Miami United FC will have a formidable opponent when they face MLS side Orlando City SC in the Fourth Round of the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday night.
Orlando City is led by head coach Jason Kreis, one of the top coaching minds in the country.
“It’s an important tournament,” Kreis commented. “I think often times people misunderstand how important it can be. The fact of the matter is that it is the shortest path to the CONCACAF Champions League, which is becoming a really big deal.”
Forward Dom Dwyer leads Orlando City in goals with six and midfielder Yoshimar Yotún has the team lead in assists with five. Goalkeeper Joe Bendik is a steady presence between the posts, compiling 36 saves so far this season.
Dwyer has four caps and two goals with the U.S. Men’s National Team.
Orlando City SC is, after all, a team of stars and they also have two of the league’s top midfielders in Sacha Kljestan (two goals and four assists) and Justin Meram (one goal and three assists).
Kljestan has 52 caps and six goals for the U.S. Men’s National Team and also scored two goals with the U.S. U-23 National Team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Kljestan played for Anderlecht in Belgium for five years, logging more than 150 appearances including 14 Champions League games. He ended his time there winning three league titles and four Belgian Cups. Kljestan has played in nine MLS seasons with Chivas USA, New York Red Bulls, and Orlando City. The Huntington, CA native has amassed an astonishing 33 goals and 88 assists during league play in his career.
Meram, a regular with the Iraq national team with 22 caps, is in his first season with Orlando City after spending seven seasons in Columbus. He is a prolific attacker with 38 goals and 36 assists in league play during his career.
Defender Jonathan Spector, who has played for the likes of Birmingham City, Manchester United, Charlton Athletic, and West Ham United, has 36 caps with the U.S. Men’s National Team. Spector also brings considerable experience from playing in the UEFA Europa League and Champions League.
And like many professional teams, Orlando City has an NPSL alumnus on their roster. Tony Rocha played the 2014 season with Tulsa Athletic before spending three seasons in Orlando.
“It is also a chance to win a trophy, we will never take that situation lightly,” Kreis continued. “We will have a very strong lineup.”
Orlando City SC is currently in sixth place in the Eastern Conference of MLS. They have a 6-6-1 record and 19 points. This puts them in the middle of a race for a playoff spot.
“It’s a team that I think is all about the respect that you give them,” Kreis said when asked about Miami United. “If we go into this match thinking that they’re not a full professional team, they’re not a First Division team, they’re not a Second Division team. If we are focused on that, then they will hurt us for sure. They have quality players. They have experienced players. They have players that are mostly foreign players that are coming from lots of professional experience in their countries. It’s a team that I think is pretty well tactically versed as well. So for me we need to respect this opponent and we need to do the right things.”
Photo Credit: Orlando City SC