Orlando City avoided the upset bug in 2018, decisively defeating NPSL side Miami United FC 3-0 in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup at Ted Hendricks Stadium in Hialeah, FL. Stefano Pinho — a hero in the USOC match for Miami FC last year at Orlando City — scored in the tournament for the Lions to open things up and Dillon Powers and PC each added their first goals in purple in the second half.
True to his word earlier in the week, Jason Kreis sent a strong lineup out in the U.S. Open Cup opener, with only a few backups sprinkled among the starters. Center back Jonathan Spector got his first action since returning from his second concussion this season.
Both teams began a bit nervy, with Orlando trying to adjust to the artificial turf, leading to several slips and poor passes. Speaking of poor passes, PC stepped in front of one by Miami in the game’s first minute, but his heavy touch allowed goalkeeper Occenat Peterson to collect it. A minute later, Sacha Kljestan tried his luck but missed the net.
Orlando survived a scramble in its own penalty area in the seventh minute, as multiple defenders slipped and slid, but nobody from Miami United could get a solid foot on the ball.
Josué Colmán fizzed a wicked cross into the box in the 12th minute for Pinho but the defense was there to deflect it away just before the striker could get onto it. Pinho did get onto a PC cross in the 18th but fired over the bar. A minute later, PC fired a rocket from about 25 yards out that was just a bit high.
Nicolás Micoli got his head on a long set piece delivery in 24th minute that went just over Earl Edwards Jr.’s crossbar. Edwards then coughed up the ball with a sloppy pass in the 32nd minute but the deflection off of Ezequiel Tejera was off target.
Five minutes later, the Lions broke through. Kljestan worked a give-and-go with Colmán in the middle of the park before Sacha sprayed it wide to the right for RJ Allen. The right back hit a curling pass with his first touch that gave Pinho an easy first-time finish to the near post to make it 1-0.
That was about all of the first-half activity, as both teams wasted a pair of corner kicks in the final few minutes of the opening period. Orlando led in shots (5-4), shots on target (1-0), and held 68% of the possession. Orlando City also was the more accurate passing team (79%-62%).
Spector subbed out at halftime for Chris Schuler, getting a good 45 minutes of work in.
The Lions came out after the break and immediately looked to put the game away. Kljestan earned a free kick in the first minute after the restart and the bouncing ball somehow eluded Pinho’s left-footed swing.
Powers finished a great buildup in the 53rd minute to double Orlando’s lead. Mohamed El-Munir drew three defenders toward him and released Kljestan up the left side. Sacha’s cross found the oncoming Powers, who took a touch and then buried his first goal as a Lion.
Three minutes later Colmán should have scored with the goalkeeper well off his line, but the Paraguayan’s chip was just off target. But the Lions kept coming and Pinho earned a free kick just outside the box in the 59th minute. Orlando took it quickly and didn’t fool Miami as the chance evaporated.
Orlando put the game away in the 62nd minute. A wayward pass from the defense was picked up by Kljestan, who found a wide-open PC running to the top of the box. The Brazilian finished Kljestan’s cross with his first touch and made it 3-0.
Miami nearly pulled a goal right back. A tight-angle shot from the left side near the edge of the area was saved by Edwards but he left a juicy rebound in front of goal. Luckily, an onrushing Miami attacker couldn’t control the ball and Orlando’s defense cleared.
Kljestan subbed off with his two assists in the 64th minute, as Jose Villareal came on.
Orlando hung back most of the rest of the second half, as Miami started fouling recklessly all over the pitch, earning several bookings. The emotions weren’t just on the field, but also on the bench, as two Miami assistant coaches were sent off.
Pinho had two outstanding chances to get a brace, but fired the first opportunity just wide in the 82nd minute after a good buildup by Villareal. The second was saved off the leg of Peterson in the 87th and Colmán’s follow was also saved by the Miami keeper.
There was hardly any stoppage time and Orlando City came away with the 3-0 win to advance to the fifth round.
The Lions finished with a 13-7 advantage in shots (5-1 on target), 69% of the possession, and an 81%-66% edge in passing accuracy.
The Lions have two more road matches before they return home, starting Saturday night at Vancouver against the Whitecaps at 7 p.m. ET.