NYCFC reached the quarterfinals of the Open Cup for the first time thanks to victories over North Carolina FC and D.C. United and made a second trip to the Orlando in 2019, following the MLS opening day draw.
Dome Torrent welcomed Héber back to the starting XI after the Brazilian’s hamstring injury, while Jesus Medina and Juan Pablo Torres also came back into the lineup.
Coming into this one on the back of Sunday’s 1-0 defeat to the Portland Timbers, NYCFC’s motivation to reach the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup was evident from the first whistle.
After some early pressure from the Boys in Blue, it was Maxime Chanot who had the game’s first good opportunity with a header from a corner but Adam Grinwis made an incredible save to keep it out and Jesus Medina nodded the rebound over the crossbar.
City kept their foot to the floor but were unable to take advantage of some promising openings and Chris Mueller almost struck for the home team when his deflected strike wrongfooted Brad Stuver but whistled past the post.
From there, the Lions grew into the game and finished the first half the stronger of the two teams but NYC’s defense was solid and withstood the increased pressure they faced.
Newly-crowned June MLS Player of the Month Maxi Moralez almost sent his side in with a goal on the stroke of halftime but his shot from range just cleared the bar.
The game picked up where it left off after the break with the road team facing up to more Orlando pressure, with a Nani set-piece pinballing around the area before City could eventually clear.
Finally, the hosts did breakthrough when Nani’s cross found Mueller’s head on 62’ and Brad Stuver was beaten.
Dome’s reaction was immediate. Torrent changed the system to something resembling a 4-2-3-1, Bringing Keaton Parks into the midfield alongside Alex Ring and Ebenezer Ofori.
Taty Castellanos was next to enter the fray on 73’ as Héber was withdrawn on his return. After a hydration break and some final instructions from the Head Coach, City had 15 minutes remaining to keep their cup dreams alive.
Anton Tinnerholm was the final introduction from the bench and the Swede was closest to equalizing with one minute of regulation time remaining, but his header just cleared the crossbar and it looked like NYCFC had run out of time.
Step forward Maxi, who swept home from close range in the very last minute of injury-time to force wild celebrations and an extra 30 minutes.
Justin Haak came into the game as the additional substitute in the second half of extra time but it was Castellanos who almost secured City’s place in the last four with a curling effort which looked bound for the top corner until it was once again brilliantly saved by the home ‘keeper.
The teams couldn’t be separated in normal time so we went to penalties where Orlando took it in sudden death after Maxime Chanot saw his effort saved by Grinwis.
A heartbreaking way to go out but NYCFC will pick themselves up quick with the derby up next.
NYCFC Head Coach Domènec Torrent
“Was a pity because when you lose on penalties, I think it’s my opinion, that tonight soccer was not fair with us. It is what it is, sometimes the soccer is something like that, I think we played much better than Orlando. Just in the 15 minutes of the second half they played better than us, but in the end, soccer is if you are able to score. We played much better, but it’s not enough for us. I’m so sorry [to] our fans, but we fight until the last moment to try and win the game. Sometimes it’s impossible and sometimes you know you control the game and after that is extra time and then penalties anything can happen.”
On how proud he is of the team for fighting until the last minute…
“I said many times, I am very proud of them because right now these players tried until the last second and that happened tonight. That is also why, when I say I am very proud, it is about that. It’s my feeling right now is that we played well and we are in the good way…it doesn’t matter what happens, the players play well away, at home and that is good news…When you play against a team like Orlando, you need these kinds of players because you create spaces because they want to play all the time. But I’m happy with the players to play tonight because the effort was fantastic. It is a pity for us and our Club, but we will try to win again the next year the Open Cup.”
NYCFC Goalkeeper Brad Stuver
On how proud he is of the team for fighting until the end…
“Man, I’m so proud of the way they fought. Outside of the first 20 minutes of the second half, I thought we had better control of the ball, we dictated the pace of the game. Sometimes you think you deserve more out of the game, but at the end of the day we didn’t capitalize on our chances and a PK shootout is always just a coin flip, so just unlucky in the end.”
On the shootout…
“Shootouts are pretty crazy. They had some of their normal PK takers out, we had some of our normal PK takers out. Little bit of educated guessing, little bit of gut reaction, a lot of luck. I was happy to get one, but I really wish I could have gotten at least one more to help the team out.”
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