Lion Tamers! Union beat Orlando City SC 1-0 to advance in the Open Cup!

Alejandro Bedoya scored in the fourth minute and the Union defense stood tall as the boys in blue defeated the Lions 1-0 on a heated night in Chester..

Union first XI: Andre Blake; Mark McKenzie, Auston Trusty, Keegan Rosenberry, Raymon Gaddis; Alejandro Bedoya, Haris Medunjanin; Borek Dockal, Fafa Picault, David Accam; Cory Burke

Orlando first XI: Earl Edwards Jr.; Shane O’Neill, Mohamed El-Munir, Donny Toia, Amro Tarek; Josue Colman, Oriol Russell, Will Johnson, Sacha Kljestan; Dominic Dwyer, Chris Mueller

After trading early corners with Orlando City, the Union converted on one just four minutes in. Cory Burke headed the ball onto goal where it was pawed away by Edwards Jr., but the ball fell to Bedoya at the goal line and Alejandro made no mistake, roofing the ball for a 1-0 Union lead.

The game eased into a rhythm where Orlando would possess the ball but be unable to find the final pass, sending the Union break the other way where speedsters Picault, Accam, and Burke could hurt them. A plethora of chances followed, many of which flowed down the left wing through Fafa Picault (who had a couple shots saved by Edwards Jr.). As the half progressed, the Union possessed the ball more and began to pressure Orlando’s defense, in the final third, making life hard on their keeper. Borek Dockal had a hard, low shot ticketed to the right corner saved by Edwards Jr, and sent another delivery in the box into Row 15. Orlando had a couple chances too as the half went forward, especially late as Blake was forced to tip a Will Johnson header over the bar and the ensuing corner just missed being headed into the upper 90.  As they say though, close is only good for horseshoes and xGF, and the teams went into the room 1-0.

Halftime saw a change in the Orlando lineup as Dillon Powers replaced Chris Mueller. Edwards Jr. continued his outstanding play, touching a Cory Burke turn-and-shoot in the box over the bar in the fifty-first minute. As the match went on, play got more physical, with non-calls being made for both sides. The Union switched out Accam for Marcus Epps in the 59th minute, and Burke with C.J. Sapong in the 63rd. Each team went through most of its subs in these ten minutes, but nothing came of it as either team failed to threaten in earnest until Picault again beat his man into the box in the 80th minute and just barely missed a shot low to the far post. Shortly after, Sapong hit a hard shot on target that Edwards Jr. made a kick save on. Orlando was unable to muster up any last gasp chances (although they did summon a pair of yellow cards, the result of a contested, physical match), and the Union moved on to the semifinals in the Open Cup to face either Chicago (who was up 1-0 at press time) or Louisville FC.

Man of the Match: it has to go to Earl Edwards Jr., who without him, the match could have turned into a rout in a hurry for Orlando City SC. Instead, Edwards Jr. kept things close with save after sparkling save (eight in all), albeit in a losing effort.

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