The Magic City has officially been booted from the 2018 U.S. Open Cup with Miami United’s loss to Orlando City last night at Ted Hendricks Stadium. Despite a strong run through the first four rounds of the tournament, the match was over before it started. Orlando City proved a point that they were taking this tournament seriously under third-year coach Jason Kreis.
On our preview we were a bit split as to how this game could end, however we all thought the game would be closer than it actually was. Given Orlando’s previous two showings against South Florida clubs it was fair to assume that perhaps Kreis and company would keep some of their stars rested. Then again, you know what they say about assumptions. Orlando trotted out a starting XI that made eyes widen. They were taking this seriously and for United to pull off this #Cupset they would need a miracle.
In the opening 30 minutes of the match the miracle almost came twice for Miami United. Earning multiple set pieces in a dangerous area, the Hialeah boys were unable to convert. Despite deploying the high-pressure tactics and trying to force the Orlando defense into errors, United appeared to be an usual amount of timid. Passes were played too quickly, the wings were unable to explode past Orlando’s fullbacks, and Nicolas Micoli was unable to get service to justify being a target striker.
It was the local guys who paid dividends for City as Stefano Pinho would open the scoring in the in the 37th minute. USMNT star Sacha Kljestan, would work the ball through the midfield before leaving it off for Paraguayan international Josue Colman. Colman would leave it for a streaking RJ allen down the right side which allowed enough space for his cross to find Pinho in the heart of the area. Pinho would do what he did best during his time in Miami and slot it past the United keeper.
The game would enter the half with the visitors holding the lead. Going into the half down one wasn’t the worst-case scenario for United. However, they found themselves to be without the services of David Ochoa who came up limping late in the first half after colliding with an Orlando player. The goal scoring machine would be substituted for Nicolas Gorobsov in an effort to boost their attacking abilities.
Eight minutes into the second half it would be Kljestan again working his magic through United’s defense. His pass this time would find Dillon Powers who unleashed a powerful strike bringing Orlando’s lead to two. If that wasn’t enough Kljestan would be the mastermind behind City’s third goal as well. After collecting a loose ball in Miami’s defensive area he was quick to find the other local Lion in Victor “PC” Giro. PC made no mistake and put his effort past the United keeper bringing the score line to three.
It was a great night for Orlando’s players, staff, and faithful. The trip to Hialeah produced quite a turnout for the club located 200 miles to the north of Ted Hendricks Stadium. Add to that the local OCSC faithful, and it was clear that Orlando would enjoy a level of support that was arguably greater than their showing at home in 2017 against Miami FC.
Despite United’s exit, they will receive an award for being the farthest advancing lower division team. Alongside United, local qualifiers North Texas Rayados and PDL club FC Golden State Force all bowed out of the tournament in the fourth round. Only professional clubs remain as MLS dominated the fourth round, disposing of all lower division talent except for Louisville, Sacramento, and Nashville (USL).
As for Magic City teams, the 2018 edition of the U.S. Open Cup provided fireworks and validation for the clubs in the area. FC Miami City received the short end of the stick when picked to play against Miami FC 2 in the play-in round. Red Force and FC Kendall would fall to both of the local NPSL clubs in the first round, and the second round crowned the 2018 Kings of Miami with United taking early steps into their deep run through the tournament.