Penalty shootout turns into farce, Orlando wins first playoff game

MLS playoffs
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
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How’s this for burying the lede: Orlando City SC won its first-ever MLS Cup Playoffs game on Saturday, surviving an encounter with New York City FC which saw the Lions finish regular time and extra time with 10 men — but, only nine by the end of a truly absurd penalty shootout — wildly  celebrate victory on three different occasions in said shootout, a failed sixth substitution during the shootout, and a shootout save made by defender Rodrigo Schlegel.

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That’s a lot to take in all at once — it really is — but that’s exactly basically how Oscar Pareja’s side triumphed in its very first MLS playoffs appearance after five dismal seasons in MLS.

A timeline of events, which are intended to be presented as accurate as possible, but one write can only be so sure. In the shootout alone

  1. Pedro Gallese saved Valentin Castellanos’ penalty attempt in the fifth round, handing Orlando City a 4-3 victory. Head coach Pareja darted half the length of the field and disappeared up the tunnel toward the locker room.
  2. Referee Allen Chapman was advised that Gallese had come off his line too far and too early. Upon video review, that was deemed to be the case and Gallese was shown a yellow card — his second of the game, thus he was sent off.
  3. Pareja tries to make a substitution to get backup goalkeeper Brian Rowe between the sticks. Due to either the fact Orlando had already made its maximum of five subs in the game, or you are not allowed to make a sub once a shootout begins — it remains somewhat unclear which rule/not-rule prevails here — Rowe was not allowed to enter the game, despite the fact he had walked half the length of the field and taking his place on the goal line a few minutes earlier. UPDATE: It was actually the latter. The more you know, right?
  4. Instead, Schlegel, the decidedly not-a-goalkeeper-looking man at the top of this post, takes the gloves and goalkeeper’s shirt and goes in goal. Castellanos fired his re-take past Schlegel some nine minuets after Gallese was sent off. That’s how much confusion Chapman and his crew had created for themselves.
  5. Nani, who had already converted a penalty kick to give Orlando a 1-0 lead in the 5th minute, had his attempt saved by Sean Johnson, who very nearly came off his line if not for leaving one foot in place, thus saving him from being whistled as well. It is now tied at 4-4, heading to the sudden-death rounds.
  6. Nicolas Acevedo converts for NYCFC, as does Robin Jansson for Orlando. Pretty standard stuff, as it goes.
  7. Schlegel, the outfield player, saves Gudmundur Thorarinsson’s attempt in the seventh round. After 10 seconds of (correctly) believing the shootout was not over, Orlando players sprinted to Schlegel and celebrate as a bouncing mass, thinking they had won. It was 5-5 and Orlando had not yet taking their seventh-round attempt.
  8. After a couple minutes of counting on their toes and fingers, Chapman and Co., deemed that the game was not, in fact, over and that Orlando would have to actually win it the old-fashioned way.
  9. Benji Michel converted to make it 6-5 and, mercifully, put an end to the game.

That video, from beginning to end, will make for incredible comedic viewing for many years to come.

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