Orlando FLA- Over 18,000 fans were on their feet as the Orlando City Lions (8-5-11) faced Atlanta United (12-9-3) in their first appearance at the Lamar Hunt U.S Open Cup semi-final this past Tuesday night. Their previous best finish coming in the Quarterfinals in 2012 as a USL Pro franchise and in both 2015 and 2018 in the MLS era. The Lions looked to end an 8-game losing skid to ATL but fell short at home in the U.S Open Cup semi-finals 2-0.
Orlando City Head Coach had this to say in his opening statement. “I think, obviously, very disappointed to get beat. I think when you look at the first half, I just said to the guys, I think we didn’t – first half especially – I didn’t think we really played anywhere near to our capacity. I think the occasion seemed to get to us. Second half our intent was a lot better; we were camped in their half; we had some momentum, but we needed more quality. I think it was very evident to say second half we had the momentum but needed more quality to create some shots at goal. But, again, massive thank you to the supporters because when you look at the atmosphere tonight, the way they kept going, it’s incredible. It really is.”
Dome Dwyer scored an early goal in the 4th minute that erupted the stadium, but the crowd was quickly silenced by on off-sides flag.
Despite the Five strips missing their best weapon, forward Josef Martinez, United managed to shut out the Lions and punch their ticket to the Open Cup finals for the first time in franchise history. J. Martinez holds the title of the most goals for ATL United with 18 as Loins forward Luis Nani and Tesho Akindele are tied with 8 goals for the 2019 season. It is no secret of the abilities of J. Martinez as he climbs the charts for having the most multi-goal scoring games with 17. ATL Head coach, Frank Boer, excepted the MLS Coach of the week title as well as Martinez sharing the spotlight with being crowned the MLS player of the week in week 14. The 2019 MLS season have been rewarding for J. Martinez with making the All-Star team and participating in the Copa America.
Atlanta scored a goal on each side of the break defeating the Lions in the Exploria Stadium as they found the back of the net in the 37th and 78th minute. ATL United midfielder, Eric Remedi, silenced the Orlando crowd with a late goal in the first half and assisted the second goal made by Emerson Hyndman that put the match out of reach for Orlando City SC.
The Lions kept in the match with an even possession rate against Atlanta and took 12 total shots compared to United’s 15. Lions goalie Adam Grinwis had his work cut out for him with 6 blocked shots, 5 in the second half alone. With only 11 passes less than ATL United; Orlando could not seem to get their shots on target in Tuesdays U.S Open Cup semi-final match.
Orlando City Midfielder Sacha Kljestan mentioned during the press conference “Every play is different but clearly we did not have enough shots on target…..it was a good journey for us and we learned a lot about ourselves and we also used some rotation in those games. A lot of guys that are not regular performers ended up being big players in the Open Cup for us….This cannot derail our season”
Orlando City SC: Away in Toronto August 10th at 7:30, Orlando is only 3 points behind Toronto for that last play-off spot.
Atlanta United: Back Home to the Mercedes Benz stadium against NYC FC Sunday August 11th at 3:55pm. The U.S Open cup final will take place August 27th against Minnesota at 8pm.