Orlando City beat the Sacramento Republic 3-0 on Wednesday to lift the 2022 US Open Cup title.
It marks the Lions’ first major trophy since becoming an MLS club in 2015, doing so in front of a sold-out Exploria Stadium.
Orlando naturally dominated against their USL opponents but were frustrated by a disciplined defensive performance, failing to register a shot on target throughout the first half – though they were rarely worried by Sacramento in their own box.
Midway through the second half, Orlando’s superior fitness began to show, and in the 75th minute, Republic defender Dan Casey was caught in possession, with the ball finding its way to Facundo Torres, who dispatched an excellent finish from the edge of the box.
The 10-time Uruguay international made it 2-0 from the penalty spot just five minutes later, while in the dying moments, Orlando homegrown Benji Michel added a third having already assisted Torres’ opener and drawn the penalty for his side’s second despite only coming on in the 61st minute.
There’s no doubting Michel’s introduction tipped the scales in Orlando’s favor on Wednesday, but Facundo Torres was still the star of the show.
The talented Uruguayan was always positive in his play and constantly looked for openings in the Sacramento backline.
Torres was one of the few players on the field capable of dispatching the sort of finish he managed for the opening goal, while he kept ice-cool composure to send the goalkeeper the wrong way and effectively seal the match from the penalty spot.
It was also Torres’ precision pass that set Michel away for his dream goal right at the end; a fitting moment for both the homegrown and the South American import alike.
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There was much talk prior to kick-off about the sell-out crowd at Exploria Stadium and whether it would carry Orlando over the line, or serve to add extra pressure to the occasion.
After the match, head coach Oscar Pareja was left in no doubt about the role of the supporters in Orlando’s success, praising their ‘energy’ and calling on them to turn out in similar numbers when rivals Atlanta United come to town next week.
“It was fantastic to see the energy,” Pareja said. “The players recognized immediately how it’s important. It’s something where the people have been supporting in difficult moments, but seeing the stadium full is great.
“I would like to ask them to come against Atlanta again. There is nothing like seeing that stadium and feeling that energy. Together we can do big things, but we need them.”
As a homegrown player, Michel, in particular, will have enjoyed playing in front of a bumper crowd that generated an atmosphere rarely seen at this stadium until now.
“It’s a good example for the community, our academy, our homegrowns and the introduction of a local guy who came and you saw his family, as you mentioned,” Pareja said of Michel. “It was fantastic to see him celebrating. This is Orlando.”
But, of course, it was the international class of Torres who really helped Orlando find the next level required to overcome a resolute Sacramento team.
Republic boss Mark Briggs was left in awe of the 22-year-old, who truly highlighted the disparity between MLS and USL on the night.
“We made a couple of errors and when you play against world-class players – Torres is going to the World Cup in November,” Briggs said of Torres. “I think Orlando played $9m for him. That’s more than the value of our club.”
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Arsenal played host to Bodo/Glimt in one of the later kick-offs, after fellow Premier League sides Manchester United and West Ham jetted off around the continent to face Omonia Nicosia and Anderlecht respectively.
Here’s a round-up of the evening’s action.
FC Zurich 1-5 PSV Eindhoven
Arsenal cruised to a comfortable 2-0 victory over Bodo/Glimt under the lights at the Emirates.
Eddie Nketiah tapped home a rebound after Kieran Tierney’s thumping effort bounced back off the post, minutes before Rob Holding headed home from a cross from the excellent Fabio Vieira.
Bodo/Glimt grew into the game as things progressed but Arsenal killed things off with a third five minutes before full-time as a glorious Gabriel Jesus run ended in a tap-in from Vieira.
Rennes 2-1 Dynamo Kyiv
Fenerbahce 2-0 AEK Larnaca
HJK Helsinki 1-1 Ludogorets
A late meltdown from Roma saw them slump to a 2-1 defeat at home to Real Betis.
