The Semifinals of the 2022 U.S. Open Cup have a little bit of everything in the four clubs seeking a spot in the Final.
New York Red Bulls: The team that has struggled in the Open Cup since switching to the Red Bulls name, not only find themselves within reach of their first Cup championship. They also sit near the top of the MLS standings with a chance at a double.
Orlando City SC: A team who began their Open Cup history outside of MLS as a USL club, look to better their semifinal performance in 2019 and claim their first Open Cup title.
Sacramento Republic FC: The non-MLS underdog, just the ninth different team from outside of MLS to reach the semis, also hold a 16-1-0 all-time record in Open Cup home games.
Sporting Kansas City: Despite being stuck in dead last in the MLS Western Conference with a 5-12-5 record, the four-time Open Cup champions have made their way to the final four in search of title number five, which would make them the first Modern Era team to tie the all-time record.
The Red Bulls and Orlando City kick off the night at Orlando’s Exploria Stadium at 7:30 p.m., and Sacramento will welcome Sporting Kansas City to Heart Health Park, a venue that has been sold out for a week in advance of this historic game.
New York Red Bulls (MLS) at Orlando City SC (MLS)
Exploria Stadium; Orlando, FL
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Two teams who have never lifted the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup face off at Exploria Stadium in Orlando for a chance to capture the hardware in September.
After a few years of mid-table finishes, the Red Bulls have risen to their 2018 form when they won the MLS Supporters’ Shield. The Red Bulls are currently third in the MLS Eastern Conference, looking up at rivals Philadelphia Union and New York City FC. The club is one of a handful in MLS whose road record (7-3-2) is better than their home mark (3-3-4). Their record on the road in Open Cup games lags behind their current league season, sitting at 13-13-1 with 1 win on penalties.
As the MetroStars the club put in respectable performances in the Open Cup, reaching the Semifinals three times (1997, 1998, 2000) and hosting the Final in 2003 (falling to the Chicago Fire 1-0). Once the club switched to New York Red Bulls, their Open Cup struggles began. In seven tournaments from 2006-2014 the Red Bulls failed to make it past a second game, and three times they were one-and-done. Finally, in 2015, things started to turn around. A semifinals appearance in 2015 was followed by a return to the Final in 2017 (losing on the road to Sporting KC).
Orlando City come into the game sitting fifth in the MLS Eastern Conference, although their recent league performance has slipped a bit. The club has just five points from their last five league games. Midfielder Mauricio Pereyra is tied for fourth in the MLS assists leaderboard with nine.
Orlando City SC started their Open Cup journey in 2009 as the Austin Aztex in the USL Pro League, advancing three rounds deep in 2009 & 2010. After two years the team moved to Orlando where they continued to have moderate Open Cup success, including a run to the Quarterfinals in 2013. In 2014, they moved on to MLS and repeated their Quarterfinal run in 2015 and 2018. They finally broke through to the Semifinals in 2019 where they fell to rival Atlanta United 2-0.
Teams from Florida only began participating in the Open Cup in 1979, and Orlando City’s entry into this year’s Semifinals marks just the ninth time a team from the Sunshine State has advanced this far. The St. Petersburg Kickers are the only Florida team to have won the Open Cup, doing so in 1989. The Miami Fusion (MLS) are the only other Florida team to reach the Final, doing so in 2000.
Teams from Florida in the Open Cup Semifinals
1979 – H. Brooks Dodge Chargers (St. Petersburg)
1982 – St. Petersburg Kickers
1984 – HRC Kickers (St. Petersburg)
1989 – St. Petersburg Kickers **
1993 – McCormick Kickers (St. Petersburg)
1994 – McCormick Kickers
2000 – Miami Fusion *
2019 – Orlando City SC
*-Reached Open Cup Final
**-Won Open Cup
Florida vs. NY & NJ in the Open Cup Semifinals
1979: Brooklyn Dodgers 3:0 H. Brooks Dodge Chargers
The very first time a Florida team met a team from New York & New Jersey was on June 3, 1979, it was the first year that teams from Florida entered the competition 1979 was also the first year the Open Cup was divided into four regions: Region I (Northeast) Region II (Midwest), Region III (South), and Region IV (West) with the winners of the four regions advancing to the Semifinals. The Chargers opponents at Norton Park in St. Petersburg, FL were the Brooklyn Dodgers, later to be known as the Brooklyn Italians.
