Cinderella is wearing red and gold to the ball this year.
The Ft. Lauderdale Strikers kept their improbable run in the U.S. Open Cup going on Wednesday night thanks to a dramatic winner seconds before the end of extra time. Brazilian defender Victor Giro, also known as PC, came up with the decisive goal in the 120th minute to push the Strikers to a 2-1 road win over Orlando City in a Round of 16 bout at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida.
With penalty kicks looming for the third straight Open Cup match for the Strikers, Giro came to the rescue by firing a shot from outside the penalty area. The goal, combined with a strong performance from Strikers goalkeeper Diego Restrepo, was enough to shockingly eliminate the Lions from the tournament and send the NASL outfit through to the quarterfinals.
The two Florida clubs both finished the match with 10 men after Kevin Molino of Orlando City and Strikers’ forward Maicon Santos were ejected in the 67th minute for a dustup. Molino was one of the game’s goal-scorers, as he netted the Lions’ equalizer three minutes after Jose Angulo’s 12th-minute opener.
The Strikers, which are the lone lower-division team remaining in this edition of the Open Cup, will play away to the Chicago Fire in the next round on July 20.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Diego Restrepo will not get as much of the spotlight as Victor ‘PC’ Giro, but the Strikers’ goalkeeper had as much of a hand in the upset win as did anyone on the NASL club. Restrepo kept his team alive by making eight saves vs. Orlando City, and that left the door open for the last-gasp winner.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
The Ft. Lauderdale Strikers were staring in the face of another mentally exhausting and challenging penalty shootout, but one of their young players tasked with keeping balls out of the back of the net made sure the game never got there. Victor ‘PC’ Giro, a defender, delivered a goal that the Strikers and their fanbase will not soon forget by unleashing a 20-yard shot past Orlando City goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr. for the dramatic victory.
MATCH TO FORGET
Tasked with leading the Orlando City attack in the absence of Kaka, Kevin Molino should have known better than to get sent off in the 67th minute. Yes, both he and Maicon Santos were dismissed, but Molino’s absence proved more costly in the end.