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Lion Links: 10/29/22

NWSL championship preview, SoFi Stadium to host Gold Cup final, Luca De La Torre injured, and more.

Soccer: CONCACAF Nations League Soccer-Grenada at USA Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Saturday, Mane Landers! I have been trying to get my Orlando City and soccer fix lately by playing countless hours of FIFA 23. This weekend though, I will make the final final push in my manager mode to have Wrexham AFC promoted from fourth-tier League Two, and into League One. While Wrexham might only be in the fifth tier in real life, the game lets you put any team where you like to begin. Do you think if I keep getting promoted and win the Premier League that Ryan Reynolds might give me a shout out? Probably not, but a man can virtually dream can’t he?

Well, enough about my lazy weekend and being a couch coach, let’s get to those links!

NWSL Championship Preview

The 2022 NWSL championship is upon us today. The Portland Thorns and Kansas City Current kick off at 8 p.m. at Audi Field. And for the first time in league history, the game will be broadcast in primetime on a nationally televised network, CBS. The Thorns and Current are finishing their seasons the same way that they started it, by playing against each other. In their first match on April 30, Portland won in a 3-0 shutout. Later in September, the sides drew 1-1. On this occasion, there is no longer a clear-cut favorite, as both are in top form.

For the fifth time in six years, the Thorns finished the regular season as a top-two team in the NWSL. Portland is also the first team in league history to qualify for four championship games. After finishing at the bottom of the table last year and losing four of their first five games this season, Kansas City went on a 13-game unbeaten streak from May 30 to Sept. 11.

2023 Concacaf Gold Cup Final to Be Played at SoFi Stadium

Concacaf has announced that the final of the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup will be played on July 16, 2023 and has been awarded to SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. This will be the 17th edition of the confederation’s flagship men’s national team competition. The state-of-the-art venue is home to the NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams. Recently, it hosted the NFL’s Super Bowl LVI and was announced as a host stadium for the FIFA World Cup 2026.

“SoFi Stadium is a world class venue and Los Angeles has hosted so many iconic Gold Cup moments, making this stadium a fantastic choice to stage our 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup Final”, said Concacaf President and FIFA Vice President, Victor Montagliani. “This competition continues to deliver on and off the pitch, with last year’s expanded edition showcasing outstanding football combined with passionate support from fans from all corners of our wonderful region.”

Concacaf has also confirmed other important details regarding next summer’s tournament, including the 2023 Gold Cup format, match dates, the nations which have already secured a berth, and that the official draw will take place on April 14, 2023.

USMNT’s Luca De La Torre Injured

USMNT midfielder and World Cup hopeful Luca De La Torre is set to miss three weeks due to a leg injury, his club, RC Celta de Vigo, announced. USMNT Head Coach Gregg Berhalter is set to announce the World Cup roster on Nov. 9, as matches are to begin play in 23 days. De La Torre is one of several midfielders aiming to play a key role for the USMNT in Qatar beginning on Nov. 21 against Wales. Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, and Yunus Musah have emerged as Berhalter’s first-choice trio in the center, but De La Torre left a strong impression at the end of World Cup qualifying and emerged as the next in line in the pecking order. If he were to miss out on the World Cup, it could open the door for players on the bubble like Cristian Roldan, who is currently in the camp arranged for MLS players whose seasons are over and likely would have missed a call-up otherwise.

U.S. Heads to 2022 Emirates Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup

The United States Men’s Beach Soccer National Team has departed for Dubai. Head Coach Francis Farberoff has called in 12 players to compete in the 2022 Emirates Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup from Nov. 1-6. The United States will compete in Group B along with Iran, Japan, and Paraguay. Group A consists of United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Spain, and Saudi Arabia. After a round-robin group stage, the top two teams from each group will meet in the semifinals. The third- and fourth-place teams will compete for the fifth through eighth spots.

In its 11th edition, the Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup is the most prestigious annual competition in the sand version of the game, as the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup takes place every two years. Leading the American roster is goalkeeper and captain Chris Toth, who was again named among the Top 50 men’s beach soccer players in the world for 2021. Toth is joined by nine teammates from the 2021 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup team.

Free Kicks

That’s all I have for you today. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy watching the NWSL championship as a neutral. Call it hopeless optimism, but I have a feeling the Orlando Pride are on the up-and-up next season. Vamos Orlando!