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Lion Links: 3/14/22

Charlotte FC scores first goal, Jordan Pefok stays hot, key USMNT attackers return, and more.

BSC Young Boys v Atalanta: Group F - UEFA Champions League Photo by Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Getty Images

Happy Monday, everyone. Orlando City’s loss definitely wasn’t the result any of us wanted on Saturday, but you can’t win them all. All we can do is look ahead, and what better way to do that than by going over some notable news across the soccer world? Let’s get into the links.

Charlotte FC Scores First MLS Goal

On the road against Atlanta United, Ben Bender found Adam Armour unmarked on a corner kick and he headed home Charlotte FC’s first goal since joining MLS.

“Everyone loves to score goals but it being the first one in history is an amazing feeling,” said Armour after the game. “I’m used to being the guy that stays back on corners to prevent a counterattack, but before I went in [Charlotte FC head coach] Miguel [Angel Ramirez] told me to be in the box and run from the penalty spot.”

Although Atlanta went on to win 2-1 thanks to a late goal from Jake Mulraney, Charlotte’s goal was still momentous for the new club after being shut out in its first two matches.

In Sunday’s other match between the New York Red Bulls and Minnesota United, Loons goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair stood on his head in his first start of the season. The 24-year-old made eight saves, including denying Patryk Klimala from the penalty spot. Luis Amarilla scored the game’s only goal as Minnesota won, 1-0.

Jordan Pefok Stays Hot

American forward Jordan Pefok has been on an absolute tear with BSC Young Boys in Switzerland. His goal in the second half of a 2-2 draw with Lausanne was his 17th of the season and he leads the Swiss Super League. The 25-year-old now has 22 goals across 37 games in all competitions and has scored six times in his last seven appearances to continue a scorching run of form. Whether that will be enough for him to earn a call-up for the United States Men’s National Team’s final round of World Cup qualifiers later this month remains to be seen. After being called up for the first window of qualifiers in September, he has yet to be included again.

Return of Key USMNT Attackers

There is more welcome news for the USMNT as two key attacking players returned to the field this weekend. Giovanni Reyna came off the bench in Borussia Dortmund’s win over Arminia Bielefeld, making his return from an injury he suffered three weeks ago. Reyna has not appeared for the USMNT since September after suffering an injury while with the team during qualifying.

On another positive note, Christian Pulisic came off the bench in Chelsea’s win over Newcastle United after missing the team’s midweek win over Norwich City due to illness. While there wasn’t much worry about the possibility of Pulisic missing an extended period of time, it’s nice to see him back so quickly, especially since he too has been in good form as of late.

FC Barcelona Women Seal Title

The Barcelona women’s team has won the Spanish title for the third year in a row after a comprehensive 5-0 drubbing of Real Madrid. Barcelona still has yet to lose a league match this season, winning all 24 games so far. It has also scored a whopping 136 goals while conceding only six, with 2021 Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas scoring twice in two minutes in the victory over Real. With six games left, all that remains now is for the team to try to pull off a perfect league campaign, which it almost managed last year save for one loss to Atletico Madrid. Barcelona’s Champions League campaign is also ongoing, with quarterfinal legs against Real Madrid set to take place later this month.

Jesse Marsch Nabs First Win With Leeds

Leeds United won its first game under new manager Jesse Marsch and it was an important one. Leeds entered its clash with bottom-of-the-table Norwich City just a point above the relegation zone, giving the game massive ramifications. Things mostly went Leeds’ way after taking the lead in the 14th minute, but a 91st minute equalizer from Kenny McLean looked likely to spoil the celebrations. There was just enough time for more heroics though, as Raphinha capitalized on an error at the back, rounded Tim Krul, and crossed for Joe Gelhardt to score and send Elland Road into wild celebrations. A big test awaits on Friday against seventh place Wolverhampton Wanderers, but for now Leeds has four points of breathing room between itself and the relegation zone.

Free Kicks

That does it for me today. Stay safe out there.