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Lion Links: 11/26/17

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Kakà rumored to China, Pride players abroad, Messi’s new deal, and more!

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Mane Landers, I hope you’ve been doing well this Thanksgiving weekend. We’re now three days removed from Thursday’s feast so the leftovers should be long gone if your family is anything like mine. Thankfully, there’s one more day of rest before we go back to the weekday grind tomorrow, so let’s start it off the right way with some Lion Links.

But first, let’s wish former Lion Luke Boden a very happy birthday! Boden turns 29 today and although he may be with the Tampa Bay Rowdies now, Boden will always have a place in the hearts of Orlando City fans. Miss you, big guy.

Latest Rumors Send Kakà to China

With his final game as a Lion in the books, Kakà’s future has been up in the air. In the past weeks, the most rumored possibilities were that he’d either play for Sao Paulo FC or take on a coaching role with AC Milan. Both destinations are places that have shaped Kakà into who he is today, but according to Corriere Dello Sport Kakà may be headed somewhere new: China. The Italian site believes Kakà will hold off on a management role at San Siro and instead sign a one-year contract with Guizhou Hengfeng Zhicheng. Nothing is set in stone and the source is less than stellar, but it’s definitely something worth keeping an eye on. And in case you haven’t brushed up on your Italian or don’t have access to a translator, here’s the rumor as reported by SportBible.

Pride Players Shine in Australia

Down under, the W-League has been taken over by Orlando Pride forward Rachel Hill. This weekend, the 22-year-old scored her seventh goal in just five games after her Perth Glory lost 3-2 to fellow Pride teammate Toni Pressley and her Canberra United. Hill now leads the W-league in goals, shots (23), and chances created (14).

Meanwhile, Alanna Kennedy took a break from playing at Melbourne to serve her country as the Matildas defeated China 5-1 last night in a friendly. Steph Catley missed the match after picking up a knock in the first meeting with China.

Questions Plague USWNT After Puzzling Year

With most attention on the USMNT for missing out on the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the USWNT had a year that provided more questions than answers. After the Olympic disaster in 2016, Head Coach Jill Ellis has called over 50 players into training camp and the team has discovered new, young talent in players like Casey Short and Rose Lavelle. The USWNT finished its final game of 2017 with a big 3-1 win over Canada so the team may be finding itself as 2019 World Cup qualifying looms.

Revierderby Delivers Dramatic Evening

New life has been breathed into the storied rivalry between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 after a thrilling contest yesterday in Germany. In what was billed to American viewers as a match-up between young Yanks Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie (who both put their rivalry aside earlier this week to celebrate Thanksgiving together), those who tuned in to the match were treated to a dramatic long as they stuck around past halftime.

Dortmund scored four goals in the first 25 minutes and McKennie was subbed out, robbing us of the American face-off. But Schalke responded with four goals in the final 30 minutes to end the game 4-4. It was crazy, it was fun, and it might just be one of the best comebacks of the year.

The Futures of Ronaldo and Messi

Five-time Ballon d’Or winner and Argentine legend Lionel Messi has signed a new deal with FC Barcelona. The four-year deal will put Messi at Barca, the club he has played for since he was 13, until 2021 with a buyout clause of a staggering 700 million euros.

In Spain’s capital, Cristiano Ronaldo is still in negotiations (translation warning) with Real Madrid about increasing his salary despite his down year on the field. Ronaldo has also allegedly been having meetings with Paris Saint-Germain and PSG club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has reportedly offered a blank check to acquire the Portuguese star’s talents.

It’s an interesting parallel as Messi settles in and Ronaldo tests the waters. These two may be the most iconic players in the world and you have to wonder what would happen if they ever buddied up and tried to land on the same team. However, Messi doesn’t think the two will ever be friends so we may never know.

Free Kicks
  • In the NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament, two teams with Orlando City academy players remain with Raul Aguilera and UNC beating SMU 3-0 yesterday and Landen Haig and Wake Forest set to play against Butler later today. Neither player is seeing many minutes but it gives you teams to root for with all Florida-based teams eliminated.
  • We have some Americans headed to Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup! Well, sorta. Two PRO referees were selected to go to the world’s biggest stage next summer. Good luck fellas.
  • It came down to penalties, but Albirex Niigata won the Singapore Cup this weekend. And before you wonder why this is important whatsoever, the win gives Albirex a clean sweep of all four domestic trophies in Singapore for the second-straight year.
  • And ending our links is probably one of the most bizarre thing this year in soccer. In a game between Norwich City and Preston North End, a linesman went down with a hamstring injury and had to be replaced by the fourth official. But nobody was on hand to be the fourth official’s replacement and so a paying fan who part-times as a local referee had to step in. The big sign just looks even more comical when held by a normal guy from the stands.

That’s it for the links today. Wow, we went all over the world with news from Spain, Australia, Germany, Italy, China, and of course the U.S. Stay cultured out there folks, ciao.