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Lion Links: 12/31/20

Orlando City makes list of wackiness, Americans who should play abroad, USMNT 2020 by the numbers and more.

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Orlando City SC Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Thursday, Lionesses and Lions. As always, I hope you overcame your hump day with ease. This will be the last set of Lion Links for the year of 2020 so happy new year to all of you out there and good riddance to this historical year. As usual, there has been a fair amount of happenings occurring within the soccer-sphere so let’s get right into the links.

Orlando City Listed in 25 Wildest and Wackiest Moments

The 2020 calendar year as a whole was a bizarre one on all fronts and Orlando City was involved in some of the strangeness in MLS this year. Ben Sweat punching the ball into net for Inter Miami off of a free kick was pretty peculiar, however, “the shootout” certainly takes the title of wackiest moment of the year in my eyes. The way J. Sam Jones explains the disastrously officiated shootout is utterly perfect.

I’m pretty sure you already know which one I’m talking about. We only get a finite number of words in our lives. No reason to waste them on something that will be watched for years.

Dike, Mueller Make List of Yanks Who Should Play Abroad

After incredible seasons for Daryl Dike and Chris Mueller, Parker Cleveland of Stars and Stripes FC says the aforementioned pair should consider a move abroad. From the list of eight, Dike and Mueller were the third and fourth mentioned and there is reportedly already some interest in the latter from across the pond.

A player that got a lot of hype, and for good reason, in 2020 was Orlando City striker Daryl Dike. The MLS rookie scored eight goals, notched four assists, and drove the team to its first ever playoff appearance. Dike is a powerful center forward with terrific finishing. For now, it’s been reported that Club Brugge are in the hunt for the player, but so far there hasn’t been more than an initial rumor of their interest.

It should be noted that Club Brugge is not actually “in the hunt” for Dike as Cleveland said in his story. The linked story says that Brugge is keeping an eye on Dike and would like a more experienced option at striker because there are already two young strikers on the roster.

As for Mueller, no interest has been reported yet, but The Mane Land’s Christopher Adams recently spoke about the questions being raised over the future of Cash. The odds of the 24-year-old moving to a European giant are quite low given his age, however the possibility is still there.

Best case scenario for Mueller in Europe is probably the low mid table teams in the bigger leagues — places like Hertha Berlin in Germany or Fulham in England — or perhaps a team in the countries mentioned above. Opportunities will likely present themselves, but the odds of Mueller playing top European soccer, especially straight from MLS, are very low.

Of course, we will see what happens but let’s enjoy the ever-talented pair while they still play in the City Beautiful.

USMNT’s 2020 Impressive by the Numbers

Though 2020 was a year that saw soccer stop for a while, the USMNT still had an impressive year by the numbers. The Americans made a mark in Europe this year with 21 players having made appearances in the top flights of Belgium, England, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain. Many of those players also saw action in the most prestigious competition in Europe as well.

A record 26 combined appearances were made by U.S. players in the group stage of the 2020-21 UEFA Champions League, already the most games by U.S. players in any edition of the prestigious club competition. The previous best was 22 set in 2004-05.

Furthermore, a diverse group was capped this year with 42 players earning caps in just four different fixtures, 21 of those were debutantes. Only one year saw more players debut — in 2007, 22 players were given debuts because of the Concacaf Gold Cup and Copa America being played back-to-back.

Hopefully, the world has a more boring 2021 and the USMNT has an equally productive one.

Frank Lampard Praises Bright Spot Christian Pulisic

Frank Lampard praised Christian Pulisic for his performance against Aston Villa. Though Chelsea have been struggling in recent weeks with just one win in its previous five match-ups, the American still looks sharp as ever.

“Christian was really bright all game. That’s great for him, fitness-wise, to play two games in such a short space of time,” Lampard said. “He created plenty of chances, he had an opportunity himself when he hit the side-netting and it looked like it was in but overall, he was really bright.”

Free Kicks

Nani wished everyone a happy new year with this awesome compilation after such an unprecedented 2020 via Twitter. Happy new year, capitão, and best wishes to you and yours.


That’ll do, pig. That is all for this Thursday’s set of links. Until next time, I’ll catch you on the flip side...next year!