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Lion Links: 10/25/19

Marta will return to Pride in 2020, Krieger one of NWSL’s best, MLS playoff results, and more.

SOCCER: JUL 07 NWSL - Washington Spirit at Orlando Pride Photo by Joe Petro/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

What’s up, Mane Landers? I hope the work week has been kind to you so far as we head into the weekend. There isn’t much soccer ahead of us the next few days, but that’s just a great reason to go out and enjoy yourself in the Florida sun.

Before we get started with today’s links, let’s celebrate a pretty big anniversary. On this day, nine years ago in 2010, Orlando City SC was officially announced as a new USL team for the following year. Back then, Phil Rawlins stated his intentions to bring a Major League Soccer team and international games to the city and here we are in 2019 with a soccer-specific stadium and the United States Men’s National Team visiting next month. It’s been a crazy nine years, but enough reminiscing, let’s get to the links!

Marta Will Return to the Orlando Pride

While plenty of turnover is expected this off-season for the Orlando Pride after a disappointing season, Marta agreed to a new contract and will be with the Pride in 2020. The six-time FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year has been a Pride player for the past three years and leads the club in both goals (53) and assists (10). Marta is pretty excited to turn things around in 2020 and stay with the Pride.

Ali Krieger Recognized Among NWSL’s Best

Pride defender Ali Krieger made the NWSL Best XI after a decent season of 12 appearances this year. In her 1,080 minutes in 2019, Krieger had 47 clearances, 16 interceptions and an assist for the Pride. She is the only Pride player on the Best XI or Second XI and lands among elite company with Abby Dahlkemper, Tobin Heath, and Sam Kerr also on the Best XI.

However, the list has come under scrutiny from players as the teams have little overlap with the list put out by the NWSL Players Association. Alex Morgan, Crystal Dunn, Allie Long, and Carli Lloyd all took to Twitter to express their confusion about the supposed best in the league. Four of the five NWSL MVP candidates didn’t make either the Best XI or Second XI, with Debinha noted as a big snub. Meanwhile, FIFA World Cup hero Megan Rapinoe made the Second XI despite no goals, no assists, and only three appearances in the NWSL this season.

MLS Conference Finals Set

Atlanta United defeated the Philadelphia Union 2-0 to advance to the Eastern Conference finals against Toronto FC. Pity Martinez returned for Atlanta, assisting on Julian Gressel’s early goal to give Atlanta the lead. Josef Martinez scored in the second half to secure the victory and Atlanta will host Toronto on Oct. 30.

The later game with LAFC and the LA Galaxy absolutely lived up to its billing. Carlos Vela scored twice in the first half to give LAFC a 2-0 lead but Zlatan Ibrahimovic found Cristian Pavon before the first half ended and then scored an equalizer himself in the second. LAFC then scored twice in quick succession to make it 4-2, the Galaxy closed the gap with another goal, but LAFC scored again for a 5-3 win over its rival.

Vela and Adama Diomande both had braces while Diego Rossi had a goal and two assists in an explosive match that won’t be forgotten anytime soon. LAFC will hope to continue its dominance in a showdown against the visiting Seattle Sounders on Oct. 29.

More MLS Awards Claimed

MLS legend and Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando played his last game in the league earlier this week, but he ends his career with another honor after winning MLS Save of the Year. His incredible double-save against the Colorado Rapids helped the team towards a shutout win and it is Rimando’s third time winning the honor since it was created back in 2009.

Minnesota United goalkeeper Vito Mannone won MLS Goalkeeper of the Year after an impressive first year in the league with 129 saves and 11 shutouts. Josef Martinez won MLS Goal of the Year, beating out Wayne Rooney’s long range strike, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s incredible volley, and more.

Free Kicks
  • In case you didn’t get enough Marta news up above, she was called up to play for Brazil in an upcoming tournament in China during the final FIFA international window this year. Also, it looks like she is planning a project with Cristiano Ronaldo so make sure to keep an eye out for that once we get more information.