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Lion Links: 8/6/21

Nani makes Team of the Week bench, MLS transfer deadline day, USWNT wins bronze, Messi will leave FC Barcelona, and more.

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United States v Australia: Bronze Medal Match Women’s Football - Olympics: Day 13 Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I feel like I’m finally able to catch my breath after all of the soccer so far this summer. This weekend I’ll be dragged to the beach by some friends and it should be a nice time to get some reading done. Hopefully the work week hasn’t been too hard on you these past few days and you can also unwind a bit this weekend. Let’s get this Friday started with some links from around the soccer world.

Nani Named to MLS Team of the Week Bench

Orlando City’s Nani made the bench of the MLS Team of the Week after midweek matches throughout the league. The Lions’ captain had an assist late in the first half of Orlando’s 1-1 draw with Inter Miami. It was Nani’s sixth assist of the season, tying him at third-most in the league and just one behind Orlando teammate Mauricio Pereyra. Both trail Carles Gil, who has 15 assists this year and is currently out due to injury. Nani has been in fine form for the Lions as of late, with two goals and three assists in his past four appearances.

Pereyra has also done well for the Lions recently after a slow start to the season and showcased his ability in Orlando’s midweek result. Suspensions and injuries have limited Pereyra’s impact this year, but he weighed in on how he’s finding his groove in the offense again.

“In my case, I think the most important is to be healthy physically and in a good condition,” Pereyra said. “Because after this is giving you more confidence when you can run when, when you are not held and when you are 100%, healthy, then, of course, you should show your skills. You can have mistakes and you can have answers but in the most important for the team is to have the whole players in good shape and in good condition and this is what we are working on now.”

MLS Clubs Were Busy for Transfer Deadline Day

Although the Lions didn’t make much noise, it was a hectic day for MLS clubs as the summer transfer window closed. The LA Galaxy officially signed Serbian forward Dejan Joveljić from the Bundesliga’s Eintracht Frankfurt to a deal through 2025. The 21-year-old scored 20 goals in 46 appearances while on loan with Wolfsberger AC in Austria. I’m personally glad he’s in the Western Conference. In fact, many teams out west landed players on deadline day as the Seattle Sounders added Brazilian attacker Leo Chu from Gremio, Sporting Kansas City signed former AC Milan midfielder Jose Muari to a deal through 2022, and the Vancouver Whitecaps acquired 19-year-old Ecuadorian midfielder Pedro Vite to a contract through 2025.

As far as departures go, two young Americans are headed to Europe. SKC’s Gianluca Busio is officially headed to Serie A’s Venezia FC while Colorado Rapids left back Sam Vines will join Royal Antwerp in Belgium. The New England Revolution agreed to a deal in principle with Belgium’s Club Brugge for Tajon Buchanan, but the deal isn’t finalized. The Chicago Fire dealt Przemyslaw Frankowski to RC Lens of France’s Ligue 1 for a transfer fee around $3 million.

Some trades were also completed as Jeremy Ebobisse was officially traded from the Portland Timbers to the San Jose Earthquakes, while FC Cincinnati nabbed New York Red Bulls midfielder Florian Valot in exchange for an initial $50,000 in General Allocation Money. That amount could double if Valot reaches certain performance metrics.

USWNT Wins First Bronze Medal

The United States Women’s National Team will leave Tokyo with a bronze medal after beating Australia 4-3. This match was a stark contrast to the scoreless draw the two countries shared in the group stage. For the second time in her career, Megan Rapinoe scored an Olimpico at the Olympics. She bent a corner kick into goal in the eighth minute to get the scoring started and then scored on the volley in the 21st minute for an early brace. Carli Lloyd also had a brace and broke Abby Wambach’s record to become the USWNT’s leading scorer in the Olympics with 10 goals. She hunted a hat trick throughout the match but wasn’t able to find a third goal. Australia’s Sam Kerr, Caitlin Foord, and Emily Gielnik all scored to keep the game fairly competitive. The Orlando Pride’s Alex Morgan came on in the 81st minute for Lloyd and had to exit due to an injury in stoppage time. Morgan was pleased that the USWNT was able to end its Olympic campaign with a win.

As for the gold medal game between Canada and Sweden, it was moved to this morning at 8 a.m. Both nations expressed concerns about the intense heat in Japan during the original set time for the match and this should allow the players to compete at their best. Although she’s not likely to play in this match, Pride goalkeeper Erin McLeod will earn a medal as she was included on Canada’s roster for its win over Chile in the group stage.

Lionel Messi Will Leave FC Barcelona

It’s the saga that has dominated the soccer world for quite some time, but Messi’s time at Barcelona seems to be over. The La Liga giant announced that an agreement was reached between Messi and the club, but league regulations and financial issues prevented it from being a reality. Paris Saint-Germain is eager to swoop in for the Argentine legend while Manchester City is likely out of the running after officially signing Jack Grealish for a hefty fee. Only time will tell if Messi’s reign at Barcelona is officially over, but this could be another step towards him eventually playing in MLS further down the line in his career.

Free Kicks
  • Here’s a nice refresher on the upcoming Leagues Cup. It’s a single-elimination tournament and Orlando City will take on Liga MX’s Santos Laguna at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in Exploria Stadium.
  • Before that cup match, Orlando will hit the road for a match against Cincinnati tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. and the Lions are already hard at work in preparation.
  • FIFA wants Uruguay and kit sponsor Puma to remove two of the four stars on the team’s jersey. Two of the stars are there to recognize Uruguay’s Olympic gold medals won in 1924 and 1928, which were considered world championships at the time.
  • We’ll end our links with a speed walking competition from the Pride. In case you didn’t know, the primary rule that differentiates speed walking from other races is that one foot must always be in contact with the ground. The result is basically the kind of walk you do when someone holds the door open for you even though you’re far away.

That’s going to be it for today. I hope you all have a wonderful Friday and rest of your weekend. Go Orlando!