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Lion Links: 12/8/18

Pride’s Morgan captures USWNT PotY award, OCB learns opening opponent, Garber gives his State of MLS address, and more.

MLS: Commissioner Don Garber-State of the League Address Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Happy MLS Cup Final Day, everyone! Tonight the 2018 Major League Soccer season comes to a close when Portland takes on Atlanta for the trophy. Sadly, it’s also the anniversary of John Lennon’s death. I know I’ve been a big morbid in my intros this week but with Atlanta in the final can you really blame me?

There’s soccer news coming in from all corners of the globe so let’s get on it.

Pride Striker Alex Morgan is USWNT Player of the Year

After scoring 18 goals in 19 games for her country, it’s no surprise that Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan was named the U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year. Morgan, who finished at No. 7 on The Guardian’s list of the 100 best female footballers in the world, scored against nine different teams in 2018, with six multi-goal games and a hat trick against Japan in the Tournament of Nations. She previously won the award back in 2012. Hopefully Morgs will get the kind of service with the Pride in 2019 that she got in 2018 from her USWNT teammates. Also, hopefully she’ll help the U.S. repeat as World Cup champions in 2019. It was fitting that Morgan was honored yesterday, on the 10th anniversary of this:

Oh by the way, Tierna Davidson was named U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year — a deserved honor for the Stanford defender.

Orlando City B Learns Opening USL League One Opponent

The first year of OCB in the new USL League One will kick off at home against FC Tucson on March 30 — a Saturday — at 7:30 p.m. OCB will play its home games at Montverde Academy. The USL announced the opening weekend games yesterday. The league’s first ever game will be played the night before, with South Georgia Tormenta FC, the league’s first founding member, hosting Greenville Triumph. Each of the league’s 10 teams will play 28 regular-season matches before the playoffs start in October.

Garber’s State of MLS Address Suggests More Expansion, More Selling

Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber gave his annual address yesterday in Atlanta and one of the major topics was expansion. He mentioned the league’s 28th team would be decided “in the next 12 months.” He also said that the league is in discussions about whether to move beyond 28 teams.

“I don’t expect or anticipate there will be an announcement coming out of that, but there’s no doubt in my mind that we can support having more than 28 teams in Major League Soccer. No doubt in my mind.”

Garber also sang a new tune on the topic of selling players. Previously, MLS seemed to be promoting the idea that the league should be a destination for players. Now with players such as Tyler Adams, Miguel Almiron, Alphonso Davies, and Zack Steffen being sought out by clubs in Europe, the narrative has evolved.

“We have been buying for so long, and then as we’ve gone through the analysis, it’s hard to justify that investment and the investment that we have to make in player development,” Garber said. “We’ve got to have something that turns this model around, or else it’s going to be unsustainable.”

Josh Sargent Scores on Bundesliga Debut

It didn’t take young U.S. striker Josh Sargent long to make his mark in Germany’s top flight. Sargent scored on his first touch, just 86 seconds after coming on as a substitute for Werder Bremen in a win over Dusseldorf. It’s been a while since I got hyped for a young, up-and-coming striker on the USMNT, but Sargent looks like he’ll be the real deal.

Free Kicks
  • The draw for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup is today at noon Eastern. Here’s how you can watch it to see who the USWNT draws in its group.
  • It turns out that flamingos and loons are birds of a feather. Minnesota United FC has announced that Forward Madison FC is the club’s USL League One affiliate. It’s a one-year deal.
  • Club Tijuana introduced Oscar Pareja to the press on Friday and the former FC Dallas boss said he was intrigued by the challenge of testing himself in another league with the Xolos.
  • A 10-team field of top high school teams will compete at Montverde Academy today in the Women’s Invitational Showcase Tournament in front of college scouts from across the nation.
  • Apparently a video has surfaced of Arsenal players hitting nitrous oxide and the club has “released a statement confirming that they will issue warnings to some of their star players.” Hey, whatever gets you unbeaten in 20 games, right?
  • Those born on this date include Mary, Queen of Scots (1542), cotton gin inventor Eli Whitney (1765), Sammy Davis, Jr. (1925), Kung Fu star David Carradine (1936), Doors singer Jim Morrison (1943), Gregg Allman (1947), legendary movie makup effects master Rick Baker (1950), singer Dan “I Can Dream About You” Hartman (1950), Kim Basinger (1953), comedian Sam Kinison (1953), Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen (1957), actress Teri Hatcher (1964), Sinead O’Connor (1966), NASCAR’s Kevin Harvick (1975) and Ryan Newman (1977), football’s Philip Rivers (1981), Nicki Minaj (1982), hoops star Dwight Howard (1985), and England/Manchester City star Raheem Sterling (1994).

That’s all I’ve got for you today. Enjoy the MLS Cup final and your weekend.