ORLANDO, Fla. (AP)Facundo Torres broke through with a goal in the 75th minute, then converted on a penalty to give Orlando City its first-ever trophy with a 3-0 victory over Sacramento Republic in the U.S. Open Cup final on Wednesday night.
Torres’ penalty kick in the 80th all but sealed it for the Lions, who had not won a title since joining Major League Soccer in 2015. Orlando native Benji Michel added a stoppage time goal.
Sac Republic, which plays in the USL, was looking to become the second lower-division club to win the Open Cup championship in a quarter-century. The Rochester Rhinos won the title in 1999.
Torres’ first goal came off a tap by Michel, a homegrown player signed before the 2019 season. The Uruguayan’s goal prompted the sellout crowd at Exploria Stadium to chant ”We want the cup!”
Michel was fouled in the box to make way for Torres’ penalty, then scored in the sixth minute of stoppage time.
Torres, who signed a club-record deal with Orlando in January, could make Uruguay’s squad for the World Cup in Qatar.
”We’re very happy for the production that Facu has given, especially in the last month and a half where we need him the most,” Orlando City coach Oscar Pareja said. ”I think those players that change the game and then take their teams on their shoulders are difficult to find. In Facu we have found that already.”
Orlando City had beaten the New York Red Bulls 5-1 in the Open Cup semifinals.
Sacramento advanced 5-4 on penalties after a scoreless draw with Sporting Kansas City in the semifinals. The Republic also downed the San Jose Earthquakes and the LA Galaxy in Open Cup play.
”The guys did our club, our city, extremely proud. I thought for 70 minutes we held our own. We played the football we wanted to play, maybe we could have created and been a little bit more progressive in the final third,” Sacramento coach Mark Briggs said. ”But then Torres — you make mistakes against a player, teams at this level, and you get punished. And ultimately that’s what happened.”
In the run-up to the final, ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman reported U.S. Soccer was looking into claims that an Orlando City employee watched a Sac Republic practice session at a public park and refused to leave when asked.
”The only thing I say at this time is nobody is spying on anybody. … We will cooperate with anything the federation wants to say and anything they want to know,” Pareja said. ”But I want to recognize the way our players concentrated on the game and didn’t let anything of that splinter the group.”
Before Wednesday night, the closest the Lions came to a title was in 2020, when they were runners-up in the MLS is Back tournament. Orlando City became the first Florida team to win a major pro soccer trophy since 2001, when the Miami Fusion won the MLS Supporters’ Shield.
Orlando City earns a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League.
It was the 107th edition of Open Cup, which was not played the past two years because of COVID-19.
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