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Lion Links: 9/7/21

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Nani ranks among MLS’s best, Pride pulled out of bid to host NWSL Championship, Lions climb in power rankings, and more.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Orlando City SC Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, friends. Happy to join you unusually early in the week and share what’s going on in the soccer world. I’ve never been one to dawdle, so let’s jump in to the biggest news items of the day.

Nani Among Best Dribblers, Crossers in MLS

It’s obvious that Nani is among the best players in Major League Soccer, and his quality was quantified in a pair of articles from MLSSoccer.com, ranking the league’s best dribblers and top crossers according to Stats Perform data. Orlando’s captain ranked sixth in the league in dribble success rate at 62% and 11th in crossing success rate at 26%. In both metrics, Nani had far less volume, attempting fewer dribbles or crosses than most others on each list, but it highlights his ability to make critical plays. Victor Wanyama of CF Montreal ranked first in dribble success rate at 75%, while New York City FC fullback Gudi Thórarinsson was first in crossing success rate with a whopping 45%.

Orlando Pride Pulled Out of Bid to Host NWSL Championship

The National Women’s Soccer League announced earlier this week that the 2021 NWSL Championship would be hosted at Portland’s Providence Park. However, Orlando briefly submitted a bid to host the final. Orlando, alongside Louisville, briefly had bids to host the match before pulling out, leaving Portland as the lone option to host. The club didn’t specify why it ended its bid, just saying it was a business decision. The decision to host the match in Portland has drawn scrutiny league-wide, with a 9 a.m. local time kickoff and the game being played on the league’s only artificial turf field.

Orlando City Sixth in ESPN Power Rankings

The first of this week’s power rankings are out couresty of ESPN, and Orlando got the slightest of bumps, moving from seventh to sixth. The Lions leapt above NYCFC, which fell from fourth to seventh after a 3-1 loss to Nashville on the weekend. Orlando was kept out of the top five by Sporting Kansas City — which fell from third to fifth after getting drubbed 4-0 by Los Angeles FC — and Nashville SC. The top three remained unchanged from a week ago with the New England Revolution, Seattle Sounders, and Colorado Rapids taking the top three spots.

Weston McKennie Removed from U.S. Roster for Final Qualifier

Things are going from bad to worse for the United States Men’s National Team. Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie, after being held out of Sunday’s qualifier against Canada, has been sent back to Italy for the rest of the international window, including tomorrow’s road qualifier in Honduras. McKennie was removed from the camp for a violation of team COVID-19 protocols. Gregg Berhalter replaced McKennie with San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Jackson Yueill. FC Barcelona fullback Sergino Dest will also be unavailabe in Honduras with a sprained ankle. McKennie’s actions drew harsh criticism from around American soccer, including from Landon Donavan, who went off on Grant Wahl’s podcast Fútbol with Grant Wahl.

Free Kicks
  • Ali Krieger made her 150th appearance across all NWSL competitions yesterday.

That’s all for this Tuesday morning. Have a great rest of your day!