Miami FC’s promising run in the U.S. Open Cup continued on Wednesday night.
A hat trick from Stefano Pinho lifted Miami to a 3-1 victory over MLS club Orlando City to advance the NASL team to the fifth round of the U.S. Open Cup.
The Brazilian scored Miami’s first goal in the 30th minute before doubling the lead in the 36th minute after heading a ball from Hunter Freeman past Orlando City goalkeeper Josh Saunders. Pinho secured his hat trick in the 55th minute after finishing a cross from Robert Kcira from close range.
“For us it’s amazing. It was the most important game in Miami FC’s short history,” Miami coach Alessandro Nesta said. “I’m proud of my players because we played [FC Edmonton] three days ago and [Wednesday] was very tough against an amazing team. … But my players were ready to fight every second.”
Orlando City forward Giles Barnes cut into the lead in the 79th minute after heading a corner kick from Carlos Rivas past Miami goalkeeper Daniel Vega.
Miami FC clinched a spot in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup after previously defeating USL side Tampa Bay Rowdies 2-0 in the third round of the tournament on May 31.
Nesta’s team almost opened the scoring in the 18th minute after a counterattack saw Michael Lahoud connect with Pinho, who struck the ball wide of the goal. Miami again came close to taking the lead after a shot from outside the box from Dylan Mares was saved by Saunders in the 25th minute.
“We expected to win,” Lahoud said. “We believe in what we can do, and we know who we are. We’re a team that’s finding ways to win, and days like [Wednesday] we’re cut-throat. If you give us a sniff, we will make you pay, and we showed that [Wednesday night].”
Moments after the 25th-minute close call, Mares connected with Pinho in a through-ball that saw Saunders deny the winger in the 28th minute.
Miami started and finished the game strong, outshooting the home side 17-9 while maintaining 46 percent possession for much of the match.
Forward Vincenzo Rennella was booked with a yellow card after a scuffle with Victor PC Giro ensued in the 84th minute.
Gabriel Farfan, Blake Smith and Jaime Chavez saw playing time for Miami after entering in the 65th, 76th and 87th minute, respectively.
It was the first meeting between the clubs but a reunion match for several players.
It was the first time Miami’s Kwadwo Poku faced off against his former coach at New York City FC, Jason Kreis. Orlando City designated player Ricardo Kaka and Miami FC coach Nesta, who played together at AC Milan, met again in Orlando.
Wednesday’s announced attendance at Orlando City Stadium was 5,838.
Miami entered Wednesday’s match as the top-scoring team in the NASL, boasting a 7-1-3 record with a league-best 17 goals while sitting in first place in the standings with 24 points.
Miami is now unbeaten in 11 matches in all competition after Wednesday’s victory.
Miami FC returns to NASL action on Saturday when it hosts the Jacksonville Armada at Riccardo Silva Stadium at 7:30 p.m.