Orlando City FC defeated the Charleston Battery 1-0 Tuesday night in the Second Round of the US Open Cup with the lone goal coming from an unexpected player. Defender Rob Valentino scored in the 40th minute, and it was enough to put Orlando City through to the Third Round of the tournament where they will face FC Dallas of Major League Soccer.
Although he was facing away from the goal, Valentino went up to attempt a header on a ball Kevin Molino played into the box. At the same time, Battery goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra charged forward in an attempt to grab the ball. However, Valentino put his head to the ball, propelling it over the keeper’s hands and into the back of the net.
The Battery defenders protested the goal, claiming Valentino was offside, but the assistant referee indicated otherwise.
Charleston manager Mike Anhaeuser did not blame Dykstra for the goal, saying his team had plenty of chances to tie the match.
“It wasn’t a bad mistake,” Anhaeuser said. “We had our chances, but we didn’t put them away. That’s the game.”
Surprisingly, it was not Valentino’s first goal of the campaign in which he has seen action in 13 of their 14 regular season contests. He tallied the lone goal in a 1-0 victory against the Charlotte Eagles in their third match of the season, giving the franchise it’s first-ever road victory. He now has game-winners in both Carolinas.
It was a historic win by Orlando City, as they became the first non-MLS team to win at Blackbaud Stadium in US Open Cup play. The Battery have been playing Open Cup games in that stadium since 1999 and rarely lose. They are 18-5-3 (2-1 in PKs) in that stadium all-time in this tournament and will fail to reach the Third Round for the first time since 2005.
For the first ten minutes of the match, Orlando City was controlling the possession. However, Charleston appeared to settle down and started creating scoring chances of its own.
Anhaeuser said the slow start was due to his team not being quite ready for the passing game of Orlando City, a side they have yet to play in the USL Pro regular season.
“Once we settled down we really played well,” Anhaeuser said. “They’re a team that once they’re winning, they’re tough to score on, but we created chances.”
Charleston added fresh legs in the second half, when Dane Kelly came on in the 55th minute to replace Levi Coleman. Kelly came close to equalizing for Charleston as he split two defenders to get a one-on-one with the keeper. However, Miguel Gallardo was able to clear the ball just before Kelly could put a foot on it.
With the temperature hovering around 100 degrees at kickoff, Anhaeuser said players on both teams were getting worn out.
“When its 100 degrees, one mistake can be the game,” Anhaeuser said.
Orlando will travel to Texas next Tuesday, as FC Dallas will host the Third Round matchup at Pizza Hut Park.
TheCup.us Match MVP: Rob Valentino