Sanford, Fla. – The third round of the U.S. Open Cup marked a monumental night for Orlando City on Wednesday, as both Orlando City SC and the Orlando City U23s advanced into the fourth round of the oldest soccer competition in the United States, with wins against the Tampa Bay Rowdies and the Charleston Battery.
After a 2-2 score-line at the end of 90 minutes, the U23s defied all odds and claimed its second-ever victory in the Open Cup in thrilling fashion, defeating the Charleston Battery after 14 rounds of penalty kicks. The young Lions will now advance on to the fourth round to face the Portland Timbers on June 17th.
Orlando City SC, on the other hand, had a less dramatic fixture, as the Lions produced a strong 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rowdies, extending the City’s streak to five consecutive wins against the NASL side.
City’s confidence in its ability to defeat the Rowdies was quite evident, as Orlando were in complete control of the ball all night and looked destined to find the back of the net almost every time they went forward.
“First and foremost, I thought that it was an outstanding display from minute one to minute 90,” said Head Coach Adrian Heath after the 4-1 win. “Our counter-attacking and possession football was absolutely magnificent. I didn’t see the four goals coming, but I know that when we play this way that we’re difficult to stop.”
After knocking on the doorstep on several occasions in the first ten minutes, Lions Midfielder Kevin Molino, who has been in his best goal scoring form of his career, provided the first goal of the match in the 11th minute with a clinical finish.
Molino was able to find space in behind when Austin da Luz drifted inside and attracted the defense’s attention, allowing the Trinidadian to run on to the end of a precisely floated ball from Tyler Turner and lob it over Tampa Goalkeeper Cody Mizell.
Despite scoring early in the match, Orlando were in no mood to sit back and protect the 1-0 lead, as the Lions continued to attack its I-4 rivals relentlessly. As a result, City would find the back of the net three more times before the end of the half.
In his first match for Orlando City in over a month, due to suffering a knee injury, Austin da Luz scored from six yards away after a cross from Adama Mbengue was deflected across the box.
Just four minutes later, Mbengue was on the other end, scoring a screamer that left Mizell with no chance. Left-back Luke Boden was having his way down the left-hand side throughout the first half, and played an accurate ball to Mbengue, who took a touch before blasting his final effort in the roof of the net.
Molino went on to add the fourth in the 41st minute of the match, after carving through the Rowdies’ defense inside the area- scoring his 10th goal in all competitions for Orlando this season.
Moments before the halftime whistle, Tampa pulled one back when Blake Wagner cut inside and curled his effort to the far post to give the Rowdies its first goal of the night. The momentum remained in Orlando’s favor, however, as the first half marked Orlando’s most efficient and productive half in 2014.
Tampa made two changes during the break, bringing on Forward Brian Shriver and Casey Townsend for Christophe Lallet and Lucky Mkosana. Meanwhile, Heath elected to stick with his starting line-up that performed brilliantly in the first half, leading to another impressive display from the Lions in the second 45.
Although the second half lacked nearly as many goals, Orlando City were just as dangerous and came close to scoring on multiple occasions. While Tampa struggled to create very much going forward, Orlando’s front players, on the other hand, looked confident in the final third and were continuously combining with each other and the full-backs, who also ventured up the field to get involved with the attack.
Mbengue had two prime opportunities in the 53rd and 61st minute, but a miss over the bar and a good save from Mizell prevented any further damage. Ceren also found himself in a good position to score his first goal since the pre-season Disney Pro Soccer Classic.
In the 67th minute, the El Salvadorian and Molino played a crafty one-two on the edge of the area that led Ceren into ample space inside the box, but a heavy touch saw the ball roll over the touchline for a goal-kick.
The final ten minutes featured City managing the game, as tired legs set in and securing an additional goal became lesser of a priority. Tampa’s frustration began to show when Shane Hill was shown a red card for a reckless challenge on Molino off the ball.
Aside from a yellow card shown to Hertzog in the ensuing scuffle, Molino and Orlando were able to come away from the challenge relatively unscathed, capping off an impressive night.
With the win, the Lions advance on to the fourth round of the Open Cup for the second consecutive year and will face the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer.
The fourth round match will take place in Commence City, Colo., at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Kick-off is set for 7 p.m. MT on June 17.
The U23s are also set to play MLS side, Portland Timbers at Providence Park on June 17. Kick-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m PT
Team 1 2 Final
Orlando City SC 4 0 4
Tampa Bay Rowdies 1 0 1
ORL- Kevin Molino (Tyler Turner) 11’
ORL- Austin da Luz (Unassisted) 22’
ORL- Adama Mbengue (Luke Boden) 26’
ORL- Kevin Molino (Unassisted) 41’
TAM- Blake Wagner ( ) 45’
Orlando City SC- GK Miguel Gallardo, D Tyler Turner, Brad Rusin, Tommy Redding (Bryan Burke 70’), Luke Boden, M Adama Mbengue, Yordany Alvarez, Austin da Luz (Anthony Pulis 70’), Darwin Ceren, Kevin Molino, F Corey Hertzog
Tampa Bay Rowdies- GK Cody Mizell, D Willie Hunt, Frankie Sanfilippo, John Paul Rodrigues, Anthony Wallace, M Christophe Lallet (Casey Townsend 46’), Shane Hill, Darel Russell, Blake Wagner (Keith Savage 72’), F Evans Frimpong, Lucky Mkosana (Brian Shriver 46’)
Darwin Ceren (Yellow Card) 12’
Tyler Turner (Yellow Card) 78’
Shane Hill (Red Card) 87’
Corey Hertzog (Yellow Card) 87’
Time of Match: 8:00 p.m. EST
Weather: — Clear