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Lion Links: 12/15/22

NWSL joint investigation findings, Facundo Torres’ impact for Orlando City, France reaches the World Cup final, and more.

MLS: Orlando City SC at New York City FC Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

How’s it going Mane Landers? I’m starting to feel the time crunch to get so many things done this time of year, but I’m battling the stress with some daily walks and time with friends. It’s still hard to believe that December is nearly halfway over and 2023 is lurking around the corner. Let’s ignore the slow march of time for now and instead dive into today’s links!

NWSL and NWSLPA Joint Investigation Report Released

The final report from a joint investigation unit looking into systemic abuse in the NWSL unveiled further details on misconduct against players in the league. The findings dove into what was uncovered in an investigation conducted by former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, as well as how the NWSL and its clubs contributed to the abuse. NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman did not mince words when addressing the league’s failure.

“This report clearly reflects how our league systemically failed to protect our players,” NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman said in a news release on Wednesday. “[L]et me first and foremost sincerely apologize to our players for those failures and missteps. They deserve, at a minimum, a safe and secure environment to participate at the highest level in a sport they love.”

The report also detailed how former Orlando Pride coach Amanda Cromwell and her assistant coach, Sam Greene, retaliated against players who took part in an earlier investigation into their misconduct. The Pride made a statement on how the team is working to make positive changes and thanked the investigation team. The Houston Dash also released a statement and will not be renewing the contract of Head Coach James Clarkson, who was suspended indefinitely in April pending the results of this investigation. The report found Clarkson took part in emotional misconduct while serving as head coach.

Facundo Torres Was Crucial to Orlando City’s Year

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Torres was chosen as Orlando’s best signing of 2022 by MLSsoccer.com’s Jonathan Sigal. Signed from Peñarol in January, the young Uruguayan had nine goals and 10 assists in his first season with Orlando. Torres came through time and time again for the Lions during their U.S. Open Cup run and provided two goals and an assist in the final to give Orlando its first trophy since joining MLS.

There were plenty of other attackers who joined Eastern Conference teams this past year and made an immediate impact. Charlotte FC’s Karol Swiderski, the Philadelphia Union’s Julian Carranza, and Atlanta United’s Thiago Almada are just a few of the players who had strong first years in MLS. It will be interesting to see if all of these players can take a step forward in 2023 after a year of getting used to the league.

FIFA World Cup Final is Set

France claimed its spot in Sunday’s World Cup final after beating Morocco, 2-0. Theo Hernandez put France in front early in the match and Randal Kolo Muani scored his first international goal less than a minute after coming on as a substitute in the second half. The loss ends Morocco’s hopes of winning it all, although the African team will take on Croatia in the third-place match on Saturday. The final between Argentina and France should be an exciting one with plenty of storylines to watch for, including Paris-Saint Germain teammates Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe going against each other. Both Messi and Mbappe have five goals this tournament to lead the Golden Boot race, with Argentina’s Julian Alvarez and France’s Olivier Giroud each sitting at four. If France wins on Sunday, it will become the first country to win consecutive World Cups since Brazil in 1962.

Grant Wahl Died From an Aortic Aneurysm

Dr. Celine Gounder, the wife of late soccer journalist Grant Wahl, stated that her husband died of an aortic aneurysm that ruptured. The autopsy was done by the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office and Gounder also stated that there was nothing nefarious about Wahl’s death in Qatar and that CPR or shocks would not have saved him. His death was not related to his vaccination status or COVID-19. Gounder thanked those who have offered support to Wahl’s family, friends, and the many others impacted by this loss. While many knew Wahl as a journalist, Gounder also shared the ways he was a kind husband, brother, and advocate as well.

Free Kicks

That’s all I have for you for today. I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week!