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Lion Links: 10/11/17

USMNT finishes worst Hex since 1986, Alex Morgan and Steph Catley earn NWSL Second XI honors, Higuita done for ’17, and more.

Soccer Fans Gather To Watch US Team's Knockout Stage Match Against Belgium Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Wow. I want to start with something much stronger than that; something that would basically be a bunch of symbols. I’m in utter shock and disbelief. I never actually thought this would happen. So many emotions. Absolutely sick to my stomach. I’m just going to breathe at this point and give you all the updates.

On a very positive note, we definitely want to wish Orlando Pride midfielder Jordan O’Brien a very happy birthday today! On to the links.

USMNT Out of World Cup for the First Time Since 1986

Playing a last-place Trinidad & Tobago team with nothing to play for, the United States — fresh off a 4-0 win against Panama — lost 2-1 on Tuesday night. Simultaneously, the Yanks got no help from top seeds Mexico and Costa Rica, which both lost to keep the U.S. men out of the World Cup since 1986.

The night screamed of a team that continually struggled during this Hex with shaky center back and goalkeeper play, and a lack of urgency that saw the U.S. in one of its worst qualifying cycles to date.

If you want my feelings Taylor Twellman sums them up pretty well:

Morgan and Catley Make NWSL Second XI

Alex Morgan and Steph Catley earned NWSL Second XI team honors. This is the second time for each of them as members of the Orlando Pride.

The NWSL awards are voted on by club officials, players, and media that cover the league on a consistent basis, as well as fans.

Check back in later in the week as NWSL’s Best XI gets announced Thursday afternoon.

Congrats, ladies!

Body Cam video Released Following Epcot Debacle

A recent body cam video of the unfortunate dismissal of Orlando players Alex Morgan, Giles Barnes, and Donny Toia has been released showing Morgan, Toia, and Toia’s wife in an interview room.

Frankly, I think it’s about time we all move past this. This is clearly a mistake by a few people drinking, and appears to be a bit of he-said, she-said situation at this point in which no one wins.

As evidenced by Alex Morgan’s response today after the video was released:

“Although I regret my actions last Sunday while attending the Epcot Food and Wine Festival with my family and friends, the video released today shows that while we were all caught up in the tension of the moment, I was not out of control or highly impaired,” Morgan said. “I used bad judgment and I was simply trying to support my friends.”

Higuita Most Likely Out for the Season

The Orlando Sentinel’s Alicia DelGallo reported Tuesday that Orlando City midfielder Cristian Higuita is unlikely to play in the Lions’ final two games of the season due to a calf injury.

“He is still not healthy,” Lions coach Jason Kreis said. “Really had hoped that by now we would have him back on the training field. We actually had a little bit of a misdiagnosis, where the first scan that we took didn’t show too much information, too much damage. We put him through a training protocol, a rehab protocol, and he was feeling pretty good but we just wanted to do another scan just to be safe.”

Higuita has recorded three assists on the year, but per the Sentinel, the injury he suffered in September vs. D.C. United turned out to be worse than originally thought, as Kreis indicated.

Noce Wants 3-4 More Years, Kaká Offered One More

Midfielder Antonio Nocerino, Orlando’s second-highest-paid player, wants to stay for the foreseeable future:

“My intention is to finish my career here, the priority is Orlando,” Nocerino said in broken English. “But, I don’t know yet.”

“If it’s not possible to stay here, I play...three years maybe another four years, because I stay good, I like soccer. [If I] close the door here, I will try another option, but the priority for me is to stay in Orlando.”

I have to say, while he has his fans, I’m definitely not one of them. If he wants to come back on the cheap, then it should be under consideration. But I think most would agree that in his time in Orlando he has struggled with the the league’s pace and, despite a good run of recent form, we’ll need to see a lot more out of Noce to be shelling out that level of commitment at or near his current $850,000 salary.

That Orlando Sentinel report also indicates Kaká was offered a one-year contract extension, per Orlando City CEO Alex Leitão. While no details were given, I would echo my above sentiments about Noce here as well. Some of us at The Mane Land have written things of similar effect as well. Kaká has been reporting that his declining speed in recovery is draining him, and to be honest it’s starting to drain us as well.

An Outsider’s View of Orlando’s Civic Soccer Duty

We talk all the time of how Orlando City has the best fans in MLS. Friday night showed that even more with constant praise from U.S. Soccer and pundits alike. But here we have The Philly Soccer Page giving Orlando some of the highest praise an outsider could:

“Somehow Orlando City has convinced their neighbors that MLS isn’t supposed to be a punchline. It isn’t a consolation prize since you can’t get ‘real’ soccer in the States. It isn’t something you do ironically or so you can pretend to be European. Orlando City has convinced people to be their fans because it’s a part of their civic identity.”

People are recognizing Orlando as an amazing soccer city. It will only lead to bigger and better things.

Free Kicks

So, after a night that left all of us in a flurry of emotion, all I can say is check here for a piece that I wrote about what we could happen if we missed out on Russia 2018. Before the hate mail comes out, I didn't want this to happen (check out the counter, by me, here). At all. And I’m very distraught that the game we all love so much took a really bad step backwards.