Happy Tuesday, everyone. The MLS season has officially drawn to a close, but that just means that the off-season can really kick into high gear now. Along with the rest of the worldwide leagues currently in full swing and a United States Men’s National Team friendly set for this Saturday, there should be plenty of news to occupy us this week. With that, let’s get into the links for today.
Morgan Joins Wave
It was officially announced Monday that Alex Morgan has joined San Diego Wave FC. The United States international is a California native and will return to Southern California where she will join up with former Orlando Pride teammate Jodie Taylor. Morgan had been with the Pride since the team’s inaugural season in the National Women’s Soccer League, joining all the way back in 2015. This confirms the report that we covered in last Tuesday’s Lion Links, although we still do not know what sort of compensation the Pride will be getting in return. San Diego did not specify what assets the team would be sending to Orlando, and the Pride have yet to officially report the trade, the reasoning for which you can see below.
Statement from @ORLPride on the Alex Morgan trade.— Meg Linehan (@itsmeglinehan) December 13, 2021
"With the NWSL trade window currently closed, the Pride will continue to follow both Club and league policies, and will make a formal announcement when the transaction is official and timing is appropriate." pic.twitter.com/JXalLh0gZI
Mastroeni Gets RSL Gig
Real Salt Lake has named Pablo Mastroeni the permanent head coach of the club. The former United States international took the reins at RSL on an interim basis back at the end of August, following the midseason departure of Freddy Juarez to join the Seattle Sounders as an assistant coach. He led the team to an 8-8-1 record to close out the season and the team made the playoffs on Decision Day in dramatic fashion. To make things even sweeter, RSL then went on the road and knocked out Seattle on penalties and won with a last-gasp goal on the road against Sporting Kansas City before running out of gas in the Western Conference final. He’ll now need to prove that he can build on the good foundation he laid down in the latter half of 2021.
UEFA Re-Draws Round of 16 UCL Match-ups
There was chaos during the draw for the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match-ups Monday. In the original draw, Manchester United was drawn against Villareal, which shouldn’t have been possible since the two teams were in the same group. Then, after the error occurred, United was not placed back into the mix to be drawn again. The highlight of the original draw saw the Red Devils and Cristiano Ronaldo drawn against Lionel Messi and Paris Saint-Germain, but shortly after it was completed, the original draw was declared void and done all over again. The new draw instead sees Manchester United taking on Atletico Madrid and PSG facing off against Real Madrid. The only match-up that remains unchanged between the two draws is that of Chelsea, which will still face Lille.
MLS Transfer Happenings
Several big pieces of MLS transfer news happened Monday, with both items concerning players leaving Major League Soccer. First up, LAFC transferred midfielder Eduard Atuesta to Palmeiras. The initial fee is for $4 million, but with incentives it could go as high as $7 million. Atuesta had been with LAFC since the team’s first year in MLS and made 96 appearances for the Black and Gold.
Elsewhere, the Chicago Fire sold Ignacio Aliseda to FC Lugano in the Swiss Super League. Aliseda joined the Fire just before the 2020 season as a Designated Player, but didn’t quite hit the heights most were hoping for when his arrival was announced. The move opens up a DP spot for Chicago, which will be looking to reload and change things after missing the playoffs for a fourth straight year.
- The United States Soccer Federation will no longer pay the salaries of any USWNT players who are playing in the NWSL.
- The Liga MX Apertura final was a wildly exciting affair that saw Atlas win its first title in 70 years.
- Lists of players who are eligible for free agency, the MLS Re-Entry Draft and the MLS Expansion Draft have been released. Orlando is protected during this year’s expansion draft after Kamal Miller was selected last year. Uri Rosell is the only player currently on the Free Agency list for the Lions but Orlando has stated it is working on a new deal for Uri for 2022.
That’ll do it for me today. Y’all stay safe out there.