It’s Saturday again, Mane Landers. The U.S. has dropped its first game in the Hex but it was a hugely entertaining game in Columbus. We’ve got a loaded amount of Lion Links for you today, filled with the action from around the international matches and the latest winners of the MLS yearly awards, so we’ll jump right in.
Joe Bendik Takes Home Save of the Year
We’ve been talking about Joe Bendik winning a Save of the Week award more often than not on these Saturday Lion Links, so it only seems fitting that his Save of the Year victory would be here too. He won for his denial of former Lion Dom Dwyer in City’s 2-1 loss at Sporting KC in May. With a whopping four saves up for the award this year -- and he arguably could have had more — it was almost unfair that he had to go up against himself in rounds one and two. But Bendik cruised to the title like he cruised to so many of those Save of the Week wins and we’re proud to have the shot-stopper between the pipes.
It was an entertaining affair filled with injuries, goals, yellow cards, red cards, and some exciting young American talent. Bobby Wood and Christian Pulisic are some kind of special. Unfortunately, the U.S. couldn’t capitalize on more chances. You can check out our recap of all of the action here.
Matt Hedges named MLS Defender of the Year
After finishing third in the voting in 2015, FC Dallas’ Matt Hedges claimed the top spot this time around for MLS Defender of the Year. The 26-year-old central defender was crucial to FCD’s double in his fourth year in the league. So impressive was the Hoops’ back line this season that his center back partner, Walker Zimmerman, finished fourth in the voting this year. Jelle Van Damme, Axel Sjoberg, and Steve Birnbaum rounded out the top five.
The Turning Point in Jordan Morris’ Rookie of the Year Campaign
Our friends over at Sounder At Heart have a great piece on just what sparked the sensational young forward’s tear at the end of the year. It just so happens that when the Sounders’ ran riot over Orlando City it was a key point in his development. Seattle boss Brian Schmetzer, Brad Evans, and even Morris himself pointed to that match as the moment when everything started to click for Seattle’s attack.
“I specifically remember the Orlando game when all three of them [Morris, Dempsey, Lodeiro] were on the field and everything started to click a little bit,” said Evans. Morris managed to assist Dempsey twice in their 3-1 victory.
Could Christen Press Overtake Alex Morgan as USWNT’s Top Striker?
Jill Ellis has been rotating her squad heavily in the months after the U.S. women’s unceremonious early exit from the Rio Olympics. It’s meant some first call-ups for budding stars like the Orlando Pride’s Kristen Edmonds but it also means some of the incumbents’ jobs are at risk. One of those is Orlando’s own superstar Alex Morgan who has heated competition from the Chicago Red Stars’ Christen Press, who bagged a hat trick against Romania on Thursday. FourFourTwo’s Richard Farley poses the potential that Press’ form in the league and at the international level has earned her the right to lead the USWNT line. It would be difficult for Morgan and Press to coexist in Ellis’ current 4-3-3 and the U.S. boss has shown that if Press continues to impress it may be to the bench for the Pride’s star striker, who, by the way, is tied with Carli Lloyd for the USWNT’s most goals scored in 2016.
Schweinsteiger to MLS?
The playoffs still aren’t over and we’ve already got our first big transfer rumor for the 2017 season. German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger has been out of favor at Manchester United under Jose Mourinho and now he’s reportedly in talks with several MLS teams. The former Bayern Munich man wants a January move and it could come very cheaply for an American side as he wants the remainder of his salary (nearly $15 million in total over the next 18 months) paid by United to cancel his contract. Schweinsteiger has already said that Man U will be his final European club.
Those are all the links we have for you today. Have a great rest of your weekend.