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Lion Links: 12/5/22

Orlando Pride free agent options, the future of the USMNT, France and England advance, and more.

NWSL: Orlando Pride at OL Reign Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers! The United States Men’s National Team is out of the World Cup. Now that I’ve had a bit of time to process it, I’m disappointed but not bitter. The young American team made it out of the group stage, lost to an experienced Dutch squad, but played well overall. As Orlando City supporters, we’re all too familiar with missed chances, and the Yanks had many in that match. However, this World Cup provided a good base for this U.S. team to grow and improve upon.

Now, we get to cheer for our second team, or simply root for chaos. There has been a great deal of entertaining and compelling soccer to watch, and I will continue to do so. Let’s get to the links.

Free Agent Options for the Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride desperately need to add players this off-season. The club will likely look to do so in the draft and through free agency. There are many intriguing players still available in the free agent market, including some who may be a good fit for the Pride. It is unlikely Debinha will stay in the NWSL if she leaves the North Carolina Courage, but she might want to play with Marta if Orlando re-signs the Brazilian legend. Tobin Heath from OL Reign, and Katie Johnson are also free agents who could give Orlando a boost on offense.

The USMNT Looks Ahead to the Future

Despite the loss to the Netherlands in the knockout rounds, the future is bright for the USMNT. The average age of the team at this World Cup was 25 years old. Of course, many of the bigger names on this USMNT are a bit younger than that. When the World Cup comes to the United States, Canada, and Mexico in 2026, players like Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, and Giovanni Reyna will be in the prime of their careers. This group of players has a different attitude than previous generations, and more of them are playing in top leagues around the world than ever before.

France and England Advance to World Cup Quarterfinals

The Round of 16 continued on Sunday, with France facing Poland before England played Senegal. Olivier Giroud gave France the lead in the 44th minute and also put himself in the record books by becoming France’s all-time leading scorer. Kylian Mbappé added another in the second half, and then completed his brace in stoppage time to secure the 3-1 win. Poland pulled one back at the death on a converted penalty by Robert Lewandowski, but it was far from enough to make a difference.

England also scored three goals to advance, blanking Senegal 3-0. Jordan Henderson started the scoring for the Three Lions in the first half, with Harry Kane doubling the lead just before halftime. Bukayo Saka scored in the 57th minute and England held on for its third shutout of this tournament. England will meet France in the quarterfinals on Saturday.

Pelé Releases Statement on His Medical Treatment

Pelé is receiving treatment for a respiratory infection. He has been battling colon cancer, and following a report on Saturday that the soccer great was entering end-of-life care in a Brazilian hospital, Pele himself shared that he feels strong and is full of hope.

According to the hospital, Pele’s condition remains stable and he is responding to treatment for the infection. Like many of us, he is watching the World Cup and his beloved Brazil plays South Korea today at 2 p.m.

Free Kicks
  • USMNT defender Aaron Long is reportedly not expected to return to the New York Red Bulls and has offers from four other MLS clubs. Orlando City is not one of those clubs reportedly interested in the 30-year-old.
  • FIFA was considering going to groups of three for the 2026 World Cup. It is only one of a few options FIFA is looking at since the field is expanding from 32 teams to 48 teams. Given the exciting drama seen in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup, FIFA may take a closer look at which format to implement moving forward.

Before Brazil takes on South Korea this afternoon, Japan and Croatia will square off at 10 a.m. Enjoy!