Rick Monteveiro and Mike Malenkowju scored in the opening half for Brooklyn and Ciocchi added another in the second for a 3-0 win for the Dodgers. Brooklyn would win the Open Cup two weeks later over Croatian SC of Chicago.
1984: HRC Kickers 1:3 A.O. Krete
Florida took on a NY/NJ team again on June 23, 1984 at the St. Louis Soccer Park in Fenton, MO. This time their opponents were A.O. Krete of the Hellenic American Soccer League, a team that had previously never made a serious run in the tournament. Krete came out 3-1 winners behind a pair of goals from Michael Malenkow and another from Mirko Popovski, while the Kickers lone score was an own goal. Like the Brooklyn Dodgers three years earlier, Krete won the Open Cup over Croatian SC of Chicago.
2000: Miami Fusion 3:2 MetroStars
On Sept. 12, 2000, the New York Red Bulls were involved in the third Florida-NY/NJ encounter under their former identity of the MetroStars. The Miami Fusion were their opponents and Florida finally came out on top, 3-2 at the Mitchell Athletic Complex in Uniondale, NY. Andy Williams’ opening goal for Miami was countered by a Billy Walsh equalizer for the Metros. In the second half Welton and Diego Serna put the Fusion on top for good, and Adolfo Valencia gave the MetroStars a glimmer of hope with a late goal. Miami would fall short of an Open Cup title against the Chicago Fire a month later.
How New York Red Bulls got to the Semifinals
Round 3: Won 2-1 at Hartford Athletic (USL-C)
Round 4: Won 3-0 at D.C. United (MLS)
Round of 16: Won 3-1 vs. Charlotte FC (MLS)
Quarterfinals: Won 3-0 vs. New York City FC (MLS)
The Red Bulls reached the Fourth Round with a 2-1 win over Hartford Athletic of the USL Championship. Early goals from Lewis Morgan and Aaron Long was all NYRB needed while out-shooting Hartford, 30-4.
The Red Bulls had no trouble with their Fourth Round encounter with rivals D.C. United, leaving D.C’s Audi Field with a 3-0 win. Luquinhas opened the scoring in first half stoppage time, and John Tolkin added another just after halftime. Zach Ryan put the game to bed with his 68th-minute goal.
In the Round of 16 the Red Bulls played host to Charlotte FC at Montclair State University and sent the visitors back to the Queen City with 3-1 loss. Patryk Klimala put the Red Bulls on top after just two minutes, but Daniel Rios tied the game for Charlotte six minutes later. Dylan Nealis put New York on top for good in the 61st minute, and Tom Barlow added a goal in stoppage time.
In the Quarterfinals, the Red Bulls were tasked with hosting their Big Apple rivals, New York City FC, and NYRB ended up running away with a 3-0 win. After a scoreless opening half, Lewis Morgan scored in the 52nd minute, followed 18 minutes later by a Luquinas goal. Omir Fernandez topped the victory off with a stoppage time score.
How Orlando City SC got to the Semifinals
Round 3: Won 2-1 vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies (USL-C)
Round 4: Won 2-1 vs. Philadelphia Union (MLS)
Round of 16: Drew 1-1 vs. Inter Miami CF (MLS) — Advanced on penalties 4-2
Quarterfinals: Drew 1-1 vs. Nashville SC (MLS) — Advanced on penalties 6-5
Orlando opened their 2022 Open Cup run with a 2-1 win at home over the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the USL Championship in the Third Round. Alexandre Pato and Junior Urso scored second half goals.
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.
