Home Jersey shirt The magic of the Open Cup reignited with a first crown for the city of Orlando

The magic of the Open Cup reignited with a first crown for the city of Orlando

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US Open Cup fans 109-year-old Lamar Hunt is living his magic moments. And the entire 2022 competition – back after a two-year hiatus for the COVID-19 pandemic – launched quite a few between March and early September. Rejoin usopencup.com for a look back at eight moments and memories to savor from the first round to the grand final at Exploria Stadium, where Orlando City SC won their first trophy as a Major League Soccer team and Sacramento Republic – the lower league dreamers who inspired us all – finished proud finalist.

A Field of Dreams in Florida

Orlando City’s entire road to the trophy was on the pitch after the final whistle. On that same hewn playing surface where they won all six of their matches – never having had to put on a show on the road – the moment was imbued with a certain style. There was Mason Stajduhar, the team’s longtime backup goaltender, cancer survivor – and the man who proposed marriage to his girlfriend on that same weed after a heroic winning performance in the early rounds. Oscar Pareja, who knelt in prayer and won his second Open Cup as a coach, had sympathies to offer the fallen Sacramento side. The wide-eyed youngster Facundo Torres – a hero two goals from the final – shone in admiration at the freshly polished Open Cup trophy, while City’s star goalkeeper in the final stretch, Pedro Gallese, was draped in the flag of his beloved Peru. . And Junior Urso, disguised behind a bear mask, helped turn the podium from a chaotic winner into something of a bouncing Halloween party.

More sense for Homegrown Hero

Among all the heroes of the day, whose names join the unique pantheon of Open Cup winners, one Benji Michel stands out. He entered the game – which until then had looked like some form of medieval combat – with half an hour to play. And his presence changed everything. His speed and the timing of his runs broke the resistance of Brave Sacramento. The barricades collapsed. He was involved in both of Torres’ goals and he got his, the third, deep into the save. He held a purple club flag on his shoulder and paraded past the fans after the final whistle – this son of the city of Orlando, raised on its meanest streets. Members of his family, humble Haitian immigrants and image of pride, followed in packs behind him. The 24-year-old hometown star has been on the pitch longer than anyone else – holding off the sticky shower of beer and champagne in the locker room. And one of the home fans, who led the wall in relentless chorus for more than 90 minutes, went home with Michel’s effort-soaked shirt.

Ecstasy and its agony

Each Open Cup final ends the same way. Ecstasy and history for one. Agony for the other. Several Sacramento Republic players fell to their knees in instant devastation at the final whistle. But with a dignity in adversity that they showed throughout the seven matches of their magical Open Cup 2022 run, they dusted themselves off and made their way to the section of the stadium where more than 1,000 of their fans , who traveled across the country in hopes of a dream come true, encouraged them to an unlikely outcome. The Republic, which has left three MLS teams in its wake in this competition, simply couldn’t hang on to a late surge from Orlando. And as if further proof of the essence and spirit of this heroic club, team hero and aging veteran, Rodrigo ‘RoRo’ Lopez – with his consolation money around his neck – coached his teammates reluctant on the winners’ podium for send Orlando City to the trophy with handshakes and good wishes – and thank you for a fucking good game. This simple act, and the entire run of the 2022 Sacramento Republic Cup, will be long remembered.