On a rainy Wednesday night, the New York Red Bulls were handed a 5-1 beating by Orlando City Soccer Club in the one-off elimination semifinal of the U.S. Open Cup.
Whether you watched on TV or were at the game, the tension inside Exploria Stadium was very clear. Both teams knew the gravity of the game for it was their chance to reach the finals of a major tournament in Maor League Soccer. Veteran Brazilian, Alexandre Pato, who has played for AC Milan, nearly opened the scoring for Orlando in the 15th minute when he had an open look but shot wide.
Five minutes later, it was Red Bulls turn and after the ball bounced around inside the box, Patryk Klimala took a bicycle kick that nailed the cross bar. The rebound off the bar came over to a Red Bull player who headed it over to Luquinhas who then headed it into an open net but it was saved! In the 38th minute, Red Bulls got a break when Luquinhas walked in on a one-on-one and shot just wide of the goal. However, the Red Bulls hit their mark right before halftime when Lewis Morgan scored his team-leading ninth goal of the season on a glamorous strike.
— New York Red Bulls (@NewYorkRedBulls) July 28, 2022
Then, the Red Bulls got shocked when the home team scored just minutes later on a corner kick. An Orlando player won the header off the corner kick and headed the ball off the far post. It bounced out in front of goal where OCSC's Cesar Araujo slammed it into the net to tie the game. This was a rapid response from Orlando City in front of their home crowd and a goal that shifted momentum right back into the home team's favor after they had conceded.
Breaking the Game Open
After coming away from the first half tied, the Red Bulls had a rough start to the second half because they conceded in the 47th minute. Orlando's midfielder, Mauricio Pereyra scored a one-time shot from the edge of the box to put the home side ahead 2-1.
The Red Bulls did not pack up their tent though because six minutes later, Dylan Nealis picked the ball up outside the box and ripped a shot that just barely missed over the cross bar. In the 55th minute, manager Gerhard Struber subbed on Caden Clark and Tom Barlow for Omir Fernandez and Klimala.
75' | GOOOOOOOALLL FACUUUUUUU GETS HIS 🙌
— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) July 28, 2022
The Orlando City kept flying high when Araujo scored his second of the game in the 62nd minute to make the score 3-1. Ten minutes later, Facundo Torres added another goal to the lead by slipping behind the Red Bulls defenders, who had stopped to protest an offside. The play was reviewed and determined to be a good goal to the chagrin of Red Bull fans who believed their team had what it takes to make the Finals of the US Open Cup. However, the good news is the Red Bulls are still in third place in the MLS Eastern Conference.
Postgame Press Conferences
Following his team's 5-1 defeat in the Open cup semi-final, Struber touched on why this ended up with his team leaving Orlando knocked out of one of their best chances to win a trophy.
In the end, Orlando was very clinical and us, we were very unlucky at times. In the end, in a knockout game, did you leave everything together on the field and I missed this a little bit and today we see what can happen when we have not the fresh legs, not the brains and not the belief that we have normally. - Gerhard Struber
The one bright spot was the Red Bulls performance during the first half, where they had two of their three shots on goal in this game. The only goal the Red Bulls scored came off the foot of its top goal scorer, Lewis Morgan and while this was a great goal, coach Struber chose to point out that Morgan's overall performance lacked certain key things.
What he created in the attacking areas was outstanding. It helped us and I will say over the last two months it's been very important in winning games but at the same time, today, I wasn't happy with his performance against the ball and what he did [defensively].
The Red Bulls captain, Aaron Long also spoke to the media and described what went wrong for his team in the second half.
If I could do it again, I'd tell the guys 'play a little more relaxed' we limited their chances in the first half, so we can't give them that much space [on the counterattack].
Anthony graduated from Montclair State University, where he covered a variety of sports for three years. He co-hosts a sports-themed radio show on campus radio station, WMSC 90.3 FM, which was recently named #1 college radio station in the nation.