After a significant rain delay, the game between the newly-rebranded Orlando City U-23s (formerly Central Florida Kraze) and Jacksonville United got started at 8:30 pm. Orlando came out strong with some crosses and throw-ins into the box, but the Jacksonville defense held strong.
City had a great chance in the 17th minute, but Nick Sowers’ goal was called back with the assistant referee indicating offsides. A fantastic steal in the 29th minute led to a Nick Sowers cross that Jonathan Mendoza shot just wide of the far corner. Jacksonville immediately responded with a dangerous cross, but Charles Sanders grabbed it out of the air. In the final 5 minutes of the 1st half, Jacksonville had several chances but failed to convert.
The second half started quickly with a shot by Nicolas Russo deflected by Stuart McCrory in the 46th minute. In the 50th minute, a cross by Sowers was headed by Russo and then Drew Helm gathered the deflected header, turned and found the back of the net.
Jacksonville made two substitutions in the 56th and 59th minutes, bringing in Ramak Safi and Wale Leyimu for Nedim Hrustic and Jonathan Glenn. Some long balls and excellent counter attacks brought both Orlando and Jacksonville some good chances, but both teams’ defenses held firm. A Jacksonville corner in the 71st minute was placed perfectly but the header fell just left of the net.
A hand ball called on Orlando on the top of the box resulted in a penalty kick for Jacksonville which was converted by Tomislav Krizanovic in the 82nd minute. Jacksonville kept the pressure on Orlando after the goal with crosses and direct kicks into the box but failed to convert. A free kick by Jacksonville resulted in a scramble in the box and Safi found the back of the net to put Jacksonville in the lead with 1 minute left before stoppage time.
Coach Pat Cannon of Jacksonville said, “We started out a little shaky… but when we made our subs it really changed the game. They just opened the game up for us.”
When asked about the controversy at the end of the game, Nick Sowers (on loan from the USL Pro team) said, “We had many opportunites but failed to convert them into points when we should have.”
“Jacksonville’s players knew how to win tonight,” said Orlando City U-23s Head Coach Joe Avallone. “We have to learn from this. That’s what the US Open Cup is all about.”
Jacksonville United FC will face the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the Second Round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup next Tuesday, May 22nd, in Jacksonville.
Jacksonville United FC 2:1 Orlando City U-23
Seminole Soccer Complex – Sanford, Fla.
ORL: Drew Helm 50
JAX: Tomislav Kruzanovic (PK) 82
JAX: Ramak Safi 89
JAX: Sean Steed – caution 64
ORL: David Graydon – caution 76
ORL: Oumar Diahkite – caution 87
ORL: Joseph Toby – caution 90′
Orlando City U-23: Charles Sanders, Joseph Toby, Ryan Griffen, Sean Reynolds, Oumar Diakhite, Nick Sowers, Nicco Russo (David Graydon 70), Luis Ocejo, Ricardo, Campbell, Jonathan Mendoza, Drew Helm (Moses Aduny 78)
Subs not used: Johan Bergfeld, Brendon Moore, Ezequiel Pedraza, Stephen Williams, Edwin Worley
Jacksonville United FC: Stuart McCrory, Jacobi Goodfellow, Mats, Elmsater, Enrique Haussler, Hollis Donaldson, Nedim Hrustic (Ramak Safi 56), Sean Steed (Stephen Durr 68), Jonathan Glenn (Akinwale Leyimu 60), Tomislav Krizanovic, Adam Allee, Tyler Williams
Subs not used: Josiah Holtz, Riley Butler, Ryan Billins, Nick Salafrio