The Quarterfinals saw Orlando City going to penalties once again, this time to topple Nashville SC after a 1-1 extra time draw. After Hany Mukhtar gave Nashville a 1-0 lead in the 52nd minute, Orlando needed every bit of the remaining time to find their equalizer. In the 4th minute of stoppage time, Rodrigo Schlegel sent to game to extra time, scoring from a free kick sent into the goalmouth. After a scoreless extra time. Orlando finally prevailed when goalkeeper Pedro Gallese saved Eric Miller’s penalty to give Orlando a 6-5 shootout win
Orlando City SC (MLS)
12th US Open Cup appearance (6th as MLS)
Overall: 19-11-5 (5-0 PKs) | as MLS: 7-5-5 (5-0 PKs)
Home: 13-4-3 (3-0 PKs) | as MLS: 4-3-3 (3-0 PKs)
vs. MLS: 5-9-4 (4-0 PKs) | as MLS: 3-3-4 (4-0 PKs)
Best finish: Semifinals (2019, 2022)
8-8-6 (30 pts.) 26 GF 31 GA, 5th in MLS Eastern Conference
Goalscoring leader: Ercan Kara, 7
Assists leader: Mauricio Pereyra, 9
Goalkeeping leader: Pedro Gallese, 21 games, 1.43 GAA / 7 clean sheets
Last Three Games
July 13 (MLS): 1-1 draw at Colorado Rapids
July 17 (MLS): 1-1 draw at Atlanta United
July 23 (MLS): 1-0 loss vs. Philadelphia Union
New York Red Bulls (Major League Soccer)
22nd US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 26-20-3 (2-1 PKs)
Away: 13-13-1 (1-0 PKs)
vs. MLS: 11-12-3 (2-1 PKs)
Best finish: Final (2003, 2017)
8-4-5 29 Pts., 34 GF 25 GA, 3rd in MLS Eastern Conference
Goalscoring leader: Lewis Morgan, 9
Assists leader: Omir Fernandez, 6
Goalkeeping leader: Carlos Coronel, 21 games, 1.10 GAA, 5 clean sheets
Last Three Games
July 9 (MLS): 1-1 draw at FC Cincinnati
July 17 (MLS): 1-0 loss vs. New York FC
July 24 (MLS): 4-3 win at Austin FC
Sporting Kansas City (MLS) at Sacramento Republic (USL-C)
Heart Health Park; Sacramento, CA
Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET
It’s the underdogs from the USL Championship seeking to continue writing new club history versus an MLS team mired in a miserable season looking to take advantage of perhaps their lone chance at a trophy in 2022.
Sacramento’s current USL Championship season has been middle of the road so far, as they sit in seventh place in the Western Conference in the final playoff spot. Rodrigo Lopez is the undisputed team leader, and he sits atop the Open Cup stats leaderboard with four goals and four assists.
Sacramento Republic have used the 2022 US Open Cup to reverse some negative trends in their cup history. First, they finally overcame the San Jose Earthquakes, whom Sacramento had gone 0-4 against in the Open Cup. Next, they reversed their poor performance on the road in the Cup with an away win over the Los Angeles Galaxy. Sacramento had a 1-4-1 road record in cup play, all four losses, including a penalty kick loss, coming at the hands of MLS clubs.
Sacramento has one huge advantage in that they posses one of the best home Open Cup records in the Modern Era at 16-1-0. They are in the middle of an 11-game winning streak, which ranks fourth since 1996. Their last home loss was a 3-1 upset by the PDL’s (USL-2) Kitsap Pumas in the Third Round in 2016.
Home Open Cup winning streaks (Modern Era)
17 – LA Galaxy (2001 Rd. 2-2016 QF)
16 – Seattle Sounders (2008 Rd. 2-2-04 Rd. 4)
14 – Chicago Fire (1998 Final-2008 Rd. 3)
11 – Sacramento Republic (2017 Rd. 2-Current)
Sacramento also joins an exclusive list with their first ever Semifinal appearance, becoming just the ninth different non-MLS club to reach this stage since 1996, and the first since FC Cincinnati in 2017. The 2008 Charleston Battery and 1996 Rochester Raging Rhinos made it to the Final, and the 1999 Rhinos famously became the only team outside MLS to win the Open Cup in the Modern Era.
