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Lion Links: 12/5/17

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Diego Valeri wins MVP, Sunil Gulati won’t run, Messi statue vandalized, and more!

MLS: MLS-MVP Press Conference Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Tuesday, good people. Another Tuesday brings us to another edition of soccer-related links, so let’s jump right in.

Diego Valeri Named MLS MVP

Diego Valeri of the Portland Timbers has been named the 2017 Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player. Valeri banged in 21 goals and notched 11 assists while helping the Timbers to a first-place finish in the Western Conference. Unfortunately for him and the Timbers, they were dumped out of the MLS Cup playoffs by the Houston Dynamo, but that shouldn’t detract from the season that Valeri had, especially considering that he only continued his sparkling form in MLS. He was the MLS Cup MVP when the Timbers won in 2015, is a four-time All-Star, and has made the MLS Best XI three times. David Villa of NYCFC came in second, with Chicago’s Nemanja Nikolic and Toronto’s Sebastian Giovinco finishing third and fourth, respectively, in the voting.

Good Showing for OC Youth

The 2017 NCAA Women’s College Cup Showcase took place over the weekend. It was a chance for girls’ youth teams from around the country to come to Orlando and strut their stuff, in front of college coaches no less. And some of Orlando City’s own just so happened to do us proud, as OCYS 99/00 finished second in their bracket. With performances like that, we just might be seeing some of these players on the field at a higher level before we know it. Nicely done, ladies!

Gulati Will Not Seek Re-Election

It’s official, Sunil Gulati will not be seeking re-election to a fourth and final term as the president of the United States Soccer Federation. In recent weeks, there’s been plenty of speculation over whether or not Gulati would decide to run, especially in light of the UMSNT’s failure to qualify for Russia 2018. Gulati has helped to foster the growth of the game in the United States, from soccer-specific stadiums and helping to grow MLS, to spearheading the effort to co-host the first World Cup in the states since 1994.

However, he was also the head honcho in the year that saw the U.S. fail to qualify for a World Cup for the first time since 1986, and that is a sin which many in the U.S. Soccer community view as unforgivable. It has also been rumored in recent days that Kathy Carter, the president of Soccer United Marketing, is also considering tossing her hat in the ring, and that she would also be the preferred choice of Gulati and MLS Commissioner Don Garber.

Messi Statue Vandalized

A statue of Lionel Messi in Buenos Aires, Argentina has had both of its legs cut off. And this isn’t the first time that the statue has been vandalized either, as earlier in the year it had everything above its waist hacked away. While Messi remains wildly popular the world over, it would seem that some people still aren’t quite over that defeat to Germany in the 2014 World Cup Final...or the 2015 Copa America Final...or the 2016 Copa America Centenario Final. OK, so Argentinians have some baggage that they can be bitter about but, hey, at least they reached those finals. And at least they made that 2014 World Cup to begin with. A lot of teams would kill to just be there.

Free Kicks
  • A very nice scene in Belgium yesterday, heartwarming stuff.
  • Surely you’ve seen this by now, but if not, check out Benevento’s goalkeeper earning them their first ever point in Serie A in the 95th minute against AC Milan.
  • Today’s birthdays include Walt Disney, Anthony Martial, Ross Barkley, and Martin Van Buren.

That’s all I’ve got for you today, but keep your eyes on The Mane Land for more soccer-related news than you can shake a stick at.