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Brotherly Game Daily Links: Tough year fuels Andre Blake to new heights in 2021

Curtin’s press conference, Nani not returning to Orlando, and more in today’s links

MLS: Playoffs- Round One-New York Red Bulls at Philadelphia Union Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Union News

Pressing Points | Create More Memories
Ahead of the Eastern Conference Semifinal battle on Sunday evening Head Coach Jim Curtin discussed how he plans to break down a defensively sound Nashville squad and the importance home field advantage will have.

Andre Blake reflects on a tough year as he leads the Union into the second round of the playoffs
Blake has excelled again in MLS, but Jamaica’s national team has struggled. Off the field, he opened a sports bar in his home town but faced the death of his grandmother. He has had to balance it all.

MLS News

Nani Announces He Won’t Return to Orlando City in 2022
Nani had a huge impact on the Lions since joining, scoring 28 regular-season goals and adding 23 assists in 77 appearances (64 starts).

MLS Cup 2021 hosting scenarios: Here’s which teams can still host the final
Hosting priority goes in order of the Supporters’ Shield table, and New England get first dibs after pacing the way with 73 points, a new MLS single-season record. As long as they’re still in the postseason, the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy will be lifted in Foxborough.

Kyle Duncan officially moves to Oostende on free transfer
Duncan had a breakout year in 2021 under new coach Gerhard Struber. Providing the bulk of the team’s offensive width on the right side, Duncan’s speed and dribbling flair made him a key figure on both sides of the ball in Struber’s demanding full-field pressing scheme.

Gerhard Struber receiving interest from “clubs in Germany, England, and one or two others from Austria”
Amid reported interest from Werder Bremen, Struber revealed that there are, in fact, several clubs monitoring his status. “My contract in New York runs for another two years and I will do everything I can to take the next step here,” he revealed. “I have no intention of giving up this project now.”

Rest of the World News

United States, Mexico learn possible World Cup playoff opponents
United States or Mexico could face a winner-takes-all matchup against a team from the Oceania region if either side fails to directly qualify for the 2022 World Cup after FIFA announced its draw for the intercontinental playoffs on Friday.

World Cup playoff draw: Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal drawn with Italy
Italy finished as runners-up to Switzerland in the group stage of qualifying, while Portugal were pipped to the top spot in their group after a home defeat to Serbia, meaning both teams have to go through the new playoff system if they are to be at the finals in Qatar in a year.