Non-MLS semifinalists since 1996
2017 FC Cincinnati (USL)
2011 Richmond Kickers (USL Pro)
2009 Rochester Rhinos (USL First Division)
2008 Seattle Sounders (USL First Division)
2008 Charleston Battery (USL First Division) *
2007 Carolina RailHawks (USL First Division)
2007 Seattle Sounders (USL First Division)
2006 Minnesota Thunder (USL First Division)
2004 Charleston Battery (A-League)
1999 Rochester Raging Rhinos (A-League) **
1999 Charleston Battery (A-League)
1997 San Francisco Bay Seals (USISL D3 Pro)
1996 Rochester Raging Rhinos (A-League) *
*Reached Open Cup Final
**Won the Open Cup
Sporting Kansas City are making their sixth Semifinals appearance, having converted the previous five into four Open Cup championships. They’ll hope to make it to their fifth Open Cup Final to balance out what has been a disastrous MLS season. Perhaps the high point in the MLS season thus far for SKC was a stretch of six games in April & May where they went 1-1-4.
However, a team in last place going so deep in the Open Cup is nothing new. 11 times a team that finished in last place in their MLS Conference have reached the Open Cup Semifinals. Kansas City did it in 2002 as the Wizards with a 9-10-9 record, but KC made the playoffs since 8 of the 10 teams qualified for the MLS postseason that year. D.C. United and the Chicago Fire have pulled it off three times each, with Chicago making the Final in 2004 with a 8-13-9 mark, and D.C. winning the Open Cup with a 3-27-7 record.
This feat isn’t just limited to MLS clubs. In 2004 the A-League Charleston Battery reached the Semifinals and finished second to last in the A-League with a 7-15-6 record. Going all the way back to 1937, the New York Americans won the Open Cup that year over Shamrocks from St. Louis despite finishing last in the American Soccer Leagues National Division at 4-11-7.
Granted, Sporting KC have a few more months to move out of last place and keep their name off this infamous list.
Last place MLS teams to reach Semifinals (end of season record)
1996 – Colorado Rapids 11-21 (Replacement for Colorado Foxes)
1997 – MetroStars 13-19
2001 – D.C. United 8-16-2
2002 – Kansas City Wizards 9-10-9 – MADE MLS PLAYOFFS
2004 – Chicago Fire 8-13-9 – MADE OPEN CUP FINAL
2010 – D.C. United 6-20-4
2010 – Chivas USA 8-18-4
2012 – Chivas USA 7-18-9
2013 – D.C. United 3-24-7 – WON OPEN CUP
2015 – Chicago Fire 8-20-6
2016 – Chicago Fire 7-17-10
2004 – Charleston Battery (A-League) 7-15-6 (finished 2nd to last in A-League)
1937 – New York Americans (ASL) 4-11-7 (last place in ASL National Division)
17 of SKC’s last 21 Open Cup opponents going back to 2014 have been fellow MLS clubs. Ironically, two of those games were against Minnesota United before that club joined MLS. This year marks the first time Kansas City have faced more that one team from outside MLS in a single tournament since 2013, when they defeated the Des Moines Menace of the PDL (USL-2) 2-0 in the Third Round, then lost to Orlando City of USL Pro 1-0 a game later.
Sporting KC began their Open Cup journey in dramatic fashion. The four-time champs overcame a 2-0 halftime deficit to FC Dallas, scored an equalizer deep into second half stoppage time, and then tacked on two more goals in extra time to prevail 4-2. Marinos Tzionis scored the late equalizer for his first goal for Sporting KC. Four minutes into extra time an own goal from Edwin Cerrillo put KC up for good, and Khiry Shelton made it 4-2 in the 113th minute.
SKC would reach the Quarterfinals for the 12th time with a 2-1 win over the Houston Dynamo. Their 12 Quarterfinal appearances are tied for fifth-most in the tournament’s 107-year history. Johnny Russell scored both goals for Sporting, who was playing Houston for the fifth time in the last six tournaments.
