ORLANDO, Fla. – Wilder Cartagena scored his second career goal in his first playoff appearance and Pedro Gallese notched his first postseason clean sheet as Orlando City opened its series against Nashville SC with a 1-0 victory on Monday night.
Orlando City (19-7-9), the second seed in the Eastern Conference, got the only goal it would need when Cartagena took a pass from César Araújo and scored in the 41st minute, giving Orlando City a 1-0 lead at halftime. Gallese finished with three saves in his fourth postseason start.
Cartagena, who has made 24 starts and 25 appearances this season, scored his first and only regular-season goal in a 3-1 victory over the Chicago Fire on Aug. 20. Gallese allowed six goals in three playoff starts from 2020-22.
Joe Willis totaled four saves for Nashville (13-12-10).
Orlando City and No. 7 seed Nashville are squaring off for the third straight postseason. Nashville posted a 3-1 victory at home in a 2021 first-round match and Orlando City won on penalty shots after a 1-1 draw in last season's quarterfinal round.
Orlando City beat Nashville 1-0 on Oct. 4 and has won two straight after an eight-match winless run in the series (0-3-5). Orlando's only other win over Nashville was a 3-1 victory at home in the first meeting back in August of 2020.
Orlando City entered the match with an 8-1-2 record and a league-high 26 points since the Leagues Cup break. Nashville became the third club to make the playoffs in each of its first four seasons, but it collected the fewest points (11) since the break with a 2-3-5 mark. The Seattle Sounders made the postseason in each of their first 13 seasons, while the Chicago Fire did it in their first six campaigns.
Orlando City set club records for points with 68, wins with 18 and fewest losses with seven. The 55 goals scored matched a club record.
The second leg of the series will be played in Nashville on Nov. 7. If necessary, the two clubs return to Orlando for the finale on Nov. 12.
AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer