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Lion Links: 9/3/21

Orlando City hosts the Columbus Crew tomorrow night, Ali Krieger named to NWSL Team of the Month, USMNT draws on the road, and more.

Orlando Pride v NJ/NY Gotham City FC Photo by Ira L. Black - Corbis/Getty Images

How’s it going, Mane Landers? If you stayed up late to watch the United States Men’s National Team’s match, then make sure to get some rest at some point today because there’s plenty more soccer this weekend. Both Orlando City and the Orlando Pride are in action so it’s setting up to be an exciting next few days. But for now, let’s get this Friday started with some links from around the soccer world.

Orlando City Hosts the Columbus Crew Tomorrow

The Lions will welcome the Crew to Exploria Stadium for a match tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. Orlando will be without goalkeeper Pedro Gallese and midfielder Sebas Mendez due to international duty, but the team is making strides towards full strength. Daryl Dike will likely spearhead Orlando’s attack tomorrow, with Nani and Orlando’s other many wingers backing him up. As for the Crew, forward Gyasi Zardes isn’t likely to play due to injury and defender Jonathan Mensah is away on international duty for Ghana. Former Lion Miguel Gallardo and Evan Weston broke down what to watch for in this Eastern Conference showdown.

Ali Krieger Makes NWSL Team of the Month

Orlando Pride defender Ali Krieger was named to the NWSL Team of the Month after playing every minute of August to help the Pride stay in playoff position. Not only did Krieger give the Pride’s defense needed stability, but she also had an assist in the team’s 2-0 win over the Chicago Red Stars on Aug. 8. That victory snapped a six-game winless streak for the Pride and was the team’s first win with interim head coach Becky Burleigh at the helm. With center back Amy Turner and fullback Courtney Petersen both dealing with injuries, Krieger’s experience along the back line has been crucial. The team has also relied on goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, who won NWSL Save of the Week yet again.

The Pride’s next match will be this Sunday at Exploria Stadium against the Houston Dash. Although the Dash are eighth in the standings, only three points separate the two sides, making the match a critical one. Forward Alex Morgan isn’t expected to play on Sunday, but is making progress in her recovery while Sydney Leroux and Jodie Taylor lead the offense.

USMNT Opens Qualifying Campaign With Draw

The United States Men’s National Team fought El Salvador to a 0-0 draw on the road. In an intense environment in front of a packed stadium, the USMNT couldn’t find the back of the net but did well enough defensively for the shutout. The U.S. had chances when crossing the ball into the box, but wasn’t able to capitalize on them. Winning on the road in Concacaf is never easy and some of the USMNT players got their first tastes of World Cup qualifiers in this confederation.

Results were tight in the other Concacaf matches as well. Mexico needed a late goal to win 2-1 against Jamaica in Estadio Azteca. Former Lion Cyle Larin converted a penalty to equalize for Canada in a 1-1 result against Honduras while Costa Rica and Panama battled to a scoreless draw. The Octagon is already shaping up to be a challenge for all nations and the USMNT will take on Canada in Nashville on Sunday.

World Cup Qualifying Results From Around the World

Orlando’s Gallese started in goal for Peru in a 1-1 draw against Uruguay. However, Mendez wasn’t in Ecuador’s lineup for its 2-0 win over Paraguay. Elsewhere in CONMEBOL qualifying, Argentina won 3-1 against Venezuela, Brazil beat Chile 1-0 on the road, and Fernando Saucedo scored a great equalizer for Bolivia in its 1-1 draw with Colombia.

European qualifiers continued as well, with Belgium, England, Germany, and Poland all cruising to victory. Sweden came back and won 2-1 to give Spain its first defeat in a World Cup qualifier in 28 years. Meanwhile, Italy extended its unbeaten run to 35 matches after a 1-1 draw with Belarus.

In Africa, Lyon striker Islam Slimani scored four goals in Algeria’s 8-0 win over a Djibouti side that was reduced to 10 men in the 23rd minute. Tunisia, Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, and Ivory Coast all start their qualifying campaigns throughout today and you can catch those matches on ESPN+.

While Australia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia all won their first matches in the AFC’s third round of qualifying, Japan was upset 1-0 by a visiting Oman side. Japan will aim to right the ship when it travels to take on China on Tuesday.

Free Kicks

That’s it for today’s links, folks. I hope you all have a wonderful Friday and rest of your weekend. Go Orlando!