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Lion Links: 3/28/22

Orlando City earns a point at Portland, the USMNT wins big in Orlando, Canada qualifies for the World Cup, and more.

MLS: Orlando City SC at Portland Timbers Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers! It might have been a disappointing draw by Orlando City, but a point on the road in MLS is still a good point. The United States Men’s National Team’s win at Exploria Stadium also makes this Monday morning a little brighter. Let’s dive into today’s links!

Lions Drop Points at Portland

If I told you that Orlando City would get a point on the road at Portland before the match, you’d most likely be happy with that. However, once the Lions were up a goal, and then up a man, giving up two points was frustrating. Junior Urso gave the Lions a lead in the 52nd minute thanks to some persistent play from Alexandre Pato. Orlando aimed to see out the match, but then Andrés Perea committed a foul in the box and Cristhian Paredes converted a penalty to equalize. Still, a point on the road isn’t a terrible result.

Michael Citro has your match recap and Stumptown Footy provided a view from the other side. Check back today for our player grades and man of the match, as well as our five takeaways.

USMNT All But Qualifies

I don’t know about you, but I was very nervous before the USMNT’s 5-1 win against Panama. It only took 17 minutes for Christian Pulisic to put my nerves at ease after converting the team’s first penalty. Goals from Paul Arriola and Jesus Ferreira in the 23rd and 27th minutes, respectively, made it certain that everything would be okay. Then Pulisic converted another penalty and showed off his ball control to complete his hat trick.

The U.S. gave up a late goal thanks to a header from Anibal Godoy, but a 5-1 victory over Panama has the U.S. all but qualified heading into the match against Costa Rica this Wednesday. So long as it doesn’t lose by six goals or more to Costa Rica, the USMNT will be in Qatar later this year.

Canada Qualifies for the World Cup

I know USMNT supporters were upset about missing the last World Cup in 2018. Now imagine if it had been 37 years since your national team qualified. That is the drought Canada has gone through, but it threw that monkey off its back and punched its ticket to Qatar with a definitive 4-0 win over Jamaica. Former Lion Cyle Larin got things going for the Canucks in the 13th minute. Tajon Buchanan and Junior Hoilett added two more goals and Jamaica gifted Canada a fourth on an own goal from Adrian Mariappa. Canada’s last qualifier will be this Wednesday against Panama.

Elsewhere in Concacaf, Mexico was able to defeat Honduras 1-0 at the Olímpico Metropolitano in San Pedro Sula. The result puts Mexico in a good position to qualify unless it loses to El Salvador at the Azteca on Wednesday and Costa Rica beats the USMNT. Speaking of Costa Rica, it won 2-1 against El Salvador to stay in contention for a direct qualification spot. The Ticos are fourth in the standings and would currently take on the Oceanic representative in June for a spot in the World Cup.

Looking Ahead to More World Cup Qualifiers

Orlando City goalkeeper Pedro Gallese and Peru are in a fight for a chance to make the World Cup against Colombia and Chile. There are many scenarios in play as the three nations are competing for the fifth spot in the standings and don’t play each other on the final qualifying match day tomorrow. The objective is simple for Peru though, as it just needs to beat Paraguay to clinch fifth place for a chance to qualify through a playoff against a team from the AFC that is still to be determined.

Qualifying in Africa wraps up tomorrow with five matches between the top teams on the continent. No team has a large lead heading into these second legs, setting up for an exciting slate of games.

In the Oceanic federation, Tahiti managed to keep things close against New Zealand until Kiwi defender Liberato Cacace pounced on a loose ball in the box to score. That goal was the difference as New Zealand won 1-0 and will face the Solomon Islands on Thursday.

Free Kicks

That will do it for today. Check back later this week for more Orlando soccer coverage.