Orlando City’s Open Cup run is over.
It took 120 minutes to decide a winner in this fifth-round match-up between Florida rivals, as the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers pulled out a goal in the final minute of extra time to eliminate Orlando City from the 2016 U.S. Open Cup with a 2-1 defeat at Camping World Stadium.
PC was the hero for the Strikers, set up by a free kick, beating Earl Edwards Jr. to earn his club’s first competitive win over an MLS team ever.
"Thought we had chances to have won the game comfortably," said Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath after the match. "Unfortunately we got the sucker punch late on -- incredibly on a free kick taken 15-20 yards away from where the initial foul was given."
The announced attendance of 3,162 marks the lowest attended competitive match for Orlando City since Aug. 3, 2011 -- the club’s first USL season in Orlando.
Kevin Molino scored the only goal of the night for Orlando City in the 16th minute, before being ejected with a straight red card later in the second half for throwing punches in a brawl between the two sides in the middle of what had already been a heated match to that point.
The small contingent of Strikers fans that traveled almost three hours for the match got to see their side go up 1-0 just 12 minutes in, when Jose Angulo, who scored against Orlando City with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in 2014, beat the offside trap and then beat Earl Edwards Jr. in the 1v1 breakaway.
Needless to say, this was not the score line Orlando City fans were expecting to see less than 15 minutes into the match.
Not five minutes later, however, Orlando City came back to level on a beautiful run up the middle of the field by Molino, who worked his way through multiple Ft. Lauderdale defenders to chip the goalkeeper for his seventh competitive goal of 2016.
And that’s all the goals in this one, as the next 114 minutes went scoreless up to PC's winner.
Ft. Lauderdale didn’t force Orlando's defense into much tough action throughout the match, and not nearly as much as Orlando City had done on Strikers goalkeeper Diego Restepo, who was phenomenal throughout the match. Restrepo made save after crucial save to keep the game tied through the end of regulation, and then deep into extra time. He simply had their number.
Both sides were reduced to 10 men in the 67th minute of play when a small fight broke out among the players on the field. Unhappy with a foul call against Orlando City, Strikers players showed clear disapproval of the lack of discipline shown towards the Lions for the foul. Words were exchanged, a player swung Molino around and another bumped him, and the Trinidadian lost his cool and took a swing at a Ft. Lauderdale player in the midst of the chaos. He was shown a red card in the aftermath, along with Strikers forward Macion Santos.
With both sides reduced to 10, play opened up considerably in favor of Orlando City for most of the final 30 minutes of the match. Chance after chance fell the Lions' way, but along with each one came an opportunity wasted.
Orlando City attempted 20 shots in the second half and extra time — they put eight on frame, including Hadji Barry's effort that hit the crossbar, Harrison Heath's rocket that forced a spectacular diving save by Restrepo and several efforts just wide. By comparison, Ft. Lauderdale attempted just one shot after halftime for the rest of the match — it was the game-winning goal.
"I thought the second half when we got higher up the pitch we put them under pressure and got them out of their comfort zone. I thought there was only one team that was going to win it," Heath said. "As I said, we had chances to have won the game."
The loss wasn't the only bad news for Orlando City, as right back Rafael Ramos had to be subbed off in the 39th minute after another apparent hamstring injury. Ramos had played fairly well to that point in the match and touched a ball past a defender and then tried to blow past him but pulled up and immediately signaled to the bench. It was Ramos' first action since May 21 vs. Montreal.
With the Open Cup now out of mind, Orlando City will return to MLS action in five days, when the Lions travel to FC Dallas for a Fourth of July match-up at Toyota Stadium.