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Lion Links: 12/22/20

Alex Morgan returning stateside, MLS transfer happenings, Kyle Beckerman retires, Concacaf issues sanctions for CCL actions, and more.

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Tuesday, everyone. I’ll keep this quick as I haven’t wrapped a single Christmas present yet, but I hope you guys are doing well today. There’s plenty of news to discuss so let’s get right to it.

Alex Morgan Returning to U.S.

Tottenham Hotspur announced that Alex Morgan will be returning to the United States after the end of the first half of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League season. Morgan joined Spurs in September and has made five appearances since then, scoring a pair of goals in the WSL. This is excellent news for the Orlando Pride, who will be getting back one of their best players as the team looks to right the ship after a rough 2019 and almost non-existent 2020. It also wasn’t a foregone conclusion that she would be returning, as there’s a very real fear that higher profile USWNT stars may stay in Europe due to some uncertainty about an NWSL season in 2021.

MLS Transfer Happenings

The MLS transfer wheel stops for no one, and there are a couple notable pieces of news to cover from the league. First, the New England Revolution signed Christian Mafla from Atletico Nacional (Andres Perea’s former club). The 27-year-old Colombian defender has spent 10 years a professional in South America and made 78 appearances with Atletico Nacional after he joined the club in 2017.

Elsewhere, the Vancouver Whitecaps acquired a 2021 international roster slot from Nashville SC in exchange for $175,000 in 2021 General Allocation Money. At present the Whitecaps have 10 international slots and have eight international players.

Concacaf Issues Sanctions for Champions League Shenanigans

Saturday night’s chippy Concacaf Champions League semifinal between LAFC and Club América led to a red card to Eduard Atuesta of the MLS side and the ejection of Miguel Herrera from the Liga MX side. It all started with the referee ignoring a potential penalty for LAFC for a foul on Atuesta and then América goalkeeper Memo Ochoa baiting the ref into sending Atuesta off by simulating contact from a headbutt near the end of the first half. Herrera got into it with LAFC Assistant Coach Ante Razov and hands were raised in anger. Concacaf released a statement Monday stating that Herrera and Razov have been issued four-game suspensions for unsporting conduct, with Herrera getting an extra game for continuing to communicate with his team via walkie-talkie after his ejection.

Concacaf also stated that it will be implementing VAR starting in 2021 and that the pandemic interrupted opportunities to trial the technology and train officials. Finally, the confederation said there is no path forward to appeal Atuesta’s red card.

The regulations of the SCCL clearly state that referee decisions on the field are final. This is in line with FIFA regulations for their competitions and has been in place throughout the tournament.

From an integrity perspective, the Confederation cannot change the rules at this late stage of the competition. For this reason, it is not possible to overturn red cards awarded in the 2020 SCCL.

To make matters worse for Herrera, he was sacked by Club América on Monday.

Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman Retires

Kyle Beckerman has announced his retirement from professional soccer. The longtime Real Salt Lake and United States Men’s National Team player will hang up his cleats after 21 seasons as a professional. He retires as the all-time leader in MLS regular-season games played, games started, and minutes played among outfield players. He won the MLS Cup in 2009, and scored 41 regular-season goals during his time in the league. Beckerman made the bulk of his appearances with Real Salt Lake after spending five years with the Colorado Rapids. He also made 58 appearances for the USMNT from 2007 to 2016, and was part of the 2014 World Cup squad. Beckerman was recently named one of MLS’ 25 greatest players and the league truly won’t be the same without him.

Premier League Rumor Mill

The Barclays Premier League has its fair share of transfer rumors, with one of the league’s biggest stars rumored to be on the move. There are rumblings that Mohamed Salah may be on the move away from Liverpool after hinting in an interview that Real Madrid or Barcelona could be destinations for him in the future. Its also thought that Liverpool may look to cash in on the Egyptian striker while he’s in his prime, as he would certainly fetch a high price if he were to be sold soon.

Additionally, Manchester United is rumored to be after Brighton and Hove Albion’s Yves Bissouma, although Liverpool and Arsenal apparently also want the 24-year-old. With Paul Pogba seemingly on his way out of Manchester, the Red Devils may be looking for a replacement box-to-box midfielder and the Malian is seemingly at the top of their list. They could face strong competition from Liverpool though, since Georgino Wijnaldum looks likely to leave on a free transfer in the summer.

Free Kicks
  • Naomi Girma was named U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year. Girma captained the U-20 team and attended her first full U.S. Women’s National Team camp. Look for her to make some waves for the USWNT in the near future.
  • Cobi Jones will be running for U.S. Soccer vice president.
  • Don’t cross Adrian Heath in head tennis.

That’ll be all for me today. Y’all stay safe out there.