Orlando City welcomed the New York Red Bulls to Exploria Stadium on Wednesday night, looking to make history. By the end of the night, that history was made.
The Lions gave up the first goal in first-half stoppage time but responded immediately and then exploded for four second-half goals to rout the Red Bulls, 5-1. With the win, Orlando City reached the final match of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup for the first time in club history. MLS U22 Initative midfielder Cesar Araujo led the charge for the Lions, scoring the equalizer off a corner kick just before the halftime whistle and adding the first of three insurance goals on another corner.
Mauricio Pereyra, Facundo Torres, and Benji Michel also scored for Orlando to more than offset the opening goal from Lewis Morgan. The first four OCSC goals were scored by Uruguayan players and Torres assisted on Michel’s late strike.
To say the performance by the Lions came out of nowhere would be an understatement. Orlando City had not scored more than three goals in an entire match all season long and yet the Lions bagged four after the break, starting with Pereyra’s strike on a great buildup just two minutes after the restart. Araujo’s two goals weren’t just his first two since joining Orlando City, but his first two professional goals ever.
At the other end of the pitch, Araujo and the back line did well to limit New York’s opportunities to get back into the match. Patryk Klimala, who hit the woodwork twice in the first half, was the most dangerous Red Bull on the evening but the visitors were largely held in check in the second period.
Orlando City will host the final on Sept. 7 against USL Championship side Sacramento Republic. The second-division side made a magical run through the other side of the bracket, advancing on penalties after a scoreless draw at home against Sporting Kansas City. A major trophy awaits one of the two teams in September.
We hope you enjoy these images from a historic night for Orlando City at Exploria Stadium.
Images: Dan MacDonald
Words: Michael Citro