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Lion Links: 9/22/16

Orlando City’s soccer stadium taking shape, FIFA 17 ratings, Tampa Bay Rowdies perhaps moving to the USL and more.

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

Howdy, gang. It’s Thursday and we’ve got a full slate of links for y’all. Orlando City isn’t in action for a few more days, but there’s still quite a bit of OCSC content to get you through these trying times.

Orlando City Stadium Progress

Orlando City president Phil Rawlins posted a photo to Twitter showing the progress of the new soccer-specific stadium coming for next season. The roof has gone on the stadium and the skeleton of the stadium has taken shape. It looks pretty sweet thus far.

It’s still a little bit irritating seeing how little parking there appears to be nearby. But, I’ll try not to be too much of a negative Nancy.

Math: Orlando City’s Playoff Chances

American Soccer Analysis came out with updated playoff odds for MLS clubs as the regular season winds down. The analytics folks have Orlando City’s playoff odds at 30 percent. D.C. United has a 50 percent chance and New England came in at 38 percent.

Even though City has a smaller chance at making the playoffs than those two clubs, 30 percent still seems a bit high, given how the Lions played against the Columbus Crew Saturday night. Despite the Crew being four points behind Orlando City right now, I would say Columbus has as good a chance to make the playoffs as Orlando City.

FIFA 17 Ratings Out

Everybody loves FIFA ratings. The ratings for FIFA 17 are out now, which means you can view how your favorite Lion was rated. Naturally, Kaká is the top OCSC player at an 82.

Personally, I don’t take much issue with the ratings, except for the fact that Antonio Nocerino got rated higher than both Kevin Molino and Cyle Larin. Larin and Molino are arguably the two best players on the team, and Nocerino has been largely a disappointment this year, although he had been playing well prior to his recent injury.

The only MLS player rated higher than Kaká is Sebastian Giovinco at an 83. Andrea Pirlo and David Villa are each 82s, along with Kaká.

Tampa Bay Rowdies to USL?

It looks like the Tampa Bay Rowdies may be leaving the NASL to join USL, according to a report in Sports Illustrated. The report outlined some major causes for concern within the NASL that may indicate the league is in trouble.

Teams leaving the NASL for the USL is significant because the NASL is currently the second tier in the U.S. soccer system, and the USL is the third tier. This could signal either a change in which league sits on which tier, or may lead to the scrapping of the NASL.

Fantasy Soccer Brought to Real Life

Imagine if you, as a fan, had significant input in selecting the XI for Orlando City, or for any of your favorite teams for that matter. Well, that’s exactly what fans of a 12th tier English team have. The New York Times profiled this club, United London FC, which claims to be the only manager-less soccer club in the world.

In place of a traditional coach, the team’s business model brings together elements of reality TV voting and player analytics similar to those used in video games and by scouts. It employs a fantasy football-style system that awards points to or deducts points from the team’s fans (acting individually as managers) based on whether their selections make the starting 11, score or record an assist, or play a role in posting a shutout.

This, to me, is one of the coolest business models in sports. It gives the fans true influence on the club, and encourages more fans to support the club and be a part of something. They won’t draw many fans at their matches, but they already seem to have built up a strong following online, and that could be a way for them to capitalize and make money in a market that is dominated by the English Premier League.

That’s all I’ve got for you today. Enjoy your Thursday.