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Lion Links: 11/30/20

Orlando City falls, the Columbus Crew advance, Americans abroad, Papa Bouba Diop passes, and more.

MLS: New England Revolution at Orlando City SC Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

While it might be a melancholy Monday morning, Mane Landers, hold your heads high. This was a season to remember, and one that no one here at The Mane Land predicted. From a COVID-19 delay, to the MLS is Back Tournament run, to making the playoffs for the first time in the club’s MLS history, there were so many moments we’ll remember as the start of something better. That is what I want for all of us. Know that there is every chance that it gets better next season, and in the seasons to follow. For now, let’s get to the links.

Orlando City’s Playoff Run Ends

Orlando City ran out of luck at home against the New England Revolution. The loss of key players, going down a man for the second straight match, and Nani not converting the potential game-tying penalty doomed the Lions on Sunday. The 3-1 score doesn’t accurately represent how tightly contested this match was, nor how much the Lions controlled much of the match. Then there were the moments they didn’t, and it was in those moments the match was lost.

Christopher Adams has your five takeaways later today, followed by Sean Rollins with your player grades and Man of the Match.

Nashville’s Season Stops in Columbus

In the other Eastern Conference semifinal, the Columbus Crew hosted Nashville SC. It took until extra time, but the Crew finally put an end to Nashville’s inaugural season thanks to a goal from Pedro Santos in the 99th minute and another from Gyasi Zardes in the 103rd. Nashville was its usual stubborn self for most of the match, but wasn’t able to hold off the more experienced Crew in the end. Columbus will now host the Revolution in the Eastern Conference final on Dec. 6.

Americans Abroad

One of the good things about 2020 is that there have been many more Americans playing abroad at the highest levels. John Brooks both scored and had an own goal in Wolfsburg’s 5-3 win over Werder Bremen while Tyler Adams had a strong performance in RB Leipzig’s 2-1 win over Arminia Bielefeld. As for other Americans in Europe, Christian Pulisic returned for Chelsea in a scoreless draw with Tottenham Hotspur, Giovanni Reyna came off the bench and got an assist for Borussia Dortmund, and Duane Holmes scored his first goal for Derby County.

The Champions League Continues This Week

The UEFA Champions League continues tomorrow with a slate of eight matches, including Liverpool vs. Ajax, Atlético Madrid vs. Bayern Munich, and FC Porto vs. Manchester City. Liverpool simply needs a draw or better to advance, and Atlético will try to give Bayern its first taste of defeat in 16 Champions League matches. One other interesting storyline is that Eden Hazard was ruled out for Real Madrid’s match against Shakhtar Donetsk due to injury.

Papa Bouba Diop Passes

2020 continues to take its toll on the soccer world as Papa Bouba Diop passed at the age of 42 following a long illness. The Senegal midfielder scored the first goal of the 2002 World Cup against France, and won the FA Cup with Portsmouth FC in 2007. Diop played in Switzerland, France, Greece and for numerous clubs in the English Premier League. Liverpool’s Sadio Mané was among the many to express grief and praise for the fellow Senegalese footballer.

Free Kicks
  • Fans will be allowed with masks and in socially-distanced seats for the United States Men’s National Team game against El Salvador in Fort Lauderdale. The match is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET on Dec. 9 and will be broadcast on ESPN, UniMás and TUDN.
  • In a strange turn, Diego Maradona’s doctor is under investigation for “culpable homicide” after witnesses claimed they saw Maradona and his doctor have a confrontation that included a shove.
  • Like so many others, Lionel Messi honored Maradona after scoring Barcelona’s fourth goal against Osasuna. Messi took off his kit to show a Newell’s Old Boys shirt with the number 10 on it. Maradona played for a brief spell with Messi’s boyhood club.
  • Elsewhere, Boca Juniors gave Dalma Maradona — Diego’s daughter — a standing ovation following their opening goal.
  • Finally, on a sad note for the Orlando sporting community, Orlando Magic co-founder Jimmy Hewitt passed away on Sunday. Hewitt had been suffering from dementia and had recently contracted COVID-19. He will be missed.

That will do it for the last Lion Links of Orlando City’s 2020 season, and also for November. While it’s a shame it had to end, we can take a few bits of wisdom from Ted Lasso. Be a goldfish.