A two-goal performance and an assist from Nani was all Orlando City needed to cruise past Minnesota United, 3-1, on Thursday to secure a spot in the MLS is Back Tournament final.
Nani scored two first-half goals to give the Lions a comfortable lead heading into halftime, but a late goal from Mason Toye resulted in Orlando holding on until the final whistle before a late goal from Benji Michel secured the victory for Orlando City.
The Lions will now face the Portland Timbers in the tournament final on Tuesday.
In the 36th minute, a long ball from Robin Jansson connected with Nani, who made a run down the left side, striking the ball past Tyler Miller.
Nani doubled the lead moments later in the 42nd minute after sending a curling ball from outside the box past Miller to give the Lions a 2-0 lead before halftime.
The Lions could have made it 3-0 in the 71st minute when a cross from Sebastian Jhegson Mendez found Ruan unmarked, but he headed the ball wide of the post.
Despite a fast start from the Loons, Minnesota United’s offense struggled for most of the night breaking through Orlando’s defensive line, failing to record a shot on target until the 75th minute when a free-kick from Raheem Edwards was saved by Lions goalkeeper Pedro Gallese.
Minnesota United managed to pull one back in the 83rd minute when an excellent pass by Kevin Molino sprung Mason Toye, who slotted the ball past Gallese late in the game.
At the end of the game, however, a counter from Orlando saw Nani feed Benji Michel on a solo run, rounding Miller and slotting the ball into an empty net to secure a 3-1 lead in the final seconds of the game.
Up next, Orlando City will meet the Portland Timbers in the MLS is Back Tournament final, which is scheduled for Tuesday at 8:30 p.m.
Man of the Match
Nani: The Portuguese designated player put an inspired first-half performance to give Orlando a comfortable lead for much of the match.
Moment of the Match
Nani screamer: Perhaps the goal of the tournament, but Nani’s strike from outside the box gave the Lions a two-goal advantage and a commanding lead.
Match to Forget
Tyler Miller: Was the casualty of Nani’s two-goal plus assist performance Thursday night.