It was clear right from the get go that Orlando City SC wasn’t going to repeat the near-disasterous performance they had in the US Open Cup Fourth Round, and in the end, the MLS expansion side prevailed winning 2-0 over the Columbus Crew. Last round against the Charleston Battery, Orlando blew a two-goal lead in extra time, but prevailed in penalty kicks. This time, they held on to their two-goal lead.
Kaka, the club’s major signing since moving up from the United Soccer League, scored his first Open Cup goal, while Carlos Rivas added another to give Orlando the lead they needed to pick up their first regulation victory of their new era. Kaka becomes just the third World Cup champion in the Modern Era (1995-present) to score a goal in the US Open Cup. He joins fellow Brazilians Zinho (Miami FC, 2007) and Branco (Metrostars, 1997).
Less than a minute after having a goal disallowed for offside, Kaka opening the scoring in the 21st minute. Darwin Ceres stepped up and stole the ball from the Crew backline and started a break into the Columbus penalty area. Ceres played a pass over to the former World Player of the Year, who beat the keeper from the top of the box.
Just 14 minutes later, Carlos Rivas, who became the first Modern Era player to score three penalty kick goals against Charleston in Round 4, scored his first goal of the tournament in the run of play. Pedro Ribeiro brought the ball to the edge of the penalty area, but had the ball knocked away by a swarming Crew defense but the loose ball fell into the path of Rivas who hit a one-time rocket shot into the upper part of the goal.
Orlando head coach Adrian Heath was impressed with Rivas and his goal, but he wasn’t surprised for one of the team’s up-and-coming young players.
“I’ve never been involved with a kid who can kick the ball as hard as he can,” said Heath. “He’s going to be a big player for us moving forward. It’s early days for him, but he’s starting to make an impression.”
The Crew were uninspiring throughout the game, with only a few chances that were very spread out. Orlando goalkeeper Tally Hall only had to make two saves for the home team to pick up his fourth career Open Cup shutout and send the Lions into the Quarterfinals for the second time in the last three years. While the general performance of the visitors was underwhelming, they received a spark midway through the second half but were unable to capitalize on it as Columbus was shut out for the first time in club history, which covers a span of 36 Open Cup games.
Orlando City’s dominant performance further shows not only that they take the Open Cup seriously, but also that the first team can bounce back from a stretch of disappointing performances in both the cup and league play. Heath reiterated after the match how the Open Cup is one of the club’s top priorties and the lineup he put out on the field reflected that. Orlando City, being a former USL team themselves, understands the benefits of a deep Cup run, and if anything, being in MLS makes it easier to do that with a deeper bench.
The standout player from tonight was Rivas, who played an all-around game and even scoring the safety goal for Orlando City. He was rightfully awarded ‘man of the match’ at the stadium even after being subbed off in the 67th minute.
An announced crowd of 13,684 at the Citrus Bowl was small by Orlando City standards, but understandable considering the United States was competing in the Women’s World Cup Semifinal against Germany and the final four of the Copa American tournament was also on the schedule for Tuesday evening. Even with a smaller crowd, Orlando fans still managed to create a strong home field advantage.
Orlando advances to the Quarterfinals where they will play on the road against the Chicago Fire. City’s first trip to the round of eight in 2013 as a USL club ended at the hands of the Fire as Chicago eliminated them 5-1 at Toyota Park. The date of the Quarterfinal match won’t be announced until later this week.
POST-MATCH PRESS CONFERENCE: ADRIAN HEATH
FULL MATCH REPLAY: COLUMBUS CREW AT ORLANDO CITY SC