A U.S Open Cup Finals that no one expected, as Orlando City S.C and Sacramento Republic F.C make their way to the finals. After a two-year hiatus of the tournament due to COVID-19, it has returned with two unlikely teams in the finals.
On Wednesday the semi-finals took place with the Red Bulls at Orlando City and Sporting Kansas City at Sacramento. Red Bulls and Kansas City were the favorites to win the matches but fell to their underdog competitors.
New York Red Bulls vs Orlando S.C
New York came into the match as the heavy favorites to win their third U.S Open Cup title. They also have a great away record with eight wins and three ties and just three loses so far this season.
New York got on the board first with a lovely strike by midfielder Lewis Morgan at the 45th minute of the game. Just before the half Orlando City tied it up with a header from midfield Cesar Araujo from a corner kick.
It was all Orlando City from there as they scored four goals all in the second half to give them a thrashing 5-1 victory over the Red Bulls.
This is Orlando’s first appearance in the U.S Open Cup Finals in club history. The furthest they made it was back in 2019 after reaching the semi-finals and falling short to Atlanta United. They awaited their opponent that will make it a U.S Open Cup Finals that no one expected.
Sacramento Republic F.C vs Sporting Kansas City
Sacramento Republic F.C, a United Soccer League team playing in the second division of U.S Soccer, are pulling off the impossible this tournament. After beating both San Jose and LA Galaxy, they look to beat their third MLS team in a row and a shot for history.
Sporting Kansas City have been one of the worst teams in the MLS this season. They currently sit last in the Western Conference, compared to Sacramento who sit 7th in the USL Western Conference.
Kansas City had more of the possession and shots during the game with a total of 31 shots (eight on target) and 59% of the possession. Sacramento had 13 shots (two on target) with 41% of the possession.
The game went into a penalty shootout. Former USMNT and veteran defender Graham Zusi missed the penalty on a wonderful save by goalkeeper Daniel Vitiello. Midfield Rodrigo Lopez was the hero, making the final penalty to send Sacramento into the finals.
U.S Open Cup Finals Preview
No USL team has ever won the U.S Open Cup. The only non-MLS team to win the Open Cup was the Rochester Raging Rhinos (now known as Rochester New York F.C). They were a part of the A-league and defeated the Colorado Rapids 2-0 back in 1999.
In a U.S Open Cup Finals that no one expected, both teams have a chance to make history. If Orlando wins, it will be their first trophy in their club history since they were founded in 2013. If Sacramento wins, they have the chance to be the first USL team to win an Open Cup.
Both teams have time to prepare for the game. Orlando City gave been better of late, only losing one out of their last five matches. Sacramento, however, have been struggling this month in the USL. They failed to win a match in the month of July.
The game will take place on Wednesday Sep 7th at Exploria Stadium in Orlando.
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