Exploria Stadium will host final in September

By Official Florida FC

Orlando City blitzed past the New York Red Bulls to advance to its first Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final on Wednesday night.

César Araújo scored his first Orlando City goal in first half stoppage time. The 21-year-old Uruguayan was far from finished. His goal at the hour mark signaled the rout was on.

Orlando City added two more to humiliate the visitors 5-1.

Mauricio Pereyra’s exquisite goal in the 47th minute gave the Lions the lead. Facundo Torres put the game away in the 75th minute and Central Florida native Benji Michel sealed things with his 83rd minute goal.

Orlando City’s victory is the club’s largest result in a match since a 5-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes in June 2021 in MLS play.

“The importance of the game goes beyond taking the club to another final, which is super for our fans and what we’re achieving means for the city,” head coach Oscar Pareja told the team’s website after the match.

“We’re working hard, the boys are doing a lot in trying to be more polished on the finishing, creating more sequences and volume [in the attack]. Today is a great reward for them. We’ll keep our heads in the right place, try to be more consistent and score those goals that will give us points. Tonight we want to enjoy this great moment for our fans and for our Club, taking the Club to a second final, and hopefully we can give them this trophy.”

Orlando City won the USL Championship playoffs in 2011 and 2013. Since the club joined Major League Soccer in 2015, it has yet to win a trophy.

Wednesday’s win was the 29th match the Lions have played in the U.S. Open Cup and the first time in a decade the club scored five goals.

Soccer in Central Florida was much different back then.

Orlando City competed in what is now known as the USL Championship. The Lions defeated the KC Athletics 7-0 in the second round of the cup in front of 746 people at the Seminole Soccer Complex. John Rooney scored two that day and former Orlando City manager James O’Connor was an unused substitute.

O’Connor was in the dugout in 2019 when Orlando City lost to Atlanta United in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals. Pareja took over as manager in 2020 and taken the Lions one step further.

Orlando City is the first Florida-based club to advance to the U.S. Open Cup final in 33 years. The St. Petersburg Kickers defeated New York Greek American 2-1 after extra time to win the 1989 U.S. Open Cup.

The Lions will host the U.S. Open Cup final on Sept. 7.

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