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USA vs. Panama: Final Score 5-1 as USMNT Romps in World Cup Qualifying Win in Orlando



United States Men’s National Team captain Christian Pulisic scored a hat trick — with two of those goals from the penalty spot — to lead the Yanks to a resounding 5-1 win over Panama at Exploria Stadium. Paul Arriola and Jesus Ferreira also scored as the U.S. put four on the board in the first half to take control of the match.

The USMNT still hasn’t lost in Exploria Stadium and tonight was the Yanks’ most decisive win to date. While the win by Costa Rica kept the U.S. from clinching a spot in the World Cup, the lopsided victory puts the USMNT on solid footing with one match to play in the qualifying campaign.

“We knew we were in a position where the group needed to respond, and when I look at the effort and intensity of the first half and the level that we’re playing, it was really impressive,” U.S. Head Coach Gregg Berhalter said after the match. “You can see exactly what the guys took on, and and their motivation to get back to the World Cup. We scored five goals in the game, and I think we could have had more if we were a little bit more clinical at times, but we made a big step towards our goal of qualifying for the World Cup.”

Berhalter started Zack Steffen in goal behind a back line of Antonee Robinson, Miles Robinson, Walker Zimmerman, and Shaq Moore. Tyler Adams, Yunus Musah, and Luca de la Torre manned the midfield behind an attacking line of Pulisic, Ferreira, and Arriola.

Los Canaleros looked to keep possession and work for a good shot early while the Yanks seemed content to pick their spots to press and look for transition opportunities. Panama had a good early spell of possession and Adalberto Carrasquilla fizzed a hard shot over Steffen’s crossbar in the eighth minute.

Arriola drew a free kick on the right just outside the penalty area in the 10th minute and that eventually led to the U.S. breakthrough. Pulisic went for goal on the free kick and it took a deflection, giving the USMNT a corner. Miles Robinson knocked down the corner cross in the box and Moore was the first to it, sending a hard shot/cross toward goal, where it was knocked out for another corner.

Zimmerman went down hard on the second U.S. corner kick of the match and was slow to get up. On a stoppage after the ensuing run of play, Zimmerman smartly picked up the ball to delay the restart, which allowed referee Ivan Barton to have a chat with the video assistant referee, Marco Ortiz.

Barton went to the monitor to look at the play again and determined that Panama’s Anibal Godoy had fouled his Nashville SC teammate in the area. The penalty was awarded and Pulisic smashed it just under the bar to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute.

Panama tried to pull that goal right back with some quick and physical play and a ball into the area nearly found a friendly head in the area in the 20th minute. Steffen went up and did just enough to prevent a goal and the ball pinged around in the box and was close enough for the keeper to grab. Whether he didn’t see it or couldn’t get his body into position, the loose ball continued to elude everyone until the defense could finally clear it and calm down the mad scramble.

“Panama’s a good team, and you could see that guys were processing everything and dealing through working through the pressure of the game and the physicality of Panama,” Berhalter said. “And thankfully we had the breakthrough, and the guys put a lot into it.”

Moments later, Robinson was sent down the left side and sent in a perfect cross. Arriola rose to meet it and flicked it into the right side of the net to double the lead in the 23rd minute.

“I was super happy with the goal and obviously to help the team,” Arriola said after the match. “As an attacking player, it’s always important to try and make your mark and be productive in the final third.”

The U.S. wasn’t done. Four minutes later, a good buildup ended up on Moore’s foot and his cross deflected in. Ferreira was the first to it and slipped it home to make it 3-0 in the 27th minute.

It was the first time that the USMNT had scored three goals in the first half in a World Cup qualifier since the last time the U.S. and Panama played a qualifier in Orlando in October of 2017.

The game calmed down for a bit after that, with much of the play between the boxes. But the end of the first half produced more fireworks.

After Godoy flashed a shot just wide of the left post for Panama, the Yanks were looking for more at the other end. A quick passing sequence unlocked Antonee Robinson down the left and he put in a dangerous cross. Arriola headed it back across the front of goal and Ferreira went for a bicycle kick but it sailed over the bar.

