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Lion Links: 5/24/21

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Daryl Dike’s next move, Championship Sunday results, Americans abroad, and much more.

Swansea City v Barnsley - Sky Bet Championship Play-off Semi Final 2nd Leg Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images

Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers! It was a great weekend. Orlando City remained unbeaten by defeating Toronto FC 1-0, and the Orlando Pride got their first win of the season with a 2-1 victory over the North Carolina Courage. Plus, it was Championship Sunday! I hope you got to watch as much soccer as you wanted. For now, let’s get to the links.

Daryl Dike’s Options After His Loan

Orlando forward Daryl Dike has finished one of the best loans by an American in Europe. Although Barnsley FC didn’t get promoted after losing to Swansea City on aggregate, Dike scored nine goals in 19 matches for the English Football League Championship side. Oddly, once Barnsley paid Orlando City to keep Dike on loan for the playoffs, the American didn’t score another goal. That’s not to say he didn’t contribute, but he didn’t find the back of the net in the team’s following four matches and Barnsley didn’t win any of them.

Now, the speculation about his future is ramping up. He has been called up to the United States Men’s National Team’s training camp this upcoming weekend ahead of a friendly against Switzerland and the Nations League. Dike will certainly be in the mix for the USMNT this summer and may not play for Orlando until June 19 against Toronto. Barnsley has the first right of refusal if Dike is sold, but it’s unlikely the club will spend the money after missing out on promotion. There will almost certainly be interest from other European teams during the summer transfer window.

U.S. Soccer and Soccer United Marketing Part Ways

Soccer United Marketing and the U.S. Soccer Federation announced they will not be renewing their commercial rights partnership once it expires at the end of 2022. Soccer United Marketing is the marketing arm for Major League Soccer. MLS and U.S. Soccer had bundled their rights together, but now the USSF will bring its marketing in-house. The separation has been coming, as some felt that there was a conflict of interest. In fact, the North American Soccer League filed a lawsuit because it felt that the USSF was playing favorites when it came to MLS. Although the partnership of nearly 20 years is ending, the two sides will continue working alongside one another to grow the sport in U.S.

European Soccer Leagues Reach Their Conclusions

The English Premier League title was decided long before Sunday, as Manchester City secured its third title in four years. That didn’t mean there wasn’t plenty of drama. Liverpool, Chelsea, and Leicester City were all fighting for the final two Champions League spots. With its 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace to close out the season, Liverpool won its final five matches and finished third on the tabe. Despite losing 2-1 to Aston Villa, Chelsea was able to secure fourth place after Leicester fell 4-2 to Tottenham Hotspur. Since all the teams played at the same time, which teams were in and which were out was a back-and-forth affair with each goal scored. In the end, Leicester simply wasn’t able to get it done.

Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski broke a Bundesliga record by scoring 41 goals this season. After Atletico Madrid won the La Liga title this weekend, forward Luis Suarez stated he will stay with the club. In France, Paris Saint-Germain has won seven out of the last nine Ligue 1 titles, but was unseated by Lille this season. Lille finished with 83 points, only losing three times with a defense that allowed just 23 goals in 38 Ligue 1 matches.

Inter Milan dispatched Udinese 5-1 to finish with 91 points in a Serie A season it won well before Sunday. The big story was that Cristiano Ronaldo started on the bench for Juventus as the club tried to secure a spot in the top four. The star wasn’t needed as Juventus defeated Bologna 4-1. Despite not playing in the match, Ronaldo was Serie A’s top scorer, becoming the first player to win the golden boot in La Liga, the Premier League, and Serie A. Juventus qualified for the Champions League with the win and a 1-1 draw from Napoli.

Americans Abroad This Weekend

Four USMNT players won titles with European clubs. Timothy Weah won a Ligue 1 title with Lille, Jordan Siebatcheu won the Swiss Super League title with BSC Young Boys, Brenden Aaronson won the Austrian Bundesliga with Red Bull Salzburg, and Zach Steffen won the English Premier League with Manchester City. Of those four, Aaronson was the only one to feature this weekend and he had two assists in Salzburg’s 4-0 victory against WSG Wattens.

Elsewhere, as Americans wrapped up their seasons, Christian Pulisic had an assist in Chelsea’s loss while Tim Ream captained Fulham and played all 90 minutes in a loss against Newcastle United. Werder Bremen is heading down to 2. Bundesliga, but it’s unlikely that USMNT striker Josh Sargent will be joining them. He will likely be sold to help Werder Bremen raise funds. On the other side of things, Julian Green scored a goal to help Greuther Furth earn promotion to the Bundesliga.

Free Kicks

Don’t forget that the Orlando Pride play the Portland Thorns this Wednesday at 7 p.m. Check back for our coverage of that match, and everything else regarding Orlando City soccer.