ORLANDO, Fla. (Nov. 25, 2023) – No. 2 Orlando City SC dropped a 2-0 decision to No. 3 Columbus Crew on Saturday evening at Exploria Stadium in the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs. The loss knocks the Lions out of the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs and ends their 2023 season.
The Lions were forced to 10 men in the second half but still managed a number of chances on the night, most coming after the first half of play. Martín Ojeda had a strike right before the regulation whistle that went just wide of the net, and forward Ramiro Enrique got a diving header that was saved on the doorstep by the Crew goalkeeper. City goalkeeper Pedro Gallese made five saves of his own on the night to keep the Lions in the match.
The night’s match was played in front of a sold-out crowd at Exploria Stadium. It is the Club’s second sellout of the season and the first postseason sellout in Orlando City’s MLS history.
The Lions 2023 season will go down as one of the more successful seasons of their MLS era with multiple records broken. City finished the regular season with 18 wins and 63 points, both of which were Club single-season records and were good enough to clinch a spot in the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup. The Lions scored 55 goals during the regular season, tying their single-season record, previously set in the 2016 season. This year, City made their fourth-consecutive postseason appearance, all of which have come under the helm of head coach Oscar Pareja.
93’ Christian Ramírez – CLB 1, ORL 0
The Crew found their breakthrough in extra time of the match after a ball was sent across the face of goal, which goalkeeper Pedro Gallese was able to palm away, but it fell right in the path of a sliding Christian Ramírez who knocked it into the net.
118’ Cucho Hernández (Kevin Molino) – CLB 2, ORL 0
Columbus clinched the match with the Lions pressing high up the field to find an equalizer. Kevin Molino found an open Cucho Hernández who was able to dribble past Pedro Gallese and shoot the ball into the empty net from distance.
Head Coach Oscar Pareja:
“Obviously, not feeling good. I thought we could have done more than tonight, but we have to accept that this is the result of the game that was competitive against a rival that made their case as well to advance to this series. It was a complicated game, especially in the first half and we felt uncomfortable and couldn’t create many sequences. We needed to be reactive to the game that we planned to be more positive in our ways. I thought the image that the boys left after a tremendous effort was great, I thought they were great. Their heart probably needed a better reward because they had a few chances where it could have impacted the game. Seems like our heart was bigger in those difficult moments, but it was not enough. Thank you to the fans and thank you to the people that came to the stadium and filled the stadium. We felt very proud of this community, the Club, and we are proud. It is difficult right now to see the great things the boys have achieved this year, but we will see it soon.”
- With the start, captain Mauricio Pereyra reached 10,000 minutes played in all competitions for Orlando City. He is just the third Lion in the active roster to reach this milestone, joining defender Robin Jansson and goalkeeper Pedro Gallese.
- Midfielder César Araújo made his 80th appearance in all competitions for the Lions.
- Saturday’s match marked the second time the Lions have appeared in the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs.
- City played in front of a sold-out crowd for the second time this season and the team’s first in the postseason.
- The Lions had their home unbeaten streak snapped at 15, which ties the Club record for the longest home unbeaten streak set back in August 2015-June 2016, with the team’s last loss at home coming on April 22.
- Head Coach Oscar Pareja made no changes to his Starting XI on Saturday night, going with the same lineup that earned two 1-0 wins over Nashville SC in Round One of the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs.