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Lion Links: 11/21/18

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USMNT closes 2018 schedule vs. Italy, Pride’s Morgan up for USWNT Player of the Year, Orlando City turkey giveaway, and more.

Scotland v USA - Women’s International Friendly Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Happy Thanksgiving Eve, everyone. Hey, if Christmas and New Year’s can have their own eve, why not Turkey Day?

Here in the United States, many of you reading this will have taken today off or will be finishing off your work week today. That’s awesome. Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, food, and fun. I hope you enjoy yours wherever you are.

Let’s find out what’s going on in the soccer world, shall we?

Orlando City Takes Care of Its Own

As usual, Orlando City was out in the community, making a difference yesterday. Kay Rawlins represented the club at Shiloh Baptist Church, giving turkeys and other Thanksgiving fixings away to Parramore residents. It’s always heartwarming to see the club giving back to the community. There are wins that don’t come on the actual soccer pitch and that’s one of the areas where the club excels.

USMNT Falls to Italy in Final 2018 Match

The United States didn’t play well but Ethan Horvath’s heroics in goal had the Yanks just seconds away from a scoreless draw against Italy in Belgium. Unfortunately, Matteo Politano had other ideas, scoring a goal at the death to lift the Italians to a 1-0 win over the USMNT. It was a largely pointless 3-5-3 calendar year for the USMNT, which still hasn’t announced its permanent head coach. It’s a bit difficult to score goals when your touch chart looks like this:

Not that it is a surprise at all, but after the match Dave Sarachan confirmed his tenure as interim head coach is over and the USSF will be announcing a new USMNT coach soon.

Pride Striker Alex Morgan Up for USWNT Player of the Year

The Orlando Pride struggled in 2018 but forward Alex Morgan shone brightly on the national stage. As a result, Morgan is one of five finalists for the U.S. Soccer Federation’s 2018 Female Player of the Year Award. Contending with Morgan are Lindsey Horan, Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, and Julie Ertz. Morgan previously won the honor in 2012. She scored 18 goals in 19 games for the U.S. in 2018 and led the squad in minutes played.

The USSF’s nominees for the 2018 Male Player of the Year Award are Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Matt Miazga, Zack Steffen, and Wil Trapp. Voting for the awards began yesterday and closes on Dec. 3, at 11:59 p.m. ET. The USSF will announce the winners during the first week of December. So...how are these awards selected?

Votes for U.S. Soccer Player of the Year awards are collected from respective National Team coaches, National Team players who have earned a cap in 2018, members of the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors, U.S. Soccer Athletes’ Council, National Women’s Soccer League head coaches for the WNT and American soccer league (MLS and USL) head coaches for the MNT, select media members and former players and administrators. In addition, select college coaches vote for the WNT award.

USMNT Announces February Friendly vs. Costa Rica

The 2018 schedule may be complete, but the United States Men’s National Team already has a foe lined up for 2019. The USSF announced yesterday that the USMNT will host Costa Rica at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, CA, on Feb. 2. Although the game time has yet to be announced, the match will be televised on FS1 and Univision.

Nashville Signs First MLS Player

The future MLS team in Nashville has its first player. The club, which is expected to begin play in Major League Soccer in 2020, announced the signing of Mexican forward Daniel Ríos of Club Deportivo Guadalajara as the first player in the team’s history. Ríos, 23, will be loaned to the USL’s Nashville SC.

“Signing Daniel as our first MLS player shows our commitment to put a talented, diverse and exciting team on the field from day one of this franchise,” said Nashville MLS CEO Ian Ayre. “We look forward to welcoming him to the club and to seeing him play his part in our Major League Soccer ambitions.”

Free Kicks

That’s all for me on this fine Thanksgiving Eve morning. In two of the last three years, the hammer has fallen on Orlando City players who aren’t returning to the club. Internally at The Mane Land we call that Black Wednesday, and we may indeed have another today, so check back later to see if the club has made its roster announcements.