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Lion Links: 4/29/18

Marta rescues a point for the Pride, MLS is gaining ground on Liga MX, USMNT’s search for a GM, and more.

MLS: Portland Timbers at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Happy match day, Mane Landers! I trust you’ve all had an excellent weekend so far. Between a charity race event, fishing, writing, and the Pride taking home a point last night, my weekend has been quite pleasant. Another positive result today from the boys in purple would most certainly cap off the final weekend of the month of April.

The Lions take on the Rapids in a few hours (depending on when you’re reading this) and if you’re anything like me, you’re counting down the minutes until kickoff. Hopefully the boys can add to their current streak and keep that beautiful April momentum rolling.

While we wait in eager anticipation, I’m here to provide you some Lion Link relief. That said, enjoy your Sunday serving:

Marta’s Curler the Difference in Draw with Reign

The #Legend herself was the difference for the Pride on the evening, as they came back from a one-goal deficit against the Seattle Reign to tie the match and earn a point in a 1-1 draw. This one was truly a battle as the women in purple found themselves in a physical bout that saw 10 fouls in the first half alone. As always, Marta shone brightly, as her equalizer was not only the difference between a loss and a draw, but also the feature highlight of the match. Her curler into the upper right corner was absolutely top drawer, and only serves to further highlight her importance to the squad. Marta, and her attacking counterpart Alex Morgan, have been involved in 29 of the Pride’s last 40 goals. Now that’s what you call influential play from the Pride’s brightest stars.

Also, appreciate the #Legend:

The Search for a USMNT General Manager Narrows

The USMNT needs a new head coach...but first, U.S. Soccer decided it needs a body in the newly-created position of general manager. An experienced search committee comprised of Atlanta United Vice President and Technical Director (and former USMNT captain) Carlos Bocanegra, U.S. Soccer CEO Dan Flynn, board member Angela Hucles, and many others will be tasked with selecting the lucky candidate. The first task for the newly appointed GM? Hire a head coach to guide the men’s side out of temporary international irrelevance by changing the culture surrounding the program. Surely no easy task.

“We’re using this now as an opportunity,” he said. “We didn’t want to get to this stage where we missed the World Cup, because everyone would love to be there. But we have to use this now as an opportunity to really self-reflect. What are we doing that’s not working very well? What are we doing that’s going okay but we can improve? And then how are we going to get there? Because now we need to make some changes. We need to really dig in deep and evaluate: Where are we? Let’s have a hard look at ourselves.”

Bocanegra made it a point to emphasize the importance of the younger players in the system that have superstar potential, but stressed that the right GM and head coach would need to be appointed to truly develop these budding athletes. It’s not necessarily a crossroads for the program, but an experienced and qualified appointee would be massive in the country’s fight to claim legitimate victories on a global scale.

MLS vs. Liga MX: The Gap is Closing

The gulf in glass between Mexico’s Liga MX and MLS has been quite vast throughout the past few decades, but it appears that MLS clubs are finally starting to catch up to their Mexican counterparts. Toronto FC, despite falling to Liga MX’s Chivas in the Concacaf Champion’s League final, has been a highlight and fixture in the later stages of the tournament for years now and seems poised to capture the crown at some point in the future. Toronto impressed during this year’s tournament as the Reds beat Mexican champions Tigres and also downed América, one of the most famous clubs in North America. It wasn’t just the Canadian-based side that did well either, as the New York Red Bulls also managed to seize victories on Mexican soil. Why are MLS clubs all of a sudden in the mix? More transfer capital, dedicated front offices, increased talent levels, and the league’s desire to reach parity with our Mexican brethren.

Teams Are Doing What with Targeted Allocation Money (TAM)?

No, seriously, what is TAM? In a nutshell, it’s use-it-or-lose-it money that’s distributed to MLS clubs for use in the transfer market. The difference now, born from the league’s changes last December, is that TAM is broken into two categories; discretionary and non-discretionary. Because discretionary TAM expires after two transfer windows, MLS clubs are forced to spend what they can and then lose the remaining funds during the next playing season. Non-discretionary funds, on the other hand, expire after four transfer windows. This allows teams to spend their discretionary TAM (roughly $2.8 million) and save their non-discretionary funds (around $1.2 million) for the following years, a tactic that many clubs are utilizing today in order to enable bigger transfers down the road. The drawback of spending discretionary TAM? Teams aren’t permitted to receive anything in trades from other sides outside of cap relief for players brought in on that bill. I know, it’s a bit confusing, but Sam Stejskal over at mlssoccer.com wrote a little piece that might help clear things up for you.

Free Kicks
  • The young Lions continue to impress as they took on the renowned IMG Academy this weekend. The U-15s won (3-0), the U-16/17s won (5-0), and the U-18/19s won (6-1). Not too shabby, boys!
  • Former Lion Amobi Okugo is betting on himself as he attempts to land his next professional contract in Europe, going on trial with SC Preußen Münster in Germany’s third tier.
  • A personal favorite of mine growing up, Liverpool legend Stevie G (Steven Gerrard) is headed to Rangers to become manager. He’ll be taking Gary McAllister with him as his assistant coach.
  • Our neighbors to the north have released the official logo of the newly created Canadian Premier League.
  • Into soccer simulation games? Check out my sim of choice, Hattrick! It’s a beautifully crafted, top-to-bottom management game where you control every aspect of your club: the players, transfers, matches, tactics, fans, finances, stadium, youth setup, etc. (the list truly goes on and on). You can check it out by clicking here. Reach out if you’re interested and need a bit of guidance in starting your new club!
  • And last but not least, props to Aston Villa F.C. and Orlando City UK for showin’ the purple love during their match yesterday at Aston Villa Park. It wasn’t for us? Who cares? Still purple.

That’s all I’ve got for you today, folks. Enjoy the Lions’ match in Colorado, and then have an excellent week.

Also Mane Landers, just remember, you may be cool, but you’ll never be sophisticated-black-glasses-Tom-Sermanni-sauntering-into-Orlando-City-Stadium cool. #TheHeightOfChic