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Lion Links: 9/14/21

Pride eye potential record finish, lessons from the Octagonal, Serie A teams interested in Pepi, and more.

Houston Dash v Orlando Pride Photo by Jeremy Reper/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Happy Tuesday, everyone. It was a mixed bag for Orlando soccer over the weekend, as the Orlando Pride were able to get the job done, while Orlando City...did not. Regardless, life goes on and that means we have a full slate of things to discuss today. Let’s jump in.

Pride Eyeing Record Finish

The Orlando Pride are well aware of the fact that the team has a chance to record its best ever finish once the 2021 regular season comes to a close in the NWSL. While it isn’t something that they’re dwelling on, it is something that’s in the back of their minds, with Alex Morgan saying as much. The striker said that the team knows it has the opportunity to make history for the team and because of that the Pride are approaching every single game as though its their last one. With the team’s recent run of good form that mindset seems to be paying off so far.

However, it should be noted that the 2017 Pride went 11-6-7 and finished on 40 points. This year’s team is 7-5-7 with five remaining and would need five results out of five, with at least four of them wins, to top that mark. Seems like a tall order, but not impossible.

Lessons from First Octagonal Round

The first part of the final round of World Cup qualifying is in the books, and while it didn’t necessarily go the way most fans thought or hoped that it would, there were still plenty of things to be learned about the United States Men’s National Team from the three games. One of those things is the potential roster issues that the Yanks face. Striker is clearly a position of alarming concern, and a one-off, 45-minute masterpiece from Ricardo Pepi isn’t enough to immediately put those worries to bed. One of the other things the window highlighted were the strengths and weaknesses of Gregg Berhalter. While he excels at planning and executing those plans when things are going well, he struggles to adapt when the plan falls apart and things go out the window. All in all, there are plenty of reasons to look forward to the next window.

Serie A Teams Eye Pepi

Speaking of Pepi, the FC Dallas youngster is reportedly, and unsurprisingly, attracting interest from overseas. Specifically, it’s been reported that Serie A teams have already begun to circle around Pepi, with that piece of information coming straight from the mouth of transfer guru Fabrizio Romano. According to Romano, there was an Italian team that wanted to sign him on deadline day but didn’t have the chance to get a deal done, and in his mind it’s only a matter of time before the striker moves overseas. If that ends up being the case, he’ll join Gianluca Busio, Bryan Reynolds and Tanner Tessman as other MLS players who made the leap to Serie A, with the latter two also products of FC Dallas.

Concacaf Consulted on International Calendar

With the current international calendar set to end in 2024, FIFA is consulting its member federations on the construction of a new calendar, and Concacaf is set to be part of that process. The federation is on the record saying that it recognizes the benefits of creating a completely new calendar that has fewer international windows, and more meaningful games as opposed to friendlies. Whether that actually happens remains to be seen, but the rise of competitions like the UEFA Nations League and Concacaf Nations League means that international windows are becoming more and more crowded and a restructuring of the calendar definitely isn’t a bad idea.

Free Kicks
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That does it for me today. Y’all stay safe out there.