Orlando City vs. Sacramento Republic FC: Photo Gallery

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Orlando City did the thing. The Lions patiently battled the lead against a solid Sacramento Republic FC bunker for an hour and a quarter before pressure from Ivan Angulo created the crack Orlando needed to smash down the door to their first major trophy since taking over. joined MLS for the 2015 season. The 3-0 victory over the upstart Republic also gave the Lions their first qualification for the Concacaf Champions League and they will play for the continental championship in 2023.

While the visitors were rarely threatening in the game, the match seemed to be going exactly as they would have hoped. Referee Ramy Touchan let a lot of contact pass and the Lions moved the ball slowly and carefully, opting to keep it under control instead of trying to play striker Ercan Kara over the top. The few times these attempts have occurred, long balls have gone past and either gone out for a goal kick or were easily recovered by Sacramento goaltender Danny Vitiello.

The rain — usually a friend of the Lions — also seemed to be an advantage for Sacramento, taking away some of the coolness from Orlando’s passing.

Oscar Pareja inserted Homegrown Player and Orlando native Benji Michel into Kara’s lineup just after the hour mark to provide some energy and it worked. When Angulo dispossessed defender Dan Casey on the left edge of the box, he knocked it to Michel, who did well to spot Facundo Torres’ approach and deliver an easy-to-manage pass for the Uruguayan winger. Torres smashed it for the first time in the top left corner for the opener the Lions were looking for.

As the Republic had to chase the game in the final quarter of an hour, the cracks and spaces began to develop and Orlando took full advantage. A good ball over the top found Michel in the box and as he set the ball up to shoot he was fouled by Casey, earning his team a penalty. Torres sent the free kick with class and composure, sending Vitiello the wrong way to make it 2-0.

Torres returned both of Michel’s favors deep in stoppage time, sending a pass that split two midfielders and two defenders to pick out Benji making a diagonal run. Michel placed his shot perfectly, slotting just inside the left post to put the game away and allow Exploria Stadium to celebrate.

Speaking of celebrations, the joy and mayhem on the pitch after the final whistle was a sight to behold. The Lions jumped, danced and sang, filming themselves with cellphones, donning various costume pieces and draping their national flags around their shoulders, while quickly changing into 2022 US Open Cup champion t-shirts. They walked through an elegant honor guard of Sacramento players to the podium and lifted their trophy in front of their home fans, capping a six-game home streak in the competition en route to the title.

We hope you enjoy these images from an absolutely unforgettable night in Orlando City SC history.


Images: Dan MacDonald
Lyrics: Michael Citro

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