ORLANDO, FL – (Oct. 31, 2021) – Orlando City SC (12-9-12, 48 points) and Nashville SC (12-4-17, 53 points) battled to a 1-1 draw on Sunday afternoon in the Club’s regular season home finale against at Exploria Stadium.
The game ended with a controversial call that would have made it a clear win for the Lions. Nashville, in second position for the upcoming MLS playoffs.
The Lions lbattled throughout the second half, with shots barely missing the net, do get the three points that would seal a playoff spot for the team.
Orlando looked to have scored the game-winner in stoppage time when Andrés Perea put in a ball following an Alexandre Pato free kick, but the goal was waived after Referree Allen Chapman deemed that VAR deemed a foul on the play prior to the finish.
Chapman had been dealing with jawing from Orlando players for a good part of the match, as the players complained about uncalled fouls and unfair calls alike. It seemed that Chapman grew tired of the it and fired off a yellow card on Sebas Mendez for dissension in the 49th minute, and Junior Urso seen relentlessly mouthing off to him. Urso’s card reason was listed as “Other reasons”.
Before the drama, Orlando opened the scoring in the 18th minute when Daryl Dike scored his 9th goal for Orlando this season. Chris Mueller and Nani assisted in the Dike goal.
Nani manage to tara a ball down the right side to Mueller. Mueller crossed the ball into some raffic in front of the goal, but Dike caught the ball on his foot and put it in.
Orlando managed to take the 1 goal lead into the half, but the match wasn’t even close to bing over.
Nashville’s preside passing and pushing of a high front seemed to slow down the Lions offense, and when they saw an opening, they struck.
In the 59th minute, Randall Leal took a C.J. Supong ball through to Hany Mukhtar. Mukhtar dribble the ball into the box and blasted it into the far post of the goal for the equalizer.
Now it came down to that controversial call, but Orlando had chances earlier in the match.
In the 34th minute when a Ruan pass was deflected off of Supong, but god scrambled in the mix. Urso managed to get his foot on the ball. Urso, then facing away from goal, took his shot, which bounced off of the far post.
Mas got free on the left but had his shot blocked in the 71st minute and the rebound fell to Mueller, who fired just off target.
Mueller got free a couple of minutes early, but his shot went over the goal. Mueller was soon substituted out for Benji Michel.
Thiat could have been Mueller final appearance at Exploria Stadium unless the Lions can get a home game playoff appearance.
Pato drew a free kick about 25 yards straight out from goal and stepped up to take it himself. He blasted a shot that caught the bottom of the crossbar and hit Willis, then bounced off the right post and crawled tantalizingly out in front of the goal. Dike tried to get to the ball first. Alistair Johnston came in from behind and there was contact, with both players ending up in the net. Perea was first to get to the loose ball, scoring the apparent winner.
The VAR was focussed on the Alistair Johnson contact on Dike before Parea’s tap in.
There was an explosion of emotion when Referee Chapman came back from the Monitor and waved off of the goal.
“Orlando player Daryl Dike kicked Nashville player Alistair Johnston’s leg as Johnston was attempting to clear the ball. It was determined to be a foul prior to the goal being scored,” the referee responded to a pool reporter’s question after the match. “In the opinion of the match officials, Daryl Dike prevented Johnston from clearing the ball.”
In the end, the win and Orlando’s chance to clinch a playoff spot would not have tonight.
Orlando Head Coach Oscar Pareja was visibly upset about the end of the game, hading pulled his players off of Chapman to talk with him.
“There is not any explanation that gets even close to (us) accepting that decision,” Pareja said. “That’s not going to be a resource for us, trying to make the players understand that it was a foul. We can’t get there. There’s no way to do it. I already saw 30 times the clip.”
In the end, Orlando will have to forget this game and move on to the task of beating Montreal a week from today in Canada.