ORLANDO – The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final. Orlando City hosting Sacramento Republic. An MLS hosting their first ever final, trying to win first silverware since joining the league. A USL Championship team in the final for the first time since 2008. To top it all off, there were accusations of an Orlando City staffer spying on a Sacramento training session the day before at a public park in the Orlando area.
Facundo Torres brace leads Orlando to 2022 Open Cup title
OCSC started on the front foot, having a week of rest since their last game. They outshot Republic in the first half 6-1 with a slight possession advantage at 55%. Still, chances on goal were sparse with neither team registering a shot on goal.
Facundo Torres had the first good look eight minutes in with a high shot from outside the box. Maalique Foster had the one good chance for Sacramento in the 22nd minute in transition with a shot that went just wide to the right. Dan Casey was excellent in defense for the visitors, making several critical defensive headers. Orlando had great service in the box, but did not have the precision and numbers to threaten Danny Vitiello’s goal. The half ended scoreless.
The second half started slower with Sacramento more comfortable on the ball. Orlando wanted a penalty for a handball on a shot from Urso that was blocked on the hour mark, but Casey made the play with his hands tucked into his body. Republic had a great look on a set piece from 30 yards out. Pedro Gallese made a great punch out off his line, colliding with Lee Desmond.
Minutes later, Orlando would find the breakthrough and not look back. First, a good press in the Sacramento box saw Casey turnover over by substitute Benji Michel. He squared it to Torres who bent it top left corner. It was 1-0 with 15 minutes plus stoppage time to go.
Four minutes later, Michel chased down a long ball into the box. He got to it first with Vitiello off his line and in a bad position. Michel dribbled to create a shooting angle but Case came in from behind and was called for a penalty. Torres took the spot kick, sending the keeper the wrong way to make it 2-0.
Sacramento tried valiantly, but couldn’t muster anything dangerous on goal. Orlando had the better of the chances, working in transition. In the final minutes of stoppage time, Michel found space and buried the ball into the far bottom corner. The match ended 3-0 with Orlando City lifting the U.S. Open Cup, the first trophy of their MLS existence.
First blood to @OrlandoCitySC 👊
Facundo Torres finds the top corner to send the home fans into hysterics — and leave @SacRepublicFC with work to do.
— U.S. Open Cup (@opencup) September 8, 2022
— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) September 8, 2022
Orlando’s quality wins out: The better team won. It was said on the broadcast that the transfer fee for Torres was double Sacramento’s player wages for the year. It was just a matter of when Orlando was going to get those high quality chances and if they were going to convert them. Torres showed his quality. Orlando’s midfield controlled possession. The few times Sacramento threatened, Gallese made a play. Casey will seem like the one who cracked but it was Orlando’s quality that won the night. Sacramento represented themselves and the USL Championship will in this tournament.
Sacramento fight valiantly, mistakes were their downfall: The first half went according to play for head coach Mark Briggs. As the second half went on, Sacramento was less sharp, possibly fatigued. Orlando’s first goal and the PK ultimately came from them getting space in the box. The gegenpress created another dangerous turnover. Two long balls saw Michel’s speed and fresh legs win out. The Lions were at their best when pressing and disorganizing Sacramento rather than playing out of the back with numbers behind the ball.
Vindication for Oscar Pareja: Pareja’s finally won a trophy with his new club. There are doubters in Central Florida about whether the club had reached its ceiling with him. He’s still chasing an MLS Cup as a manager, but this trophy is vindication for the project he’s led. If he can finally win that MLS Cup or if the club can do something in CCL next spring, he could have a bigger legacy in Orlando than he does in Dallas.