After surviving a dramatic and bizarre penalty shootout in Round 1, Orlando City will look to go even deeper in their first MLS Cup Playoff appearance when they host the New England Revolution in Sunday's Eastern Conference semifinal.
Orlando edged New York City FC 6-5 in a shootout following a 1-1 draw, numbers that only told part of the story. Defender Rodrigo Schlegel was forced to make a decisive penalty save in spot goalkeeping duty. Minutes before, Pedro Gallese picked up his second yellow card and was ejected after Video Review showed he had left his goal line early to save a penalty.
Initially Brian Rowe tried to enter to replace Gallese, before officials ruled only players on the field at the end of extra time could participate in the shootout. Instead, Rowe will settle for the start Sunday as Gallese serves a red card suspension.
Rowe started 32 games for Orlando in 2019, and before that appeared in three playoff matches during his days with the LA Galaxy, posting one shutout and conceding just two goals.
"Brian is a very professional player, I really want to remark that," manager Oscar Pareja said earlier this week. "We all feel very bad about what happened with Pedro, but we moved on and now, Brian is there. We have plenty of confidence in him."
Orlando, which finished fourth in the Eastern Conference, are at home because the Revolution upset the Supporters' Shield champion Philadelphia Union 2-0 in Round 1 after edging Montreal 2-1 in the play-in round.
The Revs are seeded eighth but are playing like a more accomplished squad since Spanish playmaker Carles Gil returned from a foot injury that limited him to six regular season appearances.
Gil has either scored or assisted on all but one New England goal this postseason.
"The first few games were tough," Gil said through an interpreter this week. "I knew the first few games would be difficult for me and that I wouldn't be at my best form. But those games and the few training sessions for those games and the few training sessions I had served to get me ready for the games that matter most, which are the playoffs."
--Field Level Media