Orlando City SC (11-4-8, 41 points) were defeated by Nashville SC (8-7-8, 32 points) 3-2 at Exploria Stadium in Orlando on Sunday afternoon. The Lions had already held a guaranteed playoff spot, but hoped to clinch the 3rd spot in the playoffs with a win.
This was Orlando’s first home loss of the season and the final regular season of the match.
Orlando scored first when Daryl Dike took a ball from Chris Mueller, just outside of the area and put is into the net with a nice cross shot. It was the rookie’s 8th goal of the season.
The visitors leveled after Daniel Lovitz took a shot from the edge of the area that was blocked by a City defender, but bounced right back to him with his second attempt finding the top-left corner of the net.
The team was a little frustrated as it went into the half.
Orlando is notorious for coming out for the second half with a lack if intensity. Nashville, on the other hand, came out fo the half on fire, with pressure on every ball, and closing the gaps that might have been open in the first half.
Nani, who’s red card in the last match against Columbus reversed, got a great look in the 61st minute and put it in for the Lions on a free kick. Nani later left the game after being struck in the face by a Nashville defender. Though he returned to play, he was later substituted out of the match.
Music City rep pressing and finally equalized with a Hany Mukhtar header past goalie Brian Rowe in the 88th minute.
Asl Lions head coach Oscar Pareja made substitutions for speed and more energy, this group wasn’t as organized as the starters, and that with the lowered intensity made it possible for Music City to take advantage.
In the 90+3 minute mark, Nashville scored on a free kick from the right side from Hany Mukhtar found Jhonder Cádiz in the middle of the area, who was able to head it in for the finish.
Though the result was disappointing, Pareja still supported his boys.
“Today obviously at the game it did not end the way we wanted, so we need to sharpen things, especially in those key moments of concentration and it has been something that we have been working on. We will keep doing it, but the boys have done an excellent job and today more than ever before, I’m proud of them and I’m with them. It’s a moment in the competition when you want to win and you have the game there, but this is the league and we’ll be ready.”
With the result, the Lions finish the regular season at No. 4 in the Eastern Conference, set to host 2015 expansion rivals New York City FC to begin the 2020 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs at Exploria Stadium. The date and time for that match will be confirmed at a later date.