Good morning, Mane Landers. Today is the final day of 2017 before we ring in the new year and all that jazz. It’s certainly been a roller coaster of a year for Orlando soccer fans with the new stadium, Orlando City’s summer collapse, Orlando City B’s unbeaten run, Kaká’s retirement, and the Orlando Pride making the NWSL playoffs.
We said hello to new faces like Marta, Dom Dwyer, and Yoshimar Yotun while bidding farewell to a few faces as well. It was an eventful year and I think we are all better for it. I’m excited for the new year and even more excited about what we here at The Mane Land have prepared for you in 2018. But before we can put up new calendars, let’s get to the links for the last time this year!
Larin to Gladbach?
The silly season moves fast and after the recent rumor of Cyle Larin moving to Besiktas, which was refuted on Twitter by Alex Leitao, the hot gossip has the Canadian striker headed to Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach. The Sun says Cyle is set to snub both Besiktas and Leeds for Gladbach. Germany would probably be a better setting for Larin than Turkey, so maybe it’s not really fair to say it’s a snub. But, once again, rumors are only rumors until they’re not. We’ll keep scouring the interwebs for the latest.
Best of 2017 “Megalink”
In the spirit of New Year’s, every blog and its mother seems to be cranking out “Best of 2017” lists or recaps of this year in soccer. Below, you’ll find some of the best of the “best of” lists I could find.
- ESPNFC’s best stories of 2017 include Neymar’s move to Paris and Ronaldo’s dominance, while the writers’ most memorable moments featured Ranieri’s end and Iceland’s World Cup berth.
- It was an NWSL season filled with incredible moments, and a good chunk of those moments came from Alex Morgan’s and Marta’s incredible performances for the Orlando Pride.
- The Times of India revealed what it deemed the biggest retirements in a year that saw the careers of both the fastest man alive and Orlando City’s former captain and soccer legend Kaká end.
- Olivier Giroud, Harry Kane, Memphis Depay, and Mario Mandzukic are all featured, but it’s the names you haven’t heard of that steal the show in The Guardian’s list of best goals of 2017. A rabona in a U-15 match, some Dennis Bergkamp nostalgia, and of course this:
- In mlssoccer.com’s top five controversies, you’ll find Jermaine Jones in some rather inappropriate clothing and possible future Lion Sacha Kljestan earning a two-game suspension in a tunnel.
- The final installment of this list is the top stories from The Toe Poke, a soccer blog devoted to the unusual and light-hearted side of the sport. Ronaldo’s ridiculous bust, knockoff Messi, Zlatan’s Photoshop skills, and the worst open goal miss of the year all land a spot in the 2017 top ten list.
Academy Standout Becomes a Pilot
Sorry for the misleading title. Cutting down on bad jokes is on my resolution list, I promise. Orlando City academy Alejandro Pereira verbally committed to the University of Portland, taking his soccer talents to the other side of the country to become a Portland Pilot. The Florida native may experience a culture shock up in the Pacific Northwest but at least he’ll remain in purple.
Very happy to announce that I verbally committed to the University of Portland! I’m excited to go and play in front of some of the best fans in college soccer. Thanks to my family, friends, and coaches that helped through this process! #GoPilots pic.twitter.com/jodvLfiNrK— alejandro pereira (@alesoccer218) December 30, 2017
2017 Retired XI
In honor of the large number of big-name retirees this year, a whole team of those now former players can be formed. And it’d be quite the force if the players were to decide to come together and go full Avengers. The team includes German legend Philipp Lahm and a trio of Italians in Andrea Pirlo, Francesco Totti, and Antonio Cassano. And of course Kaká, who gets a nice anecdote about his first day in Milan where he impressed coach Carlo Ancelotti in training fresh off the plane from Brazil. It’s a nice look at his beginning after a year of endings for our captain.
U.S. Best 50 Players List Concludes
FourFourTwo’s list of the best USMNT players reaches the top ten, with a mixture of the old guard and the new. Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, and Michael Bradley all made the top five but it should come as no surprise that Christian Pulisic finished on top after a breakout year. Rounding out the top 10 are promising players like Bobby Woods, John Brooks, and Sacha Kljestan, who will hopefully be spending 2018 in Orlando.
MLS Rumors and Dealing
Apparently the new fad in Major League Soccer is to brave the cold and head to Scandinavia for talent. Minnesota FC started the trend last off-season, but I’d like to think Orlando City perfected it by snagging Yoshimar Yotun from Malmo this summer. Now it looks like yet another Malmo player could be headed to MLS.
Elsewhere in the league, the rumors that Iker Casillas could head to Chicago got stronger after a report that the goalkeeper has asked fellow Spaniard and NYCFC forward David Villa about the league and the U.S.
- There’s been some rumblings that the Kljestan move could be in doubt and that youngster Pierre Da Silva could be a deal breaker for some reason. Well, we can probably go ahead and blow those doubts out of the water.
#MLS sources telling me that #RBNY and #VamosOrlando are putting the final touches on a Sacha Kljestan deal. Believed that Pierre da Silva is not involved.— Jeff Rueter (@jeffrueter) December 30, 2017
- USSF presidential candidate Paul Caligiuri sent a second open letter to the USSF after breaking down some potential unfairness in the voting structure which would devalue the NWSL’s voting power.
My second Open Letter to USSF. This concerns the potential unequal voting structure in the upcoming election which places the @NWSL voting power at 1/3rd of the men's in violation of USSF Bylaws. For the good of the game, this type of disparity must end. pic.twitter.com/mqYe57rZ1h— Paul Caligiuri (@PaulCaligiuri20) December 30, 2017
- Let’s end our links on a fun note. After the USMNT’s collapse and Orlando City missing the playoffs, disappointment has been a running theme in 2017. But chin up, readers! Don’t get caught up in the doom and gloom when this sport remains insanely fun. In Scotland, a heavy snowfall threatened to postpone a soccer match at halftime. But the fans found fun on their own and had a snowball fight between themselves. There was no clear winner of the brawl, but sometimes the results just don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things
That’s all I’ve got for you guys. I know I’m probably not the most recognizable contributor (heck, my identity in the masthead is just the default image and my name with an underscore), but I’ve really had a great time being a part of this site for my first full season. Stay safe tonight, please. Call an Uber if you need to and dance the night away. See you next year!