Wilfried Nancy hails Patrick Schulte after impressive showing vs Orlando City

  • Columbus defeated Orlando City 2-0
  • Schulte came up with several critical saves
  • 22-year-old has continued to improve in first year as starting goalkeeper
Patrick Schulte came up clutch for Columbus
Patrick Schulte came up clutch for Columbus / Morgan Tencza-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Crew head coach Wilfried Nancy was full of praise for goalkeeper Patrick Schulte after his stunning showing in goal to propel the Black and Gold to the Eastern Conference finals.

When you look at the Crew from the surface level, it's easy to focus on the likes of Cucho Hernandez, Diego Rossi, Darlington Nagbe and Aidan Morris. But Schulte's performance at Exploria Stadium was one to remember and perhaps even a breakout game for the young shot-stopper.

Even though the Crew were in control for most of the game with the 56% possession, Orlando City sprung forward on several counter attacks but couldn't find the back of the net due to several last-gasp saves from the 22-year-old.

As Columbus were 1-0 up in extra time, Orlando's Kyle Smith was through on goal and looked certain to level game -- but Schutle stuck a leg out to prevent Smith from scoring. The save was reminiscent of Aston Villa's Emilio Martinez in the 2022 World Cup final where the 31-year-old also stuck out a left leg that prevented France from winning in normal time.

"Obviously, I don't like to talk about one player in particular, but Pat (Schulte) has been outstanding," Noonan said after the game. "Schulte, he kept us in the game. I'm so happy for him because I remember many games that he was not happy about his performance and he did a good job during the performance, but he was not happy with that. All the time, he's extremely demanding with himself to try to put the level up and the level up."

Schulte stood tall all game for Columbus, and while three saves might not sound that impressive, he still managed to keep the ball out of the net despite facing Orlando's xG of 1.38. In his first year as the first choice goalkeeper at Lower.com Field, Nancy couldn't be more proud of his progression throughout the season.

"It's been a rollercoaster – can I say that for him? – a bit," said Nancy.

"It's normal because first year as the first goalkeeper in MLS so I knew that he would fail, and I always told him that the objective is not about how he's going to fail; it's how he's going to react. ... What I like about Pat is he has improved a lot and he is courageous now. In the past he was like that, but in difficult moments, as a human being, he was a bit backpedaling. Now, he's able to understand that the only way to provoke something is to go get it. Tonight, it's been really good for him to have this situation. He deserves it."

Outside of Schulte's showing, Nancy was proud of how his team performed as a whole. The former CF Montreal boss was pleased with how his side were able to play the game they wanted to, especially after Orlando were down to 10 men when Rodrigo Schlegel was shown a second yellow card.

"During all the game because we provoked the red card. Again, we were able to play our game and also to put that on the opposition. We are able to play between the line but also to play in behind. I was happy, and I'm happy for Diego (Rossi) because he was not happy with certain action that he had, but he helped us to get the red card. For me, after that, it was all about resilience because the way we train, the way we try to discuss with the players and the way we try to challenge the players.

The Crew, now just one game away from competing in MLS Cup final, take on the 2023 Supporters' Shield champions FC Cincinnati on December 2 at TQL Stadium.

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