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Lion Links: 12/11/20

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Orlando City’s incredible year, Crew without two key contributors for MLS Cup, new Concacaf women’s competitions, and more.

SOCCER: SEP 05 MLS Atlanta United FC at Orlando City SC Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I can’t believe Christmas is only two weeks away and also can’t believe my shopping for it is already over and done with. It’s a nice feeling, but I kind of feel like Will Ferrell in Talladega Nights and am a bit unsure what to do with my hands at this point. For now though, I’ve got your links from around the soccer world to enjoy.

Orlando City’s Year to Remember

Head Coach Oscar Pareja led the Lions to the postseason for the first time in a memorable year. Success in the MLS is Back Tournament was parlayed to a trip to the MLS playoffs and two home games in the postseason. In a year that no one could have predicted given the pandemic’s effect on sports, the Lions thrived and return a strong group of players that make them contenders moving forward. Pareja said the team is now in a position of being recognized around the league for the right reasons.

“I’m very proud of this group, I’m very proud of the players in the good and the bad, but today people have seen us and people recognize this group. The people know that they are competitors, good competitors and we’re proud of that. We’re proud about the Orlando fans as well because we have a big objective just to bring trophies here and we will continue on looking for those things.”

The Columbus Crew Lose Stars Ahead of MLS Cup

Another Columbus Crew player tested positive for COVID-19 and the side will now be without starters Darlington Nagbe and Pedro Santos for the MLS Cup tomorrow. It’s devastating news for the Crew ahead of one of its biggest games in some time as Nagbe was one of the Crew’s best acquisitions after a trade with Atlanta. As for tomorrow’s game, former Sounders player Steve Zakuani wrote a great feature that breaks down the mentalities of both Brian Schmetzer and Caleb Porter.

Concacaf Launches New Competitive Calendar

The United States Women’s National Team and other senior women’s teams in Concacaf will have more matches to get excited about in the coming years after the federation announced new competitions for women’s soccer starting with a new calendar structure in 2021. Not only will the teams have more matches to play in the next few years, but there will also be major tournaments in the summers of 2022 and 2024 to showcase some of the best women’s teams in the world.

Orlando City Signs New FIFA Gamer

The club signed Douglas Bendeck, also known as Maloney45 on PlayStation, as its new eMLS representative. Ranked 65th in the PlayStation World Rankings, Bendeck has performed on the global stage and will hopefully be a force in this year’s eMLS competition.

“I’m excited to join my hometown club,” Bendeck said. “I’ve always dreamt of playing as a professional footballer, but after three knee surgeries that’s not possible. Now I’m part of the biggest football Club in Florida and that’s God’s plan. I want to win eMLS cup and bring the trophy home!”

Bendeck will replace Abe Valbuena, who will stay with the club as a content creator. Valbuena thanked the club for the last three years and is excited for Bendeck’s future with Orlando.

Free Kicks
  • Orlando Pride star Marta was illustrated in Chibi form for a series of new NWSL stickers.
  • Former Orlando City GM Paul McDonough stepped down as Inter Miami’s sporting director, leaving the team without guidance before the off-season. McDonough also had a stint in Atlanta and it will be interesting to see where he heads next.
  • Through interviews with current and former players, MLS released a video showing how Latino players have impacted the league over the years.

That’s going to be it for today, Mane Landers. I hope you all enjoy your Friday and have a fantastic weekend.