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Lion Links: 11/6/20

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Mauricio Pereyra makes MLS Team of the Week, Orlando City will appeal Nani’s red card, Orlando Pride announce protected players, and more.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I’m still riding high after Orlando City’s huge win to secure a playoff game in Exploria Stadium. There’s plenty of soccer to look forward to this weekend as Major League Soccer closes out its regular season. But for now, let’s hop into today’s links from around the soccer world.

Lions Make MLS Team of the Week

Mauricio Pereyra’s performance in Orlando’s 2-1 win over the Columbus Crew landed him a starting spot in the MLS Team of the Week. The Uruguayan midfielder assisted on both of Orlando’s goals and is healthy at just the right time as the Lions eye a deep postseason run. Chris Mueller also found himself on the Team of the Week bench. He scored his 10th goal of the season to give Orlando a lead and influenced Orlando’s early dominance in the first half.

Benji Michel was the other Lion to find the back of the net. Although he didn’t earn a spot on the Team of the Week, he was nominated for Goal of the Week after his effort to beat defenders and put Orlando ahead while a man down.

Orlando City Will Appeal Nani’s Red Card

Not only did the referee’s decision to give Nani a red card drastically change the match, but it means he won’t be able to play in Orlando’s match against Nashville SC this Sunday. OCSC will appeal the decision and it will be reviewed by a panel to determine if the send-off punishment will be rescinded so Nani can play on Decision Day. The Lions will also be without Pereyra, who picked up a yellow card in the match and will miss the game due to accumulation.

As far as what’s at stake this Sunday, Orlando can’t finish any higher than its current third-place ranking and secures that standing if the club wins or draws. If the playoffs started now, Orlando would play the sixth-place New England Revolution in Exploria Stadium. But there are still scenarios where Orlando finishes fourth and could face the Crew again or New York City FC.

The Orlando Pride’s Protected Players

With the 2020 National Women’s Soccer League Expansion Draft right around the corner, the Pride announced the 11 players who will be protected from selection. Marta, Claire Emslie, and Sydney Leroux were predicted selections, but the Pride could only protect two of their USWNT-allocated players. Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner went with Alex Morgan and Emily Sonnett, leaving the married Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger unprotected. It’s a strategic move by Skinner as Racing Louisville FC can’t select both of them and is unlikely to split them apart.

“I look at Ash and Ali and, for me, they’re the most important people for the Orlando Pride,” Skinner said. “I love them to bits and they’re my captains for a reason. But if you look at where they’re at in their lives and where they’re at in their careers and what they still want to achieve and so on, then, you know, I’d hope that Louisville would look at that and go, ‘It’s not really a viable option for us to take those players.’”

It sounds as though Skinner will work with Louisville to ensure that Krieger and Harris will stay in the City Beautiful.

Skinner said he spoke with Louisville coach Christy Holly ahead of the submission deadline for protected lists in the hopes of understanding his process and potential needs in the draft. He also said he’ll create an “attractive offer” to further prevent Louisville from taking either Harris or Krieger away from Orlando.

The other unprotected players Louisville could snag from the Pride are Alanna Kennedy, Emily van Egmond, Shelina Zadorsky, Camila, Carson Pickett, Toni Pressley, Kristen Edmonds, Konya Plummer, Erin McLeod, Chelsee Washington, and Brittany Wilson. The expansion draft will take place on Nov. 12 at 7 p.m.

Josh Sargent Will Miss Out on USMNT Fun

Bundesliga club Werder Bremen declined releasing Sargent for a pair of United States Men’s National Team friendlies this month, citing quarantine restrictions in Germany. As a result, USMNT Head Coach Gregg Berhalter called up LA Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget to replace the forward. Lletget will be the only MLS player on the 24-man roster, able to join now that the Galaxy are eliminated from playoff contention. He now becomes part of a USMNT packed with young talent. Sargent’s absence opens the door for inexperienced forwards and it will be interesting to see how it all comes together under Berhalter this month.

Free Kicks
  • Here’s an interesting stat for you to check out. I’m not sure what it is about the 84th minute that makes players want to score. Last weekend, four Eastern Conference teams all scored in the 84th minute and also won.
  • This should make you feel a bit better about Daryl Dike after he missed Wednesday’s game due to illness.
  • In the Extra Time podcast, there was some discussion about this year’s Best XI and both Mueller and Pereyra got a few mentions. But so did center back Antonio Carlos, who has quietly excelled in his first year as a Lion.
  • MLSsoccer.com’s Steve Zakuani had high praise for Pareja after Orlando’s win. There has certainly been a transformation in Orlando with Pareja at the helm and he is a frontrunner for MLS Coach of the Year.
  • UEFA reached out to FIFA President Gianni Infantino to request an adjustment in how handballs are handled. I’m not proud of that pun. But I am interested to see if anything comes of this, particularly after some questionable referee decisions regarding handballs in Orlando’s win.

That’s going to do it for me today. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and stay safe out there. Go Lions!