Late surge lifts Crew over Orlando City, into Eastern Conference finals

League: MLS

Posted on: 26 Nov, 2023 at 08:17 AM

Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Christian Ramirez scored in the third minute of extra time and Cucho Hernandez later added a goal into an empty net as the visiting Columbus Crew defeated short-handed Orlando City 2-0 in an Eastern Conference semifinal match on Saturday.

The Crew advance to the conference final on Dec. 2, where they will face host FC Cincinnati, who beat the Philadelphia Union in Saturday's other semifinal match.

Ramirez, who entered at the start of the 30-minute overtime, slid to the goal line to knock in a cross by Aidan Morris in the 93rd minute to help end Orlando's six-match winning streak.

Hernandez made it 2-0 in the 118th minute when Orlando goalkeeper Pedro Gallese was near midfield trying to join the attack. Hernandez got the ball and floated a shot from the center circle for his fourth goal of the playoffs as Columbus won its first postseason match on the road since 2002.

Patrick Schulte had preserved the lead in the 100th minute with a kick save of Kyle Smith on Orlando's first shot on target. Schulte also denied Ramiro Enrique from close range in the 106th minute, and he did so again two minutes later with a reaction save at the left post.

Orlando City went down a man in the 77th minute when Rodrigo Schlegel received a second yellow card after pulling down Diego Rossi, who was breaking for the goal. Schlegel's first caution came in the 16th minute after a bad foul.

Orlando nearly stole the match in the sixth minute of second-half stoppage time after Facundo Torres forced Rudy Camacho into a giveaway. Torres passed to Martin Ojeda, and Ojeda's shot from the left side of the box barely skimmed past the far post.

The contest featured the highest scoring team in MLS in the regular season, the Crew (67 goals scored), against a defense tied for the fifth stingiest (39 goals allowed). Orlando added to its credentials by posting consecutive 1-0 wins in a first-round best-of-three series against Nashville SC.

--Field Level Media