Union blank Orlando City SC 1-0, advance to U.S Open Cup semi-finals

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Alejandro Bedoya celebrates the loan goal that sends Philadelphia Union to the semi-finals of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup

Philadelphia Union defeated Orlando City SC Wednesday night in Chester, PA 1-0 to advance to the semi-finals of the 2018 U.S. Lamar Hunt Open Cup. Orlando was seeking their first Open Cup semi-final appearance in their young club’s history. However, Philadelphia remain highly focused on battling for the cup in 2018.

Alejandro Bedoya celebrates the loan goal that sends Philadelphia Union to the semi-finals of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.

FIRST HALF

Entering Wednesday night’s U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinal matchup against Orlando City SC, the Philadelphia Union held a 13-4 all-time home record under current head coach Jim Curtin in Open Cup play. The 1-0 win against Orlando makes it 14.

The match opened in Philadelphia’s favor after a fourth minute goal from Union captain Alejandro Bedoya. His goal was the result of a corner kick sent into Orlando’s box from fellow central midfielder, Haris Medunjanin. Medunjanin’s cross found the head of Fafa Picault who managed a great effort on frame. Orlando’s keeper, Earl Edwards Jr. reacted by padding the attempt to his left. Bedoya pounced on the loose ball and roofed a shot into the top netting for Philadelphia’s first and only goal.

The key moment that created the corner kick opportunity for Philadelphia came when Ray Gaddis forced a turnover near midfield. Gaddis jumped on an errant pass and quickly found Borek Dockal in the middle of the pitch. Dockal maneuvered himself smartly just between Orlando’s central midfielders.

In one single motion, Dockal field the pass, turned to his right, and slipped a one-touch pass to Bedoya streaking forward. That combination allowed Philadelphia to gain entry into Orlando’s final third which created the corner kick opportunity.

The following 40 minutes of action provided a slew of chances for both clubs, but no goals to show for it.

Orlando created a couple of dangerous offensive opportunities shortly after the half hour mark. Mohamed El-Munir drew a foul along the left-wing when he attempted to split both Keegan Rosenberry and David Accam. The free kick from a dangerous location created a header that sailed just over the bar.

Five minutes later, Sacha Kljestan was granted far too much time in space in the middle of the pitch. He sent a floating ball into the box which found the head of Will Johnson. Johnson’s attempt forced a fingertip save from Andre Blake.

Philadelphia entered halftime with a statistical advantage. They also looked to be the better team if you’re a fan of the ‘eye test.’ The Union generated nine first half shots, six of which were on target. Orlando created just three shots on frame.

SECOND HALF

The first 15 minutes of the second half provided little change in play. Despite a halftime substitution for Orlando, there was little progress in Orlando’s attack.

The affair tightened a bit around the 55th minute mark.

Both teams seemed more intent on creating opportunities with their brief spells of possession. Orlando increased their attacking play, but Philadelphia remained unphased.

Jim Curtin sensed fresh legs were needed to continue pressuring Orlando whenever they attempted to hold the ball. Marcus Epps was sent on for Accam in the 59th minute and C.J. Sapong spelled Cory Burke three minutes later.

With renewed energy up top, Philadelphia successfully disrupted any and all of Orlando’s efforts to create offense. At times even, Philadelphia remained calm enough to play keep away from Orlando. Curtin’s team was willing to sit on the ball with side to side passing for extended periods of time to preserve their lead.

The final substitution for Philadelphia solidified the defense. Dockal was replaced by the hardworking defensive midfielder Warren Creavalle in the 84th minute. Essentially a defensive anchor, Creavalle did well to clog the middle of the field whenever Orlando tried to counter.

Orlando never really did threaten late in the match though. In fact, Philadelphia rifled at least three shots on target which forced Edwards Jr. to make multiple timely saves.

The match ended 1-0 which sends Philadelphia Union into the semi-finals of the 2018 U.S. Lamar Hunt Open Cup.

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

Can be found here.

NOTEWORTHY NOTES

Union back line vs. Dom Dwyer – Dom Dwyer was contained for all 90 minutes of the match Wednesday night. Dwyer consistently attempted to situate himself in between both Mark McKenzie and Auston Trusty early and often. Orlando attempted several long balls toward Dwyer in hopes that he’d be able to side-step one of Philadelphia’s younger defenders. Dwyer never did crack the code though, thanks to the young center back pairing of Trusty and McKenzie and the veteran defensive skills of both outside backs, Keegan Rosenberry and Ray Gaddis.

Alejandro Bedoya – Philadelphia’s captain continues to be the main driving force behind this team’s efforts. Whenever the tempo drops, you’ll notice Bedoya barking at a teammate or two to pick it up a bit. Bedoya provided the only goal the Union needed Wednesday night. But perhaps more importantly, Bedoya continues to pass the ball with great effectiveness. In addition to his first half goal, Bedoya connected on 92% of his 39 first half passes. The first half won the match for Philadelphia and Bedoya played a large role.

PHILADELPHIA UNION STARTING XI:

Andre Blake, Ray Gaddis, Auston Trusty, Mark McKenzie, Keegan Rosenberry, Alejandro Bedoya, Haris, Medunjanin, Borek Dockal (84’ Warren Creavalle), Fafa Picault, David Accam (59’ Marcus Epps), Cory Burke (63’ C.J. Sapong)

Substitutes: John McCarthy, Fabian Herbers, Jack Elliot, Fabinho

ORLANDO CITY SC STARTING XI:

Earl Edwards Jr., Shane O’Neil, Mohammed El-Munir, Donny Toia, Amro Tarek, Josue Colman (62’ Stefano Pinho), Oriol Rosell (70’ Cameron Lindley), Chris Mueller (45’ Dillon Powers), Will Johnson, Sacha Klejstan, Dominic Dwyer

Substitutes: Tony Rocha, Joe Bendik, Chris Schuler, RJ Allen

GOALS / ASSISTS

4’            PHI – Alejandro Bedoya (Unassisted)

YELLOW / RED CARDS

85’          ORL – Donny Toia (Unsporting Behavior)

90+1’     ORL – Will Johnson (Unsporting Behavior)

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Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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