For sheer entertainment value, it will be difficult for the Charleston Battery to top Wednesday night’s U.S. Open Cup performance against Major League Soccer’s Orlando City SC.
The match, before 3,459 fans on a muggy night at Blackbaud Stadium, featured eight goals after halftime, controversial penalties, dramatic saves, two overtimes and a shootout that went 10 rounds.
In the end, Orlando City ended the Battery’s U.S. Open Cup run in the fourth round with a 4-4 (8-7) victory that put the Lions through to the round of 16.
Orlando City’s Danny Mwanga knocked home the winner in the 10th round of the shootout after Lions keeper Earl Edwards Jr. denied the Battery’s Taylor Mueller on his shot from the penalty spot.
The Battery rallied from a 4-2 deficit to force the shootout as midfielder Justin Portillo blasted a goal from 30 yards out in the 105th minute to make it 4-3. Portillo then scored the equalizer on a penalty kick after Orlando City was called for a handball in the box in the 116th minute.
“Our guys showed a lot of character,” said Battery coach Mike Anhaeuser. “Justin’s goal made all the difference, and then we got the penalty and we actually had two or three more chances after that.
“It was a great match against a good team. It’s just disappointing that we cannot move on to the next round.”
Carlos Rivas scored three goals, all on penalty kicks, to pace Orlando City, which moved up from the USL to MLS as an expansion club this season. Lewis Neal scored the Lions’ first goal on a sweet cross from Tyler Turner, knotting the score at 1-1 in the 63rd minute.
The Battery took leads of 1-0 and 2-1, as Jarad Van Schaik got his head to a Portillo cross in the 58th minute, and Dane Kelly scored on a sublime pass from Makiel Chang in the 67th minute. It was 2-2 at the end of regulation.
The most controversial call of the night was against Battery keeper Odisnel Cooper, who came off his line to challenge a Lions player on a breakaway. Cooper appeared to get the ball first before he took out the player, but was called for the foul. Battery players protested vehemently, but Rivas netted the penalty kick for a 3-2 lead early in the first overtime.
Another foul on Cooper set up Rivas for the PK that made it 4-2 in the 105th minute.
In the shootout, Cooper made two saves in the first three rounds, but the Battery could not take advantage.
“Once you get to a shootout, it’s a 50-50 game,” Anhaeuser said.
Orlando City (5-5-5 in MLS play) left home key players in Brazilian superstar Kaká, keeper Donovan Ricketts and midfielder Brek Shea. The Battery, 6-1-6 in the USL, is at Charlotte on Saturday.
“Our team is exciting,” Anhaeuser said. “We can score goals, and we showed that. Now we have to focus on league play, keep our focus and get it done.”