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Lion Links: 11/15/17

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USMNT youth on display, the Europa World Cup (?), MLS Expansion Draft is set, Atlanta and Memphis are joining USL, and more.

Portugal vs USA - International Friendly Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images

A busy Tuesday has us going all over the place through the soccer ranks, from youth to professional to TV and beyond. So nothing fancy today, let’s get right to it!

Youth Shines in Last USMNT Match of 2017

The U.S. Men’s National Team played in its final match of the 2017 season, a 1-1 draw against No. 3 Portugal. Interim Head Coach Dave Sarachan went with a youth-driven lineup featuring first-timers Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams.

McKennie, 19, from Schalke FC (Bundesliga), had a fantastic debut as he scored once — and nearly made it a brace — and was all over the field. Most impressive were his box-to-box efforts and his overall complete show of his game.

World Cup Misses Engage in Conversations for 2018 Event

NIT? Europa? HeBelieves Cup? Not that I’m a fan of any of these names, but it looks like the head of social media steam — along with the fact that giant after giant keeps falling — has these teams debating a second-rate international event in 2018.

With the likes of the USA, Italy, Ghana, Netherlands, Cameroon, Chile, Greece, China, and Ivory Coast not making it to Russia, U.S. Soccer and Soccer United Marketing (SUM) have begun early conversations to host such an event.

Not only do I love this because we would get to see these teams, but it’s a wildly huge advantage to still get our young national team players some experience against some of the best countries in the world in the absence of a World Cup. My fingers are definitely crossed.

Atlanta United and Memphis Join the USL Ranks

Atlanta United has officially ended its two-year partnership with the Charleston Battery and will own and operate its own USL team in 2018. The team will train out of the club’s Marietta headquarters, but no name has been given as of yet. They will play their home matches out of Coolray Field in Gwinnett County.

The USL also announced today that it has approved the franchise rights to an ownership group in Memphis. While no name of the group or club was decided, it is largely speculated that the Memphis Redbirds ownership group is at the forefront for this opportunity, which will join the league in 2019.

MLS Outlines its Top 10 Stories with No Sight of MNUTD

MLS came out Tuesday with its top 10 stories of 2017, and there’s a gaping hole roughly the size of Minnesota. That’s right, MLS’s 22nd team doesn’t find itself a place inside the story lines, but its expansion counterpart — Atlanta United — does. We often thought the league’s new darling has been ATL, but Minnesota United — a club that has brought in two of the largest league sponsors by name, in Allianz and Target — should be getting more love here.

If anything, most of these story lines don’t even happen in MLS or on the field, which does just feel like a miss all around for this article.

MLS Expansion Draft for LAFC Set; Other Off-Season Details

Set your clocks for Tuesday, Dec. 12 at 2 p.m. as LAFC starts to build out its roster with current MLS Players.

In case you’re not familiar with the guidelines, here you go:

“All 22 existing MLS clubs will be able to protect 11 players prior to the Expansion Draft; Generation adidas players and off-budget Homegrown Players are automatically exempt from selection and do not need to be protected. Only a single player can be drafted from any one club.

The complete list of players eligible for selection in the Expansion Draft will be released on Dec. 10 by 5:30 pm ET.”

Be on the lookout from us on players we feel should be protected in the coming weeks.

And in case you feel the need to keep watch over the rest of the off-season:

Orlando Professional Teams Visit Orlando Health

Orlando City and Pride players visited Orlando Health Tuesday to check out the new South Seminole Outpatient Rehabilitation Center. While I’m sure it’s very nice, I’m going to hope these are the only types of visits of this kind.

Nike Friendlies Kick Off This December

The official dates of the Nike Friendlies and U.S. Soccer Academy Showcase in Bradenton, FL have been released. If you want to catch up on some of the upcoming talent coming through the system, this is your chance.

The friendlies consist of men’s and women's U-17 teams competing in a round robin event. The U.S., Brazil, and England feature on both sides with the Netherlands and Finland rounding out, respectively, the men’s and women's fields.

Fox Sports Involved in FIFA Bribes?

Not much has come on this story as of yet, but Fox Sports is being implicated in FIFA bribing scandals, among a handful of other networks.

Buddy Dyer In for Orlando Hosting the World Cup

Looks like Orlando City and the Central Florida Sports Commission have the backing of the city’s government. While this should be expected, you’d be surprised how often there can be disconnects between the two. So it’s good to see everyone on board with what will be a tough fight amongst the remaining 32 cities.

Free Kicks
  • Florida Tropics SC player Lucas Montelares makes the MASL Team of the Week.

Have a great rest of the week, and to leave you with a bit of humor I give you this: