Columbus Crew outlast 10-man Orlando City, reach Conference Final


The Columbus Crew are the first Conference Finalist of the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs, punching their ticket Saturday night with a 2-0 extra-time win at 10-man Orlando City SC in the Eastern Semifinals.

Christian Ramírez found the breakthrough in the 93rd minute and Cucho Hernández iced the game with an empty-netter from midfield. The Crew will visit Supporters' Shield winners FC Cincinnati next Saturday (6 pm ET | MLS Season Pass) for a spot in MLS Cup presented by Audi on Dec. 9.

The tense, physical affair between the East's No. 2 and 3 seeds was a proverbial toss-up – until the 77th minute. That's when Rodrigo Schlegel earned a second yellow card for a foul on Diego Rossi, leaving the hosts a man down for the remainder of the match.

Columbus took full advantage through the recently subbed-on Ramírez and got some crucial saves from goalkeeper Patrick Schulte in the waning moments. By the 118th minute, Orlando goalkeeper Pedro Gallese had vacated his box in search of a late equalizer, allowing Hernández to put the match away.


  • 93' - CLB - Christian Ramírez | WATCH
  • 118' - CLB - Cucho Hernández | WATCH

Three Things

  • THE BIG PICTURE: Columbus continue their remarkable climb under first-year manager Wilfried Nancy, the two-time Sigi Schmid MLS Coach of the Year finalist who's 90 minutes away from reaching his first MLS Cup. Orlando, meanwhile, see a record season (most regular-season points) end bitterly for Oscar Pareja and Co., who were looking to take the next leap in 2023 after lifting the US Open Cup last year.
  • MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Orlando's calm, controlling tactics were operating smoothly for the most part until Schlegel's unexpected exit turned the match on its head. From that point on, the Crew's MLS-best offense finally found the impetus needed to break the ice via goals from Ramírez and Hernández.
  • MAN OF THE MATCH: Schulte was heroic in goal for the Crew, making three vital saves and withstanding a late Orlando barrage that allowed the visitors to cling to their one-goal lead before Cucho made it a 2-0 final score.

Next Up

  • ORL: Season over
  • CLB: Saturday, Dec. 2 at FC Cincinnati | 6 pm ET (MLS Season Pass) | Eastern Conference Final