For the first time in their club history, the Lions are heading to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final.
The New York Red Bulls may have struck first but Orlando City scored five unanswered to claim a 5-1 victory during Wednesday’s semifinal match in front of an announced attendance of 11,612 at a rain-soaked Exploria Stadium.
“For us, it was believing it was a very important game for us,” Orlando head coach Oscar Pareja said after the game. “We come from a series of games where the players showed a lot of energy and we haven’t been that solid offensively and today the players took Orlando to another final, scoring five goals, and we hope it can serve them well but today a big game for the club and for them.”
Lewis Morgan opened the scoring for the Red Bulls in the first minute of first-half stoppage time after a turnover from Alexandre Pato resulted in a New York counterattack, which resulted in Klimala finding Morgan to strike the ball past Gallese.
The lead was short-lived, however. Four minutes later before halftime, Cesar Araujo tied the game after a corner kick from Mauricio Pereyra found Antonio Carlos, who headed the ball off the post before the Uruguayan midfielder cleaned up the play for the equalizer.
Pereyra made it 2-1 in the opening minutes of the second half after a cross from Joao Moutinho found the Orlando City captain to strike the ball past keeper Carlos Coronel in the 47th minute.
The scoring continued in the 62nd minute when Araujo notched his brace after striking the ball off a corner kick that originally found Benji Michel before landing at Araujo to strike home the play for a 3-1 lead.
Facundo Torres added to the tally with Orlando’s fourth after a ball played by Junior Urso found the Young Designated Player to tuck the ball past Coronel.
Benjo Michel capped the scoring in the 83rd minute after striking the ball past the keeper off a cross from Torres to make it 5-1.
“I think the confidence that they show today as a group helped them a lot to put the things together,” added Pareja. “The team showed that we have talent and cohesiveness among the players. It’s just trying to get that consistency, and it’s a long season. The thing is we are aware of the things that we need to work on and today we showed ourselves that we have the tools to do it right.”
It was the first time this season that Orlando scored five goals.
Wednesday’s result also marks the first time a Florida team returns to the Open Cup final since the Miami Fusion, which lost the 2000 edition against the Chicago Fire.
The St. Petersburg Kickers are the only Florida team to win the tournament, and they lifted the trophy in 1989.
Orlando City season ticket holders can purchase tickets to the final beginning Thursday at 2 p.m., and the general public will be able to purchase on Friday also at 2 p.m.
The Lions will play the Sacramento Republic FC on Sept. 7 at 8 p.m. at Exploria Stadium. If Orlando is able to lift the trophy, they would be the first club in the Modern Era to win six home games en route to a championship.