Pulisic made it four with his second goal from the spot on the night in first-half stoppage time. Godoy was booked and Barton wasted no time in pointing to the spot. The captain stepped up and smashed it into the top right corner. Luis Mejia guessed correctly but couldn’t keep it out and the U.S. lead bulged to 4-0.

The United States took its four-goal lead into the break. Panama held 60.7% of the possession and passed more accurately in the opening half (75.7%-71.7%), but the Yanks had more shots (10-5), shots on target (4-1), and corners (2-1).

Panama came out of the locker room strong, pressing high and forcing the U.S. into several turnovers. The back line had to do some emergency defending, with two big blocks by Antonee Robinson and a vital sliding block by Tyler Adams to deny Alberto Quintero.

Gaby Torres sent a header toward goal after that deflection but Steffen was there to catch it.

Second-half sub Gio Reyna had a big impact on the game. Just moments after the restart, he flashed a shot just wide of the left post from the right corner of the box. His passing unlocked a couple of opportunities that the U.S. was unlucky not to finish, including a ball to de la Torre, who found Ferreira in front. The FC Dallas striker had a great opportunity to make it 5-0, but he fired just over the bar from about 10 yards out.

Pulisic continued the onslaught in the 65th minute. Taking a ball from Robinson on the left, the captain deftly cradled the ball on his foot, spun around two defenders, and slotted home his third goal of the match, making it 5-0.

“There’s something special about Christian,” Arriola said. “And, you know, him as our captain tonight, to be able to step up a couple times to finish PKs, and then his great run and finish that he had for his third goal was great. I mean, he’s a great kid, great leader, obviously unbelievable, even better person, so i’m super happy for him.”

Panama pulled one back late on a free kick. Substitute Aaron Long appeared to do well in breaking up a counter attack but was called for a foul and booked. Godoy got onto the ensuing cross from Eric Davis and nodded into the bottom left corner, well out of Steffen’s reach in the 86th minute.

From there, the U.S. simply booted the ball up the field and saw out the remaining time to cap the victory. Panama held the advantage in possession (60.5%-39.5%), and passed more accurately (82.1%-76.4%), but the U.S. fired more shots (15-10), got more on target (5-2), and won more corners (3-2).

The match had an electric atmosphere throughout, even after the U.S. had taken its huge lead. That energy transferred to the players on the pitch.

“The crowd was unbelievable,” Berhalter said. “We enjoy playing in Orlando, this is exactly why. The crowd, even when we arrived at the stadium, the people in their seats and cheering and really help boost the team.”

The USMNT will finish World Cup qualifying on Wednesday at Costa Rica. The United States can qualify with a win, a draw, or a loss by five or fewer goals.

“We know we still have a game to go, and it’s a difficult game in Costa Rica,” Berhalter said. “So, our job right now is to recover, do regeneration. and then the healthy guys, fit guys, get them on the field and go compete in San Jose, where we’ve never won before.”

“I’m not celebrating anything,” Arriola said. “I was in this exact position, or a very similar position four years ago, and we know how that that qualification ended. So, for me, I think it’s just maintaining focus, understanding that we still have work to do, and anything is possible. The mentality of this group is, and has to be, to go down there to get a good result against Costa Rica.”

Orlando City

The Mane Land Announces Membership Program

Maximize your Mane Land experience with our new TML membership program while supporting our independent efforts.



Hello, readers of The Mane Land and listeners of our podcasts. Before you start reading this, please note that the most important part of this post is at the end. So, don’t stop until you get to the bottom.

You may recall that when we left SBNation to become independent, we really weren’t sure the best way to go about that. Many of our readers and listeners generously offered to help us make that transition, but we still weren’t sure the best path forward, so we took a poll.

The poll was pretty much split down the middle between those who preferred a one-time, Kickstarter-style campaign (which we did, and those of you who stepped up to help completely blew us away!) and those who favored a Patreon-style, subscription-based membership with extra perks. In fact, the member subscriptions option got a few more votes in our poll.

