The first meeting in any competition between Major League Soccer’s Florida clubs, Orlando City SC and Inter Miami CF, came in the Round of 16 Wednesday night.
After 90 minutes of scoreless soccer, the game at Exploria Stadium in Orlando came alive with Orlando and Miami trading goals in the opening minutes of extra time. In the end, the match had to be decided in a penalty kick shootout with Orlando prevailing 4-2 in front of their home fans. This brought an end to Inter Miami’s inaugural Open Cup run, while the Lions remain perfect in PK shootouts (4-0) all-time and advance to the Quarterfinals for the third tournament in a row.
By advancing, Orlando will host the tournament’s last remaining lower division side, Union Omaha (USL League One) on June 22.
The first quality chance of the game came in the 12th minute when Orlando’s Junior Urso played a ball to Jhegson Mendez at the top of the box. The Ecuadorian international fired a low shot on goal which forced a diving save by Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender.
About ten minutes later, Callender kept the Lions off the scoresheet again when Tesho Akindele found himself right on the doorstep and attempted to redirect a header into the back of the net. However, Callender dove to his right and made the stop.
In the 41st minute, Orlando threatened the Miami goal again when Mendez tracked down an overcooked corner kick. Mendez, dribbled the ball up and fired a rocket that was heading for the upper corner of the goal, but Callender went airbourne and made a spectacular diving save to keep the game scoreless heading into halftime.
In the opening minutes of the first extra time period, Miami finally found a breakthrough. Joevin Jones, who had come off the bench in the 74th minute, attempted to take on a defender at the edge of the penalty area on the left wing. As the Trinidad & Tobago international faked to his left and then cut back to his right, his touch on the ball was too strong and it got away from him, but Jean Mota saw an opportunity with that loose ball right at the edge of the box. He ran onto it and one-timed the ball with his left foot and blasted it low to beat a diving Mason Stajduhar to the near post in the 94th minute.
The stunned home crowd wouldn’t be down long as Orlando would answer three minutes later at the other end of the field. Some impressive ball movement from the Lions would see Facundo Torres play a give-and-go with Mauricio Pereira which allowed Torres to get into the box. The Orlando City designated player would dribble through traffic, cut to his left and find just enough space to get a shot off which he buried into the bottom left corner, past the outstretched arms of Callender.
Torres nearly broke the deadlock in the 109th minute when he received a pass just inside the box on the left side and ripped a left-footed shot to the far post that forced another diving save from Callender, diving to his left.
Stajduhar was rarely tested in Orlando’s goal, making just one save on the night, but his aggressiveness nearly gave the game to Inter Miami in the visitor’s final offfensive push in stoppage time in the second extra time period. Bryce Duke played an excellent through ball to Christopher McVay who chased the ball down as it appoached the end line, near the goal. Stajduhar came out of his goal near the end line but McVay beat him to the ball and he crossed the ball into the middle where two pink jerseys were in the area. The ball got past one Miami player but Leonardo Campana was there at the edge of the six-yard box but Orlando defender Rodrigo Schlegel slid in and deflected the shot over the empty goal. The ensuing corner kick would be cleared out as the match went to a penalty kick shootout.
After both teams traded opening round goals in the shootout, Duke had his low driving shot saved by Stajduhar who got a piece of it with his right hand. Robin Jansson gave Orlando the 2-1 lead, by US international Deandre Yedlin skied his attempt well over the bar. Andres Perea gave the Lions a 3-1 lead, and after Ariel Lassiter converted his attempt for Miami, Pereyra sealed it with a slow approach and a blistering shot into the upper left corner as Callender dove the opposite way.
“A fantastic performance. Besides the victory, it was an incredible effort from the players,” said Orlando City head coach Oscar Pareja. “They just played three days ago, so to have that courage and that willingness to do everything they did . I thought we managed the game the whole time and had the best of the game. We have been fighting to be more precise, which we’ll do. They overcame a situation in Austin that was very unfair. That was not easy to overcome mentally, so I want to recognize that effort from the players. Their hearts are big and we’re proud of that.”
The shootout win sends Orlando City to the Quarterfinals for the fifth time in club history, the fourth time as a MLS club. Orlando is now the only Florida team left, a state that has only had one Open Cup champion (St. Petersburg Kickers in 1989).