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Lion Links: 3/21/22

Facundo Torres gains confidence, MLS weekend results, Brenden Aaronson injured, FA Cup semifinals set, and more.

MLS: Orlando City SC at LA Galaxy Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers. For those of you who noticed I’ve been missing, I’m back from a family vacation in Washington D.C. It’s been years since I’ve been up there, and it was well worth the visit. I highly recommend it if you haven’t been. The history, and frankly the scale of the monuments is impressive. The Smithsonian’s various museums are worth the trip alone.

I did get the heartbreak of the loss to FC Cincinnati the night before I left, and the joy of the victory against the LA Galaxy the weekend after returning. I must admit that I saw both of those matches going differently, but I’ll take the three points on the road. Let’s get to the links.

Torres Gets Confidence Boost

Facundo Torres scored his first MLS goal in Orlando City’s fourth match of the season against the LA Galaxy. It could not have come at a better time for his club, as the goal gave the Lions an important three points on the road. It also came at a good time for the Young Designated Player, as he will soon join Uruguay for a World Cup qualifier this Thursday against Pedro Gallese and Peru. Here’s hoping that confidence carries him through the qualifiers and back to Orlando in goal scoring form.

Sunday’s MLS Results

The Sunday matches didn’t hold quite as much excitement as the matches on Saturday in MLS. The New York Red Bulls played the Columbus Crew to a 1-1 draw at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls struck first, albeit late when the ball bounced off of Tom Barlow and into the back of the net in the 84th minute. It was the kind of lucky goal usually scored by Gyasi Zardes, which is funny given Zardes was on the field for the Crew and couldn’t get a goal himself. However, Darlington Nagbe was able to finish a chance in stoppage time to salvage a point for Columbus.

Austin FC ended up with a 1-1 result against the Seattle Sounders at Q2 Stadium in Texas. The Sounders took the lead at the end of the first half when Cristian Roldan made a run up the right side and put in a nice cross for Will Bruin to finish in traffic. Diego Fagundez leveled for Austin in the 70th minute, settling the ball and bouncing it into the left side of the goal.

The Vancouver Whitecaps went on the road and took an early lead against LAFC after a goal from Tristan Blackmon. But a brace from Ryan Hollingshead and a goal from Carlos Vela helped LAFC win 3-1 and stay unbeaten this season

Brenden Aaronson’s Availability in Doubt

Brenden Aaronson may not be able to play for the USMNT in the upcoming qualifiers this week due to an injury sustained prior to RB Salzburg’s match against Wolfsberg in the Austrian Bundesliga. However, it was also reported that Aaronson is still expected to report to camp.

The extent of the injury isn’t known as of now, and it could be that Gregg Berhalter wants the USMNT’s doctors to evaluate Aaronson for themselves. If Aaronson is not able to play, it would be a blow to the U.S. in the upcoming qualifiers.

FA Cup Semifinals are Set

As interesting as the FA Cup has been so far, the upcoming semifinals may take the cake. Manchester City defeated Southampton by a score of 4-1 at St. Mary’s Stadium in Southampton. Meanwhile, Liverpool saw out a 1-0 win over a persistent Nottingham Forest squad at City Ground in West Bridgford. Manchester City and Liverpool are neck and neck in the English Premier League title race, with Liverpool just a point behind City in the standings. Now, the two clubs will add an FA Cup semifinal match against each other to the schedule. City is trying for a treble (EPL, UEFA Champions League, and FA Cup), while Liverpool aims for a quadruple, having already won the Carabao Cup.

Crystal Palace romped over a struggling Everton 4-0 to advance to a semifinal against Christian Pulisic’s Chelsea. Marc Guéhi opened the scoring for Palace in the 25th minute, and Jean-Philippe Mateta added another before halftime. Palace sealed the win with second-half goals from Wilfried Zaha and Will Hughes.

Free Kicks

That will do it for today. Check back as we prepare for Orlando City’s upcoming match against the Portland Timbers this Sunday and the Orlando Pride’s NWSL Challenge Cup match against the North Carolina Courage on Saturday.