Betis were the most dangerous early on but Roma took the lead through a Paulo Dybala penalty just after the half-hour mark, although their lead lasted about five minutes as Guido Rodriguez fizzed in an equaliser before the break.
Nicolo Zaniolo hit the bar and Dybala saw a volley expertly saved before the interval and Roma continued that momentum after the break. They failed to find the back of the net, however, and were punished for their profligacy as Luiz Henrique headed home a winner with two minutes to go.
Things ended on a sourer note for Roma as they lost Zaniolo to a pointless red card in stoppage time. The Italian kicked out at an opponent and was deservedly dismissed, leaving him suspended for the next game.
Malmo 0-1 Union Berlin
Braga 1-2 Union SG
FC Sheriff 0-2 Real Sociedad
Manchester United came perilously close to a major European upset as they were forced to come from behind to seal a 3-2 victory over Cypriot side Omonia Nicosia.
United could have had a few goals early on – Antony fluffed a cut-back and Bruno Fernandes hit the bar – but some shocking defending saw the Red Devils punished on the counter by Karim Ansarifard ten minutes before half-time.
Seven minutes into the second half, substitute Marcus Rashford fired home a delightful equaliser following an excellent pass from Fernandes, before Anthony Martial came off the bench and fired United ahead shortly after the hour mark.
Rashford tapped home a third with five minutes to go but Omonia grabbed an immediate response to set up a nervy equaliser, but United held on to seal an uncomfortable three points.
Sturm Graz 0-0 Lazio
Midtylland 2-2 Feyenoord
Freiburg 2-0 Nantes
Olympiacos 0-3 Qarabag
Red Star 4-1 Ferencvaros
Monaco 3-1 Trabzonspor
Hearts 0-3 Fiorentina
RFS 0-0 Basaksehir
A late strike from Gianluca Scamacca fired West Ham to well-earned victory over Belgian giants Anderlecht.
West Ham were dominant from start to finish but had to wait until the 79th-minute for Scamacca to touch down Lucas Paqueta’s flick and fire across goal into the bottom corner to get the lead they deserved.
However, West Ham had goalkeeper Alphonse Areola to thank for the three points as the Frenchman pulled out what will surely be the save of the tournament to repel a close-range header and secure the victory. Sensational stuff.
Silkeborg 5-0 FCSB
Lech Poznan 0-0 Hapoel Beer Sheva
Villarreal 5-0 Austria Vienna
Slovacko 0-1 Nice
Koln 0-1 Partizan
Dnipro-1 2-2 Vaduz
AZ Alkmaar 3-2 Apollon Limassol
Molde 3-0 Shamrock Rovers
Gent 0-1 Djurgarden
Sivasspor 3-4 Ballkani
Slavia Prague 0-1 CFR Cluj
Pyunik Yerevan 2-0 Zalgiris
Basel 0-2 Slovan Bratislava
Chelsea drops Fofana update after initial tests on knee injury
Wesley Fofana’s knee injury is better than initially feared after the first set of tests returned positive results.
The defender suffered a knee injury in a collision with Rafael Leao in the 38th minute of Chelsea’s 3-0 home win against AC Milan, as his night ended in frustrating fashion having scored his first goal for the club earlier in the match.
There is hope that Fofana could return before the World Cup, with Chelsea’s final match before the tournament taking place away to Newcastle on November 12.
The centre-back is likely to miss this weekend’s clash against Wolves and the away match at San Siro against Milan next week.
Fofana was seen leaving Stamford Bridge on crutches on Wednesday night, with his right knee in a brace as there were worries he may have suffered a serious injury.
Speaking in his post-match press conference after Chelsea’s victory over Milan, Blues boss Graham Potter admitted he was unsure how bad it would prove to be for Fofana.
‘We’ll have to scan it tomorrow and see how he is but there’s nothing to report at the moment,” Potter said.
“That’s the one disappointing thing about the evening so we have our fingers crossed. We’re concerned but I don’t want to speculate on it now.
“These things happen. He’s a young guy and a strong guy but we’ll support him.”
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