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Lion Links: 11/26/16

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Orlando City’s biggest off-season need, U.S. U20 women beat Mexico to advance, MLS conference semifinal previews, and more.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Orlando City SC Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

You’ve made it through another year’s Thanksgiving and Black Friday, Mane Landers. As yet another holiday weekend comes to a close, be sure to be safe on your travels today and tomorrow. Hopefully you all brought a bunch of leftovers for the trip home.

Today also happens to be Luke Boden’s birthday as the defender turns 28. Even though he was released by the club on Wednesday, he has been one of the longest-serving Lions in club history, having been brought on for the team’s first season in 2011. Bodz has been a huge asset for all of OCSC’s great memories over the past six seasons and everyone here at The Mane Land would like to wish him a happy birthday. And even though his option was declined, there’s still a possibility he could be brought back for 2017.

Orlando City’s Biggest Off-Season Need?

Will Parchman of MLSSoccer.com broke down what he believes every team needs this winter to improve their squad. For the Lions, Parchman believes they would be best served with a defensive midfielder that can both break up attacks and distribute from midfield. Personally, I feel that that’s entirely dependent on a formation change from Kreis. Antonio Nocerino and Cristian Higuita proved that they can be an effective tandem and shield the back four. What Orlando really needs is some help on the back line, especially at center back. What do you think OCSC’s biggest positional need is this off-season? Let me know in the comment section.

U.S. U20 WNT Defeats Mexico

The U-20 USWNT has moved on to the semifinals of the U20 World Cup with a late defeat over rival Mexico. The Mexicans actually took the lead midway through the second half and the U.S. needed some late heroics to escape another disappointingly early exit. Sparked by forward Ashley Sanchez, who had a goal and an assist, the Americans breathed a huge sigh of relief. Even though the end result was positive, it’s becoming more and more apparent that the rest of the world is catching up to the U.S. juggernaut at every level. Next up for the U20s is North Korea in the semifinals on Tuesday.

MLS Cup Semifinal Second Leg Previews

The home sides — the Montreal Impact and Seattle Sounders — took deserved leads in the first leg of the MLS Cup semis and will now look to push on to the final. MLSSoccer.com took a look at both the Eastern and Western finals to preview the matches coming up on Sunday. Montreal and Toronto had a goal-fest at Olympic Stadium and now it’s up to Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, and Sebastian Giovinco to make up the deficit at home. Meanwhile, up in the Rockies, Zac MacMath, Axel Sjoberg and the Rapids defense will need to play the same stout game they have all season to get a result against the Nico Lodeiro-led Sounders. Both Seattle and Colorado are missing key pieces in Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard, but Lodiero, Morris, and MacMath have all stepped up to fill those respective voids. It’s the penultimate match day for MLS soccer this year and it’s sure to have some wild finishes in these conference finals.

Rowdies Owner Attempting to Control Strikers

Bill Peterson, owner of the Tampa Bay Rowdies, is looking to add to his list of soccer assets in the Sunshine State. His St. Petersburg company, Marketing Solutions, has loaned over $500,000 to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, who are on life support financially. Edwards is now seeking to control the South Florida NASL club. The move would be intriguing given the recent move of the Rowdies from the NASL to the USL, and the recent, downward trends of the U.S.’s second division. It would alter the landscape of Floridian soccer to see the Strikers — who knocked Orlando City out of this year’s U.S. Open Cup — fold into obscurity. Edwards has done his fair share of improving the soccer infrastructure on the Gulf, maybe it’s time for him to resurrect Ft. Lauderdale.

Those are all of the links that we have for you today. Hope you all have safe travels and a great rest of your Thanksgiving weekend.