Sporting KC had to play the role of the villain in the Quarterfinals, crushing Union Omaha 6-0 to end the Cinderella run of the USL League One club. Daniel Salloi (10th minute) and Kortne Ford (37th minute) gave KC a 2-0 halftime lead, but soon after the break the floodgates opened. Within 20 minutes in the second half the lead was 5-0 on goals from Salloi (53rd), Khiry Shalton (56th) and Felipe Hernandez (66th). Fernandez added a sixth in the 81st minute,
How Sacramento Republic got to the Semifinals
Round 2: Won 6-0 vs. Portland Timbers U23 (USL-2)
Round 3: Won 2-1 vs. Central Valley Fuego (USL-1)
Round 4: Won 2-0 vs. Phoenix Rising FC (USL-C)
Round of 16: Won 2-0 vs. San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)
Quarterfinals: Won 2-1 vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS)
Sacramento had no trouble beating the Portland Timbers U-23s in the Second Round. Sacramento held a 6-0 lead at halftime and eased up in the second half so as not to run up the score on the youngsters.
In Round 3, it was Rodrigo Lopez to the rescue again. After assisting on the opening goal of the game, Central Valley Fuego (USL-1) equalized in the second half. Lopez then scored the game-winner from the penalty spot five minutes deep into second half stoppage time to send the Republic into Round 4.
In the Fourth Round, Sacramento hosted a battle of USL Championship Western Conference rivals, facing off with Phoenix Rising. Republic added to their outstanding home Open Cup record with a 2-0 win, Luis Felipe scoring in the first half and Douglas Martinez adding the second in the 88th minute.
In the Round of 16, Sacramento broke through the San Jose blockade, beating the Earthquakes for the first time in Open Cup play in four tries. Over 11,000 packed Heart Health Park in Sacramento on a sweltering night. Luis Felipe opened the scoring in the 28th minute on a Rodrigo Lopez assist, and then Lopez closed out the game with a fantastic shot in the 84th minute to propel Sacramento to the Quarterfinals for the first time.
The Republic booked their first-ever Semifinal appearance with a 2-1 upset over the Los Angeles Galaxy away from home. Rodrigo Lopez got Sacramento started quickly with a 4th minute goal, but Conor Donovan gifted the Galaxy an equalizer through an own goal. In the 70th minute a shot by Luis Felipe from outside the penalty area found its way past Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsman, and Sacramento held on for the remaining 20 minutes,
Sporting Kansas City (Major League Soccer)
22nd US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 31-15-6 (4-2 PKs)
Away: 8-8-4 (2-2 PKs)
vs. Division 2: 7-2-2 (1-1 PKs)
Best finish: U.S. Open Cup Champions (2004, 2012, 2015, 2017)
5-13-5 20 Pts., 19 GF 40 GA, 14th in MLS Western Conference
Goalscoring leader: Johnny Russell, 6
Assists leader: Cameron Duke, Felipe Hernandez, 3
Goalkeeping leader: Tim Melia, 21 games, 1.65 GAA / 4 clean sheets
Last Three Games
July 9 (MLS): 1-1 draw at Minnesota United
July 17 (MLS): 3-0 loss at Real Salt Lake
July 23 (MLS): 2-0 loss vs. Los Angeles FC
Sacramento Republic FC (USL Championship)
7th US Open Cup appearance
Overall: 18-5-1 (0-1 PKs)
vs. MLS: 4-4-1 (0-1 PKs)
Best finish: Semifinals (2022)
8-5-6 30 Pts., 22 GF 19 GA, 7th in USL Championship Western Conference
Goalscoring leader: Maalique Foster, 4
Assists leader: Rodrigo Lopez, 3
Goalkeeping leader: Daniel Vitiello, 14 games, 1.14 GAA / 3 clean sheets
Last Three Games
July 9 (USL-C): 3-3- draw vs. Oakland Roots
July 16 (USL-C): 1-0 loss vs. Birmingham Legion FC
July 23 (USL-C): 0-0 draw at Phoenix Rosing FC