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Lion Links: 12/18/18

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MLS Cup format change, Alex Morgan up for an award, Qatar holding off on 48-team World Cup decision, and more.

Soccer: 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship-Canada at USA Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Tuesday, Mane Landers. Christmas is a week away and I have done exactly zero shopping or buying of presents done, so I really need to get my rear in gear. Don’t be like me, get it done before you have to scramble! There’s a good dose of news today, so let’s get on to the links.

Morgan Nominated For Concacaf Award

Alex Morgan has been nominated for the Concacaf Female Player of the Year award. Following a year in which she recorded five goals and two assists as a starring player for the Orlando Pride in addition to starting regularly for the USWNT, Morgan has been named as one of 10 nominees for the award. Also up for consideration are fellow USWNT and NWSL stars Lindsey Horan of the Portland Thorns, Julie Ertz of the Chicago Red Stars, and Megan Rapinoe of the Seattle Reign. Congratulations, Alex!

MLS Cup Format Change

MLS has announced changes to the format of the MLS Cup playoffs. The changes will come into place in the upcoming 2019 season and will result in 14 of the league’s 24 teams making the postseason, as opposed to 12. One team from each conference will be given a first-round bye with the higher seed hosting each match-up. There will also be no reseeding, with all seeds doled out at the beginning of the playoffs holding all the way through the playoffs. The playoffs will also take place entirely between the October and November FIFA international breaks, unlike in previous years when the postseason was broken up by the November international break.

Qatar to Decide on 48-Team World Cup

Qatar will wait a little bit longer before deciding whether or not to expand the 2022 World Cup to 48 teams. While FIFA President Gianni Infantino has said that the majority of FIFA member federations are in favor of expanding the tournament, the 2022 hosts will wait until seeing the results of a FIFA feasibility study. The study will include assessments of the country’s infrastructure, required venues, scheduling, and necessary training sites. The country has already begun work on $6 billion to $8 billion worth of money on eight stadiums and released the design for the final stadium last week, which will seat around 80,000 people.

Sarachan Lands in North Carolina

Former USMNT Interim Head Coach Dave Sarachan has joined USL side North Carolina FC as the team’s next manager. Sarachan will take the reins in place of former manager Colin Clarke who was given the chop after the team did not make the playoffs in the 2018 season. This will be Sarachan’s first full-time gig since his tenure as manager of the Chicago Fire ended in 2007. During his time in the Windy City, Sarachan brought home two U.S. Open Cup titles and a Supporters’ Shield. Sarachan was also an assistant under Bruce Arena at the LA Galaxy and the USMNT as well as serving as a college coach for a number of years at different programs.

Free Kicks

That’ll be all for me today, guys. I hope you have some fun stuff planned for the holidays, whether its time with friends, family, or something else that is special to you. Stay safe out there and keep it here for all your Orlando soccer news. Ciao.