MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis fell out of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup by a score of 0 to 3 at the hands of MLS-side Orlando City SC at Mike Rose Soccer Complex.
The 901 FC finished the match with 10 shots from nine chances created and 229 accurate passes. Orlando controlled the flow of the match with 65 percent possession.
Memphis took the match to Orlando City in the opening five minutes of play.
Forward Lagos Kunga beat Orlando defender, Alex De John down the near sideline and backheeled a pass sideways into the box. Midfielder, Dan Metzger dummied the pass (let the ball go between his legs) and Graf attempted a shot from 10 yards out. He did not make solid contact and his shot was deflected.
After Memphis controlled the tempo for the first five minutes, Orlando City began to enact their game plan.
The first chance for Orlando City came 10 minutes in when, Santiago Patino cut into space inside the box but Jacob Hauser-Ramsey cut out any shot opportunity.
Minutes later, Memphis won a freekick, 30-yards out thanks to a fast break. Captain Marc Burch took the FK and Graf met the cross with his head, but Orlando blocked the attempt.
Orlando began to rotate the ball all across the pitch and seemed content to keep possession. Through lengthy possession, Orlando was able to work the ball into the 901 FC’s final third.
Orlando finally created a goal-scoring chance in the 18th minute. Dillon Poweres played a weighted through ball into the run of Santiago Patiño. The forward took Burch in the box and the captain made perhaps the best tackle of the match to save a sure goal.
The match shifted in Orlando’s favor for the next 20 minutes and Memphis were forced to drop eight men into their own final third.
Orlando eventually took advantage of a bunched Memphis backline and broke through just under the 40 minute mark.
Memphis full-back, Abdi Mohamed extended his leg too far into Orlando’s Chris Mueller, right inside the box, and the head official quickly signaled for a penalty kick.
Orlando’s captain, Sacha Kljestan stepped up to the spot in hopes of putting his team ahead. After 15 seconds standing over the ball, the MLS veteran slotted the penalty into the bottom right corner.
Minutes after falling behind, Memphis quickly answered with two opportunities of their own. The best chance came through Adem Najem. The playmaker found space to the left of the box and attempted a shot. He made solid contact, but the shot narrowly grazed the far post and out of play.
Both teams headed into the half with momentum and Memphis knew they needed to come out of the half with a faster paced style of play.
Head coach, Tim Mulqueen clearly made tactical changes during halftime and Memphis began to gain confidence.
To the delight of the 3,088 fans at Mike Rose Soccer Complex, Memphis equalized in the 49th minute.
Najem whipped in a corner from the near side and forward Elliot Collier rose up higher than any Orlando player to head home the equalizer at the near post.
The relief on the 901 FC player’s faces was evident, but they knew more goals were needed in order to secure a spot in the next round.
The 901 FC nearly took the lead three minutes later.
Ewan Grandison found space on the edge 25 yards out and tucked into a half volley. The volley was well hit, but Orlando’s Adam Grinwis made an even better save to keep the match level.
Orlando’s head coach, James O’Connor made tactical changes of his own following the Memphis goal and Orlando regained the lead 55 minutes into the match.
Their second goal came after Najem was taken down at midfield, for what appeared to be a foul, but the head official did not award a freekick. Midfielder, Cristian Higuita took advantage of the no-call and dribbled into the box. He dinked a pass into the center of the box and Kljestan scored with his first touch.
“I have never seen a call like that,” said Burch. “He (Najem) was clearly taken to ground and the ref gave no explanation as to why the foul was given.”
Orlando essentially put the match away in the 71st minute after a scrum in front of the net.
Levene saved the initial close-range strike but defender Robin Jansson scored the rebound.
The 901 FC did their best to claw their way back from a two goal deficit but the Orlando City back-line held strong to see out the win.
Reporter: Caleb Hilliard