ORLANDO, Fla. (WTVF) — Nashville S.C. couldn’t have scripted a better way to close the regular season. Trailing Orlando City F.C. 2-1 in the waning minutes Sunday, the Boys in Gold pulled off the most improbable rally of their franchise’s young history to steal a 3-2 win over one of the Eastern Conference’s best sides.
Hany Mukhtar, who returned to action for the first time in three weeks, midway through the second half, got his head on the receiving end of an Alex Muyl cross for the equalizer. Then, in stoppage time, Mukhtar expertly delivered a free kick into the box where fellow substitute Jhonder Cadiz was able to head home the game winner in the 93rd minute.
It was a magical moment in the city known for being the most magical place on Earth.
Nashville became the first team to defeat Orlando City at home all season long, and clinched the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference with the win.
Gary Smith’s side will now host fellow expansion club Inter Miami on November 20th in the opening round of the MLS Cup Playoffs. A remarkable accomplishment considering everything the club has gone through this year from a record-breaking opening night crowd to living through Nashville’s devastating tornado days later, to the MLS COVID-19 shutdown and even their own outbreak that cost them the opportunity to compete in the MLS Is Back Tournament in Orlando in July.
But this club stuck together and continued to get better. They earned results in nine of their final 10 home matches, and Sunday got one of the league’s most impressive wins this season. Daniel Lovitz’s goal in the 20th minute helped them dig out of an early 1-0 hole and set the stage for the late dramatics against a team that soundly defeated them 3-1 in their last trip to Orlando just over two months ago.
Now Nashville S.C. turns its attention on making this season even more special with nearly two weeks to prepare for its playoff debut, and what they hope will be an equally magical performance to what they were able to pull off Sunday.