Three matches, three draws in the 2021 series between Nashville SC and Orlando City SC. The Southeastern rivals finished level after each half featured a single goal – and a stoppage-time winner for Orlando was ruled out after video review. In the end, a 1-1 finish benefits both teams in the table, but each will feel there was more to win from the game.
The first half was tilted in favor of the Lions, and at times, Nashville had trouble getting out of its own end. Orlando City only chose to press aggressively on a handful of occasions, but when the Lions wanted to pin NSC in, it was generally successful.
That’s how the first goal of the match came about. A spell of Nashville possession in its own end saw OCSC ultimately regain possession in a dangerous area. Winger Luis Nani slid a throughball to position-mate Chris Mueller near the endline, and a pullback pass found Daryl Dike all alone near the center of the six-yard box. The 21-year old made no mistake first-timing it into the back of the Nashville net. For good measure, the US International busted out a seasonally-appropriate mummy dance, mirroring the goal celebration he performed against NSC last year (albeit this time without the gauze for a head injury adding to the ambiance).
Minutes after Nashville SC appealed for a penalty kick – Hany Mukhtar was taken down from behind by Antônio Carlos, but there wasn’t enough contact to even merit a VAR review, much less an overturn of the call on the field – the Boys in Gold drew level. EXPLAIN
Two of the best squandered chances for Nashville SC in the second half came from… Eric Miller? Filling in at left back in the absence of suspended Dan Lovitz and ill Taylor Washington, Miller found himself along near the top of the Orlando box on the ball in the 83rd minute, but a moment of hesitation allowed the defender to recover, and Miller went down in a heap without being able to pass or shoot. In the 88th, a deflected shot by Hany Mukhtar dribbled wide of the post, but Miller’s reaction to it was a beat late to get the tap-in before it crossed the endline.
It was Orlando that appeared to have the stoppage-time winner. Alexandre Pato’s free kick found the crossbar, but a goal-mouth scramble that saw US Youth International Andres Perea put the ball into the back of the net was deemed to feature a foul by Dike – pulling NSC centerback Dave Romney away from his attempted clearance – and the teams would finish on level terms.
With the draw, Nashville no longer controls its own destiny for the second position in the Eastern Conference – even a win on Decision Day would mean finishing behind Philadelphia unless the Union drops points in one of its final two games, tonight against FC Cincinnati and next Sunday against New York City FC.
Nashville now sits on 53 points, and – at least temporarily – in second position in the East, three points ahead of Philadelphia Union. NSC can seal its home playoff game with Philly dropping any points against Cincinnati tonight (which also is a boost in the quest to finish No. 2), or with any win/draw against New York Red Bulls next weekend.
- 18′ ORL GOAL – 18 Daryl Dike (right foot, first-time from top of six-yard box), assisted by 9 Chris Mueller (pullback from endline)
- 40′ NSH Yellow card – 25 Walker Zimmerman (foul)
- 45’+2 Half time
- 49′ ORL Yellow card – 8 Jhegson (time-wasting, badass shot from range after the whistle)
- 53′ NSH GOAL – 10 Hany Mukhtar (right-footed, after dribble), assisted by 8 Randall Leal (pass into penalty area)
- 56′ NSH Yellow card – 12 Alistair Johnston (foul)
- 57′ ORL Yellow card – 11 Junior Urso (dissent)
- 72′ NSH Substitution – On 72 Ake Loba, off 17 CJ Sapong
- 74′ ORL Substitution – On 19 Benji Michel, off 9 Chris Mueller
- 81′ NSH Substitutions –
- On 27 Tah Brian Anunga, off 19 Alex Muyl
- On 99 Jhonder Cádiz, off 8 Randall Leal
- 86′ ORL Substitution – on 7 Alexandre Pato, off 8 Jhegson
- 90’+1 ORL Substitutions –
- On 21 Andres Perea, off 10 Mauricio Pereyra
- On 24 Kyle Smith, off 2 Ruan
- On 14 Silvester van der Water, off 17 Luis Nani
- 90’+1 NSH Substitution – On 26 Luke Haakenson, off 10 Hany Mukhtar
- 90’+6 Full time