After a dramatic match that saw Orlando City give up a 90th-minute equalizer to New York City FC and surviving constant pressure in extra time, the Lions moved on to the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup, defeating NYCFC 5-4 in penalties (1-1 AET) Wednesday night at Exploria Stadium.
“Exceptionally proud of the whole football club,” head coach James O’Connor said after the game. “When you look at tonight, we created a little bit of history. Now we won the biggest game in the club’s history. When you look at the fight and mentality, grant it in the last minute, we expect not to concede a goal like that, but I thought the composure when it did go to penalties was excellent.”
After a scoreless first half, Orlando came out of the locker room on the front foot, continuously putting pressure on NYCFC. That pressure paid off in the 61st minute when Sebas Méndez intercepted a ball in the midfield, feeding Nani down the line. The Portuguese winger lofted a perfect ball to Chris Mueller on the back post, who headed it back across the face of goal and in, opening up the scoring and putting Orlando up 1-0.
After going up, Orlando would begin to absorb wave after wave of NYCFC attacks, holding off each one. In the sixth minute of a minimum of six minutes of stoppage time, it looked like the Lions would hold on, but a dangerous ball into the box somehow found Maxi Moralez in the box and, after a deflection, the midfielder knocked it past Grinwis and in, tying the game and sending it to extra time.
Throughout all 30 minutes of the extra frame, Orlando looked on the back foot throughout, with NYC controlling the game. After some nervy moments and a huge save from Grinwis, it went to penalties.
After NYCFC chose to shoot at the opposite end of the Wall, all the supporters ran to the other end, going through security to stand behind the goal.
After Tesho Akindele scored his first, Grinwis saved the shot from Alexander Ring. Kyle Smith and Valentín Castellanos scored theirs, then Dom Dwyer missed his, while Anton Tinnerholm scored, bringing the shootout level. Will Johnson, Keaton Parks, Dillon Powers, Jesús Medina and Oriol Rosell all scored theirs, leaving Maxime Chanot to take. As he fired towards the left corner, Grinwis once again made a huge save, winning the game for Orlando and sending them on to the U.S. Open Cup semifinals.
“As a goalkeeper, these are the kind of situations you dream of,” Grinwis said on his final save, “Growing up, you always play penalty shootouts with your friends, always wanting to be the hero. In those moments, everyone wants to have that situation and I was just excited to be a part of it.”
Wednesday’s result means that Orlando City will play in a semifinal game for the first time in club history. The draw to see who will host the next match will be at 2:00 p.m on Thursday, July 11th.
Up next for Orlando
MLS play on Saturday at home vs Columbus Crew SC at 7:30 p.m. at Exploria Stadium.
61′ ORL – Chris Mueller (Nani)
96′ NYCFC- Maxi Moralez
How the Lions lined up
Orlando City XI: Adam Grinwis; Kyle Smith, Robin Jansson, Lamine Sané, Ruan; Sacha Kljestan (Dillon Powers 74′), Will Johnson, Sebas Mendez (Benji Michel 106′); Nani (Dom Dwyer 81’), Tesho Akindele, Chris Mueller (Uri Rosell 90’)
Orlando City Bench: Brian Rowe, Alex De John, Santiago Patiño
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