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Lion Links: 12/22/15

Joe moves to Orlando, Blatter is told to stay home, Zlatan rumors in South Florida, and we take a look at the growth of soccer academies in the good ol' USA. All that and more in today's Lion Links!

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

‘Tis the Tuesday before Christmas, Mane Landers, and unlike the famous rhyme, the soccer world has been anything but quiet. To make sure you know what you need to, let's dive headfirst into some Lion Links.

Joe is a 'Go' for Orlando

After letting go of Tally Hall and Josh Ford last month, Orlando City was looking woefully thin at goalie (since Mason Stajduhar is expected to be with OCB); however after supposedly signing Thierry Graça as a replacement for Ford, Orlando City has turned to the trade market to grab Toronto FC shot-stopper Joe Bendik. The 26-year-old Bendik was acquired for a conditional fourth round pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, and could be a good bit of business for a keeper who has over 70 MLS games under his belt. So that you can get to know him better, check out his highlight reel:

Blatter Gets Blocked

it was announced yesterday that both Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini will be banned from all soccer related activities for eight years after an ethics investigation concluded that they were guilty of an ethics violation regarding a 2 million Swiss franc payment. The suspension of Blatter and Platini will hopefully be the beginning of the end of this whole scandal. However, with Blatter currently blaming the U.S. for this suspension, and with both Blatter and Platini saying they will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, expect more Lion Links on the subject. Especially in the run up to the extraordinary FIFA Congress, when the next FIFA president will be elected. Further muddying the waters is the fact that--before this suspension--everyone expected Platini to be Blatter's replacement.

With Great Zlatan Comes Great Responsibility

If MLS wants to get closer to its goal of 28 MLS franchises by 2020, maybe it should try to concentrate on getting David Beckham's Miami franchise off the ground first. Especially now that he has intimated that he would be interested in having Zlatan Ibrahimovic as one of his signings. This move would be a great boon to MLS and could certainly happen, since Beckham and Ibrahimovic played together in France and know each other well.

Soccer Academies on the Upswing

With the sport of soccer in the United States growing faster than ever before, it appears that more and more European clubs are starting to take notice, and are now opening soccer academies in South Florida.  In recent months, soccer powerhouses like Boca Juniors, Inter Milan, Paris Saint-Germain, F.C. Barcelona and Juventus have all opened academies and are trying to capture young American talent even as some researchers are saying that team sports are falling out of style in the USA.

However, European powerhouses aren't the only ones opening academies for youth soccer. It was announced that the New York Cosmos have received USSF approval to continue establishing a top level soccer development program.

Carli Lloyd's Mantel Could Become More Crowded

Carli Lloyd's 2015 has been pretty swell. She helped the USWNT capture the 2015 Women's World Cup in Canada, and was named the winner of the 2015 Women's World Cup Golden Ball, as well as the 2015 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year. Her big year might not be finished yet, though. It was announced on Monday that Lloyd is up for AP Female Athlete of the Year, but has tough competition. To win, she has to beat out Ronda Rousey and Serena Williams.

That's it for today y'all. Make sure to come back tomorrow to find out if Orlando fans get another early advent present.