Orlando City held of Los Angeles FC in penalty kicks, Lions will face Minnesota or San Jose on Aug. 6
By Official Florida FC
Perhaps dreams do come true at Disney World. Orlando City is off to the MLS is Back semifinals.
The Lions upset tournament-favorite LAFC in penalty kicks on Friday night. Orlando City will face either Minnesota United or the San Jose Earthquakes in an Aug. 6 semifinal.
Mauricio Pereyra, Kyle Smith, João Moutinho, Antônio Carlos and Nani all converted their penalty kicks to help the Lions win 5-4. The match was tied after 90 minutes following Moutinho’s equalizer in the 90th minute.
Friday was the third time in the tournament Orlando City trailed a match during the second half. As was the case against Inter Miami in the MLS is Back curtain-raiser and against Philadelphia on July 20, the hosts did not depart the ESPN Wide World of Sports empty-handed.
Moutinho was drafted No. 1 overall by LAFC in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft. The 22-year-old was discarded by LAFC last year and found a home in Orlando. He has found a home in Orlando.
Friday night, Moutinho picked an ideal time to score his first goal for the purple and white.
Nani curled in a corner kick from the right and Moutinho had a header he could not miss.
Afterward, Bob Bradley could not hide his disgust.
LAFC were the reigning Supporter’s Shield winners. The Black and Gold had the largest goal-difference in MLS history last year and entered Friday’s match having scored 15 times in four MLS is Back matches.
Orlando City had far more opportunities in the first 45 minutes. The Lions outshot LAFC 7-0 in the first half. But, none of those efforts were good enough to beat LAFC goalie Kenneth Vermeer.
The hosts were in the ascendency, though their advantage in possession, shots and shots on goal had yet to reap rewards.
Throughout the MLS is Back tournament, Orlando City has missed more chances than their opponents. Friday, it appeared those missed chances finally caught up with them. Ruan drew a penalty kick in the 55th minute. Vermeer saved Nani’s effort to keep the match scoreless.
Three minutes later, Bradley Wright-Phillips scored. The two-time MLS Golden Boot winner may be 35; but, he knows how to score goals.
LAFC forward Diego Rossi forced a turnover, dribbled to the goal line and found Wright-Phillips at the near post. First shot, first goal and Orlando had a half an hour to rouse themselves from the turf at the ESPN Wide World of Sports.
Rossi has been lethal all tournament long — scoring seven goals on the eight shots on goal this month. Friday night, Rossi put three of his four shots on goal. He didn’t find the back of the net.
Instead, it is Orlando that will remain in the bubble.
Orlando City advanced to its fourth semifinal in club history. The Lions’ first two semifinals occurred when it played in what is now called the United Soccer League. Orlando City, led by current Minnesota United manager Adrian Heath and current Lions forward Dom Dwyer, won the USL Pro title in 2011 and 2013.
Orlando advanced to the U.S. Open Cup semifinals last year, advancing after finishing tied at 1-all and winning a penalty kick shootout 5-4 over a supposedly superior side.
Six members of Friday’s starting XI against LAFC started last year’s Open Cup semifinal loss to Atlanta. A year to the day after Atlanta United ended Orlando City’s run, the Lions will play in another semifinal.