Once again, No. 3-seeded Nashville rallied back and now advances to the Eastern Conference Semifinals to face No. 2 Philadelphia Union on Nov. 28.
Nashville stuck to the same script they've used all season at home, conceding first and relying on Mukhtar to single-handedly take over the match.
Daryl Dike put Orlando ahead early, nodding in a corner kick after just 14 minutes of play. That allowed the visitors to vault ahead for the ninth time this season at Nissan Stadium, with the US men's national team forward scoring for his fifth straight game.
As they've done all year, Nashville punched right back. Mukhtar's shot took a brutal deflection off of Orlando center back Antônio Carlos, looping into the goal over a helpless Pedro Gallese in the 21st minute.
While Mukhtar's first goal needed some help to beat the Peruvian goalkeeper, his 74th-minute strike was all him. The German-born playmaker picked up the ball deep in Orlando's half, beating a pair of defenders before driving a low shot past Gallese to send the Music City roaring.
Jhonder Cádiz muscled past Antonio Carlos during second-half stoppage time, calmly finishing to ice the playoff win for Nashville and seal the 3-1 scoreline.
- THE BIG PICTURE: Home-field advantage continues to prove decisive in the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs. The home side has won all five Round One meetings so far. Nashville won by doing what they've done well all year: defending resolutely and letting Mukhtar take over the game in transition. While Orlando got a perfect start, they struggled to defend the counter and were wasteful on the other end of the field – particularly through second-half sub Tesho Akindele.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Mukhtar's trademark solo effort was the winner, and came at a crucial moment, shifting the momentum in Nashville's favor for the final 15 minutes.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Could it be anyone else? After notching 16 goals and 12 assists during the regular season, Mukhtar scored two more and looked like the most dangerous player on the pitch whenever he got the ball.
- NSH: Eastern Conference Semifinals at Philadelphia Union | Sunday, Nov. 28 (5:30 pm ET | ESPN, ESPN Deportes)
- ORL: End of 2021 season