James O’Connor praises supporters after quarterfinal Open Cup win: “That really pushed us over the line”


Photo: Courtesy of Mark Thor / Orlando City SC

James O’Connor confessed he never saw anything quite like what he witnessed before Wednesday night’s penalty shootout against New York City FC, which eventually sent Orlando City to the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup for the first time in club history.

With the game ending at extra time, 1-1, NYCFC won the coin toss and chose to take the penalties from the opposite end of the supporter’s section at Exploria Stadium.

What happened next saw fans from The Wall race over to the other end of the stadium, leaving the Orlando City head coach stunned as the Lions guided their way to a 5-4 victory in the shootout.

“No, I genuinely haven’t,” O’Connor said when he was asked if he’s ever seen anything like that before.

“I think that looking at it, we were, and I’ve got to be honest I was so proud and so pleased with the supporters to see that,” he added. “When I saw it was on that end I’m thinking ‘You’ve got to be kidding me’. So that happens, but to see the supporters just, as you say ‘bum-rush’, through is just hats off to them, to everyone.

“To them, all thank you so much from the bottom of my heart because that really pushed us over the line so a massive thank you to all the supporters.”

For Chris Mueller, who scored the go-ahead goal for Orlando in the 61st minute, said he saw closely the fans racing to the other end of the stadium and was left amazed.

“When I saw them finally breakthrough and just create a swarm behind the goal, I thought that that was amazing,” said Mueller. “It just shows the love and the support that we have here in Orlando, is next to none.”

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