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Lion Links: 11/20/21

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Orlando City dissed in playoff rankings, why Sydney Leroux chose the USWNT, USMNT climbs in FIFA world rankings, and more.

Racing Louisville FC v Orlando Pride Photo by Jeremy Reper/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Hello there, Mane Landers. The weekend is here and you know what that means — it’s time to kick back, relax, and enjoy some club soccer as it returns from the international break. There will be action throughout out the day, but first let’s get right into the soccer news of the day.

USA Today Not Sold on Orlando City

USA Today has come out with its rankings of the teams in the 2021 MLS playoffs, and it seems the folks there don’t fancy our Lions’ chances.

This team has been an enigma all season. Orlando needed a win at Montreal on Decision Day to squeak into the postseason field. Now, Orlando will need big performances by players such as Nani and Daryl Dike to make any sort of playoff run. (Playoffs Round 1: at Nashville SC, Tuesday)

Orlando City being pegged as an “enigma” might be a stretch to those of us that follow this club closely and know that it has been affected quite clearly by obstacles such as injuries, suspensions, a loan spell by a main part of the offense in Daryl Dike, and various international duties. Although this is true for almost all teams in MLS, to call Orlando City’s situation an enigma is a bit much. One thing they do seem to get right is that Orlando City is going to need big performances by players like Nani and Dike. It is true that your top players need to shine on the biggest stages, and with most Orlando City’s players getting some much-needed rest during this international break, our boys in purple will be looking to do just that.

Sydney Leroux’s Mother Explains Why She Chose USWNT

In a telling interview with Sydney Leroux’s mother, Sandi, she looks back on what their family had to go through dealing with the widespread abuse and toxic environment within the Canadian U-20 women’s team from as early as 2004. Most of the struggles stem from then-head coach Bob Birarda, who was released from the role of both the Vancouver Whitecaps and Canada U-20 women’s teams. Sandi Leroux recalls Birarda’s shouting and aggressive behavior, along with a chilling experience of a training trip in Texas with the Canada U-20 team from Sydney herself. This is an intense account of what the family had to withstand that eventually led to the path of joining the United States Women’s National Team. This story of bravery to take a chance in a new country is a real eye-opener to what was really going on during that time in their lives.

USMNT Gets a Boost in Latest FIFA Rankings

Following the USMNT performances in World Cup qualifying in matches against Mexico and Jamaica, FIFA has released its latest rankings, and it seems the Red, White & Blue has earned itself a lift in the rankings. Although it may not be as large of a rise as you might think, it does make the USMNT the highest-ranked side in Concacaf after a slide from rival Mexico. This is a step in the right direction for Gregg Berhalter’s squad and a stark contrast to where the USMNT once was in the 2018 qualifying stage. As long as the Yanks can keep up this run of form and brush up in a few areas, the USMNT should have few issues qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

MLS Releases Off-season Calendar

Just as the MLS playoffs are about to begin today, MLS has announced its off-season calendar for player movement. If you thought you would get a break after the MLS Cup final on Dec. 11, the league will be right back to it with the MLS Expansion Draft just three days later on Dec. 14 for Charlotte FC. Then, the opening of free agency is right after on the 15th. There is a lot to look forward to in terms of players moving to new clubs and questions to be answered as to who will be staying and who will be going. We will see what Orlando City decides to do with its own players as the Lions will have to come up with a protected players list for the expansion draft and if they choose to add any players that are looking for a new club in free agency. It will be an exciting time as our team will look to strengthen the squad during this window.

Free Kicks

That will be all from me today, Mane Landers. I hope everyone has a great Saturday and weekend of sports viewing.