Hello, Mane Landers! Today’s Lion Links mark my first contribution to The Mane Land and I am excited to be here with all of you. In addition to Orlando City and the Pride, I root for our U.S. Soccer teams (at American Outlaws’ St. Pete chapter watch parties), Everton, and the Tampa Bay Rowdies. I spend way too much time on the FotMob app and soccer Twitter.
Daryl Dike Thanks Nani For His Development
Online tributes to Orlando City SC star Nani continue to break the Internet after the club’s Designated Player announced on Friday he would not return for the 2022 season and the club confirmed it did not exercise its 2022 contract option. Teammate Daryl Dike tweeted his praise.
I am so lucky to have been able to start my professional career playing alongside and learning from you. From day one, you have been a great leader, mentor, and friend. You are a big reason I’m the player I am today. Thank you for everything and good luck Luis pic.twitter.com/N8RX8iyaDy— Daryl Dike (@DarylDike) November 26, 2021
Young USWNT Hammers Matildas, 3-0
The U.S. Women’s National Team fielded its youngest starting lineup since April 2018 as it defeated 11th-ranked Australia 3-0 at Sydney’s Stadium Australia early Saturday. Ashley Hatch, the 2021 NWSL Golden Boot winner with the Washington Spirit, scored the USWNT’s third-fastest goal 24 seconds into the match. Rose Lavelle and Lindsey Horan added a goal apiece and Casey Murphy earned the Budweiser Woman of the Match as she became just the seventh goalkeeper to record a clean sheet in her USWNT debut. The U.S. ends its 2021 campaign on Tuesday. Diehards and insomniacs can catch it on ESPN at 4:05 a.m.
FIFA Announces World Cup Playoff Matchups
The USMNT now knows who it could face in a high-stakes, qualify-or-not match if it misses a top three spot and finishes fourth in Concacaf’s World Cup qualifying octagonal. Pencil in June 13 or 14 on your calendars for a potential match-up in Qatar against a squad from the Oceania region. Please finish in the top three, boys, so we can erase this from our calendars.
MLS Conference Semifinals Continue Today
Sporting Kansas City hosts Real Salt Lake in the second Western Conference semifinal at 3 p.m. (ABC) and Nashville visits Philadelphia at 5:30 p.m. (ESPN) for the first Eastern Conference semifinal. Enjoy the match previews from our SBNation friends at The Blue Testament (KC) and Brotherly Game (PHI). I will find it hard not to imagine what might have been if we were on the pitch in Philly instead of Nashville.
- Orlando Pride fullback Ali Riley set up a goal for New Zealand with this beauty of a cross.
- Potentially bad news for the USMNT as Weston McKennie sustained a knee injury while playing for Juventus on Saturday.
- Palmeiras defended its Copa Libertadores title yesterday in Uruguay, beating Flamengo 2-1 in extra time of the storied competition’s all-Brazilian final. Brazilian clubs are dominating South American club football of late.
- Friday’s World Cup playoff draw “means either Ronaldo and his 2016 European champions Portugal or four-time World Cup winners Italy will fail to book a trip to Qatar next year.” Assuming Portugal beats Turkey and Italy clobbers North Macedona (yes, I know what assumptions can make), Portugal and Turkey will do battle with the loser missing out on the World Cup. Drama!
- Florida State’s women’s soccer team will make its 12th trip to the College Cup since 2003 after a last-minute 1-0 win over Michigan on Friday. Up next is Rutgers in the semifinal Friday.
Remember I mentioned I’m also a Rowdies fan? Tampa Bay welcomes Orange County SC to St. Pete’s Al Lang Field in tonight’s USL Championship Final at 8:30 on ESPN. Let’s share some I-4 love with the green and gold!