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Lion Links: 1/2/21

Orlando City’s wish list for 2021, USMNT predictions, the Major Arena Soccer League begins, and more.

SOCCER: OCT 28 MLS - Atlanta United FC at Orlando City SC Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope your new year is off to a good start. I’ve had a very busy weekend at work, but I can finally look forward to a fresh start in 2021. I know it’s early but how are your New Year’s resolutions going? I’m mainly going to focus on dieting and exercising this year and will keep you posted on my progress. Now, let’s get to today’s links.

MLS Teams Receive New Year’s Wish Lists

J. Sam Jones of MLSsoccer.com created a wish list for each MLS clubs as we hopefully approach the 2021 season in a few months. For Orlando City, the Lions should keep all the good habits learned from their best season in club history and get rid of bad habits that cost them dearly down the stretch and in the playoffs. Chris Mueller’s discipline was great last year and I hope he can continue his stellar form for the upcoming season. If Orlando can just take care of the small things then it just might win the MLS Cup this year. Still, 2020 gave Orlando fans plenty to get excited about, so here is a nice recap to relive the best moments of a great season.

As for the other clubs, the Portland Timbers always seem to outrun father time. Even though Diego Chara, Diego Valeri, and Sebastian Blanco are all past 30, the team still has it in the tank to make a run out west. The other wish list that caught my eye is the situation with the Philadelphia Union. With Brenden Aaronson gone, Mark McKenzie likely leaving, and Kai Wagner possibly on the move, the Union will need reinforcements for 2021. The Union do have some young talent such as Jakob Glesnes, Jack Elliott, and Anthony Fontana, so don’t expect them to slip in the standings too much.

2021 USMNT Predictions

Now that 2021 is finally here, we’ll have a lot of international competitions to watch this year thanks to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, Euro 2021, and the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup. For the United States Men’s National Team, it will be a busy year with the Gold Cup and World Cup qualifiers on the horizon. Stars and Stripes FC made some bold predictions about the year ahead, including Weston McKennie, Christian Pulisic, and Tyler Adams appearing together for World Cup qualifying. Injuries have keep them apart for the past three years, but let’s hope these players are healthy by the time September rolls around.

Also predicted was that the men’s U-23 team will qualify for the Olympics, the USMNT will finish first in Concacaf World Cup qualifying, and that the USMNT will win the Nations League but lose the Gold Cup. What are your bold predictions for the USMNT in 2021? Let me know in the comments below.

Pandemic Still Affecting the English Premier League

Five Manchester City players continue to isolate and won’t be available for the match tomorrow against Chelsea. City already had its previous match against Everton postponed due to the outbreak. The club has so far only identified forward Gabriel Jesus and defender Kyle Walker as players that have contracted the coronavirus. For Chelsea, it’s only had a few positive cases among the club staff, but no players were infected. Fulham FC’s match against Burnley tomorrow could also be in doubt due to an outbreak within Fulham. The club’s midweek match against Tottenham Hotspur was postponed just hours before kickoff after a number of positive tests.

MASL 2021 Season Begins

The Major Arena Soccer League will kick off its 2021 season today. Even though the Orlando SeaWolves are inactive this season, we’ll still have some notable former SeaWolves players to keep our eyes on and the Florida Tropics to watch. The first game this weekend will feature the Tropics hosting the St. Louis Ambush. Defender Joshio Sandoval was traded to the Tropics last season from Orlando and looks to build on the team’s dominant run as Eastern Conference champions last season. Former Orlando defender Richard Schmermund signed as a free agent with the Ambush during the off-season after he was traded to the Baltimore Blast last season.

Speaking of the Blast, their schedule hasn’t been announced yet, but they acquired Victor France in a trade with Orlando last season and also signed former SeaWolves midfielder Jeff Michaud in free agency. Former SeaWolves captain Gordy Gurson signed with the San Diego Sockers in the off-season and they begin their season on Jan. 29 against the Kansas City Comets.

Free Kicks
  • Claire Emslie thanked the Orlando Pride in a farewell as she joins Everton.
  • English Football League Championship matches between Bristol City and Brentford as well as between Luton Town and Queens Park Rangers have been postponed due to coronavirus outbreaks.

That will do it for me, Mane Landers. Enjoy your weekend, stay safe, and I’ll see you next time.