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Lion Links: 12/20/21

The Orlando Pride’s draft day, Americans at home and abroad, U.S. Soccer awards, and more.

Chicago Red Stars v Orlando Pride Photo by Jeremy Reper/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers. The off-season is in full swing as we head into the holidays. One of the things I love most about this sport is that there are very few days during the year that you can’t watch a match being played somewhere. Let’s get to the links.

Orlando Pride Make Their Draft Selections

The Orlando Pride had a productive weekend with four picks in the 2022 NWSL Draft, including three in the first round alone. UCLA forward Mia Fishel was selected with the fifth overall pick, reuniting with Head Coach Amanda Cromwell. The Pride then chose Duke defender Caitlin Cosme with the 10th overall pick, Santa Clara forward Julie Doyle with the 11th overall pick, and USC forward Jada Talley with the 31st overall pick. The Pride provided an inside look at their draft room as General Manager Ian Fleming contacted the team’s selected players.

Americans Boost Their Stock Before Holidays

There was plenty to take away from the United States Men’s National Team’s 1-0 win in a friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina. With a roster composed mostly of MLS players, a few players made the most of the opportunity. Colorado Rapids midfielder Cole Bassett scored the winner after coming on as a substitute in his international debut. Seattle Sounders winger Jordan Morris played 78 minutes of action as he continues to work his way back from injury and AS Roma right back Bryan Reynolds made an impact once he came on in the second half.

As for the Americans playing abroad this weekend, striker Jordan Pefok scored a whopping four goals in Young Boys’ 5-0 victory over Lugano in the Swiss Super League. It was a career high for the 25-year-old and he has now scored 11 goals in 17 league matches this season. In the Scottish League Cup, defender Cameron Carter-Vickers put in a full 90-minute shift as Celtic defeated Hibernian 2-1 at Hampden Park. Carter-Vickers is on loan from Tottenham, and this is the first trophy in his senior career. Celtic currently sits in second place in the Scottish Premier League behind Rangers.

U.S. Soccer Announces Male Award Winners

Christian Pulisic was named U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year after an impressive year that included winning the UEFA Champions League with Chelsea and the Nations League with the United States Men’s National Team. The 23-year-old won 31% of the vote, with New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner finishing second with 21% and RB Salzburg midfielder Brenden Aaronson in third with 15%.

FC Dallas forward Ricardo Pepi was voted U.S. Soccer Young Male Player of the Year after a breakout year that saw him become one of the USMNT’s best options to lead the attack. The 18-year-old scored more goals than any other American in MLS with 13 goals for Dallas. Pepi made his USMNT debut during World Cup qualifying, scoring against Honduras and Jamaica. He won 60% of the vote while Valencia’s Yunus Musah claimed 23% and Venezia’s Gianluca Busio earned 11%.

Keeping Up With European Soccer

There was no change at the top of the English Premier League as Manchester City continued its winning ways after a 4-0 win against Newcastle. Liverpool couldn’t hold onto a lead in the second half as Andrew Robertson saw a red card in a 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur. Harry Kane probably should have been sent off before that in the back-and-forth affair between the two clubs.

In La Liga action, Barcelona scored a late winner in its 3-2 victory against Elche while Atletico Madrid’s were dealt a blow to its title aspirations after a 2-1 loss to Sevilla. It’s been an exciting year in Italy’s Serie A and that trend continued this weekend as AS Roma went on the road and won 4-1 against Atalanta while Napoli beat AC Milan 1-0. In Germany, Borussia Dortmund fell 3-2 against Hertha and Wolfsburg lost its seventh straight match after a 4-0 loss to Bayern Munich.

Free Kicks

We are rapidly heading towards the end of the year, and we hope you safely have a wonderful time with family and friends. Vamos Orlando!