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Orlando City Draw 1-1 with Nashville, Miss Playoffs in Final Season Matchup

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – Orlando City SC hosted Nashville SC for their final game of the season. Nashville brought the same intensity to Orlando typically seen in a season opener.

 

First Half

Orlando City goalkeeper Pedro Gallese made two saves in the space of a minute. deflected what would’ve been a sure Nashville goal off a corner kick in the 11th minute. The same corner kick was repeated in the 12th minute, and Gallese was able to catch the ball in midair.

Orlando City got on the board first in suspenseful style. With plenty of pressure on them, Nani slowed the momentum a bit and made a left cross to Chris Mueller, who made the assist to Daryl Dike for Orlando City’s first goal in the 19th minute.

Walker Zimmerman earned himself a yellow card when he pulled Nani’s shirt pulled in the 40th minute, and consequently free kick for Orlando.

Orlando maintained their 1-0 lead at halftime.

 

Second Half

In the 53rd minute, Nashville evened the board with a goal of their own thanks to Hany Mukhtar’s shot that met the left corner of the net. Orlando couldn’t catch up to the ball fast enough to deflect or kick it away.

Alistair Johnston got Nashville’s second yellow card in the 55th minute.

In the 74th minute, Chris Mueller’s right-heading goal attempt shot far above the goal, causing him to have a brief tantrum in frustration. That was the second time he’d overshot the goal. Immediately, he was subbed out for Benji Michel.

The Lions had another near-goal in the 77th minute. Nani provided a sharp left cross to Junior Urso, who shot it over the crossbar.

The tables appeared to turn in the four minutes of postgame stoppage time. Orlando’s Alexandre Pato fired a shot that hit the crossbar. Nashville goalkeeper Joe Willis jumped up to deflect the ball and fell to the left of the of the goal and the ball fell straight down to the box, causing Orlando to rush the goal in frenzy to slide the open ball in. Dike held out his arm to repel Nashville’s Alistair Johnston from getting to the ball, causing both to slide and crash into each other. Andres Perea ran in for the closer, causing Exploria stadium to explode. It took an unsettlingly long few seconds for that second goal to get on the board, but it appeared. With those three points, Orlando would clinch a playoff berth.

Orlando City SC forward Daryl Dike. Photo: Willie David/Florida National News.

Orlando City SC forward Daryl Dike. Photo: Willie David/Florida National News.

But alas, the rug was pulled. The referee called a foul on Daryl Dike after VAR review, disallowing that second goal and keeping the final score a 1-1 draw. Exploria–and the Orlando City Lions–were in an uproar. Head coach Oscar Pareja marched onto the field demanding an explanation.

“First, we need to rest. There is not any explanation that comes even close to accepting the decision because that’s not going to be a result for us trying to make the players understand that it was a foul. We can’t get there, there’s no way to do that. We need to put it behind us. It will obviously take a certain amount of time, but I hope the boys can just shake it off and refocus on what is coming because that’s our responsibility. [We need to] have the courage and have the intensity, have the intention, have the desire that is going to get us over this hurdle. It’s what we need to do. I can’t tell you how disappointed the players are with what just happened. We’ll wait and let them absorb it first and tomorrow will be another day. Again, we’re soccer players, this is a beautiful sport and we have to move on and try to make things happen in Montréal.”

– Orlando City SC head coach Oscar Pareja postgame

In the end, Orlando City is now out of playoff contention.

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Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | mellissa.thomas@floridanationalnews.com

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