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Lion Links: 3/25/22

Orlando City heads west, Orlando City B roster announced, USMNT draws in Mexico, and more.

Mexico v United States - Concacaf 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope the work week has been treating you well as we get ready for a weekend filled with soccer. I’m looking forward to spending the next few days with my family and soaking up some sun. But for now, let’s enjoy these links from around the soccer world!

Orlando City Heads West Once More

For the second time this month, Orlando City will travel over 2,000 miles to the west coast as the Lions will take on the Portland Timbers in Providence Park this Sunday at 4 p.m. Orlando is coming off of a 1-0 win against the LA Galaxy that included Facundo Torres’ first goal in MLS and a record-setting clean sheet by Pedro Gallese. However, Torres, Gallese, and midfielder Sebas Mendez are all in South America for World Cup qualifying. Goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar will fill in for Gallese between the sticks and was unbeaten in the five MLS games he started last season.

Stajduhar will be supported by an Orlando back line that has only conceded twice so far this season. Center back Robin Jansson is only eight minutes away from breaking the club’s all-time minutes played record across all competitions that is currently held by Joe Bendik’s 8,248 minutes.

Orlando City B Announces 2022 Roster

The 23-player roster for Orlando City B’s first season in MLS NEXT Pro was announced. The roster includes 11 players on MLS NEXT Pro contracts and 12 on academy contracts as the reserve side aims to develop players for the first team. Draft picks Nick Taylor and Brandon Hackenberg were both signed to the team and join returning OCB players Javier Otero and Moises Tablante on the roster.

Academy player Ethan Subachan is also on the roster and recently scored in the U-17 team’s 2-2 draw with Inter Miami last weekend. Another forward to keep an eye out for this OCB season is Gonzalo Agustoni-Chagas, who won the Golden Ball during the 2020-21 MLS NEXT season at the U-17 level. The team will play its first match tomorrow against Chicago Fire II at Osceola County Stadium.

Exploria Stadium Will Host a Doubleheader in April

Orlando City and OCB will both play at Exploria Stadium on April 24 as part of a doubleheader. The first team will play the New York Red Bulls at 3 p.m. and fans can stick around for OCB’s match against New England Revolution II at 6:30 p.m. Tickets purchased for the MLS game will be valid for both matches.

“We are thrilled to provide our fans the opportunity to see both our First Team and MLS NEXT Pro side in action on the same day at Exploria Stadium,” said Orlando City SC President of Business Operations Jarrod Dillon. “The return of Orlando City B is an exciting moment for all of us at the Club and we look forward to watching the side take the pitch here in downtown Orlando.”

USMNT Draws With Mexico in World Cup Qualifier

The United States Men’s National Team drew 0-0 against Mexico in the Azteca. Giovanni Reyna impressed in his return to action, but the offense lacked the finishing touch to score. Regardless, it was a solid defensive effort for the USMNT and it still sits in second in the Concacaf World Cup qualifying standings. Timothy Weah and Deandre Yedlin both picked up yellow cards and won’t be available for Sunday’s crucial match against Panama at Exploria Stadium. The USMNT only needs a result against Panama to ensure a top-four finish and at least a spot in the qualifying playoff against the Oceanic representative.

Elsewhere in Concacaf, Mark-Anthony Kaye was sent off in the 35th minute as Canada fell 1-0 to Costa Rica. Honduras was able to mount a comeback on the road against Panama for a 1-1 draw.

Pair of Lions Qualify for the World Cup

Uruguay clinched its spot in the World Cup after a 1-0 win against Gallese and Peru. Torres was an unused substitute. The result also means Ecuador qualified for the World Cup despite a 3-1 loss to Paraguay and Orlando’s Sebas Mendez started for Ecuador in the match. The fifth spot is the only one still up for grabs, with Peru, Colombia, and Chile all in contention for it.

Italy will miss out on the World Cup yet again after a shocking 1-0 loss to North Macedonia. Despite 16 corner kicks and 32 shots, Italy wasn’t able to find the back of the net and Aleksandar Trajkovski scored the winner in stoppage time. North Macedonia will get a chance to qualify on Tuesday when it faces Portugal, which won 3-1 against Turkey. Sweden was able to score in extra time to win 1-0 over the Czech Republic and will play Poland on Tuesday. Gareth Bale scored two goals in Wales’ 2-1 win against Austria, including this stunning free kick.

Japan booked its ticket to the World Cup after winning 2-0 against Australia thanks to a late brace from Kaoru Mitoma. Saudi Arabia also qualified for the World Cup after a 1-1 draw with China. Australia will play either Iran or the United Arab Emirates in the fourth round, with the winner of that match advancing to take on the fifth-placed finisher from South America for one of the final qualification spots.

Free Kicks

That’s all I have for you today. Make sure to stay hydrated out there while you enjoy some soccer and sunshine. Have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend.