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Lion Links: 9/17/16

Joe Bendik and Ashlyn Harris sweep SotW, MLS viewership down, and Tata Martino could be on his way to MLS. All that and more in today’s Lion Links.

Barcelona v Getafe CF - Copa del Rey: Round of 16 Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

It’s finally the weekend again, Mane Landers, which means it’s time for your Saturday morning Lion Links once again. It’s a match day edition as the Lions play tonight against Columbus, which is always a fun contest.

The soccer weekend has already started off right for me after Jordan Henderson’s stunner downed Chelsea yesterday, so hopefully the Lions can keep the party going. If you’re not tailgating yet, you’ll probably need some reading material in the meantime and Lion Links are more socially acceptable than drinking before noon and better for your long-term health. So without further ado, your gameday links:

Orlando City to Honor Childhood Cancer Victims

Orlando City will be participating in MLS’s annual Kick Childhood Cancer campaign tonight against Columbus. The pitch will be decorated with gold nets and corner flags to represent Child Cancer Awareness Month. The club will have special gear for sale tonight in the form of Kick Childhood Cancer t-shirts and scarves. You can also participate at home as MLS will donate one dollar anytime the hashtag #ScarvesUp is used on Twitter and Instagram.

Joe Bendik Wins Save of the Week

The Orlando clubs swept the Save of the Week again. Bendik managed to earn his 11th of the year, this time by an overwhelming 92% over Bill Hamid. Bendik’s tremendous diving save on Didier Drogba salvaged a single-goal lead for the Lions that enabled them to keep momentum on their way to a much-needed victory in Montreal. It was a great response from the City keeper after his opening mishap that let Drogba’s free kick slip past his hands.

Ashlyn Harris Does it Again

At this rate I should probably have a template prepared for an Ashlyn Harris win for Save of the Week. She’s added another to her personal trophy case and now she’s outdistanced her competition by so much that it’s laughable. Her diving save (not unlinke Bendik’s) prevented Sam Kerr from extending Sky Blue FC’s lead and earned her 55% of the final vote. While the Pride’s season may not have been all that the club hoped for, their determination to grab Harris has by far been one of the bright spots. You can check out her latest miracle save here:

MLS Viewership Down

It’s the home stretch in MLS with a fight for the last playoff spot in the East but MLS viewership is down a drastic 57% this month according to World Soccer Talk. You can blame the country’s fixation with football for the steep drop, and it’s a little disappointingly likely that more people in the state of Florida are going to watch the Gators beat on the University of North Texas than Orlando City taking on the Crew tonight when there are playoff implications on the line.

Tata Martino to MLS?

Former boss of the Argentinian national team, Gerardo “Tata” Martino, is reportedly the man to lead Atlanta United in their first season in the league according to Argentina’s TN. Martino is best known in the U.S. for his role managing Lionel Messi with both FC Barcelona and Argentina. He was fired in June shortly after losing to Chile in penalties in the Copa America for the second year in a row. Martino spent the vast majority of his managing career and the entirety of his playing career in South America, predominantly Argentina, Paraguay, and Chile. He would provide an internationally recognized and interesting new brand to the league’s coaching pool, but there is the old adage of international managers in MLS. It would be a bold move for the expansion side.

Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player to Split

It’s only been six years since two of the highest awards in world soccer merged into the current format that Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi have been fighting for, but they’re set to split again. They were separate trophies until 2010, though they often were awarded to the same player. Kaka, for instance, won both in 2007. The name Ballon d’Or has always been the more prestigious of the two, but it will be interesting to see how they’re treated now. Hopefully the awards galas become more bearable at the very least.

That’s everything important in the soccer world right now. Check back in tonight for all of our coverage as the Lions take on the Crew.