The aspiring MLS outfit once again proved its credentials by registering a second consecutive victory over top-flight opposition. The 3-1 home victory over Colorado in the third round barely registered as a surprise given the pedigree of Adrian Heath's men, but this triumph over Sporting carried all of the hallmarks of a typical cup upset.
“We believed,” Orlando coach Heath told reporters after the game. “We honestly believed before the game that we would get a result. I think that for the people who were here last year, we proved we're a decent team. And I think we're a better team this year. I was confident that we would put on a good show and I think that's what we've done.”
Former D.C. United forward Long Tan – included up front with USL Pro top scorer and Sporting forward Dom Dwyer prohibited from playing due to the terms of his loan agreement – struck after two minutes to stake the visitors to an early lead.
Sporting pressed for an equalizer in the second half, but the home side could not procure it before the final whistle. The setback left Sporting manager Peter Vermes to lament the premature end to his side's cup defense.
“Credit to them, they played well in the first half,” Vermes told reporters after the game. “It's definitely not something we wanted to have happen. We wanted to go deep into the competition and try to go after it again. It's devastating.”
Orlando and the six other clubs now through to quarterfinal stage likely disagree with Vermes' assessment. Sporting's exit ensures a new champion will win the 100th edition of this storied tournament. The exact identity of Sporting's successor remains uncertain, but the viable candidates are starting to emerge after another frenetic night in Open Cup play.
Real Salt Lake 5 – Charleston 2 (AET): The Claret-and-Cobalt survived a mighty scare from the Battery to advance at Rio Tinto Stadium. Dane Kelly and Nicki Patterson compiled a two-goal lead for the visitors inside the first 20 minutes. Devon Sandoval and Joao Plata responded after the interval to send the match into extra time. Sandoval claimed the winner after 97 minutes before Khari Stephenson and Javier Morales ensured RSL's spot in the final eight.
Carolina 3 – Chivas USA 1 (AET): RSL will meet the RailHawks at Rio Tinto Stadium on June 26 after the second division side dismissed yet another southern California-based side from this year's tournament. Cesar Elizondo and Brian Ackley scored in the first half of extra time to send Carolina through at the expense of the Red-and-White.
New England 4 – New York 2: Kelyn Rowe continued his searing Open Cup form with a pair of goals as the Revolution dispatched the late-arriving Red Bulls at a sold-out Soldiers Field Soccer Stadium in Boston. The affair in front of 2,500 or so fans marked the Revolution's first competitive match inside city limits.
D.C. United 3 – Philadelphia 1: Dwayne De Rosario grabbed a hat trick as United continued its surprising run through the Open Cup with a victory over the Union in Boyds, Md. The victory arranged a quarterfinal tie with New England at the same venue on June 26.
FC Dallas 3 – Houston 0: Kenny Cooper pounced twice before the hour mark and Zach Loyd added a third to allow FCD to claim its second derby victory of the season. The Western Conference leader will host Portland in the pick of the quarterfinal ties on June 26.
Portland 2 – Tampa Bay 0: Michael Nanchoff and Jack Jewsbury struck either side of halftime to send the Timbers through to that enticing affair with FCD.
Chicago – Columbus (postponed): Severe weather in the Chicago area forced match officials to delay this tie until Thursday afternoon. The winner will host Orlando City on June 26.
Follow KYLE MCCARTHY on or shoot him an email