ORLANDO, Fla. (June 29, 2022) – It wasn’t about how Orlando City started in their Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinal clash against Nashville SC on Wednesday at Exploria Stadium, but how they finished.
A stoppage-time goal to close out the first 90 minutes from Orlando defender Rodrigo Schlegel took the match to extra-time. Then goalkeeper Pedro Gallese pulled off the winning save to send Orlando through to the final four following a thrilling 6-5 win on penalties.
The victory made Orlando the only side to make repeat appearances in the Semifinals dating back to 2019 — the 2020 and 2021 tournaments weren’t held due to the COVID-19 pandemic — and grants the team the privilege to host New York Red Bulls (July 27; 7:30 p.m. ET; ESPN+) for a spot in September’s Open Cup Final, where the winner will play either Sporting Kansas City or Sacramento Republic.
Though Orlando basked in the glory of another knockout-round win, the Lions were far from dominant.
An uneventful first half saw the home side put no shots on target while Nashville threatened Gallese and his defense on numerous occasions, forcing the Peru international to make several saves on lethal goalscorers – attacking midfielder Hany Mukhtar and striker C.J. Sapong – as the first 45 ended deadlocked at 0-0.
Mukhtar finally got the better of the netminder in the 52nd minute, putting away an Alex Muyl cross that crawled past Gallese inside his far post. Orlando responded well to being behind, peppering backup Nashville goalkeeper Elliot Panicco with shots and pressure. But the former Austin Bold and Indy Eleven loanee held strong and kept the clean sheet going as the Tennessee side found themselves seconds from getting to their first-ever Open Cup Semifinal.
That is, until Schlegel showed up. A whipped-in free kick was headed down by teammate Benji Michel and into the Argentinian’s path at close range, with his goal giving City a lifeline and extending the game. But even though Nashville went a man down following Sean Davis’ second yellow card a minute into the first extra-time period, Orlando couldn’t find the winner and had to settle for spot kicks.
Tangled at 2-2 after three kicks each, Orlando and Nashville then made eight successive penalties between them as the show went on into sudden-death. When Nashville’s Eric Miller came up to the spot for his team’s seventh attempt, Gallese guessed correctly by going to his right and pawed away Miller's attempt -- sending Orlando supporters into delirium.
It marked a satisfying conclusion to a wild round that also broke an all-time Open Cup total attendance record for the Quarterfinals after 11,940 fans packed Exploria Stadium, with this year’s mark (55,382 across four games) breaking the previous high of 46,098 set in 2019.
-LAMAR HUNT U.S. OPEN CUP MATCH REPORT-
Orlando City SC (Div. I MLS) vs. Nashville SC (Div. I MLS) - Quarterfinal
June 29, 2022 – 7 p.m. ET – 89 degrees, mostly sunny
Exploria Stadium; Orlando, Fla. (11,940 attendance)
NSH – Hany Mukhtar (Alex Muyl) 52nd minute
ORL – Ercan Kara (Benji Michel) 90+3
ORL – Ercan Kara (goal), Robin Jansson (goal), Andrés Perea (saved), Kyle Smith (goal), Alexandre Pato (goal), Antônio Carlos (goal), Facundo Torres (goal)
NSH – Alex Muyl (missed), Aké Arnaud Loba (goal), Jack Maher (goal), Walker Zimmerman (goal), Ethan Zubak (goal), Dave Romney (goal), Eric Miller (saved)
ORL: 1-Pedro Gallese; 6-Robin Jansson, 15-Rodrigo Schlegel, 24-Kyle Smith, 2-Ruan (25-Antônio Carlos, 77); 11-Júnior Urso (7-Alexandre Pato, 63), 10-Mauricio Pereyra (C) (8-Jhegson Méndez, 105), 5-César Araujo (21-Andrés Perea, 87), 17-Facundo Torres; 9-Ercan Kara, 13-Tesho Akindele (19-Benji Michel, 63)
Substitutes not used: 30-Alexander Freeman, 40-Adam Grinwis
Head coach: Oscar Pareja
NSH: 30-Elliot Panicco; 4-Dave Romney, 25-Walker Zimmerman, 5-Jack Maher, 2-Daniel Lovitz (23-Taylor Washington, 90); 27-Tah Anunga (26-Luke Haakenson, 105), 6-Dax McCarty (C) (54-Sean Davis, 79), 8-Randall Leal (15-Eric Miller, 70), 19-Alex Muyl, 17-C.J. Sapong (11-Ethan Zubak, 87), 10-Hany Mukhtar (9-Aké Arnaud Loba, 79)
Substitutes not used: 1-Joe Willis
Head coach: Gary Smith
Stats Summary: ORL / NSH
Shots: 23 / 9
Shots on Goal: 5 / 6
Saves: 5 / 4
Corner Kicks: 7 / 6
Fouls: 25 / 19
Offside: 2 / 1
NSH – Daniel Lovitz (Caution) 39th minute
NSH – Hany Mukhtar (Caution) 55
ORL – Rodrigo Schlegel (Caution) 60
ORL – Mauricio Pereyra (Caution) 71
NSH – C.J. Sapong (Caution) 71
NSH – Dax McCarty (Caution) 72
NSH – Sean Davis (Caution) 87
NSH – Elliot Panicco (Caution) 90+1
NSH – Ethan Zubak (Caution) 90+1
NSH – Sean Davis (Caution) 91
NSH – Sean Davis (Sent Off) 91
NSH – Jack Maher (Caution) 101
NSH – Tah Anunga (Caution) 106
ORL – Andrés Perea (Caution) 109
Referee: Mark Allatin
AR1 & 2: Artyom Arustamyan, Tiffini Turpin
4th Official: Alexandra Billeter