Road warriors Orlando City vie for clincher vs. Nashville SC
Posted on: 07 Nov, 2023 at 02:53 PM
Credit: Morgan Tencza-USA TODAY Sports
No team in MLS was more successful on the road this season than Orlando City SC.
The Lions will try to continue that pattern on Tuesday night when they visit Nashville SC with a chance to clinch the best-of-three, first-round series between the two Eastern Conference squads.
Orlando City went 9-4-4 on the road in the regular season, accumulating the most victories and points (31) in the league.
The Lions are in position to clinch the series due to their 1-0 home win over Nashville on Oct. 30 in Game 1 of the series.
Wilder Cartagena's long blast from outside the box found the top-right corner in the 41st minute and was the only goal Orlando City needed.
"It was a great goal and it was a beautiful goal," Cartagena said. "... I found myself in a lot of space and I decided to just hit it, with a lot of confidence. Thankfully, I hit it in a spot that was really difficult for the goalkeeper."
Orlando City controlled play in the victory, outshooting Nashville 25-7. Star goalkeeper Pedro Gallese made three saves for his first career postseason shutout.
Orlando City have won five straight matches, including a 1-0 win at Nashville on Oct. 4.
Nashville is just 1-3-3 in its last seven matches after the Game 1 setback.
Reigning league MVP Hany Mukhtar hasn't scored a goal during the stretch despite taking 22 shots. He did bang one off the crossbar in Game 1 against Orlando City.
Mukhtar has just two assists during the seven-game span. He had 15 goals and 11 assists in the regular season.
Nashville didn't put together too many scoring opportunities in the first game, placing just three shots on target.
Coach Gary Smith is aware of the issue as his side has been blanked in five of its last six matches.
"Out of defeat, there's certainly some things we can take away from it," Smith said. "... Our main focus is trying to make the back of the net more often. Is it a case of creating more? I'd actually say it's more a case of being more clinical in vital moments. Against good sides, you're not going to be creating a hatful of chances."
If Nashville wins on Tuesday night, the deciding match will be Sunday at Orlando.
--Field Level Media