The folks who took part in our GoFundMe fundraiser were fantastic and are now immortalized on this very site on the “Our Founders” page. But we had always planned to give folks the option to choose whichever method of support they preferred and we tried to communicate that throughout the process. It took a little longer than expected to get up and running, but our membership subscription program is now in place! (You may notice the fancy new banner ad about it on the home page, echoed below.)

Supporting TML helps build a better TML for you to enjoy, so you’re really subscribing to your own Orlando soccer fandom.

Part of that delay was thinking up something that didn’t encroach on the benefits we gave our Founders. Those folks helped us get started and deserve the exclusivity of the perks they got. The other part of the delay is that there just aren’t enough hours in the day. (However, for you guys, I’m willing to be cloned.)

We have utilized the popular Buy Me a Coffee platform to run this program. You can find the basics here. The Mane Land premium membership program includes three tiers of membership, as well as the option to click on the “Support” tab for those who just want to help us out whenever, without joining the program or adding any recurring “appointment-based” payments to their budgets. We love that feature of Buy Me a Coffee (or “Buy Us a Beer” in our case…you drink what you like).

For those who do choose to become members, we hope we have provided value and we are planning to add benefits along the way, in addition to providing special giveaways, events, etc. (more on that below). We have also provided subscription options — with monthly or annual memberships. The annual cost essentially gives you 12 months for the price of 10.

Current Benefits

The current membership benefits depend on which level of support you choose — Homegrown Player, TAM Player, or Designated Player level. Each level includes all benefits from the lower tiers, with additional benefits for each higher level.

Homegrown Player: This is a basic set-it-and-forget-it level of support for The Mane Land, providing a way for our readers and podcast listeners to contribute to the success of TML‘s independence goals. We want to compensate our current volunteers, replace lost income of those who previously received small stipends from being part of the SBNation network, add photographers, attract new writers, and expand our coverage. Additionally, each Homegrown Player Level member will be recognized in a Lion Links column, which is still typically our most widely read post of each day and one of the top daily links columns among soccer sites. Homegrown Player Level members will also be included in any future prize drawings we have or events we host and may be subject to future benefits as they are added.

TAM Player: In addition to Homegrown Player benefits, TAM Players will receive a new weekly e-newsletter in their inbox (unless you opt out…some people hate email). These will be informal missives from myself, other TML writers, or a combination, discussing what’s on our mind regarding Orlando City, the Pride, OCB, or soccer in general. Think of it as an extra post from our site that may cover multiple topics. Additionally, you’ll get a 10% discount from our web shop items that we control (presently, that means everything except our listed MLS Shop items). We will definitely have more benefits coming for this level soon and will look for opportunities to include additional benefits as they become available.

Designated Player: This limited availability level of support includes all perks from the Homegrown and TAM levels, but it goes beyond. Your discount at our webshop (for items we control) will be 15% off. Additionally, we’ll send you Zoom links to watch us “make the doughnuts” whenever we record the podcast. This includes when we interview guests. You’ll see how the sausage is made behind the scenes and everything that we say, some of which will end up on the cutting room floor before the final podcast is sent out. This includes both The Mane Land PawedCast and SkoPurp Soccer: An Orlando Pride PawedCast. And after two months of membership you can commission a bonus episode of either podcast simply by letting us know what topic you want us to cover. Think of this as an extended Ask Us Anything. We’ll do a whole show about your topic and you can even join us to discuss it if you wish.

The DP Level will certainly have additional benefits tacked on as we move forward. It is currently limited to 40 members but could be expanded slightly depending on demand and our Zoom attendance.

Future Benefits / Benefits Under Consideration

While we won’t be able to schedule these due to the random nature of items falling into our hands, there will be periodic prize giveaways in drawings that include all of our members, regardless of level. The catch is that you get one entry per level of support, meaning Homegrown Player Level members will get one entry per prize drawing, TAM Player Level members will get two entries per drawing, and Designated Player Level members get three entries for prize drawings. Some of the kinds of items we have come across in the past include match tickets, trinkets, posters, scarves, and so on.

