Orlando City

Orlando City vs. D.C. United, U.S. Open Cup: Final Score 1-1 with Lions Advancing on Penalties

The Lions are through to the quarterfinals!



Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

After 120 minutes, Orlando City and D.C. United played to a 1-1 draw in U.S. Open Cup round of 16 action at the Maryland SoccerPlex. But the Lions advanced on penalties, winning the shootout 4-2 after Josué Colmán’s spot kick clinched it for Orlando.

Justin Meram canceled out Luciano Acosta’s early goal and both teams came within inches of finding a second, but neither could quite do it and so the lightning-delayed match went deep into the night before City came through in penalties.

Earl Edwards Jr. set the tone by saving Yamil Asad’s first attempt after Will Johnson had started the Lions with a penalty kick goal in the shootout. Edwards is no stranger to U.S. Open Cup shootouts, having outlasted the Charleston Battery deep into spot kicks back in 2015. That was the last time the Lions reached the quarterfinals, which they have done now for the third time in club history. Orlando will face the Philadelphia Union next.

Sacha Kljestan and Chris Mueller also hit their penalties for Orlando.

Bobby Murphy used his first ever lineup that wasn’t a 4-2-3-1 to start an MLS match, getting weird by playing a 3-4-3. Lamine Sané returned to the starting lineup for the first time in a few weeks, with Amro Tarek to his left and Jonathan Spector to his right. This was surprising, given that the team has a match Saturday against Montreal. Mohamed El-Munir and RJ Allen lined up as the wingbacks outside of midfielders Kljestan and Cristian Higuita, with a forward line of Meram, Stefano Pinho, and Mueller from left to right. Dom Dwyer did not dress, but right back Scott Sutter was in the 18 just days after returning to full training.

The game was just over five minutes old when the Maryland SoccerPlex’s obnoxious lightning alarm sounded, sending the game into a delay that lasted just over an hour and a half.

Once the game restarted, D.C. United came out flying and it didn’t take the hosts long to score. Darren Mattocks crossed in for Acosta in the 10th minute and no one tracked his run — Kljestan was busy pointing out the danger of Ian Harkes to his teammates while Acosta slipped by — allowing him to easily smash home the pass into the top of the net to make it 1-0.

United nearly doubled the lead a couple of times. In the 13th minute, Zoltan Stieber smashed a shot just wide of the post. Then, in the 14th minute, El-Munir misplayed the wet ball and allowed Stieber to get in behind but his shot was blocked on a fine save by Earl Edwards Jr.

The Lions struck back three minutes later. RJ Allen played the ball into the middle for Kljestan. Sacha laid a pass off for Meram, who blasted one toward net. It was right at Steve Clark, but the goalkeeper couldn’t handle the wet ball and it squirted in behind to tie the score at 1-1.

In the 19th minute, Kljestan played a superb through ball to Pinho, but the Brazilian hit his shot poorly and it went well wide of the target. A minute later, Mueller had a shot blocked by Steve Birnbaum at the top of the penalty area.

El-Munir stole a pass in the 23rd minute and was nearly off to the races, but he was brought down from behind by Oniel Fisher, who was booked for the foul. Nothing came of the set piece or an ensuing corner, however.

In the 28th minute, D.C. United won a corner and then the world went dark as the game stream died for everyone. It returned in the 43rd minute with the game still tied at 1-1. During the stoppage, Mattocks was played in behind the defense but the offside flag was up.

Late in the half, United was forced to make a change when Joseph Mora went down with an injury. Jalen Robinson came on and played right back, with Fisher moving to left back.

No further damage was done by either side and the teams went to the break all even. The Lions led in shots, 5-3 (1-2 on target, however), with D.C. owning 52% of the possession and an advantage in passing accuracy (84%-79%).

Neither team could find the net in a cagey second half, although both teams had excellent chances to do so. Kljestan sent a shot from above the area over the bar in the 61st on a powerful strike that he couldn’t keep down. Pinho nodded a header just inches wide in the 69th minute off a cross from Allen. Two minutes later, Allen had a go himself after cutting inside and again the attempt fizzed just wide of the post.

If Orlando was the more dangerous side from minutes 60 through 75, it was almost all D.C. United in the final 15 minutes of normal time. Acosta sent one shot just wide and hit the post with another attempt. He also forced a save in the 80th.

Asad was in on goal after a terrible giveaway by Sane in the 83rd, but Edwards made the save. Three minutes later, Fisher nearly got in on the back side but he was offside.

That was the last good opportunity of the second half and the teams went into extra time.

Orlando had several scoring opportunities in extra time but just couldn’t get it done. Mueller sent a high, arching header on frame but Clark scrambled back to catch it just two minutes into the extra period.

D.C.’s best opportunity in extra time came in the 98th minute off a corner kick, when Frederic Brillant’s header deflected off Meram and nearly squirted through Edwards’ legs, but he stopped it right on the line.

Substitute Colmán had a great opportunity in the 99th when he rounded Clark and shot from a tight angle, but he missed the net by inches. D.C. midfielder Chris Durkin was booked for the second time for a foul behind the play and United were down to 10 men for the remainder of the match. That allowed City to control the rest of extra time.

Colmán sent a curling effort on frame that forced Clark’s best save of the night, as he palmed it away at the last second to prevent the goal. It was the last action of the first half of extra time.

Orlando continued to be dangerous after the short break. Meram’s cross in the 107th minute found Johnson’s head, but the effort skipped off his noggin and out for a goal kick. In the 109th minute, Allen sent a dangerous cross whistling through the six but no teammates could get a touch on it. Then, in the 110th minute, there was a bizarre play in the box when a United defender went down under pressure from Allen. No whistle blew and Allen dug the ball out but it was deflected away and then Allen fell over Clark.

In the 112th minute, Meram got onto a header by Mueller but his shot was blocked by a defender, with Clark well out of the flight path of the ball. El-Munir was lucky not to be sent off for a foul in the closing moments, after which he kicked the ball at a D.C. player. He was booked but not shown a second yellow.

Colmán whistled a shot just over the bar in the 120th minute after a prolonged spell of possession by the Lions and that was the final chance for either side to find a winner before the game went to penalties.

Johnson sent Clark the wrong way on the first kick, and Edwards stretched to his left to keep Asad off the board on D.C.’s first shot.

Kljestan got cheeky and went down the middle, but scored, before Acosta hit the crossbar on United’s second-round effort. With a bit of a gap opening up, Mueller made it 3-0 before Harkes got D.C. on the board. Extra time sub Jose Villarreal saw his shot well saved by a diving Clark to keep United in it, and Patrick Mullins then beat Edwards.

Then Colmán stepped to the spot and calmly finished to send Orlando through, sending Clark the wrong way.

D.C. ended up with 54% of the possession, which is surprising since Orlando seemingly had it most of the extra period. The Lions out-shot United, 21-11, but D.C. got more on target (6-3). Orlando passed at a sloppy 77% to D.C.’s 84% for the game.

In the end, the only statistic that matters is that Orlando is through to the quarterfinals.

Orlando City will visit the Philadelphia Union on July 18 in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals, with the winner taking on either the Chicago Fire or Louisville City FC. The Lions are back in MLS action on Saturday night at home against the Montreal Impact at 7:30 p.m. ET.


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