Orlando furious with late disallowed winner vs. Nashville: "It's incredible what happened"

Orlando City SC were left furious after a late winner against Nashville SC that would have seen them clinch a place in the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs was dramatically ruled out by referee Allen Chapman following Video Review.

After Alexandre Pato's spectacular stoppage-time free kick came back off the underside of the crossbar, Andres Perea bundled home the rebound from close range to send the Orlando players and supporters into jubilant celebrations. But Chapman went to Video Review and ruled the goal out for an apparent foul by striker and scorer of the opening goal, Daryl Dike, on Nashville's Alistair Johnston right before Perea finished.

"It's a very sad day for the league," Pareja fumed in his postgame press conference after the 1-1 draw at Exploria Stadium. "There is no explanation on a play that we saw evident. And it destroyed the joy of our people ... Allow me not to say more. I will have to talk about the game, which is obviously what brought us here. But it is incredible what happened tonight."

There was a very different view from Nashville, however, after a point that puts them at third place in the Eastern Conference standings.

"We can huff and puff and blow and say whatever we want but the final goal was a foul," head coach Gary Smith said. " ... I don't care what anybody wants to say.

"[Dike] doesn’t play the ball, he plays Alistair. Alistair tries to clear it, he doesn’t clear it well enough because of the contact. It’s a foul, no matter how you want to look at it."

Instead of clinching a postseason berth, Orlando now face the possibility of having to get a result when they travel to take on CF Montréal on Decision Day next Sunday. Montréal are currently five points back of Orlando but would be in striking distance if they win their game in hand at home to Houston Dynamo FC on Wednesday.

Orlando's fate, though, at least remains in their own hands.

"Yeah, we were frustrated," said midfielder Junior Urso. "We [were] checking our phones to see what happened on the field because I was far away with so many guys who were in front of me so I don't know what happened. I just saw the ball in and we all celebrated. But I have to understand it’s a hard job for the referee to decide if it was a goal or not. We were a little bit frustrated. But now we have to look forward and try to keep our mind well to play against Montréal next week. And let's put Orlando City in the playoffs again."

Pareja, though, acknowledged that he has a job on his hands to lift his players after how Sunday's game concluded.

"There is not any explanation that gets even close to accept the decision," he added. "There's no way to do it. We already showed the play 30 times. We just put It behind us, it will take obviously a certain time, a day I hope and the boys can just shake it off and then refocus because that’s our responsibility. And have the courage, intensity, intention, the desire that is going to get us over this hurdle. It’s what we need to do.

"But I can tell you how disappointed the players are with what just happened, so we just wait and let them observe it first and tomorrow will be another day. We’re soccer players, this is a beautiful sport and we just have to go on and try to make things happen in Montréal."