Nashville SC qualify to Eastern Conference semi-finals after 3-1 win over Orlando City

Nashville SC's Hany Mukhtar inspired the 3-1 victory over Orlando City SC
Nashville SC's Hany Mukhtar inspired the 3-1 victory over Orlando City SC / Ira L. Black - Corbis/GettyImages

Nashville SC has qualified to the Eastern Conference semi-finals after a stunning 3-1 victory over Orlando City SC on Tuesday night.

The Tennessee-based team will now go on to visit the Philadelphia Union on the 28th at Subaru Park. 

This is the second season, in its second year in Major League Soccer, that Nashville has reached the conference semis. 

A stoppage time goal from Jhonder Cádiz propelled Nashville SC to secure the victory even though the winners didn’t quite kick off the match on the front foot. It was Orlando City that hit the floor running, opening up the scoring in the 14th minute after Daryl Dike nodded home a corner kick. 

But before Orlando could celebrate, Nashville punched right back. Hany Mukhtar’s first attempt at goal took a deflection off of center back Antônio Carlos, curving into the goal over a shocked Orlando goalkeeper Pedro Gallese in the 21st minute.

After Mukhtar’s equalizer, Orlando struggled to remain competitive. The visiting side drew back into their own half, inspiring Nashville to take control of the game. 

The German midfielder quickly doubled his tally after picking up the ball deep into Orlando’s half, weaving through defenders to drive a low shot into the net. Mukhtar entered the MLS postseason as one of three league MVP finalists, and worked to solidify his campaign with the stellar performance on Tuesday night. 

The goal sent fans into a frenzy as they chanted M-V-P in unison, proving the importance of home field advantage. 

To seal the deal, Venezuelan forward Cádiz beat Antônio Carlos to the ball in the second half stoppage time to end the game with a calm finish into the back of the net for the 3-1. 

The defeat unfortunately means the end of the road for Orlando City, who saw their 2021 campaign come to a disappointing end. After finishing the regular-season in sixth on the Eastern Conference table, the Florida-based side made only a Round One appearance in the playoffs.