Orlando City will face the Philadelphia Union in the Round of 32 of the US Open Cup on either May 10 or 11. The winner will face either Tormenta FC of USL League One or Inter Miami in the Round of 16.
This is one of 11 intra-league matchups in the Open Cup fourth round, making up the majority of the matchups. While this does limit the opportunity for more #cupsets, it does guarantee several MLS vs. USL battles for a spot in the quarterfinal.
This is a brutal draw for the Lions after a thrilling 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the USL Championship. The Union haven't been drawn into the Open Cup yet, but are dominating in the early Major League Soccer season.
As of Thursday, the Union sit top of the Eastern Conference with 16 points and are tied with Los Angeles FC for the early lead in the Supporter's Shield race. It's been a balanced dominance for the Union, scoring the fourth most goals in the league while allowing the second fewest goals.
This match also comes at a difficult time for the Lions, setting up a three-game week between May 14 and May 22. Orlando's match with the Union is bookended by these matches in Toronto and in Austin for the first ever matchup with Austin FC.
The quick turnaround for that Austin match in particular will force some difficult lineup decisions for Oscar Pareja, and I'd expect many reserves suit up to face Los Verdes in the league match. This is the difficulty of trying to compete on multiple fronts, and as the tournament goes deeper, the cup games get more difficult and force big decisions from the coaching staff.
Orlando City has strong history in the Open Cup, as does Oscar Pareja, and with this current roster, this is a genuine opportunity to chase a trophy and a Champions League spot. If the Lions can get past the Philadelphia Union, they'll be one of the favorites the rest of the way in the US's oldest soccer competition.