Nashville is looking to achieve more before the playoff match against Orlando
Nashville SC and Orlando City were poised for a tie in their regular three season meetings, but that wouldn’t be the case in Tennessee on Tuesday with a place in the Eastern Conference semifinals at stake.
Unlike the 1-1 and 2-2 draws in Nashville and the 1-1 draws in Orlando this season, the first round of a singles elimination match will produce a winner. If the match is tied after 90 minutes, there will be two additional periods of 15 minutes each. If it’s still tied, penalties will determine which team will qualify to play at Philadelphia Union on Sunday.
Nashville (12-4-18, 54 points) earned the No. 3 seed thanks to the strength of being the seventh team in Major League Soccer history to go into an undefeated home season (8-0-9). Overall, they equaled the MLS record with 18 draws in 34 games.
Sixth-seeded Orlando (13-9-12, 51 points) will try to contain Hani Mokhtar, who scored 16 goals and made 12 assists this season.
In 2020, Nashville became one of seven extended teams in league history to qualify for the playoffs in their first season. They won two games before losing to eventual MLS Cup champion Columbus.
Nashville has higher expectations this time around.
“There isn’t a single team this year or last year that I look at in the league and go into the game saying, ‘There’s no way we can win this,'” said Nashville goalkeeper Joe Willis. “When we play well and are at our best, we can beat anyone in the league.”
Orlando also appeared in the first playoff last year, but it took the Lions six seasons to get there. They defeated New York City but were defeated by New England in the other conference semi-finals.
Orlando was inconsistent but won at the end of the regular season against Montreal to end a four-game winning streak without a win.
“Carrying on that momentum is important,” Orlando coach Oscar Parega said. “Hopefully we can go to Nashville with that commitment and be able to overcome this challenge.”
–Field Media Level