Crew beat Orlando City in OT to advance to Eastern Conference Final
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Christian Ramírez scored three minutes into the first half of two 15-minute extra periods and the Columbus Crew advanced to the Eastern Conference Final with a 2-0 victory over Orlando City on Saturday night.
Columbus (17-9-9) snapped a league-record streak of 16 straight playoff road matches without a victory. The third-seeded Crew will play the winner of the other semifinal between the Philadelphia Union and FC Cincinnati. The Crew would host the fourth-seeded Union if they win, or hit the road to play FC Cincinnati, the No. 1 overall seed and winners of the Supporter’s Shield this season for most points.
Neither team scored until Ramírez found the net unassisted. It was the second career playoff goal for Ramírez, who subbed in for Alexandru Matan two minutes before scoring. Ramirez, who had eight goals for the Crew during the regular season, scored a goal in his only appearance for Los Angeles FC in the 2018 postseason.
Orlando City (18-8-9), the second seed in the East, nearly tied the match in the 108th minute but Ramiro Enrique's header hit the left post. Cucho Hernández added an insurance goal in the 118th minute when took a pass from Kevin Molino and scored for a fourth time in his first postseason with the Crew.
Defender Rodrigo Schlegel picked up a second yellow card in the 77th minute, forcing Orlando City to play a man down from there.
Patrick Schulte saved three shots to earn a 120-minute clean sheet for Columbus. It was the second career shutout in the playoffs for Schulte with both coming this year in his first postseason. Pedro Gallese finished with five saves for Orlando City.
It was the first time the two clubs squared off in the MLS Cup. Orlando City beat visiting Columbus 2-0 in the fifth round of this year's US Open Cup. The Crew have won seven straight postseason matches at home, but they were 0-11-5 in their 16 previous playoff road matches dating to 2002. Two of the draws ended in shootout wins.
Orlando entered play with an 8-1-1 record in last 10 matches against the Crew, including six straight victories at home. Orlando City saw its longest home win streak against a single opponent come to an end, while Columbus put an end to its longest losing streak on the road to a single opponent in 20 years. Orlando City had clean sheets in 5 of 6 matches in the run. They had six in previous 34 matches.
Five other teams beside Orlando City have entered a MLS Cup playoff match on a six-match win streak, but only the 1996 Tampa Bay Mutiny won the next match.
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