ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando City will host the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Finals against Sporting KC or the Sacramento Republic FC on Sept. 7 at Exploria Stadium.
With a 5-1 win over New York Red Bulls, the Lions will get the rare opportunity to hoist the Lamar Hunt Trophy in front of its home fans.
Oscar Pareja’s lineup brought Benji Michel as the striker against the Red Bulls, with Pato and Torres on either side.
While the long balls early in the first half did not make the connections Pareja had hoped, you could see some opportunities to create chances.
Goalkeeper, Pedro Gallese, El Pulpo, made a great save in the 20th minute to keep everything level.
But the Red Bulls opened the scoring in the 45+1 minute, and Orlando City responded quickly, with a Ceasar Araujo goal in stoppage time, tying it 1-1 going into the half.
While fans headed for refreshments, the rain started to fall.
Does anyone remember the movie “Best of Times?” R.I.P Robin Williams.
The Lions came out in the second half, determined to host the finals.
Two minutes into the second half, Captain Mauricio Pereyra scored from the top of the box, giving Orlando a 2-1 lead.
A week of frustration or the drive to hoist a cup? The Lions came out on fire and continued to dominate possession.
In the 62′ minute, Araujo scored his second goal from a rebound off a corner kick.
And the Lions did not let up.
With goals from Facundo Torres and homegrown Benji Michel in the 75′ and 83′ minutes, the Lions looked determined to finish the game and invite Sporting KC or the Sacramento Republic to Central Florida in September.
We did see the first appearance of U.S. Men’s National team player Niko Gioacchini in the 85′ minute and quickly earned his first yellow. But you could hear, and feel, the excitement in the stadium when he entered the game.
The game ended, 5-1. Fans remained in their seats, well after the players left the field. With shouts of “We want the cup,” echoing through the stadium.
The last time Orlando scored five goals against an opponent was in the regular season in 2021 verse the San Jose Earthquakes.
Orlando City will face the Sacramento Republic FC on Sept. 7 at Exploria Stadium.
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