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Lion Links: 12/16/16

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MLS announces expansion guidelines and committee, NASL shoots for downsized league, OCSC home opener among football giants in attendance, and more!

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Orlando Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday, ya’ll. I’m back. For anyone interested in useless facts, exactly 19 years ago today President Bill Clinton named his Labrador retriever “Buddy.” In more relevant news, today marks four years from the day that Corinthians defeated Chelsea to win the 2012 FIFA Club World Cup.

Now that I have sufficiently filled your daily void for knowledge that nobody really cares about, let’s get to some links.

MLS Expansion Process Revealed

During a teleconference, Don Garber announced the process for the league’s next round of expansion. After previously mentioning that MLS will grow to 28 teams, the commissioner announced that the 25th and 26th teams will be announced before the end of September 2017.

MLS has made it common knowledge that there are ownership groups interested in becoming one of the final four teams in the following markets:

  • Charlotte
  • Cincinnati
  • Detroit
  • Nashville
  • Raleigh/Durham
  • Sacramento
  • St. Louis
  • San Antonio
  • San Diego
  • Tampa/St. Petersburg

Any applications for expansion must be submitted by Jan. 31, 2017. Following the review of applications, there will be meetings between the league and interested ownership groups. MLS also announced an expansion committee of five ownership groups across the league including Jonathan Kraft (New England Revolution), Anthony Precourt (Columbus Crew SC), Jay Sugarman (Philadelphia Union), Andrew Hauptman (Chicago Fire), and our very own Phil Rawlins.

The three main aspects that the committee will base their decisions on moving forward are:

  • Ownership
  • Stadium
  • Financial Projections, Corporate Support, and Soccer Support
OCSC Home Opener 15th Most Attended Match in the U.S.

In a year that saw over 100,000 fans attend Real Madrid vs. Chelsea and four other 80,000+ attended matches, ranking as the 15th most attended match in the country is no small feat.

60,147 fans piled into Camping World Stadium to witness the Lions take on Real Salt Lake in early March. The closest MLS match finished just outside the Top 20, with 53,302 spectators at Century Link Field to see the Seattle Sounders battle arch rival Portland Timbers.

With just a handful of matches that brought in more fans in 2016, here are a few that exceeded the attendance of the Orlando City opener.

  • Real Madrid vs. PSG (86,641)
  • Argentina vs. Chile (82,026)
  • Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid (82,012)
  • USMNT vs. Argentina (70,858)
NASL to Form 8-10 Team League for 2017

Much has been made of the NASL’s falling out of the American soccer landscape since the New York Cosmos folded. Despite speculation that the league would follow along the same path as its most storied club, Ryan Tolmich has reported that the NASL is aiming for a 2017 season that consists of 8-10 teams, including expansion side San Francisco Deltas.

Minnesota United will be looking to make its mark in its first season in MLS while both the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Ottawa Fury FC have made commitments to the USL. To add to the uncertainty, the Jacksonville Armada have reportedly terminated all player contracts.

Professional Soccer Being Passed Up by Female Players

While the U.S. Women’s National Team players have made headlines in their fight for equal pay, the domestic league is much farther away than the players of Hope Solo’s status.

The number of female players retiring in the prime of their playing days to pursue other careers is alarming. As a child, nearly every player dreams of making it pro. Unfortunately, the lifestyle that many NWSL players chased from their grassroots days is far different than the reality that they live in.

From Jazmine Reeves, to Seattle Reign’s Keelin Winters and Danielle Foxhoven, to the one near and dear to our hearts, Leah Fortune, players are citing a lack of money as the main reason for hanging their boots up. Reeves, Winters, Foxhoven, and Fortune have all left the game to pursue careers that they view as more profitable, and for the women’s professional game, that is a scary reality.

Free Kicks

It appears as though defender Camila, waived by the Houston Dash in January 2016, will be joining the Pride for their 2017 campaign...MLS will announce all home openers next week and full schedules will be out prior to the SuperDraft on Jan. 13...Last but not least, if you just cannot find the right gift for that special soccer fan in your life, don’t fret. FourFourTwo has you covered.

That’s all I’ve got today, folks. I hope that your Friday is even better than this celebration from Corinthians fans four years ago.