On Wednesday night, Orlando City SC will play in one of their most important matches in team history in the U.S. Open Cup Semifinals. They will face the New York Red Bulls in a semifinal round that features two MLS squads. Orlando City entered the Open Cup in the third round of the tournament. They got off to a strong start defeating the Tampa Bay Rowdies in a heavy rivalry matchup. After beating eastern conference #1 seed Philadelphia in the Round of 32, things got bumpy for the Lions. In the Round of 16, they defeated Inter Miami in penalties, 4-2. One round later in the quarterfinals, they defeated Nashville in penalties, 6-5.
Small Team, Big Game
Orlando City is one of the newer MLS teams, so naturally the team’s history does not run very deep. They began play in the MLS in 2015, and the club has made the playoffs in 2 of those 7 seasons. This season, they currently sit in fifth place in the eastern conference with 30 points with 12 games remaining in the regular season. The Lions will face off against the Red Bulls who have much more experience as a team. New York finished second in the Open Cup in 2003 and 2017, but they have never won the cup.
This Open Cup semifinal match features two of the brightest teams in the MLS. New York sits in third place in the eastern conference with 36 points, two spots ahead of the Lions. Back in April, the Red Bulls defeated the Lions 3-0 in a regular season game.
Running it Back with Orlando City
Orlando City’s head coach Oscar Pareja is not new to the Open Cup. Back in 2016, Pareja won the cup with FC Dallas. He joined the Lions in Orlando in December of 2019, after their Open Cup semifinals loss to Atlanta.
Orlando City SC is participating in what is technically their second straight U.S. Open Cup. After losing in the semifinals in 2019, the 2020 and 2021 Open Cups were canceled due to COVID-19. Now, they are back again and only the Red Bulls stand in the way of reaching their first ever Open Cup Final in club history.