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Lion Links: 9/30/21

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Orlando City draws Nashville, USMNT roster announced, midweek MLS, and more.

Syndication: The Tennessean Andrew Nelles / Tennessean.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

It’s always better writing these when Orlando City doesn’t lose. Aside from a draw that felt like a win, Wednesday was abnormally busy in the world of soccer, and we’ve got plenty to go over on this Thursday morning.

Orlando City Comes From Behind For 2-2 Draw at Nashville

Not all draws are made equally, and this one certainly felt better than most. Orlando City headed to the Music City to play Nashville SC, one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference and fought back for a 2-2 draw. Hany Mukhtar opened the scoring for the hosts on an early rebound off a penalty in the first half. The hosts grabbed a second goal after halftime when Costa Rican international Randall Leal went on a long run and slotted it home from outside the box.

Orlando didn’t bend after going 2-0 down, however. The Lions played well all night and got a goal off a Daryl Dike(!) penalty in the 76th minute. Orlando dominated from then on, hunting for an equalizer, before finding it three minutes into stoppage time. Tesho Akindele earned a corner that Nani would float into the box, finding the head of Nashville’s Brian Anunga, who put it in his own net, earning a point on the road for the Lions. After four straight losses, a big draw on the road against elite competition was a fantastic result, especially considering how well the team actually played. Things might just be looking up for Orlando City.

USMNT Announces Roster For October WC Qualifiers

Gregg Berhalter and his staff announced the 27-man roster for upcoming World Cup qualifiers for the United States Men’s National Team. Some notable inclusions are 18-year-old Valencia midfielder Yunus Musah, Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie, FC Dallas starlet Ricardo Pepi, and often-criticized Columbus Crew striker Gyasi Zardes.

The roster is far more notable for who isn’t there. The team’s two biggest stars, Christian Pulisic and Gio Reyna, are both unavailable due to injuries. Berhalter didn’t rule out potentially making either of those guys late additions, but that’s pretty unlikely at this point. Orlando CIty’s Daryl Dike was also not called up to the roster.

Midweek MLS Recap and Campeones Cup

This was one of the busier midweek schedules we’ve had in MLS in quite some time, with all 27 teams in action. We had 13 league matches, plus the Columbus Crew faced Cruz Azul in the glorified friendly that is Campeones Cup. The reigning MLS Cup champions hosted the reigning Mexican Supercopa holders and walked away with a 2-0 victory and the trophy. It’s not as big as Concacaf Champions League or even Leagues Cup, but a win over Liga MX is always a success.

Out east in league action, Atlanta escaped with a 1-0 win over Miami courtesy of Josef Martinez’s 100th goal for the club, lowly Toronto won 3-2 against equally lowly Cincinnati, New England clobbered Montreal 4-1, D.C. United won 3-1 over Minnesota United, the Red Bulls drew 1-1 with the Union, and New York lost 2-0 to Chicago.

In the west, Sporting Kansas City handled FC Dallas 3-1, Colorado crushed Austin 3-0, Houston and Vancouver drew 0-0, Real Salt Lake won 2-1 over the Galaxy, the Timbers won 2-1 at LAFC, and the Sounders beat San Jose 3-1.

UCL Group Stage Action

It might not’ve been the beautiful chaos of Tuesday, but Europe’s biggest club competition had its share of big games yesterday. Perennial giants FC Barcelona continued their season from Hell with a disastrous 3-0 loss, with a red card, to Portuguese side Benfica. Other notable results included a 1-0 win for Juventus over Chelsea and a 2-1 win for Manchester United over Villarreal in a rematch of last year’s Europa League Final.

Free Kicks

That’s all I’ve got for you this morning. Thank you for reading, and have a wonderful rest of the day.