally, I want to thank everyone who reads this site regularly -- especially those who have been with us since the Wordpress days. Perhaps some of you have even been aboard since the first article over there. To you, I tip my hat. We love what we do. No one here is making a living doing this. Our goal is to cover the team the right way, to the best of our abilities. We don't have the resources other outlets may have. We might all be at our 'real jobs' during that midday press conference or miss a key training session where the team unloads some big news. When that happens, we'll do the best we can to catch up and provide quality analysis. Because you deserve that.

Now that you've all stopped reading my long-winded intro, let's get to your Tuesday morning Lion Links:

CONCACAF: USMNT Needs a Lot of Improvement

The post-Gold Cup analysis dump by CONCACAF is out and the 91st Minute over at Top Drawer Soccer breaks it down. Among my favorite remarks in the report is that they (the U.S.) "make bad passes." This is obvious to any of us who watched the Gold Cup (or the recent game at Trinidad & Tobago) but it's pretty awesome when CONCACAF points it out so bluntly. The USMNT also "lack good marking and coverage." Again, obvious. I'll bet Jurgen Klinsmann thinks CONCACAF just doesn't understand the sport.

USWNT's Group Set for Olympic Qualifying

The draw for CONCACAF qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympics took place in Miami yesterday, and the USWNT will headline Group A, squaring off against Puerto Rico, Mexico and Costa Rica. Group B will consist of Canada, Guatemala, Guyana, and Trinidad & Tobago. The USWNT and the rest of Group A will play in Frisco, TX -- home of FC Dallas -- while Group B will compete in the Houston Dynamo's home stadium, BBVA Compass Stadium. The U.S. will take on Costa Rica on Feb. 10 at 8:30 p.m. ET to start their tournament.

How MLS Bonuses Work

Ever wonder how those MLS player bonuses actually work? Here's a piece by Sports Illustrated soccer writer Grant Wahl that gives some details you may not know about the league's financial side. The details come from an unnamed player making under $100,000, whose team is still alive in the MLS Cup playoffs. It's interesting stuff and a short read.

Blatter Says He Almost Died

It's like that bad bumper sticker that says, "Heaven doesn't want me and Hell is afraid I'll take over." Notorious suspended FIFA boss Sepp Blatter told Swiss media outlet RTS that he "was really between the angels who sing and the devil who stokes the fire." Blatter didn't go into details about his condition, and this certainly sounds like a ploy for sympathy from a completely unsympathetic character.

Free Kicks

Big trade in the NWSL on Monday, as the Boston Breakers sent USWNT backup keeper Alyssa Naeher and a third-round pick in the 2016 college draft to Chicago for USWNT defender Whitney Engen, a second-round pick in 2016, and a second-round pick in 2017...Former USMNT manager Bob Bradley drew in his Ligue 2 debut...Iranian soccer star Niloufar Ardalan hasn't been able to travel with the national team because her husband said no. Now she can travel, thanks to a decision by a national judiciary. The husband still hasn't given permission...USWNT coach Jill Ellis was named a 2015 NSCAA Honorary All-American...In news that will absolutely shock you, Sebastian Giovinco was named MLS Newcomer of the Year.

Please pick your jaw off the floor and enjoy your Tuesday.