What you need to know

Orlando City SC wins 2022 U.S. Open Cup:

Orlando City SC have their first-ever trophy as a Major League Soccer club, winning the 2022 U.S. Open Cup Final on Wednesday night, 3-0 over USL Championship side Sacramento Republic FC at Exploria Stadium behind Facundo Torres’ second-half brace and Benji Michel's game-changing substitution. With the win, the Lions booked a 2023 Concacaf Champions League spot as well.

MLS is on Apple News:

Beginning yesterday, MLS and soccer fans will have another convenient way to access MLS news, analysis, and highlights from their iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch devices using the Apple News app. Start using the MLS channel on Apple News: https://apple.news/T9gtfirpYR6qOFDIfhoVntA?subscribe=1

Atlanta United suspend Martinez for 1 game:

Atlanta United have suspended star striker Josef Martinez for one game for “conduct detrimental to the team.” Martinez, who is scheduled to re-join the team next Monday (Sept. 12), will miss their Week 30 home match against Toronto FC on Saturday evening (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+). In the meantime, he won’t participate in team activity this week.

NYCFC, Cincy draw:

A Thiago Martins own goal and a goal from Gabriel Pereira earned a point for NYCFC and FC Cincinnati in a 1-1 draw.

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Orlando Magic!

I think some folks were surprised it took a moment for Orlando to break through against Sacramento Republic. There were even a few extended periods of possession for the USL side. But even from my national point of view where I see closer to 70% of Orlando’s games rather than 100%, it felt like the Lions had them right where they wanted them. In fact, the least surprising thing about all this is that Orlando scored three times with their only three shots on target. I’ve got no notes. Perfect Orlando performance. 

That’s just who this team has been all season. They make you think for a while that they’re not up to the task while they’re quietly tapping every pressure point on your body until you’re laying there immobilized and helpless thinking “I dunno, still gonna need a few data points.” 

I can’t praise Oscar Pareja enough for instilling a mindset within his team that they’re capable of winning any and every game, even when things aren’t clicking at 100%. They never seem to let things spiral out of control. And as long as they’re within touching distance of a point or three, there’s a decent chance they’re going to press on until they get it.

Considering the way they win close games and how Ercan Kara and Adam Buksa are both tall, I’ve compared them to last year’s Revs team in the past. But it’s not like they’re identical twins. It’s more like last year’s Revs are an older brother who became a stunt car driver while Orlando is a little brother who became an actuary. New England got by in close games for the thrill of it. Orlando have gotten by in close games because it’s the most prudent course of action. 

The Lions aren’t going to quite match last year’s record-setting total for one-goal wins set by the Revs, but they do have 12 this season across all competitions, including two one-goal wins in the U.S. Open Cup and not including the two games they won in the USOC on penalties. 10 of their 12 wins in MLS have come by one goal. That’s 83% of their wins and a higher percentage than 2021 New England. If we include USOC games, they’ve taken 77% of their wins in 2022 by one goal or penalties. You could call it luck, but they keep doing it over and over. 

Last night wasn’t quite so close, even if it took a while to get going. But for Orlando fans who waited seven years for a moment like Facundo Torres’ opening and game-deciding goal, an extra 75 minutes probably didn’t feel too long. Besides, in front of a sold out crowd  ready to blow out ESPN’s mics at any second and with a team that believes from the top down that they’re going to do what’s necessary to get a win, were you ever really worried? 

Congrats to the Lions.

Other Things

CF Montréal loan Offor to Belgium's Zulte Waregem: CF Montréal have loaned forward Chinonso Offor to Belgian top-flight side SV Zulte Waregem through June 2023. As of Jan. 31, Zulte will have the option to buy the 22-year-old Nigerian. If he is not transferred, CF Montréal can terminate the loan and recall Offor as of Feb. 1, 2023. The Canadian MLS side has inked Offor to a new contract for the 2023 and 2024 seasons with options for the 2025 and 2026 seasons.

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Good luck out there. Have a relaxing drink when you can.