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Lion Links: 1/4/21

Zack Steffen makes his EPL debut, Americans heading abroad, the Florida Tropics win, and much more.

SOCCER: JAN 27 USA v Panama Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers! It’s the first Monday of the new year and hopefully it won’t be too bad. Despite being four days in, today is actually the last day of the month/year for me in the car business, so hopefully it will be a busy one for me.

I don’t know if you, dear reader, are the New Year’s resolution type, but if so what are you planning for 2021? I’m looking at doing several things, including interacting with you more than in the past. So if I’m not answering your comments here on the site, please call me out on Twitter. Let’s get to the links!

Zack Steffen Makes His English Premier League Debut

Like many clubs, Manchester City is dealing with COVID-19 related issues. With six players unavailable, Pep Guardiola gave United States Men’s National Team goalkeeper Zack Steffen his first English Premier League start. Steffen had a bit of jitters, and picked up a back pass from Rodri resulting in a free kick for Chelsea, but nothing came of it. Fortunately for Steffen, goals from Ilkay Gundogan, Phil Foden, and Kevin De Bruyne gave City a 3-1 win despite a late goal from Callum Hudson-Odoi in the 92nd minute. Steffen made history in another respect, as well.

More Americans Move Abroad

Brenden Aaronson will officially make his move to Austrian Bundesliga leaders Red Bull Salzburg this month. The good news for Orlando City supporters is that Aaronson will no longer be helping the Philadelphia Union in MLS. Aaronson thinks that Salzburg will be a good fit.

“I can see myself being part of the philosophy of football here. Salzburg play fast, direct and attacking football. That’s what I like to do, and I think that this just fits my profile really well.”

Aaronson is fortunate to be playing for Jesse Marsch, an American coach who is also making waves abroad.

Elsewhere, FC Dallas Homegrown midfielder Tanner Tessmann will train with Bayern Munich as part of the two clubs’ Elite Player Development Partnership. This is a good opportunity for Tessmann and other clubs may come calling, depending on how he does.

Florida Tropics Win Twice in MASL Opening Weekend

The Florida Tropics started their Major Arena Soccer League season with two wins over the St. Louis Ambush. Saturday night, the Tropics won 4-1 to open the season and then won 7-5 over the Ambush on Sunday. After a quiet opener, Ian Bennett scored a hat trick in the second half of the Sunday game to lift the Tropics over the Ambush in Lakeland. Next, the Tropics will host the Kansas City Comets on Jan. 9.

COVID and Brexit Impacts English Football

As mentioned above, Zack Steffen got a start in part because Manchester City had six players out on positive COVID tests. Fulham’s match against Burnley was postponed due to positive tests. Unfortunately, there have been players at various clubs not taking the protocols seriously and putting themselves and their clubs in danger. Benjamin Mendy, Luka Milivojevic, and Aleksandar Mitrovic are some of the latest examples.

On top of that, English Premier League clubs are also dealing with Brexit ramifications. Sam Allardyce shared that West Bromwich Albion had to pull out of three transfers in January due to new work permit rules post Brexit. This won’t be the last we will hear about these types of difficulties.

New Year, Same Issues

I’ve had to write about racism in soccer far too many times during my tenure with The Mane Land. Unfortunately, 2021 hasn’t changed that despite clubs around the world trying to bring awareness to the issue. Saturday night, Junior Stanislas scored a match-winning goal in Bournemouth’s 1-0 win over Stoke. Later that night, he was subjected to racial slurs about his family on Twitter. The club is doing everything it can to identify the offender and to take the “strongest possible action” in regards to the incident. To be clear, this type of thing has no place in soccer, nor society in general.

Free Kicks
  • Former Lion Cam Lindley is following Chris Mueller’s cue and has gotten engaged to start off the new year. Congratulations, Cam!
  • Holy mackerel, what a golazo from Leon Flach. The American scored for St Pauli in Bundesliga 2.

I hate to end on a sad note, but I must out of respect. Gerry Marsden, lead singer of the 1960s British group Gerry and the Pacemakers has passed away at the age of 78. The band had many hits, but none so lasting as “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” which is the anthem of a few soccer clubs including, most notably, Liverpool. Rest in peace, Gerry.