On Wednesday night, Orlando City SC defeated New York City FC in a penalty shootout to reach the semi-finals of the U.S. Open Cup. Here are three things we learned.
Orlando City SC defeated New York City FC on Wednesday night in the quarter-finals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The Lions will now move on to face Atlanta United in the club’s first semi-final appearance. It was a tough match for Orlando City considering they have had a packed schedule for the past two weeks. Yet, both clubs came out with a concerted effort to play their style and, as a result, it made for an interesting tactical battle with small adjustments and continuous shifts in momentum.
After a late equalizer from Maxi Moralez in the dying moments of regular time and a rather dull extra time in which both sides were desperately exhausted and, in Orlando’s case, had already subbed off most of their attacking threats, the match went to penalties.
In the end, Adam Grinwis saved the day for Orlando City with an all-around impressive display including a couple of pivotal blocks in the penalty shootout. Orlando City head coach, James O’Connor, considered this win to be the most important in the club’s history and was immensely proud of both the players and the supporters.
Here are three things we learned from the tense battle at Exploria Stadium.
3. Adam Grinwis has a night to remember
Adam Grinwis has yet to play an MLS match in 2019, but his performance on Wednesday night would make you wonder why. Last season was a difficult journey for the entirety of the organization. Grinwis started five matches between the sticks in 2018 making fourteen saves but allowed six goals over the course of 450 minutes. It is important to keep in mind, however, that having a defense as poor as Orlando’s in 2018 did little to make any goalkeeper look good.
Some questions remained heading into Wednesday game. As the later rounds began, would James O’Connor make the move back to his MLS starter, Brian Rowe? O’Connor kept the faith in his 27-year-old keeper, and not only did that decision pay off in spades, but it has also instilled a great deal of confidence in Grinwis moving on to next month’s match with reigning MLS Champions, Atlanta United.
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Grinwis made some impeccable saves to keep the score tied at 0-0 in the early going of the match. In the 13th minute, he made a terrific save from a header by Jesús Medina in the middle of the penalty area. The late equalizer by Moralez was a difficult one for Grinwis as a quality deep ball into the box took a bounce that enabled Moralez to poke it into the net. The ball was arguably too far out for Grinwis to risk coming into a crowded area. Yet, once the final whistle blew after thirty minutes of extra time, the fate of the two clubs came down to penalty kicks.
Grinwis made a momentous statement by saving the first penalty. This could have been the best thing that happened to him; he looked more comfortable in front of goal for the remainder of the shootout. He guessed correctly on most of the following penalty kicks, but the shots were just too well placed with power for Grinwis to have much of a chance.
In the sudden death phase of the penalty shootout, with the Orlando City faithful supporting him behind the net, which they only achieved by sprinting from the opposite end of the pitch after NYCFC’s decision to avoid a shootout in front of the supporter’s section, Grinwis made the block of his life to send Orlando City SC to their first semi-final’s appearance.
After the match, Grinwis said:
“As a goalkeeper these are the kind of situations you dream of… I just wanted to help the boys out however I could. They fought for me all 120 minutes. So if I was able to dig a couple out and help them out it was the least I could do.”
Grinwis showed true composure and skill to keep the Lions in the penalty shootout. After such an important performance, he should have all but cemented his place as the starting goalkeeper for the semi-final against Atlanta United. Unfortunately for Grinwis, he might have wished that he held onto his jersey, but some lucky fan will be cherishing that for the rest of his or her life.