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Lion Links: 12/2/17

Alex Morgan is No. 1, College Cup rolls into Orlando, World Cup groups selected, USMNT coaching rumors, and more!

Carlos Romero, The Mane Land

Merry Monda-...oops. Salutations on this sensational Saturday morning, Mane Landers! You’ll have to excuse me, as I’m not used to being here on the weekend. We have a ton of great stuff to feed your need for soccer goodness today, so let’s get to the Links!

Wait, not so fast. Before we do that, let’s wish Orlando City Homegrown goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar a happy 20th birthday. Mason, as you may recall, is in a bit of a fight to return to health after being diagnosed with Localized Ewing Sarcoma, a form of bone cancer. Not only do we wish Mason a happy birthday, but also a speedy recovery from his illness.

Alex Morgan is FourFourTwo’s No. 1

This is not really news for those of us that follow the Orlando Pride, but Alex Morgan is now No. 1 in FourFourTwo USA's 50 Best American Women's Players of 2017. FourFourTwo cites her maturity in realizing she needed to go play abroad at Lyon, and her dominance upon returning to the Pride. As you know, Morgan accounted for nine goals and four assists in 13 games once rejoining the Pride, helping the team make the playoffs. Congratulations Alex!

And if you love Alex Morgan, you’ll want to check back with us this afternoon as we pass out her final grade for the 2017 NWSL season.

Stanford and UCLA Will Meet for 2017 Women’s College Cup

The four best women’s college soccer teams took to the beautiful grass of Orlando City Stadium last night in a semifinal doubleheader. Stanford and UCLA passed their tests and will meet for the national championship on Sunday at noon. Stanford became the first team in the tournament to score on South Carolina in a 2-0 win over the Gamecocks in the early match. In the nightcap, UCLA and Duke played scoreless soccer for 110 minutes before the Bruins won a penalty shootout, 4-3. The two Pac-12 teams should make for an intense final at the Purple Palace on Sunday.

World Cup, and More World Cup

No, the U.S. is not going to the World Cup, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore the biggest event in soccer. The selections have been made and some of the groups are more intriguing than others. There’s the defending World Cup champs in Group F, joined by Mexico, Sweden, and South Korea. Germany and Mexico alone make that one to watch. Then there’s Group C, where Orlando City midfielder Yoshimar Yotun and Peru will face a pretty solid group including France, Denmark, and Australia. Indeed, thanks to the new draw format (seeded by FIFA ranking and partially on federation geography), most of the groups are pretty interesting. There were winners and losers throughout, but there’s nothing boring.

But, What About the U.S.?

Relax. We have some news on that front as well. Were you dreading 2018? Knowing that you’d have to find an alternate team, or pretend the NIT-like alternative cup proposed by Soccer United Marketing is a thing. Well, evidently those are not your only choices! There are USMNT friendlies, next year’s MLS and European League seasons, and much more. So chin up, champ!

New USMNT Boss Rumors Begin

It turns out that one Laurent Blanc has allegedly been approached regarding the USMNT Manager position. Blanc is the former France and Bordeaux manager that has been without a position since he was ousted for Unai Emery at Paris Saint-Germain. All of this is according to his agent, so take it for what it is worth. Blanc’s agent said the the Australian National Team has also approached the former manager. The good news is the coaching carousel for the USMNT has begun, and hopefully there will be plenty more suitors.

U-23 WNT Camp in Orlando

Orlando is hosting the final U-23 WNT camp of 2017 from Nov. 28 through Dec. 4. Head Coach B.J. Snow has called up 22 college players and four NWSL players to participate, including Florida midfielder Parker Roberts. Anytime Orlando is selected to host any type of soccer camp, match, or event, it further solidifies our position as the Soccer Capital of the South! The team is expected to play a men’s team from Orlando City’s academy while they’re here.

Free Kicks

That is going to do it for today. Though if that wasn’t enough, well then you should probably come give it a shot yourself, and write for The Mane Land. Tell Michael that Dave sent you.