Good Thursday morning, Orlando Citizens.
Wednesday was a fairly interesting day, outside of the 0-0 draw between Juventus and Monaco in the South of France. Let's skip that and jump right in to today's Lion Links, starting with the birthday boy himself.
Kaká Speaks to the Press
Orlando City midfielder and captain Ricardo Kaká talked to the media on Wednesday for about 10 minutes following the conclusion of training at the Seminole Soccer Complex in Sanford. There were some of the usual questions for the Brazilian superstar, which included an inquiry about the difficulty of playing in Major League Soccer, but he also said that he is motivated by the pressure that this Sunday's match against Toronto FC provides, and that he is learning to become a better leader as he continues to build chemistry with his relatively new teammates. He also said that he's fine with taking advice from the young players, when warranted.
Most of what Kaká discussed is covered by the story on MLSsoccer.com, but he was also asked about the fan support from the OCSC faithful, which he seemed genuinely appreciative of.
"Thank you to our supporters," he said. "How they are supporting now is very good after the loss against Columbus – it was a tough loss for us. When we arrived at the hotel, the supporters were there [waiting] for us. This means a lot for us because we can do a lot of things together, even in the bad periods and moments. This means a lot, not just for me, but for our group."
Montreal Earns Historic Draw at Azteca
Despite some wacky officiating, Montreal earned a 1-1 draw against Club América on the road on Wednesday night in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Final. North American teams have not done well historically at the Azteca, and Montreal really deserved to get out with a win. Solid result nonetheless.
USWNT Releases Uniforms for This Summer's Women's World Cup
The social media feedback for the U.S. Men's and Women's National Teams' alternate kits has been largely negative, with the blue gradient theme failing to impress most fans. The reception for the new USWNT home kits, released by Nike on Wednesday, wasn't a whole lot better.
The shirt and shorts are pretty standard, using the same number font and not deviating too much from the previous year's uniforms, although black is incorporated this year. The shoes and socks are where things get a bit weird, though, with blue and green shoes rising into highlighter green and white socks in a look more fit for the Seattle Seahawks than the Stars and Stripes.
Keep doing you, Nike. #NoMaybes.
Cristiano Ronaldo Eyeing Move to L.A. in 2018, according to SI's Planet Fútbol
You've probably been sitting on pins and needles ever since Grant Wahl originally reported that the best looking man in world soccer was planning a move to MLS when his current deal with Real Madrid ends in 2018. If you were holding out hope that Ronaldo would bring his CR7 Underwear line to Orlando (or that Orlando could afford His Grace), then I have some bad news, as Wahl is now reporting that Cristiano's preferred destination in 2018 is Los Angeles.
The good news, of course, is that by 2018, 35-year-old Kaká will be playing through balls to his attacking tandem of Zlatan Ibrahimović and Chicharito.
UEFA Announces Champions League Seeding Change
Speaking of Ronaldo, his Real Madrid side squeezed through into the Champions League semifinal on Wednesday with a 1-0 victory over crosstown rivals Atlético Madrid, courtesy of a late winner from the aforementioned Chicharito. UEFA announced on Wednesday that it will change up the seeding system for its most prestigious club tournament next year, awarding top seeds to the champions of Europe's seven biggest leagues.
"The first group comprises the title holder [top seed] and the domestic champions of the seven top-ranked associations in accordance with the access list.
"If the title holder is one of the top seven associations' domestic champions, the group is completed with the champion of the association ranked eight."
The top seeds are currently given to the highest ranked teams on the continent based on a five-year results cycle in UEFA competitions. UEFA said that the Champions League is about competition, so it is only natural to reward those who have won a league in this manner. These changes would mean that Arsenal and Manchester United, currently second and third in the Premier League, respectively, would be out of the running for top seeds in next season's UCL competition.
Sports Illustrated Breaks Down EPL Fandom by Region
Using a cool interactive map, Sports Illustrated has determined that America loves to finish in fourth place. Based on a percentage of Twitter followers who follow at least one of England's top 20 clubs, Arsenal is the most widely supported English club in America, with Chelsea and Manchester United not far behind.
It is notable that Manchester United got into the Twitter game decidedly later than the Gunners and the Blues, joining the Twittershpere in April of 2012. Chelsea FC has been tweeting since March of 2009, while Arsenal joined the party shortly thereafter in April of '09. Also of note, the top three clubs Americans choose to support currently comprise the top three of the Premier League table.
I wish you all a tolerable Thursday.