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Lion Links: 9/1/21

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Orlando City prepares for the Columbus Crew, Nani discusses playing with Cristiano Ronaldo, the transfer window closes, and more.

Leagues Cup 2021: Quarterfinals - Santos Laguna v Orlando City SC Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope everyone is doing well down in Florida as we enter September. It’s going to be busy this week with World Cup qualifiers and then Orlando City and the Orlando Pride in action this weekend. Before we jump into today’s links from around the soccer world, lets all wish a happy birthday to former Orlando City player and head coach James O’Connor!

Orlando City Prepares for the Columbus Crew

The Lions will take on the Columbus Crew on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Exploria Stadium. Orlando is second in the Eastern Conference standings while Columbus sits in eighth. This will be the first of two meetings between the two clubs this season, with the Lions set to play in Columbus on Oct. 27. The Crew are coming off of a 3-2 win over FC Cincinnati that snapped a six-game losing streak. As for the Lions, they will be without Peruvian goalkeeper Pedro Gallese and Ecuadorian midfielder Sebas Mendez as both players are in South America for World Cup qualifiers.

Nani Reflects on His Time Playing With Ronaldo

With Cristiano Ronaldo back with Manchester United, Orlando City captain Nani discussed what it was like to have him as a teammate. Nani joined United in 2007 just as Ronaldo was proving himself to be one of the top players in the world. The two Portuguese teammates lived together and Nani pushed himself to improve while playing in Ronaldo’s shadow. When Ronaldo left the club in 2009, Nani stepped up to become one of the team’s more dangerous players on offense. Now in MLS, Nani is still scoring great goals and using years of experience to become a leader for the Lions.

“The experience of different challenges over the years at different clubs, you take a little bit from each experience you have in your career and put it all together. That’s what helps me lead the team,” Nani says.

“I have respect from the club and all my team-mates, and I feel at home. The responsibility I have is good for me to give me the motivation I need every single day to continue to work hard and improve and make sure I can help the players around me develop.”

Racing Louisville FC Fires Its Head Coach

Christy Holly had his contract terminated by Racing Louisville. The reasoning for Holly’s firing was not given in the club’s statement and the head of Soccer Holdings’ youth academy system, Mario Sanchez, will serve as the team’s interim head coach.

Holly’s firing is the latest in many coaching changes during this NWSL season. NJ/NY Gotham FC announced that Scott Parkinson will become its next head coach to replace Freya Coombe. Parkinson was an assistant coach for Utah Royals FC and the Chicago Red Stars and former NWSL player Beverly Goebel Yanez will join the club as an assistant coach as well.

Transfer Deadline Day Wraps Up

Europe’s transfer window closed in exciting fashion as clubs raced to finalize deals and add players. The biggest news was FC Barcelona loaning Antoine Griezmann to Atletico Madrid for the rest of the La Liga season. There were reportedly discussions of swapping Griezmann for Atletico’s Joao Felix, but the Portuguese forward will remain in Madrid. Atletico also loaned midfielder Saul Niguez to Chelsea for the rest of the season.

Paris Saint-Germain rejected Real Madrid’s advances and decided not to sell forward Kylian Mbappe. It’s a bold move from the French club considering Mbappe could leave for free in the future, but PSG will preserve the trio of Mbappe, Neymar, and Lionel Messi for now. Real Madrid did manage to acquire one of the top young talents in Europe by signing 18-year-old midfielder Eduardo Camavinga from Rennes.

Ronaldo’s move to Manchester United from Juventus was finalized and his contract will last two years with an option for a third. With Jadon Sancho and Ronaldo now in Manchester, the club dealt winger Daniel James to Leeds United.

Americans on the Move

Europe’s biggest names weren’t the only players moving to new clubs in Europe as multiple Americans joined new teams as well. Forward Matthew Hoppe is leaving Schalke 04 to join RCD Mallorca in La Liga. Tottenham Hotspur loaned defender Cameron Carter-Vickers to Celtic FC in a move that will certainly help the 23-year-old receive some playing time.

The Philadelphia Union loaned Jack de Vries to Serie A’s Venezia FC and the 19-year-old will play for the Italian side’s U-19 squad. Chris Richards’ contract with Bayern Munich was extended through 2025 and the center back will go back on loan with Hoffenheim after a successful spell there last season. Erik Palmer-Brown was loaned out by Manchester City to Troyes in France’s Ligue 1 as well.

Colorado Rapids midfielder Cole Bassett turned down a deal that would’ve landed him with Benfica in Portugal. Instead, Bassett chose to stay with the Rapids for the time being as he wants to help his hometown club win silverware.

Free Kicks
  • Although the free tickets may be claimed by the time you’re reading this, tickets are discounted for the Pride’s match against the Houston Dash this Sunday. With the season entering its final stretch, now’s a great time to come out and support Ashlyn Harris and the rest of the Pride.
  • Marta was called up for Brazil’s matches against Argentina later this month. She likely won’t miss any matches for the Pride as a result due to an international break, with the Pride facing OL Reign on the road on Sept. 26.
  • After a 0-0 draw against Inter Miami this past weekend, Orlando City SC dropped one spot to seventh in the MLS power rankings.
  • The United States Men’s National Team begins its World Cup qualifying campaign tomorrow night in El Salvador. Midfielders Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams are determined to not only qualify for the World Cup, but also to show that the USMNT is the top team in Concacaf.

That will do it for me, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Wednesday and I’ll see you next time.