Orlando City 1 (5), LAFC 1 (4) | MLS is Back Tournament Match Recap
Orlando City are into the MLS is Back Tournament semifinals, making all five of their penalty kicks in the shootout that decided their quarterfinal matchup against LAFC. Jordan Harvey rattled his attempt off the crossbar and Nani scored the clincher, deciding matters after a 1-1 draw in regulation time.
Oscar Pareja’s team will face either Minnesota United or the San Jose Earthquakes next Thursday, with their opponent decided after Saturday night’s first of two quarterfinal bouts (8 pm ET | ESPN2, ESPN Deportes in US; TSN, TVA Sports 2 in Canada).
Watch PK shootout:
Looking set for a tournament exit, Orlando finally found their equalizer in the 90th minute through left back Joao Moutinho. He rose highest on a Nani corner kick, heading home at the back post to make it 1-1.
The Black & Gold were held without a shot on goal through 60 minutes, and then scored on their first shot of the game for the 1-0 lead. Bradley Wright-Phillips tapped home inside the six-yard box, turning home a Diego Rossi cutback cross after the Uruguayan winger dispossessed Orlando midfielder Sebastian Mendez.
The breakthrough arrived three minutes after Orlando had a golden opportunity of their own, when goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer saved Nani’s penalty kick in the 57th minute. The chance was granted when LAFC left back Diego Palacios tripped up Orlando right back Ruan on a slide tackle.
LAFC thought they broke the scoreless deadlock in the 31st minute, but the goal by Wright-Phillips was called back following a Video Review. LAFC winger Brian Rodriguez was a step offside in the buildup, negating the Englishman’s eventual tap-in.
Man of the Match presented by Heineken
Joao Moutinho scored the equalizer to force penalty kicks, and then he calmly dispatched from 12 yards out on Orlando’s third PK shootout attempt. They’re two highlights for the former LAFC SuperDraft pick (No. 1 overall in 2018), who’s altogether had a really solid Tournament.
- THE BIG PICTURE. Orlando are two games away from lifting a trophy, continuing their climb under head coach Oscar Pareja. It’s quite the feat considering the Lions haven’t made the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in any of their first five seasons. LAFC didn’t quite have their normal energy levels, and head coach Bob Bradley said as much after the game. It was also the first time in five MLS is Back matches that LAFC were held to under two goals.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Nani’s game-winning penalty kick served as sweet revenge. Goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer robbed the Designated Player on his second-half spot kick, only for Nani to deposit during the shootout with the chance to clinch advancement.
- YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: The status of Chris Mueller looms large for Orlando. He was subbed off at halftime for Benji Michel, and then was shown on the broadcast with his left arm in a sling.
- ORL: Thursday, Aug. 6 vs. TBD, MLS is Back Tournament Semifinals (8:00 pm ET | ESPN2, ESPN Deportes in US; TSN, TVA Sports 2 in Canada)
- LAFC: End of Tournament