Lions host N.Y. Red Bulls in July 27 semifinal

By Official Florida FC

Late drama featuring Pedro Gallese and Rodrigo Schlegel once again lifted Orlando City to victory in a penalty shootout. The Peruvian keeper denied Nashville SC’s Eric Miller in the seventh round of penalty kicks on Wednesday night to help Orlando City advance to its second consecutive U.S. Open Cup semifinal.

The Lions were minutes away from exiting the competition when Schlegel’s stoppage time goal extended the match another 30 minutes.

Orlando City could not muster a winner, despite Nashville’s Sean Davis earning his second yellow card in the 91st minute.

Orlando City will host the N.Y. Red Bulls in the semifinals on July 27. The kickoff time has yet to be announced.

The Red Bulls are in the semifinals for the first time in five years. New York has famously never won a trophy in its 27-year existence. The club has twice made the finals, but lost to Sporting Kansas City five years ago and was stunned in the 2013 final by D.C United.

The other semifinal will feature Sacramento Republic hosting Sporting Kansas City. Sacramento is looking to become the first non-MLS finalist in the competition in 14 years, while Sporting Kansas City is two wins away from joining Maccabee Los Angeles and Bethlehem Steel as the only five-time winners of the competition.

As for Wednesday’s match, Gallese made a pair of saves in the first half hour to keep the team in the match. Nashville’s Hany Mukhtar opened the scoring in the 52nd minute.

Orlando City equalized late and had a chance to win the match in extra time; however, Nashville keeper Elliot Panicco made a save in the waning moments of extra time.

Schlegel and Gallese famously helped Orlando City win its first MLS Cup playoff match in 2020. In that match, Gallese made six saves, and a seventh in the first round of penalties; but, earned his second yellow card for leaving his line early. Schlegel rescued Orlando City by denying New York City FC’s Gudi Thórarinsson to win the match.

Wednesday, the two lifted Orlando to its second U.S. Open Cup semifinal. Atlanta United beat the Lions 2-0 in the 2019 tournament. Central defender Robin Jansson was the only starter from Wednesday’s quarterfinal who started in the 2019 U.S. Open Cup semifinal.

If Orlando wins next month, the U.S. Open Cup final will be held in Florida for the first time in its 107-tournament history.

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