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Lion Links: 11/28/21

Daryl Dike thanks Nani, young USWNT blanks Australia, MLS conference semifinals previewed, and more.

MLS: Orlando City SC at Inter Miami CF Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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.

Free Kicks
  • Orlando Pride fullback Ali Riley set up a goal for New Zealand with this beauty of a cross.

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!