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Lion Links: 5/26/20

NWSL small group training restarts, Pride hold first small group session, MLS mad about info leak, and more.

SOCCER: OCT 12 NWSL - Reign FC at Orlando Pride Photo by Joe Petro/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Happy Tuesday, everyone. I hope everyone’s staying sane and keeping busy. Personally I find that a lot easier with the Bundesliga to look forward to every weekend, and with any luck Major League Soccer and the National Women’s Soccer League will be back before too much longer. There’s lots to discuss today so let’s jump right in.

NWSL Allows Small Group Training; Orlando Pride Train in Groups

Yesterday the NWSL allowed all teams to begin small group training, as long as teams were complying with state and local protocols when doing so. That’s not all though, and beginning Saturday, May 30, teams are allowed to begin full team training — provided that five days of small group training have been completed and training as a full team doesn’t violate state or local guidelines. Full team training is part of Phase 3 of the league’s “Return to Play Phased Protocol.” With one day of small sided training in the books and team training on the horizon, a return to competition continues to get closer for the NWSL, although an exact restart date has yet to be determined.

With teams cleared to begin doing so, the Orlando Pride hosted the team’s first small group training session yesterday. It was the first time players have been allowed to work together at the team’s training facility since March 13 and the players were happy to be back.

“It’s so nice being back,” Pride defender Erin Greening said. “I haven’t been back here for weeks, so it’s just nice being back with the team and obviously getting on the pitch.”

The additional challenge for the Pride is bringing back players who haven’t been staying in Orlando during the recent quarantine measures. That isn’t so hard for Emily Sonnett, who has been staying with family in Atlanta, but for Emily van Egmond, Alanna Kennedy, and Claire Emslie that will be a bit harder as they’re all out of the country.

Pedro Santos Tabs Nani in his Five-a-Side Squad

Obviously, Orlando City fans are impressed with captain Nani’s skills on a soccer field, but so are his peers. Pedro Santos picked Nani in his five-a-side team , becoming the second Columbus Crew player to do so. Artur selected the Portuguese star in his five-a-side team a few weeks back.

“He is very strong in one-on-ones, he plays well with both feet and you can never predict what he is going to do. That’s why he is a great player.”

MLS Hires Firm to Investigate Leaks to The Athletic

Don Garber sent a league-wide memo yesterday warning against leaking information to The Athletic, only for the memo to almost immediately be leaked to The Athletic.

Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber sent a memo to all league and club personnel Friday threatening employees with disciplinary action, including termination of employment and fines up to $1 million, for leaking information.

The Athletic has been crushing its reporting of Major League Soccer’s potential return — reportedly beginning with a tournament to be held here in Orlando. Evidently that news getting out early is not sitting well with some folks around the league.

Premier League Closer to Restart

The Premier League continues to move closer to restarting the season. There is a meeting set for Wednesday when new rules for returning to contact training will be voted on by clubs. Players and managers are currently able to review the new protocols before the vote occurs tomorrow. On Thursday, issues involving broadcasting and TV scheduling are reportedly likely to be resolved, further clearing the way for the restart of the English top flight. Several details involving quarantining anyone who tests positive still need to be ironed out, but provided Wednesday’s vote on training goes well, another obstacle will have been cleared.

English Women’s Season Over

Unfortunately, there is no such good news for the women’s game in England. It has been announced that the top two tiers of English women’s soccer have been declared over by the Football Association. One of the hurdles to completing the season was the cost of providing the necessary testing kits to test all the personnel necessary to play the remaining games. No decision has been made yet on deciding the league’s final standings. While Manchester City stood at the top of the table in the Super League when the season was called to a halt, Chelsea would actually be crowned champions if the league chose to use a points-per-game solution that several European men’s leagues have instituted. Chelsea also played one fewer match.

Free Kicks

That’ll do it for me today, y’all stay safe out there.