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Lion Links: 9/22/21

Concacaf expands tournaments, Orlando City struggles without Sebas Mendez, Alex Morgan scores hat trick for USWNT, and more.

Orlando Pride v NJ/NY Gotham City FC Photo by Ira L. Black - Corbis/Getty Images

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope everything is going well for you down in Central Florida. I’ve been pretty busy up here in Chicago with work and catching up with friends this past week. Before we get into today’s links, let’s wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride goalkeeper Brittany Wilson.

Concacaf Expands Leagues Cup and Champions League

Starting in 2023, every team in MLS and Liga MX will participate in the Concacaf Leagues Cup. The tournament will take place over the course of a month in the summer and both the MLS and Liga MX seasons will pause for the competition. The top three finishers in the Leagues Cup will qualify for the Concacaf Champions League, which was also expanded and will include 27 teams starting in 2024. The Leagues Cup champion will qualify directly to the CCL’s round of 16, joining the MLS Cup winner, Liga MX winner, Central American Cup winner, and Caribbean Cup winner. The Leagues Cup runner-up and third-place finisher will qualify for the first round alongside a minimum of four MLS teams and many other clubs throughout the federation.

Orlando City Struggles Without Sebas Mendez

The Lions have lost three straight games, allowing 10 goals during that stretch and falling to fourth in the Eastern Conference standings. Midfielder Sebas Mendez has been out with an injury since July and his absence has been felt throughout Orlando’s midfield. The Lions have only lost one match with Mendez as a starter this season and have struggled to replace the stability he brings the team on both sides of the ball. Mendez plays such a crucial role during transition by slowing down opposing teams on the counter and creating opportunities for the offense. Joey DeZart has had to fill in while Mendez and other midfielders such as Uri Rosell and Andres Perea recover from injury. While this experience could be beneficial for DeZart in the long run, Orlando’s struggles in the midfield may continue until Mendez returns.

Ali Krieger Weighs In On Life and Soccer

Orlando Pride defender Ali Krieger was recently interviewed on the SportsPro Podcast and spoke about playing in the NWSL since its inception and winning two World Cup titles with the United States Women’s National Team. She and her wife, Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, were listed in the top 10 of SportsPro’s 2021 list of the world’s most marketable athletes and Krieger discussed their relationship and how they both aim to use their platforms to inspire others. She also gave some insights on what she hopes for the future of the women’s soccer.

“I hope the game changes in a way that they can just play the sport that they love and do the job that they love to do and not have to worry about all the other things. Because right now outside of soccer, I make a lot more money than I do playing and just in my normal job, day to day.

“So I hope that a lot of the younger girls, which is what we’re trying to fight for day in and day out now, that they can just show up to work, do their job, and retire by doing that job and not retire and then have to think about the next thing and the next job that they’re gonna have to do for another 30 years.”

Pride’s Morgan Scores Hat Trick in USWNT Rout of Paraguay

The USWNT closed out its two-game series of friendlies with Paraguay with a dominant 8-0 win at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati. Pride forward Alex Morgan scored twice early in the first half and then completed her hat trick with a third goal in the 53rd minute. Rose Lavelle scored the USWNT’s first goal in the fourth minute and also had three assists. Catarina Macario had a brace, Sophia Smith scored her first goal, and Carli Lloyd added another as a substitute in the second half. The USWNT will play another pair of friendlies next month when it faces South Korea on Oct. 21 and 26.

Free Kicks
  • Orlando forward Daryl Dike had some complaints over his FIFA 22 card.
  • Hungary will have to play its next World Cup qualifier without fans due to racist incidents when it faced England earlier this month.
  • If you thought you’ve seen it all from the beautiful game, the vice president of Suriname played for the team he owns.

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