Alejandro Bedoya’s fourth minute goal was all Philadelphia Union needed to hold off Orlando City SC at Talen Energy Stadium Wednesday night as they secured a 1-0 victory and move on to the semifinals of the 2018 US Open Cup. Bedoya finished a loose ball after Fafa Picault won a header off a ball in from Haris Medunjanin, and Orlando City never mounted a serious threat on Union goalie Andre Blake.
Orlando City pushed forward in the second minute through Josue Colman up the left. The aim was clearly to attack Keegan Rosenberry and pull Mark McKenzie narrow to isolate the Union’s right back. Blake smothered the first ball across from Colman, and Philly began to take control of the match.
In the fourth minute, Ale Bedoya put the Union on top off a corner kick. Borek Dockal played the ball short to Haris Medunjanin and the Bosnian laced a far post ball to Fafa Picault who nodded it back across goal. Orlando goalie Earl Edwards Jr. got a hand to the ball but it fell to Ale Bedoya who mercilessly roofed it and put his team ahead.
The Union’s next big chance came in the 15th minute after a bit of sumptuous combination play on the right opened the center for Bedoya. He played wide for Rosenberry, and the right back’s low, lined cross was dummied by David Accam. Dockal was galloping up the center and met the ball cleanly, but his shot was too close to Edwards Jr who palmed it around the post.
Three minutes later, Medunjanin took a quick restart after Burke was taken out in the center of the pitch and found Accam cutting into the box. The winger turned and hit a low roller that couldn’t find its way inside of the far post.
Orlando finally came back with an opportunity in the 21st minute when a cross deflected off Auston Trusty’s head to the far post where Josue Colman collected it and tried to sneak the ball past Andre Blake’s near post, but the goalie was alert and pushed it out of play.
The Purple Lions had their best chance of the half in the 37th minute when Will Johnson snuck behind Haris Medunjanin on a run down the right channel. The cross came in soft, and Johnson could not put enough on it to beat Blake, who once again tapped the ball out of play over the top of the goal.
Dockal got a do-over in the 43rd minute. Fafa Picault made one of many fine runs around Donny Toia and found Ale Bedoya at the far post. The captain cut back for his Czech teammate but this time the shot was blasted far over the bar.
James O’Connor recognized that he had no chance to advance if his team could not control the center of the pitch. The new Orlando City head coach yanked winger Chris Mueller and added Dillon Powers to jam the middle with four players. The change paid dividends, disrupting the Union’s excellent ball movement that allowed them to wholly dominate the opening frame.
Yet it never appeared as though the visitors were going to wrestle the match from their opponents. Perhaps the Lions best opportunity of the half involved exactly zero touches on the ball. Andre Blake showed nerves of steel to make a hip swivel and move the ball away as Dwyer as the striker beared down on him.
The only other look Orlando created came in the 82nd minute, with Kljestan leading a charge through the middle. The former Red Bulls creator found Pinho on the left and he battled with Rosenberry as he drove into the box. A bouncing cross was met by a sliding Kljestan following the play, but the shot had little power and Blake gobbled it up.
The remainder of the game was likely the longest part of Donny Toia’s career. Fafa Picault relentlessly attacked the fullback, nearly scoring with a tight angled shot.
Finally, just before extra time began, Bedoya reminded everyone that he had been the dominant force all night, sliding through the right channel and unleashing a laser beam that Edwards Jr could only punch wide of the goal, such was its venom.
The Union were the better team by far and deserve their place in the US Open Cup semifinal. They will play the winner of the Chicago Fire and Louisville City quarterfinal match later this evening.