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Lion Links: 11/27/20

Nani leads Orlando City into battle, Akindele, Zadorsky & Miller nominated for honors, a Thanksgiving full of Pride, and more.

New York City FC v Orlando City SC: Round One - MLS Cup Playoffs Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

How was your Thanksgiving, Mane Landers? Hopefully you have plenty of leftovers to eat through today and the rest of the weekend. We also have the Orlando City game this weekend to look forward to, as well as the United States Women’s National Team in action today. But for now, let’s jump into today’s links from the soccer world.

Lions Energized by Nani’s Leadership

Orlando will take on the New England Revolution this Sunday afternoon in the next round of the playoffs and will lean on captain Nani. The veteran is third in both assists and goals for Orlando and brings a wealth of experience and focus to make sure the Lions are ready for each match. A winner of some of the biggest competitions in the world, Nani’s leadership helped the Lions in the MLS is Back Tournament and forward Chris Mueller had plenty of praise for his teammate.

“He brings a lot in the form of leadership,” winger Chris Mueller said. “I think he brings us confidence on the field knowing that we have someone like that leading us and out at the front of the battlefield with us. … I think that he’s got a different mentality and a different hunger about him this year than I’ve seen.”

MLS Playoff Power Rankings

Out of the eight teams left in the postseason, Orlando City placed fourth in Sports Illustrated’s power rankings. The Lions advanced in dramatic fashion over New York City FC, but will be without both Pedro Gallese and Ruan in Sunday’s match. The defending champion Seattle Sounders are at the top of the rankings while Nashville SC ranked last, despite its strong defense and upset over Toronto FC.

Orlando Players Nominated for Canadian Awards

Canada Soccer released the shortlists for their end of year awards and Orlando forward Tesho Akindele was nominated for Men’s Player of the Year. Although Akindele has done well this season holding up play and making runs, it’s still surprising to see him listed. Alphonso Davies is the likely favorite to win the award and the list also includes a pair of former Lions in Cyle Larin and Richie Laryea.

Orlando Pride defender Shelina Zadorsky made the shortlist for the Women’s Player of the Year as she finished out her year with Tottenham. As for the Men’s Youth Player of the Year, Orlando defender Kamal Miller was one of seven players nominated.

Nani Praises Former Teammate Bruno Fernandes

Nani shared his thoughts on Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes, who was Nani’s teammate during their time together with Sporting Lisbon. While together in Lisbon, Nani gave Fernandes advice before moving to England to play for Manchester United. Nani has been impressed by Fernandes’ success so far with his former club and how he is a great fit with United.

“The style of his football is something fans appreciate. He is a player who likes to take risks in the game, who wants to take the responsibility of the game on his back and make difficult passes, dribbles and shots. He doesn’t care about mistakes; he only thinks about success and making the team have success. He knows what that takes. That’s Man United, isn’t it?”

A Thanksgiving Full of Pride

Pride players Ali Krieger, Kristen Edmonds, Marisa Viggiano, and Brittany Wilson all weighed in on their favorite Thanksgiving foods. I’m personally not a huge fan of Thanksgiving food and feasted on orange chicken and lo mein last night, but some of their options still sound good. Although I think Krieger’s mom’s casserole would need to be eaten to be appreciated.

Pride forward Alex Morgan also introduced her daughter Charlie and the impact she has had on her while training with the USWNT camp.

Free Kicks
  • Midfielder Andres Perea represented Rodrigo Schlegel for his Thanksgiving fit.
  • English Premier clubs in London and Liverpool plan to welcome fans back to stadiums.
  • In its Europa League win over HNK Rijeka, Napoli players wore jerseys honoring the late Diego Maradona.

That’s going to do it for me today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a great Black Friday and rest of your weekend.