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Lion Links: 1/12/20

Ashlyn and Ali inspire, Chicharito nears an MLS move, Christian Pulisic’s thoughts on 2018 World Cup qualification, and more.

Soccer: USA Women’s National Soccer Team Victory Tour-Korea at USA Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Sunday, Mane Landers. Before I start my spiel, today is Cristian Higuita’s and Joao Moutinho’s birthday! You should probably go wish them a happy birthday on your social media of choice. Not probably, go do that after you make it through today’s Links. They deserve it.

Okay, to the spiel. I’m probably mid-match as you read this, as my club team Orlando United F.C. is having its final preseason match before the Central Florida Soccer Leagues (CFSL) spring season kicks off. I also helped my parents move into their new home yesterday (congratulations again, guys!), which means I’m already beyond exhausted. Hopefully I can power through, put in a good performance, and head into the week on a high. I hope you do, too. I have some pretty juicy Links for you today, so perhaps that’ll get your week started off on the right foot. Let’s do this.

Ashlyn and Ali: Grateful to Inspire

As you probably know, the Orlando Pride’s Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger are now married. The two tied the knot a couple of weeks ago, and have since become an inspiration to the LGBT community. As I’ve previously stated, I feel incredibly lucky to have these two in Orlando as role models, both on and off the pitch. The two, despite a private ceremony, have since spoken out about their beautiful wedding, relationship, and opportunity to show the world their life, love, and authentic selves. The two feared backlash, specifically on social media, but were brave in letting the world into their lives.

“I think for so long we were so worried about all the consequences and it took a lot of energy from us,” Harris said. “I think for so long, I had to make sure I was professional and this and that. I just felt I wasn’t doing myself justice or my relationship justice by hiding. It feels freeing and liberating just to be able to show up and truly be yourself. I feel like I finally can give my staff and my coaches and the players next to me all of me and not just a part of me.”

Kreiger also harbored fears.

“I really have opened myself up more,” Krieger said. “I feel more vulnerable than I used to — in a good way. I’m more of a private person. I like to keep a few things to myself and I like to share that just with Ash and our family at home. I’m surprised at how vulnerable I’ve become, but I think it’s healthy because people can relate more to you that way. I feel like I’m becoming my more true self.”

Cheers, again, to the both of these incredible women! We’re lucky you’re here, and even luckier that you are who you are.

Chicharito Set to Meet with LA Galaxy

The rich? They get richer. After falling short last season despite having one of the most iconic, and arguably best, strikers of all time in Zlatan Ibrahimović, the LA Galaxy are pursuing yet another marquee striker with word trickling out that the club is preparing to meet with Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez. The 31-year-old striker (I’m 28, and saying that just made me feel old) is reportedly close to penning a deal that would bring him to the same city where his Mexican compatriots, Carlos Vela and Jonathan dos Santos, also ply their trade. Chicharito has reportedly given the green light to the move, and the Galaxy are expected to fork over around $10 million to secure his services. Like I said previously, the rich get richer.

Pulisic: USMNT should have Qualified for the 2018 World Cup

The key word that I left out of that header? “Definitely.” The American and Chelsea playmaker spoke out recently, declaring that the U.S. Men’s National Team should have qualified for the last World Cup - I must say, I agree (duh).

“I definitely feel that we had a good enough team and definitely should have qualified, so that was tough for me...I think we had quality to [make a deep run],” Pulisic said. “I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t have. Once you get to those knockout stages, I think anything’s possible, I think anything could happen.”

Former head coach Jürgen Klinsmann also had some choice words on the topic (again, duh).

“The team belonged [in] Russia,” Klinsmann said. “They belonged in the World Cup. The qualification was pretty much done and then it happened, the big disaster in Trinidad which no one could ever have imagined. I’d take that team in Russia to the final eight, maybe even the final four because there was a building block there and there was a plan for it and the plan got interrupted and it got even more interrupted when the U.S. didn’t qualify for Russia.”

It sure is easy to look back and make such claims, but again, I can’t argue with either of the two. The USMNT failed miserably in its attempt to qualify in 2018, but the quality in the side was certainly enough to make it to Russia. All we can do now is shrug it off and look towards the next one.

Alphonso Davies Finding Success in Munich

As an avid FC Bayern Munich supporter and massive fan of Alphonso Davies, this news seriously warms my heart. The young Canadian winger, who transferred to Bayern from the Vancouver Whitecaps, was named Bayern Munich’s Player of the Month for December 2019. The agile and pacey winger notched four assists in the club’s 13 matches during that month. He also played the entirety of every single one of the those 13 matches. The 19-year-old has been a revelation for the Bundesliga giants, and as an MLS fan, Bayern supporter, and “Phonzie” fanatic, I just can’t get enough of this one. Congratulations, Phonzie!

Random Phonzie Fun Fact: He was the first player born in the 2000s to play in an MLS match.

Free Kicks
  • New York City FC has inked a deal with Gedion Zelalem, formerly of Arsenal fame as a potential future star. There’s no doubt in my mind that the 22-year-old will make an impact for the Pigeons, and in my eyes, this was a brilliant move. I wonder if he was on the Lions’ radar?
  • Zlatan, you monster! (Insert four decades’ worth of praise here).
  • Spanish powerhouse Barcelona reportedly is in the market for a striker following Luis Suarez’s recent knee injury, which is expected to keep the Uruguayan sidelined for at least three months. The club is also preparing to appoint former midfield dynamo Xavi as the next head coach.
  • Look away, Tottenham supporters. Not only is your main man Harry Kane out for a few months, but he had to watch his side fall to table-topping Liverpool, 1-0, during his first day of recovery following his hamstring surgery. Ouch.
  • To end, let’s all give Mr. Miura the credit he deserves. The 52-year-old striker (yep, you read that correctly), has extended his career yet again, preparing himself for his 35th season. One word: unbelievable.

All right, I think that about wraps it up. Be sure to catch the Orlando SeaWolves in action today at 3:05 p.m. against the Florida Tropics and then kick some ass this week, Mane Landers. I expect nothing less from you.