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Lion Links: 1/3/21

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Key soccer dates for 2021, the issues with the upcoming NWSL Draft, a dubious record streak for Schalke, and more.

New York City FC v Orlando City SC: Round One - MLS Cup Playoffs Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Happy Sunday, everyone. A couple of days ago I told you how exhausting 2020 was and how we are a bit shorthanded in terms of both numbers and the commitment the staff writers we have can make for the site. As such, one of the first changes that might be coming soon is the elimination of Sunday Lion Links and possibly both weekend days. I’d like to keep them, so I’m not making a definitive decision on that yet, but if you don’t see this column on future Sunday mornings, you’ll know why.

So let’s get to the news of the day.

Key Soccer Dates for 2021

If you’re like me, you try to stay organized and plan things out. So it’s always good to know when things are going to happen well in advance, such as this helpful list of key soccer dates for the calendar year. Included within are:

  • NWSL Draft (Jan. 13)
  • MLS SuperDraft (Jan. 21)
  • FIFA Club World Cup (Feb. 1-11)
  • SheBelieves Cup (Feb. 8-25)
  • UEFA Champions League Final (May 20)
  • Concacaf Gold Cup (July 2 - Aug. 1)
  • Olympic soccer tournament (July 23 - Aug. 8)

A lot of these are still TBA, but it’s a good guide. I hope you find it as helpful as I did.

COVID-19’s Effect on the Upcoming NWSL Draft

The National Women’s Soccer League’s annual draft will be a strange one, as the pandemic has thrown a lot of uncertainty into the proceedings. The NCAA has allowed players to retain college eligibility while declaring for the draft but they have until a week after the draft to tell the teams drafting them whether or not they’ll forego that eligibility.

“I haven’t dealt with this before,” Red Stars coach Rory Dames said. “I think the fact that college players don’t have to let us know [if they’ll immediately forgo their college eligibility] until a week after the draft is a little bit backward, if I’m being honest. I’m not sure how much value the draft has this year because of that.”

Drafted players must decide by Jan. 22 if they’ll report to their team immediately or at the end of their spring college season (assuming it’s held). Dames said he thinks this could lead to players who dislike where they’ve been drafted choosing to re-enter the draft next year.

It will be an interesting winter and spring for the NWSL and for the Orlando Pride.

Soccer Putting Revenue Ahead of Safety

Speaking of the pandemic, Yahoo! Sports soccer writer Leander Schaerlaeckens says that soccer leagues (along with other sports leagues) are putting money ahead of more important issues.

The English Premier League, and every other major league for that matter, is taking the money. And it is doing so at the expense of its own competition.

...

But in spite of these issues and indiscretions, the Premier League is determined to forge ahead, even as calls grow to interrupt the season while the United Kingdom deals with the worst of its second outbreak, with much of the country on strict lockdown. West Brom manager Sam Allardyce said publicly that he would back such a break. “I am 66 years old and the last thing I want to do is catch COVID,” he told Sky Sports. “I’m very concerned for myself and football in general.”

Still the league presses on. Just like all the other leagues.

While he’s not wrong, there are complications on how much revenue clubs and leagues can lose and survive, which of course affects the livelihoods of a lot of people who don’t make as much as the players and managers do. As usual, sports is a microcosm of society, and many of us have been dealing with these types of issues in our jobs and lives. We want to be safe and alive. We need money to secure food, shelter, and clothing. Sometimes those two conditions are at odds and there’s no easy choice.

Schalke Threatens Bundesliga Streak

It’s been 30 league games without a win for Schalke 04 and that’s just one shy of the Bundesliga record. You wouldn’t think a club would want such a mark, but fans of the current record holders, Tasmania Berlin, would like to see Schalke win to preserve the record.

Placards reading “That is our record! Ra-Ra-Ra Tasmania (The Original)” and “Save the record for Tas!” were laid out in front of Berlin’s Olympic Stadium before Schalke’s 3-0 defeat to Hertha Berlin on Saturday.

Schalke is on its fourth head coach of the season already. Meanwhile, Tasmania Berlin finds itself in the fifth division of German soccer.

Free Kicks
  • Sarah Rendell of NewsChain called Alex Morgan one of the top eight signings of the WSL season, even though the Orlando Pride star didn’t see a lot of game action with Spurs.
  • As has long been reported, PSG finally made it official and hired Mauricio Pochettino as head coach.
  • We probably drop too much Christian Pulisic info in these columns, but this one is a fun piece of fluff, where the USMNT and Chelsea star talks about things like his favorite Pennsylvanian gas station, his love for country music, and why he got rid of his beard.
  • Atletico Madrid defender Kieran Trippier’s 10-week suspension for a betting violation has been put on hold by FIFA.
  • Angel City FC updated fans on the club’s plans for 2021.
  • Those born on this date include Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien (1892), “fifth Beatle” George Martin (1926), Robert Loggia (1930), hockey’s Bobby Hull (1939), Stephen Stills (1945), Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones (1946), Victoria Principal (1950), basketball’s Cheryl Miller (1964), Formula One racing legend Michael Schumacher (1969), television producer Dan Harmon (1973), football’s Eli Manning (1981), and Greta Thunberg (2003).

That’s all my time for this morning. Enjoy what’s left of your weekend and/or holiday break.