Nashville SC (MLS) at Orlando City SC (MLS)
Exploria Stadium – Orlando, FL
Kickoff – 7:00 PM ET
Two MLS teams seeking their first US Open Cup titles will square off in the fourth and final match in the Quarterfinals of the 2022 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
Orlando City will host their seventh straight US Open Cup game when they welcome Nashville SC on Wednesday night at Exploria Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET. The winner of the match will host the New York Red Bulls in the Semifinals.
Another thing the two teams have in common is that they both experienced life in this tournament as a lower division team. While this is Nashville’s maiden voyage as a MLS side, they made two tournament runs as part of the USL in 2018 and 2019. In their first tournament appearance in 2018, they fell one win short of reaching the Quarterfinals, losing to fellow USL Championship side Louisville City FC 2-1 on the road.
Orlando City made six Open Cup appearances as a USL side. Two years under the name Austin Aztex (2009-10) before moving to Orlando in 2011. In 2013, they upset two MLS teams, including a dramatic win against their MLS affiliate Sporting Kansas City, en route to the Quarterfinals.
As an MLS side, this is Orlando’s sixth tournament appearance, and are hoping to improve on their last cup run in 2019 that saw them reach the Semifinals. They would fall 2-0 in front of their home fans to eventual champion Atlanta United.
This is the first time that these two teams have played in the US Open Cup, and outside of a potential meeting in the MLS postseason, this will be their only meeting of the season in any competition. Last year, the two teams met three times and all three meetings ended in a draw. The fourth meeting was in the opening round of the MLS Cup playoffs where Nashville won 3-1 in front of their home fans with Hany Mukhtar scoring a pair of goals
Both teams enter the game with mixed league results in recent weeks (1 win, 1 loss, 1 draw in their last three), but are still in the top five in their respective conferences.
How they got to the Quarterfinals (Nashville SC)
Orlando had to begin their Open Cup run a round earlier, in Round 3 where they hosted the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the USL Championship in an All-Florida battle. After a scoreless firstt half, Alexandre Pato scored a PK and Junior Urso would score what would prove to be the game-winner in the 63rd minute to give the hosts a 2-0 lead. Tampa would cut the lead in half, but Oscar Pareja’s defense would hold on and advance.
Nashville SC was able to start their inaugural US Open Cup run (as a MLS side) in the Fourth Round, based on their league performance in 2021. They began with a home game against the defending Open Cup champions from Atlanta United. After finding themselves down 2-0 at halftime, Nashville became just the 18th Modern Era team to come back to win a tournament game after being down by two goals. Hany Mukhtar converted a penalty kick early in the second half, and then second half sub CJ Sapong scored the equalizer in stoppage time to send the match into extra time. Mukhtar would help create the game-winner as he fed Etan Zubak to take the lead in the 94th minute.
In the Round of 16, it was a bit of a throwback game as Nashville traveled to Louisville City to face their old USL Championship rivals. After Nashville’s Ake Loba answered Brian Ownby’s opening goal in the 39th minute, it came down to another dramatic goal involving Nashville’s top scorer. Mukhtar scored the game-winning goal in the 89th minute to send Nashville to the Quarterfinals for the first time.
How they got to the Quarterfinals (Orlando City SC)
City followed the same script in the Fourth Round when they hosted the Philadelphia Union. After a scoreless first 45 minutes, Orlando scored a pair of goals by Ercan Kara, and a 30-yard rocket from Andres Perea early in the second half. And once again, despite giving up a goal in the 77th minute, Orlando held on for the 2-1 win.
In the Round of 16, it was another matchup of teams from the Sunshine State as Inter Miami CF traveled to Orlando. While, there were no goals scored in the first half for the third game in a row, there was also no scoring in the second half. In extra time, the game came alive as each team traded goals in the first seven minutes. Jean Mota would open the scoring in the 94th minute and Facundo Torres would equalize three minutes later for Orlando. The match would end up in a penalty kick shootout and for the fourth time in as many tries in team history, Orlando would prevail, winning 4-2.
Orlando City SC (MLS)
12th US Open Cup appearance (6th as MLS)
Overall: 19-11-4 (4-0 PKs) | as MLS: 7-5-4 (4-0 PKs)
Home: 13-4-2 (2-0 PKs) | as MLS: 4-3-2 (2-0 PKs)
vs. MLS: 5-9-3 (3-0 PKs) | as MLS: 3-3-3 (3-0 PKs)
Best finish: Semifinals (2019)
7-6-4 (25 pts.) 20 GF 23 GA, 5th in MLS Eastern Conference
Goal Scoring Leader: Ercan Kara, 6
Assists Leader: Mauricio Pereyra, 5
Goalkeeping Leader: Pedro Gallese, 16 games, 1.38 GAA / 6 clean sheets
Last Three Games
June 15 (MLS): 1-1 draw at New England Revolution
June 18 (MLS): 2-1 win vs. Houston Dynamo
June 24 (MLS): 1-0 loss at FC Cincinnati
Nashville SC (MLS)
3rd US Open Cup appearance (1st as MLS)
Overall: 6-1-1 (0-1 PKs) | as MLS: 2-0-0
Away: 1-1-0 | as MLS: 1-0-0
vs. MLS: 2-0-0 | as MLS: 1-0-0
Best finish: Fifth Round / Round of 16 (2018)
7-5-5 (26 pts.) 22 GF 19 GA, T-4th in MLS Western Conference
Goal Scoring Leader: Hany Mukhtar, 8
Assists Leader: Hany Mukhtar, 5
Goalkeeping Leader: Joe Willis, 16 games, 1.13 GAA / 4 clean sheets
Last Three Games
June 11 (MLS): 0-0 draw vs. San Jose Earthquakes
June 19 (MLS): 2-1 loss vs. Sporting KC
June 25 (MLS): 3-1 win at D.C. United