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Lion Links: 3/9/17

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Life without Kaká, OCSC gameday experience, Women’s World XI, Pulisic is the star man, and more.

New York City FC v Orlando City SC Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images

Hello to all on this Thursday. As this is the first time that I have gotten to write something since the big game this past Sunday, all I can say is, “How awesome was that game?” I enjoyed the win very much — as I’m sure the fans out and about did too. If you were able to attend the stadium on opening day then I certainly envy you.

As for the soccer world, it is rocking! With MLS kicking off its season this past weekend news is flooding our gates left and right. On that note, let’s jump into Lion Links for today.

The Road Ahead Without Kaká

This should not be news to you — by now you should know that Kaká has officially been sidelined with a hamstring injury, with the Brazilian likely to miss six weeks of action. The point of emphasis now is moving forward. For Orlando City the goal is to move forward in a positive direction.

Kaká only managed 11 minutes before having to be subbed off, and Orlando City went on to not only score a goal but earn three points in a victory against NYCFC. It may not sound like a big deal to some, but winning and scoring without Kaká was a major achievement from a mental standpoint for the Lions.

The road ahead has been looked at by Will Parchman of www.MLSsoccer.com and he examines two possible options for replacing Kaká over the next six weeks. One option is Giles Barnes, who played well in Sunday’s victory, and the other is Carlos Rivas who was solid in the win as well.

Either way Orlando City goes, they’re bound to sacrifice the central channel in some regard without Kaká. The Brazilian is maybe the best pure reader of the game in MLS right now, and while he doesn’t have the agility of some other pure creative influences in the league, he sees so many steps ahead.

The Orlando Experience

Check out this awesome, awesome video created by The Soccer Tour from YouTube. It explores the sights and sounds from the first MLS game played in the new stadium. The video takes you on a journey from what the fans witnessed and just how amazingly beautiful the stadium truly is.

The World XI: Women’s Football

The World XI has been released by FIFPro, and the Orlando Pride had two players make the squad. Pride defender Ali Krieger and forward Alex Morgan are the two standouts currently representing the best players in the world.

Along with two Orlando Pride players, Carli Lloyd and Hope Solo from the U.S. Women’s National Team also appear in the best XI. This counts for four women of the USWNT to be chosen to make this list, which happens to be the most players represented from one country. Go USA!

Key Players Missing From USMNT

The dates for the qualifying matches are near for the U.S. Men’s National Team. With the games fast approaching, manager Bruce Arena has some concerns that not all of his best players will be available for certain dates.

“Between now and when the players report, there’s going to be a lot of issues, so we have a Plan A, a B and a C, and in a lot of cases we’re probably going to go to Plan C,” Arena added. “Two players, Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard, may not be available. It may be the case with Geoff. They’ve all been good players for the U.S. team. We’d like to have them all. The reality of the situation is that that’s not likely.”

This could be a concern for the squad, which has already dropped the first two games in qualifying before the departure of Jürgen Klinsmann. Hopefully Arena and company can figure out the best options and solutions as qualifying matches loom closer.

Talks of Another Joint Copa America

The Copa America Centenario was a major success this past summer. With hopes of similar results in the future, the United States hopes to remain the site for this special tournament. Ticket sales and television ratings reached peaks. For instance, FS1 earned its highest watched soccer game ever during the U.S. and Argentina semifinal.

A U.S. Soccer Federation spokesman confirmed that the federation is open to discussing the possibility of hosting the tournament again, and given the money involved it's easy to see why. A recent report by the USSF that was made public at its most recent Annual General Meeting revealed that the organization made $46 million in profit from hosting the tournament.

Eyes on Pulisic

Christian Pulisic continues to be one of the best USMNT players abroad. Yesterday in his Champions League match-up against Benfica, the 18-year-old managed a game-tying (aggregate) assist and then the game-winning goal, again on aggregate. His brilliant play pushed Borussia Dortmund through the round of 16 and now on to the quarterfinals.

As a fan of USMNT soccer, you have to be a fan of Pulisic. He has slowly become a star for Dortmund and continues his rise for the U.S. Men’s National Team. Look for him to be a very valuable piece moving forward in club and country play.

Ice Ice Baby...

OCSC plays the New England Revolution in MLS next. Just so you can get an idea of who and what we are up against, you have to check out New England forward Kei Kamara rapping with Vanilla Ice.

Power Move?

Zlatan Ibrahimovic could be lured away from Manchester United this off-season. If LA Galaxy have it their way, then Zlatan might be trading his Manchester red in for a Galaxy jersey, following the eventual path of David Beckham. This could be huge for Major League Soccer landing the talent of Zlatan and the charisma that comes along. He is easily one of the best players in the world and has been for a while now.

Barcelona Makes Huge Comeback

So many questions can be asked of the PSG team that essentially threw away the opportunity to advance in the Champions League tournament. PSG had a 4-0 lead on aggregate coming into the game. All they had to do was defend and hold the lead.

But they played against Barcelona. Nothing ever comes easy against such a high profile club and prolific offense. Barcelona not only managed to score goals but they managed to overcome the deficit and move on to the next round.

That is all from me today. Enjoy the second game week of the season and let your voice be heard through social media much like mine. That might be a cheap way of saying follow me on the twittersphere... you know, if you want to. @awesomeniemeier