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Lion Links 10/7/22

2023 Leagues Cup format revealed, USWNT plays England today, Matt Turner earns a clean sheet with Arsenal, and more.

Arsenal FC v FK Bodo/Glimt: Group A - UEFA Europa League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Welcome to Friday, Mane Landers. The work week is nearly over, so let’s dig deep and get through it to reach the weekend. I don’t have many plans over the next few days, but it should still be nice. Before we dive into today’s links, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Orlando City B midfielder Diego Pareja!

2023 Leagues Cup Format Unveiled

There will be 77 matches from July 21 to Aug. 19, as 47 teams across MLS and LIGA MX will compete in the 2023 Leagues Cup. The group stage will feature 15 groups of three teams, and the top two teams from each will join the MLS and LIGA MX champions in the single-elimination knockout stage. All matches will be hosted by MLS teams and the top 16 teams in MLS’s overall standings will be seeded first in the group stage. Draws in the group stage will go to a penalty shootout as MLS NEXT Pro does, to give the victor of it an additional point. The tournament finalists and winner of the third-place match will all qualify for the Concacaf Champions League, with the champion directly qualifying for that tournament’s round of 16.

Orlando is currently 15th in the MLS standings, meaning it would draw the third-best team from LIGA MX, along with either one of the 13 lower-ranked MLS teams or one of the bottom two teams from Mexico. Of course, plenty can change once Decision Day is over.

USWNT Takes on England Today

The United States Women’s National Team will play a friendly today at 3 p.m. against England in front of a sold-out crowd of nearly 90,000 at Wembley Stadium. This is the 19th meeting between the two sides, and seven of the last eight meetings have been determined by a goal or fewer. These two teams last faced off at Exploria Stadium in the 2020 SheBelieves Cup, with the U.S. winning 2-0. Plenty has changed since then and today’s match should be a great match between two of the top teams in the world as they prepare for the World Cup next summer.

Bigger than the game though is the report released earlier this week that found systemic abuse in the NWSL. England’s Beth Mead stated that England’s players have been in contact with those on the USWNT to find a way to show their support in this friendly. Megan Rapinoe spoke about how the USWNT is experienced when it comes to having to focus on more than just tactics before games.

Matt Turner Shines in Europa League

American goalkeeper Matt Turner picked up his first clean sheet with Arsenal in a 3-0 win over Bodø/Glimt in the Europa League. Turner came up with three saves in his Emirates Stadium debut, including this nice stop.

Elsewhere in the Europa League’s group stage, Manchester United scored three goals in the second half to beat Cypriot club Omonia 3-2. Marcus Rashford came off the bench and had two goals and an assist for United. Manuel Pellegrini got the better of Jose Mourinho as Real Betis struck late to take all three points in a 2-1 win against AS Roma in Italy.

Final FIFA Rankings Before World Cup

After a pair of disappointing friendlies, the United States Men’s National Team fell two spots to 16th in the final FIFA rankings before the World Cup next month. The Yanks’ World Cup group will include four teams in the top 20 of the rankings, with the U.S. taking on England (fifth), Wales (18th), and Iran (20th). Elsewhere in Concacaf, Mexico fell a spot to 13th, Canada moved up two spots to 41st, and Costa Rica climbed to 31st.

The top five remained unchanged and Brazil will enter the tournament as the top-ranked nation in the world. With the World Cup groups already drawn, these current rankings don’t particularly matter much beyond gauging the general direction teams are heading in before the biggest sporting event in the world kicks off in November.

Free Kicks

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend.