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Lion Links: 6/9/19

Marta’s out, Hope Solo speaks out, a Gold Cup prediction from Jonathan dos Santos, the Baby Nats fall to Ecuador, and much more.

Soccer: She Believes Cup Women’s Soccer-Brazil at Japan Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Sunday, Mane Landers. The Women’s World Cup is finally here! I hope you’ve all been soaking in the action and enjoying the beautiful game, I know I am. With that said, a lot of today’s news will naturally relate to the monumental tournament.

Let’s get straight to it, shall we?

Marta Set to Miss World Cup Opener

With the Women’s World Cup finally upon us, some unfortunate news has made its way out of the Brazil camp. Orlando Pride and Brazilian superstar Marta, a six-time winner of FIFA’s World Player of the Year award, will not be available for selection in today’s opener against Jamaica. The injury, a left thigh knock sustained on May 25 in training, will hold the iconic player out, which is extremely bad news for a Brazil side that has lost its last eight matches headed into the tournament. Keep a close eye on today’s result. A loss will almost certainly highlight her importance to the squad’s success. Marta has scored 15 times in five World Cup matches and the team will not only miss her goal-scoring prowess, but her technical skills on the ball, as well as her ability to make everyone around her better.

Hope Solo Calls Out Jill Ellis, USWNT Shifts Focus

Oh boy, here we go again. Embattled soccer personality and former world class goalkeeper Hope Solo has publicly called out head coach Jill Ellis ahead of the team’s first World Cup match against Thailand. Solo’s gripes stem from her opinion of Ellis’ lack of leadership.

“Jill is not the leader I wish her to be,” Solo said. “She relies heavily on her assistant coaches. She cracks under the pressure quite a bit. But often that doesn’t matter because the quality of the players on the U.S. team is superb. It doesn’t matter who is coaching us because we will find a way to win. The United States knows how to find a way to win in spite of who the coach is.”

Strange, huh? A goalkeeper taking shots instead of saving them.

Meanwhile, Ellis and her squad are focusing on shifting from World Cup preparations to World Cup performances. The opening match against Thailand, slated to kick off on Tuesday, June 11, at 3 p.m. EST, will certainly be one to watch after France trounced South Korea, making their presence loud and clear. If there’s one thing that I would bet the house on, it’s that this World Cup is going to be an exciting tournament.

Jonathan dos Santos Expecting Mexico vs. USA Gold Cup Final

I can’t disagree with the Los Angeles Galaxy and Mexico star, as the two countries are the clear favorites to progress through to the final. It wouldn’t be the first time the two have met each other in the final, as the rivalry has seen itself front and center on this stage five times since 1991. Dos Santos, a player with a rich history of playing for some of the world’s most reputable and famous clubs, believes that the U.S. isn’t too far behind Mexico in terms of quality, and has expressed publicly his respect for his country’s international rivals.

“I think the United States has a very good national team with talented and young players. I think they will do a great tournament, and it will certainly be between them and us on who will be crowned champion of the Gold Cup. I think as time passes, [the US is] getting close to Mexico.”

The Baby Nats Fall in Quarterfinals

After an incredible win against the powerhouse favorites France, the U-20 U.S. Men’s National Team failed to find the same success against Ecuador, losing 2-1 and subsequently being knocked out of the U-20 World Cup. The run this young team made was both promising yet disappointing, as the Baby Nats seemed to be making a strong run towards the final. Unfortunately, this loss after a big win isn’t a new trend to the country’s teams.

Regardless of the result though, it’s still a huge leap forward for our country and the growing interest of the sport in the States. If it tickles your fancy, have a look at the team’s player grades. Note: Paul’s tweet isn’t entirely factual as I think he may have forgotten about the USMNT’s success in the Gold Cup.

Free Kicks
  • Oh Toni, we love you so much, and we wish we could watch you play during this World Cup!
  • Tallahassee Soccer Club hosted the Gulf Coast Premier League’s defending champions, Port City FC in an exciting affair that saw the Battle Lions take down Port City, 3-1. The Battle Lions who found the back of the net included Michael Seng, Daniel Villa, and Boneco Bazil.
  • The CFSC Panthers, Orlando’s National Premier Soccer League team, traveled down south to take on the defending national champions, Miami United FC. The Panthers held strong and went into the half only trailing by one, but fell victim to excellent play from an incredibly strong Miami side and ultimately lost 5-0.
  • You can’t see it, but I’m giving a standing ovation to Phoenix Rising right now. The club made the admirable decision to sell beer at a dollar apiece in recognition of their club’s incredible 11-match winning streak. Bravo, Phoenix. Bravo. And hey Orlando...take note.
  • FIFA has handed out a lifetime ban to ex-Afghan football chief Keramuudin Karim and issued a $1 million dollar fine after they received multiple complaints of sexual assault from players that represent the country on the international stage. Personally, assuming the allegations are true, I don’t think this is a severe enough punishment.
  • I’m a huge Bayern Munich fan, for those that may not know, and I’m also a huge Manuel Neuer fan (I had the privilege of sitting in his locker at Allianz Arena in Munich last November, too). Here’s one of the many reasons why he’ll go down as one of the best goalkeepers to have ever graced a pitch:
  • Now that you’ve seen the quality and touch of Neuer, have a quick gander at the lack of quality and touch from San Jose’s Mario Daniel Vega. Sorry, Mr. Vega.

All right Mane Landers, that’s all I’ve got for you today. Enjoy the World Cup while you can, have a great Sunday, and have an even better week. Much love!