For Orlando City goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar, it was a very special Tuesday night.
Getting the second straight start in the 2022 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, he came up with three big saves, including the game-clinching stop in the last seconds of the match.
As his team celebrated around him, he ran to one of the athletic trainers to get a special gift for a special person.
Moments later, Mason’s girlfriend Tatiana found him on the field, he got on his knee and proposed.
“I got engaged! She said yes!” Stajduhar said after the game, “I was more nervous than before the game, but she said yes.”
That moment capped off the night for Orlando City as they beat the Philadelphia Union 2-1 to advance to the Round of 16 in the US Open Cup for the third tournament in a row.
“I thought it was a very enjoyable game for our fans and the intensity just shows the respect that both teams had for the cup,” Orlando head coach Oscar Pareja said after the game, “It was not far from the high level in the league. I liked the effort a lot from our players, especially in a very, very difficult match against a very good team.”
The first 45 minutes saw both teams feeling each other out with nothing on the scoreboard to show for it.
Then the Lions took the advantage just nine minutes into the second half. Fullback Mikey Halliday made a darting run down the wing, crossed the ball into midfielder Junior Urso, who had his initial shot blocked. Designated Player Ercan Kara was there to clean up the shot and put it past goalkeeper Matt Freese to take the advantage. It was Kara’s first career US Open Cup goal.
After Orlando survived a few minutes of Philadelphia pushing for the equalizer, the Lions added a second in the 57th minute in spectacular fashion. Alexandre Pato had a ball cleared at the top of the box, as it fell right to Andres Perea.
“I just saw that ball and my mind just said, shoot!”
— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) May 11, 2022
Perea did just that. From 30 yards out, the midfielder smashed a line drive past Freese and into the back of the net to create some breathing room for the Lions.
As the game wore on, the Union continued to get closer and closer to closing the gap. In the 77th minute, Stuart Findlay got on a ball into the box and tapped it past Mason Stajduhar to make it a one-goal game.
The Lions were able to hold on for the final 23 minutes, as they advance into the round of 16.
The Philadelphia Union, on the other hand, have extended their road winless streak in the Open Cup to eight games. That’s the second-longest streak of the Modern Era (1995-present).
Orlando, who reached the Semifinals in their last Open Cup run in 2019, will await Thursday’s draw to find out their next opponent.