A quick score by Forward Long Tan was all Orlando City SC needed Wednesday night at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas, topping Major League Soccer affiliate (MLS) Sporting Kansas City 1-0. The win advances Orlando to the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup, the first time the Lions have done so in franchise history.
“It’s a really big result and something the players can be proud of,” said Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath. “All of a sudden we are a couple games from something really special. I’m looking forward to playing the next round opponent.”
Orlando didn’t take very long to take the lead, with Forward Long Tan capitalizing on a well-played takeaway from Midfielder Adama Mbengue. In only the 2nd minute of play, the former Orlando City U23s star took possession away from the Sporting KC backline- finding Long Tan in stride behind the Sporting defense. The former DC United striker slotted it past Goalkeeper Eric Kronberg in the bottom-left corner to give the Lions the 1-0 advantage.
Orlando continued to move men forward against the MLS side, who responded with chances of their own throughout the later part of the second half. Sporting KC, holding a 6-5-4 record in MLS regular season play coming into the match, began to produce opportunities as the game went on- whipping in dangerous corners and crosses that kept the Lions humble moving forward. Despite the increasing chances, Orlando weathered the storm to go into the locker room on top 1-0.
Looking for a spark, Sporting subbed in Forward C.J. Sapong at the start of the second half. Sapong led the team in goals with nine last year, pushing the Lions’ backline as they held the 1-0 lead.
Despite the added pressure, Lions’ Goalkeeper and Team Captain Miguel Gallardo held steady – making key saves in succession in the 60th minute to keep the Lions ahead. The 2011 USL PRO Goalkeeper of the Year came up big as Sporting continued to push forward, leading the Orlando backline that featured second-time starter Justin Clark and veteran Rob Valentino.
Last-minute gasps by Sporting Kansas City in the five minutes of added time kept the game close, but ultimately Orlando prevailed 1-0 over their MLS affiliate.
The win marked the club’s first-ever win over Sporting KC and advancement to the quarterfinal round of the US Open Cup. The quarterfinal opponent will be the winner of the Chicago Fire/Columbus Crew match, which was postponed until Thursday due to weather. The match will be held on Wednesday, June 26, at the opponent’s venue. The four Sporting loanees, including Dom Dwyer, Christian Duke, Yann Songo’o and Jon Kempin will be eligible barring a call-up from Kansas City.
The Lamar Hunt US Open Cup is the oldest ongoing national soccer competition in the United States and is open to United States Soccer Federation (USSF) affiliated teams. The Open Cup was first held in 1913, with this year marking the centennial edition of the tournament. This year’s field consisted of 68 teams, the largest field in US Open Cup history.