ORLANDO – Atlanta United FC reached the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final with a 2-0 road win over Orlando City SC in front of a boisterous crowd of 18,461 at Exploria Stadium Tuesday night.
Eric Remedi scored what turned out to be the game-winner late in the first half before Emerson Hyndman added a late insurance goal to put the Major League Soccer club one win away from claiming U.S. Soccer’s national championship.
Atlanta will host the Open Cup Final at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Aug. 27 (8 p.m. ET; ESPN+) and face Minnesota United FC or the Portland Timbers, who square off in the tournament’s second Semifinal Wedneday night at Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minn. (8 p.m. ET; ESPN+).
In a hard-fought match between two teams that have put their best foot forward throughout the Open Cup, it was Atlanta’s sharper finishing that decided a game of fine margins.
The script might have been different if, in the early going, Orlando forward Dom Dwyer hadn’t strayed offside before finishing a Lions’ counter attack. With the goal called back, the teams traded chances throughout the first half hour, keeping both Orlando goalkeeper Adam Grinwis and Atlanta keeper Brad Guzan busy.
Around the 20-minute mark, Dwyer had another chance to put the home side up. A nifty passage of play form Orlando saw Sacha Kljestan switch the ball to Nani on the left wing. However, his centering feed for Dwyer was skied over the bar from the middle of the box.
At the other end, Grinwis made a strong save on the half hour after Remedi evaded a few defenders and tried to pick out the lower right corner from the top of the box.
In the 37th minute, a blast from Remedi after a good build-up from Atlanta was turned aside by Grinwis. But Julian Gressel corralled the rebound and whipped in a low cross to the right post where Remedi had continued his run and he redirected the ball between Grinwis and the post for the 1-0 lead.
Orlando nearly responded immediately through João Moutinho but his half volley slashed just wide of the left post. Grinwis then made a terrific diving save to push a deflected shot wide of the right post. That was before his counterpart Guzan did likewise, getting down quick to keep out a strong Will Johnson blast toward the lower left corner.
The hosts came out with renewed verve in the second half and should have grabbed an equalizer in the 53rd minute. A nice switch of play by Kljestan to Nani in the left side of the box got the Atlanta defense moving toward the dangerous winger. He paused just long enough before lifting a cross to the right post for Kljestan’s late run, but the midfield playmaker ripped a one-timer over the bar from point blank range.
Orlando head coach James O’Connor went to his bench for fresh legs, bringing on Chris Mueller and Benji Michel. Those moves brought the Lions a new look in attack and more possession but not the equalizer.
Instead, it was Hyndman who scored in the 78th minute. After Pity Martinez was forced back by the Orlando defense, Atlanta recycled the ball, and Remedi swung a cross to the back post where Franco Escobar volleyed it across the face of goal for Hyndman to tap home.