Back Again

The Lions begin their second-consecutive run in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs on Tuesday night after punching their ticket to the postseason with a 2-0 victory on Decision Day over CF Montréal. Tuesday’s match will serve as the first time in Club history that the side will have to travel in the postseason after hosting a pair of matches in their first playoff berth a year ago. In two seasons under Head Coach Oscar Pareja, City has earned back-to-back playoff berths, with Tuesday night serving as the beginning of his seventh run in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs as a manager through his time in Orlando along with previous stints at FC Dallas and the Colorado Rapids. 

Big Man Production

Daryl Dike finished the regular season on a tear, scoring in each of the Lions’ final four matches and ending the year with a run of eight goal contributions through nine matches. Through the Lions’ six prior matchups with Tuesday’s opposition, Dike has found the back of the net in four of them, accounting for half of the side’s goals in their history against the Blue & Gold with five of the 10 scored to his credit. The 2020 MLS SuperDraft selection ended the year tied with Nani for the team lead at 10 goals, while adding three assists to his tally.

Against the Blue & Gold

Tuesday night will serve as the fourth meeting between the Lions and Nashville SC this season, each of the three prior ending in a draw. City took a pair of ties from Nissan Stadium in the regular season, the first coming in a 1-1 result on Aug. 18 followed by a 2-2 decision on Sept. 29 thanks to a Nashville own goal forced by the Lions’ Benji Michel at the death. The two sides last faced off on Sunday, Oct. 31 in Orlando City’s regular season home finale, a match that finished in a 1-1 draw after what looked to be a stoppage-time game-winner off the foot of Andrés Perea was waived off after Video Review deemed a foul on the play prior to the finish.

Our Captain

City captain Luis Nani finished the 2021 MLS regular season tied atop the side for goals scored with 10 in total on the year, marking the second time in his three seasons as a Lion that he has recorded double-digit goals. The Portuguese international is just the second player in Club history to reach that mark, along with former Lions forward Cyle Larin. Nani finished the year leading the side in goal contributions, with eight assists to add to his 10 finishes in 2021. 

El Pulpo

Goalkeeper Pedro Gallese finished the regular season with a clean sheet over CF Montréal, as the Lions took a 2-0 victory from that match. The shutout served as the seventh for Gallese in 2021 and the ninth in total for Orlando City, with ‘El Pulpo’ matching the single-season Club-record for clean sheets along with former Lions goalkeepers Brian Rowe (2019) and Joe Bendik (2017). 

Another Record Year

Following up a historic 2020 season, the Lions set a number of records throughout the 2021 regular-season campaign. With its Decision Day victory in Montréal, the side tallied its first 50-point season with a new record of 51 points while also setting a new Club-record for wins in a season with its 13th. The side also set a new record for clean sheets in a single campaign with nine in total, while setting a new mark for home wins with eight in total at Exploria Stadium in 2021.