Football Article

Bizarre Penalty Shootout Mars MLS Playoffs

Bizarre Penalty Shootout Mars MLS Playoffs Photo: TT
Bizarre Penalty Shootout Mars MLS Playoffs

The penalty shoot-out between Orlando City and New York City in the MLS play-offs for the Eastern Conference on Saturday afternoon in Florida can lay a claim to be the most bizarre in the history of football.

The match had finished one-all after normal time and 30 minutes added, although Orlando had been reduced to ten men when right-back Ruan was shown a straight red card in the 87th minute.

Spot kicks though were needed to decide the winner, and New York went first. However, Maximiliano Moralez hit the bar handing an immediate advantage to Orlando which they seized by scoring the first four penalties.

And then when Valentin Castellano stepped up to take the fifth New York penalty, goalkeeper Pedro Gallese flung himself to his right and saved it.

Orlando celebrated wildly thinking they had won it, and their manager Oscar Pareja ran back down the tunnel to the dressing room in jubilation.

However, the tears turned to jeers when the referee Alan Campbell ordered a retake, judging that Gallese had moved off his line. Worse, he gave the goalkeeper a yellow card for the offence, and, because he had been booked during the regular match for time wasting, that meant he had been sent off. Parejo was hastily called back to take his place on the bench again.

After long protests, Orlando substitute goalkeeper Brian Rowe donned the gloves and took his place in the goal only for more delays as Campbell consulted with match officials and VAR. He eventually decided that Rowe was not allowed to take part, because Orlando had used all their available substitutes, and an outfield player would have to take over instead.

Argentine defender Rodrigo Schlagel was chosen, but he was powerless to prevent Castellano scoring at the second time of asking.

Orlando still had a chance of winning it, because they had a penalty in hand, but Nanis effort was saved by Sean Johnson in the New York goal, Johnson made exactly the same forward motion as Gallese, but, this time the referee did not penalise him.

The advantage now seemed to be with New York taking the remaining spot kicks against a non-specialist keeper, but the drama was not finished yet. The Icelandic international Gudmundur Thorarinsson took the next penalty for New York, and, unbelievably, Schlagel saved it guessing right by jumping to the left.

At that point, Orlando thought they had won it and celebrated wildly again, only for referee Campbell to realise that he had lost count in all the confusion, and Orlando still had to take their next spot kick.

Fortunately, for everybody concerned except New York and their fans, Benji Michel put an end to the drama by firing high into the net.

Suneer chowdhary
Sports Pundit staff writer @suneerchowdhary
ICC-accredited cricket journalist, covers Team India through their cricketing journey around the world

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