Rapids seek revenge against Orlando City in US Open Cup
When the Colorado Rapids host Orlando City SC tonight in their US Open Cup fourth round encounter, it will be second successive meeting between the two teams in this competition and the MLS club will be eager to erase the memories of 12 months ago.
Two second-half goals from Dom Dwyer - on loan from Sporting KC at the time - condemned the Rapids to a humbling 3-1 defeat in Florida, against the leading USL Pro side. Orlando City had taken an early lead in the third round meeting, through Bryan Burke, before Kamani Hill snatched an equalizer. Tied at the break, Dwyer was the difference after the interval.
While the Rapids went back to MLS duties, their flirtation with the US Open Cup fleeting, Orlando scampered into round four where they would inflict a shock defeat on Sporting KC (1-0) before being halted by Chicago Fire (5-1) in round five.
Within months of their Open Cup exploits, Orlando City were unveiled as an expansion team, to join MLS in 2015, along with New York City FC. The club last week released renderings of what their new stadium will look like (pictured right). It will be built in time for the start of the 2016 season, the team's second in MLS.
They are unbeaten in USL Pro, having won 11 of their 14 games, and lie six points clear of their nearest challengers, LA Galaxy II. Their side is led by Adrian Heath, a two-time First Division (now Premier League) champion with Everton, with whom he also enjoyed FA Cup and European Cup Winners' Cup success.
Among the Orlando City squad is midfielder Yordany Alvarez, currently on loan from Real Salt Lake, former Vancouver Whitecaps defender Brad Rusin, and the much-traveled Anthony Pulis - son of Crystal Palace manager Tony.
Without a MLS match until June 28, Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni will be treating this fixture just like any other.
"Every game that we suit-up for, and step on the field for, we want to win," he said. "I think the Open Cup's a great opportunity - at home - to, again, keep building on the pillars of what we think are important as an organization, and these guys as a team. So it's a really good opportunity to try and go far in this tournament."
The Rapids have only once previously reached the final of the US Open Cup, in 1999, when they lost 2-0 to Rochester Rhinos (click HERE for all-time results). This is the first time that the Rapids have hosted a US Open Cup tie since July 10, 2007 when they overcame California Victory 3-1 in a third round clash, before suffering a 5-0 loss at Seattle Sounders - then a USL-1 side - in the quarterfinals.
Special ticket pricing is in place for the match, with general admission seating on the West side of the stadium being $20 for adults and $15 for children, and in the South and East stands is $15 adults/$10 children. Rapids Season Ticket Holders, partial plan holders, and groups of 10 or more will also receive a 50% discount on all tickets.