We are planning to add a message board to our website, well…soon-ish is the word that comes to mind. The plan for the message board is to build our community and further the discussion about the club. As part of this, we’re planning an exclusive, members-only area of that message board that TAM and DP members can access. This will be a place our staff can share informational nuggets we can’t necessarily write stories about for various reasons and interact with our members on a daily basis.

Other things in the works include meet-and-greets/watch parties where you can chat with TML staff members and catch a road match with a bunch of like-minded Orlando City/Pride fans while we all cheer on the team together. There may also be other informal outings with one or more members of the staff, organized fantasy leagues, random Zoom calls for Q&A sessions, and perhaps even some organized group outings for Orlando City / Pride matches, national team games, etc.

The Most Important Part of This Post

Remember at the top of this post, when I said the most important part is at the bottom? Well, that seems like a long time ago, now, so it’s OK if you’ve already forgotten.

The most important part of our membership program is you. We want your feedback so we can make this program something that interests and excites you. We want to know what you like and dislike about this program. We want to know if there are some things we didn’t think of that interest you. If you like what we’re offering, tell us! If you hate what we’re offering, we want to know what you’d prefer instead or in addition. If you want to go drinking with Dave, we can probably arrange that, but it’ll be a unique tier and we’ll have to figure out the cost of that.

No idea is too crazy to suggest, even if it’s too insane for us to actually offer. Let us know what you want from your subscription and we’ll see if that’s something we can do. We’ll make it easy for you by putting the form right here below this post, which is now concluded.

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Welcome Home!



Where do I even start? When we were told in January that SBNation was pulling its support of The Mane Land and other MLS and NHL blogs — and many podcasts — I was devastated. The site had become my new baby in September of 2014 and after eight and a half years, I wasn’t ready to let it go.

I was in a pickle. I couldn’t afford to lose the monthly stipend I had been getting from SBNation to manage the site and provide a steady stream of content. It wasn’t that it was a huge monthly sum, but it mostly covered my car payment. That car was purchased when my salary was higher. The pandemic hit my day job like it did to many, and after a four-month layoff, I got my old job back but not at the same rate. So, imagine taking a pay decrease at work and then, on top of that, losing the amount you spend per month on your car payment. There was simply no way to launch The Mane Land independently, I thought, because I simply couldn’t cover the startup costs. Even with some generous offers from the staff to pitch in, there simply wasn’t a way.

Once we took the news public, there was an outpouring of support on social media. We appreciated both the pledges to help out that we got from the community and the signal boosting that the national media gave blogs like ours. Those national folks rely on local reporting for background.

Encouraged by this outpouring of public support, I met with the TML staff and we threw some ideas around. We polled our Twitter followers to see how our community would prefer to show their support. We got pretty close to a 50/50 split between those who wanted to provide a one-time donation via a Kickstarter or GoFundMe crowdsourcing effort, and those who would prefer some sort of premium subscription add-on service like Patreon or Buy Me a Coffee.

We didn’t get a lot of responses to that poll, but we decided as a group that since the results were so similar, we would offer both and let the public choose one path, the other, or even both. (Stay tuned for news soon-ish on the premium subscription level, but rest assured, everything you’ve been getting for free at TML will remain free!)

I was, admittedly, skeptical that we could raise enough startup money to create a private business, pay for hosting a new site and two podcasts (having long wanted to give the Orlando Pride their own unique show), registering a domain, paying for some design work and consulting, and any unexpected expenses that might come up. However, I thought we’d at least give it a try.

Then the amazing Orlando City, Orlando Pride, and TML community got involved. You guys pushed us past our bare minimum goal in just four and a half hours when our fundraiser went live on March 1. We reset our goal and you met that by midnight. We reset our goal again, to the dream total we discussed on our initial staff Zoom chat and you met that by that first weekend.

Stunned. Humbled. Amazed. Touched. All of these words apply to how that made us feel, but they don’t quite cover it. I think we all felt an enormous responsibility, as well. We felt a mandate to provide you the best site and the best coverage we can.

