There may never be another penalty shootout like the one that took place in Orlando on Saturday. It included a goalkeeper red card, two mistaken celebrations from Orlando, and a defender putting on the gloves and actually making a save.
The playoff game between NYCFC and Orlando City SC was tied at 1-1 after 90 minutes. Maxi Moralez, NYCFC star player, hit the crossbar on the first penalty, and both teams made their ensuing PKs up to the fifth round. Valentin Castellanos had to score on Orlando City goalkeeper Pedro Gallese in order to keep the shootout going. Gallese made the save, and Orlando celebrated. Manager Oscar Pareja sprinted down the tunnel.
VAR showed that Gallese had been narrowly off his line. It was a controversial call, to say the least. Even more controversial was the referee’s decision to give Gallese a yellow card, which was his second. Apparently, any goalkeeper who is deemed to come off his line too early is supposed to receive an automatic yellow. That meant Gallese was sent off, and Castellanos had to take the PK again.
AQUÍ la atajada de @pedrogallese que le costó la expulsión tras haber tapado el penal del triunfo
🎥 TUDN pic.twitter.com/E48wmuYS60
— PERU_MLS (@PeruMls) November 21, 2020
Backup goalkeeper Brian Rowe put on gloves and ran onto the field. He set up in goal, prepared for his big moment. But somehow no one had realized that Orlando had no subs left. Rowe couldn’t come on. Referee Allen Chapman waved Rowe off the field, and after a little bit of chaos, defender Rodrigo Schlegel, who had come on as a sub in the 101st-minute, put on an extra goalie jersey and gloves. He would have to face Castellanos.
Schlegel barely moved and Castellanos scored. Now Nani had a chance to score and end it, preventing Schlegel from facing any more penalties. He also could get the refs off the hook for a very questionable decision to call back Gallese’s save and give him a second yellow. But NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson stepped up and produced an outstanding one-handed save, extending the shootout. (The announcers pointed out that Johnson was similarly off his line to Gallese.)
It seemed impossible for Orlando to win at this point. Schlegel would have to make a save or an NYC player would have to miss, and Orlando would have to keep scoring. Nicolas Acevedo scored through Schlegel on NYC’s sixth attempt, and Robin Janssen coolly followed it for Orlando.
Then, the impossible happened: Schlegel made a save. Gudmundur Thorarinsson shot it around shoulder-level to Schlegel’s left, and Schlegel guessed right. He batted it away and celebrated like a madman.
¡DE LOCOS🤯! En la #MLSCupPlayoffs, Pedro Gallese🇵🇪 fue expulsado en la tanda de penales por adelantarse.
El defensa argentino🇦🇷 Rodrigo Schlegel se puso los guantes, atajó un penal y Orlando City se metió en 4tos de final tras superar a New York City. pic.twitter.com/yLY0Yxo7md
— Toque Sports (@ToqueSports) November 21, 2020
Orlando’s entire team jumped up and down like they had won. But, of course, they hadn’t. Benji Michel still had to score. After moments of confusion — the announcers were apoplectic at this completely bizarre scene — Chapman brought everyone back.
Michael stepped up to the spot with a chance to finally end it. He did, putting a clinical PK past Johnson, and for the third time, Orlando celebrated a win.
— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) November 21, 2020
This time, they were right. They will move on to the next round, though Gallese (and right back Ruan, who picked up a red in the 87th-minute) will have to sit out. NYCFC slinked off the field. Schlegel was the hero. At no point will an ending like this happen again.