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Lion Links: 9/8/20

Lions’ lessons, MLS power rankings, Skinner’s plan, Americans abroad, and more.

MLS: Orlando City SC at Nashville SC Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Top of the Tuesday morning to you, Mane Landers! Thanks to some rain and scheduling needs I get to bring you the Links two days in a row. Yesterday was Labor Day, and the unofficial start of Autumn. Of course, that means even less for us in the Sunshine State, so don’t go pulling your fleece out quite yet, or pulling down the Halloween decorations out of the attic. Just because they’ve put that stuff out at the stores does not mean you have to do it as well. We’re still wearing shorts for goodness sake!

I’m glad I got that off my chest. I know I feel better about the whole thing, and hopefully it helped you as well. Let’s get to the links.

Lessons from a Draw

They say you learn more from the losses than from the wins. How does that apply to a draw? João Moutinho is out with an injury, and his absence has been felt. The young defender was a focal point of not only Orlando City’s defense, but also the attack. Kamal Miller has not been a like-for-like replacement, and Óscar Pareja probably wants Moutinho back sooner than later. In the past, we’ve noted on The Mane Land PawedCast that the Lions have trouble finishing chances. That wasn’t the case in the pair of 3-1 wins, but it reared its head in the draw. The very fact that everyone is disappointed with the draw means Pareja’s culture change is proceeding nicely.

MLS Power Rankings

I’m not usually a huge proponent of power rankings, but they are much nicer to read when Orlando City is playing well and earning points. Orlando City moved up the rankings from fifth to fourth on the strength of Benji Michel’s goals. This is why I don’t give rankings much credit, but I’ll take fourth everyday until the Lions are in third. It’s no surprise that the Columbus Crew are topping the rankings with a five-point lead in the Eastern Conference. I urge you to check out the full list, but it is worth noting that Inter Miami CF is holding down the bottom spot.

Pride’s Youth Focus

It’s no secret that the Orlando Pride have shipped off and loaned out numerous players. At first, we weren’t even certain that the NWSL would be playing again this year, but the Fall Series is upon us, and believe it or not Marc Skinner has a plan. The loanees were sent to teams that play similar styles to what Skinner is trying to establish in Orlando, and his hope is the players come back stronger. For those who are staying, he has a mix of veterans like Marta and Ali Krieger, and is hoping to develop the youngsters in the national-team replacement-player pool. Of course, there’s still the challenge of competing against clubs that haven’t taken such a varied approach to the players. We will get to see how well the plan works out in that regard next Saturday at 1 p.m., when the Pride play the North Carolina Courage.

Americans Abroad

Recently, USMNT player Weston McKennie signed with Juventus, becoming the first American to play for the Serie A club. Needless to say McKennie is excited to play with Cristiano Ronaldo, but he is also grateful that his new club is supporting his dedication to the Black Lives Matter movement. McKennie isn’t the only American abroad as the European leagues ramp up. There will be opportunities to watch Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna, and others.

Free Kicks
  • Atlanta United FC has officially transferred Gonzalo “Pity” Martínez to Al-Nassr FC of the Saudi Pro League. Good for Pity’s sake, I suppose? I will miss the word play.
  • Kylian Mbappe has tested positive for COVID-19. The Paris Saint-Germain and France striker will miss France’s Nations League match against Croatia.
  • Everton has signed Colombian James Rodriguez from Real Madrid on a two-year deal with an option for a third.
  • England’s Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood have been dropped from the Three Lions squad for breaching quarantine protocols at the team hotel in Iceland.
  • Several trophies have gone missing from the trophy cases of the Egypt national football team. The shocker is that the trophies might have been missing since 2013. An investigation is underway.
  • Rademel Falcao is still under contract with Galatasaray in Turkey but has publicly stated his desire to play at Inter Miami in the future. It must be nice to be wanted, and stuff like this used to bother me a little, but then I learned to trust in Pareja, Luiz Muzzi, and Ricardo Moreira.

That will do it for today. Stay cool. Fall is just around the corner.