We got everything we needed to run the site for two years, even if we don’t earn a penny after our launch — and we plan to try, via advertising, a Patreon (or similar) program, an online shop, affiliate links, and anything else we can think of. But we decided to leave the GoFundMe open through the end of March, just in case there were folks who wanted to contribute but needed to wait for payday, or if more people wanted to become founding members of this new site.

Now, here we are. You guys did this. We’re here because of you. And this site isn’t quite what it will become. I’m still learning my way around WordPress, after being away from it for years. There’s more to build, and some of the things you’re seeing on this site now will be improved in the future. We’ll continue to tweak it, add things, and upgrade as we go.

For now, I just want to welcome you to your new online home. On behalf of our entire staff, I thank our founding members, who are now immortalized on this site in our founders section. If you weren’t able to contribute to our transition from SBNation’s network to an autonomous and independent, new version of The Mane Land, you can thank the folks on our founders page, because without them, we wouldn’t be here. And if you still want to help out, we’ve got more things on the way.


Michael Citro
Managing Editor

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Orlando City

Intelligence Report: Orlando City vs. Philadelphia Union



It’s Matchday Eve once again, and Orlando City is looking to right the ship after a tough 2-1 loss to Charlotte FC last Saturday. This week the Lions will hit the road and take on the Philadelphia Union up in Pennsylvania.

A date with the Union means I caught up with Joe Lister, one of the writers over at Philadelphia Soccer Now, the new home of what was formerly SBNation’s Brotherly Game. As usual, Joe was extremely helpful in getting us up to speed on Philly.

One of the storylines in Orlando City’s off-season was Andres Perea’s departure for the Union. How has he performed so far?

Joe Lister: He’s done really well. Perea has sat behind Ale Bedoya thus far in the season, but as the Union’s captain exits matches a little earlier this year, Perea has stepped in well. He’s also seen significant minutes in Champions League play, and has been great in all competitions. He’s not fighting for a starting spot, but Perea is exactly what Philly needed: a role player.

Paxten Aaronson and Sergio Santos are no longer with Philly. How have they been replaced?

JL: Frankly, Santos and Aaronson have been the Union’s least important transfers of recent memory. The absence of Cory Burke is felt a little more in the first team, but it’s hard to say that Jim Curtin is regretting letting Santos and Aaronson walk.

In the larger picture of transfers, Philly brought in Perea and Joaquin Torres to boost the attack, and they’ve looked solid this far. Torres has demonstrated abilities at the No. 10 and the No. 9, and Perea, as you know, has huge upside at the No. 8.

Obviously, the Union are competing on two fronts to start the season, which can make it a bit tricky to judge performances when rotation is coming into the mix. With that being said, what are your early impressions of the team this year?

JL: The team is a little shaky. For some reason, the same starting XI that reached the MLS Cup final is struggling to gel.

The attack, more specifically, is having a rough go. It took some time to get forward Mikael Uhre going, but as soon as he did, Julian Carranza picked up a red card. It isn’t pretty right now, and the Union truly looks like a mid-table side in MLS action.

Are there any injuries, suspensions or call-ups that will keep players unavailable for selection? What is your projected starting lineup and score prediction?

JL: That Carranza red card will give him a suspension against Orlando, and goalkeeper Andre Blake may be missing the match due to a grade one adductor strain (though he could be cleared to play within the next few days). The Union will also be missing a bunch of players to international duty. Daniel Gazdag, Damion Lowe, Jose Martinez, Richard Odada, Quinn Sullivan, Brandan Craig, and Jack McGlynn will all be out. I’m no math major, but that adds up to nine absences.

Deep breath, here’s my lineup projection.

This isn’t gospel, but Curtin turned to a 4-3-2-1 when faced with injuries in 2021. My gut is that he’ll try something similar here.

Joe Bendik; Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, Olivier Mbaizo; Jesus Bueno, Leon Flach, Alejandro Bedoya; Joaquin Torres, Andres Perea; Mikael Uhre.

With all of that said, the Union just can’t pull this off. The team is missing too many players, and they just don’t look comfortable in MLS. This one goes to Orlando, 3-1.

Big thanks to Joe for getting us caught up on the Union. Vamos Orlando!

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