ORLANDO, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - Orlando City SC continues its pursuit of the 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup trophy when it hosts MLS rival Atlanta United FC in the Semifinal round on Tuesday at Exploria Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.
Tuesday's match serves as the first appearance in the Semifinals of the nation's oldest cup competition for both Clubs. The Lions' best previous finish came in the Quarterfinal round in 2012 as a USL Pro franchise and in the MLS era in 2015 and 2018. Prior to their current run, the Five Stripes bowed out in the Round of 16 in each of their previous two Open Cup campaigns.
"I think for them [Atlanta United] and for us, I think both teams will be desperate to win. In a cup competition, it's win or go home," Head Coach James O'Connor said. "They're a team that likes to attack, they've obviously got some very good players, but also for us it's about being intentional on how we're going to try and go and put our stamp on the game and giving our players the freedom to go and express themselves and making sure that they don't get any kind of stagefright. I think that's the biggest thing for both teams, they'll want the players to be able to go and give a level of performance that keeps them happy."
The Lions enter the Semifinal following a thrilling victory over 2015 expansion rivals NYCFC in the Quarterfinal round on July 10 via a penalty shootout. The two sides battled to a 1-1 scoreline after regulation, with Chris Mueller opening the scoring in the 61st minute for the Lions only to be answered by Maxi Moralez in stoppage time to force the match into an extra time period.
After a scoreless 30 minutes, the two were forced into a penalty shootout. Goalkeeper Adam Grinwis recorded two saves in the shootout, including the game-winning save in the sixth round to send the Lions through to the Semifinals for the first time in Club history.
Atlanta clinched their bid to the Semifinals on the same evening, defeating USL Championship side Saint Louis FC by a score of 2-0. Pity Martinez and Josef Martinez each found the back of the net for the Five Stripes, scoring in the 52nd and 95th minutes respectively to punch their ticket to the Semifinals.
A win on Tuesday would earn City a spot in the U.S. Open Cup Final for the first time in Club history, where they would face the winner of the Western Semifinal Matchup between Minnesota United and the Portland Timbers. If the Timbers were to win that match, the Lions would host the U.S. Open Cup Final at Exploria Stadium. If the Loons were to prevail, City would have to travel to Allianz Field due to the results of an open draw that determined priority seeding for hosting the final on July 11.
2019 marks the 106th edition of the U.S. Soccer Lamar Hunt Open Cup, the country's oldest cup competition and U.S. Soccer's National Championship. The 2019 U.S. Open Cup winner will earn $300,000 in prize money, a berth in the 2020 CONCACAF Champions League and have its name engraved on the Dewar Challenge Trophy – one of the oldest nationally-contested trophies in American team sports – now on display at the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Frisco, Texas. The runner-up will earn $100,000, while the team that advances the furthest from each lower division will take home a $25,000 cash prize.
Tickets for the Semifinal match are available to purchase for $15 here.