MLS football is in the spotlight again after the maniac playoff game between Orlando City SC and New York City FC at the weekend. The two teams met in the first round of the playoffs in the Eastern Conference and the game was not short on drama. In the end, the playoff match has been a good advert for MLS football as it has brought added attention to the league.
Hosts Orlando City beat their opponents 6-5 during penalty shootout to secure their place in the last four as far as the Eastern Conference is concerned. The two clubs had played a 1-1 draw at the end of regulation time and the scoreline remained the same after 30 minutes in extra time.
Portuguese international Luis Nani is one of the biggest stars in MLS football and he gave Orlando City the lead as early as the fifth minute from the penalty spot. The visitors equalized through defender Maxime Chanot three minutes later. Orlando City goalkeeper Pedro Gallese there after kept the visitors at bay with some fine saves.
The hosts were reduced to ten men with the 87th minute red card to Brazilian player Juan for lashing out at New York City winger Gary Mackay-Steven. It was a tip of the iceberg as far as the drama to come is concerned. The real drama came during the penalty shootout after extra time failed to separate the two teams.
Pedro Gallese was sent off during penalties after he strayed off his line while saving the penalty from Valentin Castellanos. The save would have won the shootout for Orlando City. Instead, they were reduced to nine men with Gallese receiving his second yellow card in the process. MLS football is still using the rules from last year and that caused the sending off. The latest rules won’t have led to Gallese being given a second yellow card for his penalty misdemeanor.
Orlando City tried to bring on backup goalkeeper Brian Rowe and he was already on the pitch before match officials figured that he couldn’t join the action as the situation descended into a controversy. This led to centre back Rodrigo Schlegel taking Pedro Gallese’s position in the Orlando City goal. In the end, the untried Schlegel became the hero for Orlando City.