Australia are heading to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil


Australia have booked their place in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil with a 1-0 victory over Iraq earlier today.

The goal came from substitute Josh Kennedy, on for Socceroos legend Tim Cahill, in the 83rd minute. The ball came to winger Mark Bresciano on the right side and the 33 year old made it to the edge of the box before delicately floating a chip into the center of the area. Kennedy’s run put him at the penalty spot where he snapped the header into the bottom right corner of the goal.

The goal provided a dramatic escape for Australia, who needed to thwart a plucky Iraqi side on a few occasions throughout the second half. Many questioned manager Holger Osieck’s decision to take off Cahill during such a crucial part of the match. Cahill himself was dejected to come out of the match, at first pretending not to see the substitutes board before finally accepting his fate and slowly trudging off the pitch.

While the victory was not the dominant performance that many were expecting, Osieck was careful to pay tribute to Iraq and overjoyed that his squad grinded out the result. “It was a very tough qualifying campaign but we made it happen over the last three games,” said Osieck. “I’m simply happy for the boys and the fans. It was a tricky game, they are tough to play.”

Osieck’s decision to insert Kennedy proved to be a stroke of genius by Osieck. The 30 year old has been a peripheral figure throughout this World Cup campaign, but came up big when it counted. And while the Nagoya Grampus striker is the hero who put his side through to Brazil, substantial credit must be heaped on Bresciano for such an inventive cross.

It was eight years ago that Bresciano once again came to his country’s aid by scoring a huge goal that helped Australia knock off Uruguay to qualify for the World Cup finals. Down 1-0 after the first leg in Montevideo, Bresciano’s goal leveled the aggregate a 1-1, triggering a penalty shootout that the Socceroos won 4-2.

Today’s victory puts Australia in the World Cup finals for the third successive time. They’ll head to Brazil with what will be one of the oldest squads in the tournament as many players are over the age of 30, including goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer (40), captain Lucas Neill (35), Cahill (33) and Bresciano (33).

Australia join Brazil and Japan as nations that already have booked their place in next summer’s World Cup.

MLS Snapshot: Orlando City SC 2-1 Montreal Impact

Cyle Larin, Orlando City SC

The game in 100 words (or less): For weeks, it was a widely held belief that the Montreal Impact would snatch up the sixth and final playoff place in the Eastern Conference with little or no resistance from their opposition. As they went six games unbeaten (four wins), all looked to be setting up perfect for the club that fired Frank Klopas midseason, but there was another team in the race for sixth that kept winning themselves: Orlando City SC. On Saturday night, Montreal and Orlando City faced off at the Citrus, with the expansion Lions claiming their fourth-straight victory with a 2-1 triumph. Montreal now holds a one-point lead on Orlando in the race for sixth, and have two games in hand, but it’s no longer a foregone conclusion L’Impact will qualify for the playoffs no resistance whatsoever.

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Three moments that mattered

33′ — Bush’s mistake gifts Larin the opening goal — Larin did what your taught to do as a striker — “put it on frame, test the goalkeeper” — but in no universe does a shot so feeble have any business finding the back of the net. Evan Bush has been great this year. Hopefully (for Montreal’s sake), this howler doesn’t turn into the yips with the playoffs looming.

43′ — Hall’s “mistake” gifts Oduro an equalizer — Dominic Oduro equalized in the 43rd minute, when he took the ball out of the hands of Tally Hall and smashed it into the back of the net, but the goal should have been disallowed due to Hall having full control of the ball.

80′ — Hines hits the winner for Orlando — Seb Hines put the ball back into the mixer and just so happened to find the back of the net in the 80th minute. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

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Man of the match: Seb Hines

Goalscorers: Larin (33′), Oduro (43′), Hines (80′)

MLS Snapshot: NY Red Bulls 2-1 Columbus Crew SC

Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls
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The game in 100 words (or less): Two weeks in a row Columbus Crew SC have had a chance to go top of the Eastern Conference with a victory, and two weeks in a row Crew SC have failed to take a single point from massively important fixtures. Their latest defeat, a 2-1 humbling at the hands of the East-leading New York Red Bulls, started so well for Gregg Berhalter’s side, but was undone by a pair of costly, comedic defensive errors that allowed Lloyd Sam and Bradley Wright-Phillips (15th of the season) to erase an early deficit (Justin Meram) and win all three points. The result not only keeps the Red Bulls top of the East, but gives them a three- and four-point cushion with three and two games in hand on their nearest competitors., D.C. United and New England Revoltion respectively. For Crew SC, they’re four points back of the Red Bulls in fourth place, one point ahead of fifth-place Toronto FC, who have a game in hand.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

9′ — Meram pokes it past Robles for an early lead — Meram “earned” his goal all the way back in midfield, when the Iraqi international’s mazy run took a routine turnover inside Crew SC’s defensive half and turned it into a dangerous counter-attacking opportunity. Harrison Afful overlapped and provided the cross for Meram to send home.

12′ — Sam capitalizes on multiple mistakes to equalize — Crew SC pass the ball out of the back. They don’t boot it forward to clear. It’s just what they do. Sometimes, that’ll bite you. When your goalkeeper and right back both have blunders clearing the ball 10 seconds apart, you probably deserve to concede an ugly, scrappy goal.

21′ — Wright-Phillips capitalizes on more defensive gaffes — See the above description for Red Bulls goal no. 1.

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Man of the match: Damien Perrinelle

Goalscorers: Meram (9′), Sam (12′), Wright-Phillips (21′)