A young Union lineup pushed Orlando City to the limit but fell short in a 2-1 loss in the Round of 32 of the 2022 US Open Cup.
Playing in the hot and humid Florida weather, Union Head Coach Jim Curtin trusted his depth in the club’s debut match of the U.S. Open Cup with seven changes to the Starting XI that played at 11 p.m. ET in California just 68 hours earlier. Rolling with a group of hungry homegrowns in the midfield, the Boys in Blue were eager to impress as they pressured the Orlando City backline every touch.
The energy was in sync for the group with Jack McGlynn blasting a long ball over the defense that connected in stride with Quinn Sullivan midway through the first half. Moments later it was Paxten Aaronson coming with Daniel Gazdag for a potential scoring chance that was snuffed out by the home side.
With the quick counter attacking style, the Union’s reformatted backline of Matt Real, Stuart Findlay and Olivier Mbaizo joined Jack Elliott in front of homegrown Matt Freese. The only starter on the backline, Elliott fit into the captain’s armband well and commanded the defense that gave Orlando issues, settling instead to have a go from far outside the box that would end up closer to the supporters’ section rather than Freese’s net.
Just before the halftime whistle, Orlando City’s Junior Urso had back-to-back chances to get the opening goal but were turned away from the courageous Freese. As the click entered first-half stoppage, Facundo Torres served in a strong corner kick that fell in the box for the striker. Taking it off the chested bounce, he rifled a right-footed blast on frame but was iced by the keeper with a reaction stop. Less than a minute later, Urso again had a go with a quick counter attack but Freese displayed his timeliness to come off his line and shutout Orlando City in the first 45 minutes.
Jakob Glesnes replaced Jack Elliott at the half as Jim Curtin kept one eye on the big showdown with New York Red Bulls on Saturday.
McGlynn continued to pull the strings in midfield as Facundo Torres looked to spring Urso and Kara for Orlando City.
After some loose opening exchanges, Jansson had to take down Aaronson to keep the young attacker from breaking past him on the right. The Union couldn’t convert but it opened a brief period of control for the visitors.
Ercan Kara opened the scoring for the visitors after Philly’s midfield and back line became separated and Orlando created multiple man-advantage situations up the right. A well-placed low cross created chaos that Kara finished off with an agile turn and shot.
The lead was doubled in the 57th by Andres Perea on a sizzling shot from distance after Kara hauled the ball down at the left edge of the box with either his chest or arm.
Daniel Gazdag nailed a shot from the top right of the box moments later but saw it punched into the air.
Julian Carranza, Sergio Santos, and Jose Martinez replaced Gazdag, Burke, and Flach as Jim Curtin looked to pull a goal back quickly. Carranza flitted between the front line and midfield as Aaronson became the primary creative hub.
Urso tried his luck from deep against Freese before Torres put a soft header on frame from the right side of the six yard box.
The Union’s final sub introduced Kai Wagner for Matt Real as the home side became more timid and Philly asserted itself on the match despite the scoreline.
Despite Wagner’s entry, McGlynn stood over the next dead ball after the Union had pinned Orlando in their half for the better part of five minutes. The initial ball in was half-cleared and Martinez lofted it back into traffic. Stu Findlay reacted first and guided an off-balance shot past Mason Stajduhar’s left leg into the far corner. Ruan and Mauricio Pereyra had just come on for Orlando, signaling Oscar Pareja’s growing discomfort with Philly’s dominance.
In the 85th, Carranza nearly found Sullivan cutting through the box as the Union created the type of dangerous three-man breaks they’ve struggled to finish this season.
Orlando was tiring and left Aaronson with time to pick his head up at the top of the box. The Homegrown spotted Carranza slipping through defenders but put the ball slightly in front of the in-form striker.
In the final moments of the match, Jose Martinez drifted a free kick into the box where Glesnes met it with his head and redirected it to Wagner for a headed chance on goal. Stajduhar got down to his left in a hurry to preserve the victory.
With a hectic three-game road trip behind them, Philadelphia Union returns to Subaru Park on Saturday night for a rivalry clash against the New York Red Bulls. Limited tickets for the match are still available for the Saturday, May 14th contest so be sure to secure your seat now by clicking here! Coverage will start at 7 p.m. ET with Union Pre-Kick Live exclusively on PhiladelphiaUnion.com with PHL17 taking over at 7:30 p.m.