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Lion Links: 12/4/20

Orlando City players in U.S. camp, Robinho bids Orlando farewell, Minnesota United advances, and more.

Orlando City SC v Atlanta United FC Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

How’s it going, Mane Landers? We’re only four weeks away from 2021, so hang in there. Luckily, it’s Friday and the weather should be pretty nice before temperatures drop again next week. But enough small talk about the weather, let’s dive right into today’s links from around the soccer world.

Orlando City Players Preparing in Fort Lauderdale

Orlando’s Chris Mueller, Daryl Dike, and Andres Perea are all with the United States Men’s National Team for its training camp ahead of its match with El Salvador on Dec. 9. Like many of the players USMNT Head Coach Gregg Berhalter called up, Dike and Mueller earned some praise and Dike featured in one of the photos from camp so far.

Perea, who was called up to replace FC Cincinnati’s Frankie Amaya, is also with the team to maintain a wealth of options for Berhalter’s squad of mostly MLS players.

Robinho Bids Farewell to Orlando City

After the club declined his option following the 2020 season, midfielder Robinho took to social media to thank the club for his time in Orlando. Brought in by Orlando during the summer of 2019 in a trade with the Columbus Crew, Robinho made 11 appearances as a Lion, including two starts this season when the team was plagued by injury. Although he won’t be with Orlando moving forward, he’ll forever be a Lion.

Minnesota United Advances in MLS Playoffs

Adrian Heath led Minnesota into the Western Conference final after a dominant 3-0 win over Sporting Kansas City. Former Lion Kevin Molino was on fire and scored twice in the first half while defender Bakaye Dibassy’s header from a set piece gave the Loons a lead that Kansas City couldn’t overcome. Emanuel Reynoso assisted on all three of Minnesota’s goals and the Loons will travel to take on the Seattle Sounders on Dec. 7 for a spot in the MLS Cup final.

MLS Clubs Make Their Moves

Like Orlando, MLS clubs eliminated from the playoffs are making decisions regarding their rosters. Inter Miami declined options on captain Luis Robles, Andres Reyes, Juan Agudelo, and former Lion Mikey Ambrose. On top of that, Federico Higuian, Wil Trapp, and former Lion Brek Shea are out of contract with Miami.

Out west, the Portland Timbers will trade Homegrown Player Marco Farfan to LAFC in exchange for allocation money once the trade window officially opens on Dec. 13. The move helps LAFC after a year full of defensive struggle and the Timbers already have their eyes set on fullback Claudio Bravo from Banfield in Argentina to replace Farfan.

In other news from around the league, the Chicago Fire are reportedly close to signing Bulgarian winger Stanislav Ivanov, Atlanta United signed 19-year-old forward Jackson Conway after strong USL Championship seasons, and former New York Red Bulls head coach Chris Armas is the frontrunner to fill the coaching vacancy at D.C. United.

European Soccer Tournaments Heat Up

AC Milan, Arsenal, Lille, Roma, Bayer Leverkusen, PSV Eindhoven, Antwerp, and Braga all enjoyed wins in the Europa League to secure a place in the knockout round. Tottenham Hotspur had a much more dramatic affair in its 3-3 draw against LASK in Austria, but it was enough for José Mourinho’s side to advance as well.

As for the Champions League, there is only one round of matches left in the group stage and the future is still uncertain for some of Europe’s biggest clubs. Here’s a handy guide to keep track of how each team still in contention can advance to the knockout stage, as well as a nice feature on if the group stage format needs an overhaul.

The semifinals were also set for the UEFA Nations League, with France set to take on Belgium and Italy facing off with Spain. The four-match event will take place next October in Italy.

Free Kicks
  • For the second time in his young career, 20-year-old left back Alphonso Davies was named Canadian Player of the Year, predictably beating out Tesho Akindele and former Lions Richie Laryea and Cyle Larin. He will share the honor of 2020 Canadian Player of the Year with the winner from the women’s team, who will be announced later today.
  • Former USL Lion Aodhan Quinn is headed to Arizona to play for Phoenix Rising FC.
  • At the USMNT camp, San Jose Earthquakes goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski will replace the injured David Ochoa. Fellow San Jose player Jackson Yueill will also take part in the camp, bringing the number of players on the roster to 23.
  • If you’re a fan of El Clasico you’ll love this squad of the best Champions League players in history. I don’t disagree with any of the choices, but the lack of AC Milan legends Clarence Seedorf and Paolo Maldini does hurt a bit. What do you think? Do Zinedine Zidane or Ronaldinho deserve a spot or is the attack fine as it is?

That’s it from me today, Mane Landers. I hope you all enjoy your Friday and have a fantastic weekend.