It’s not even a year since Lee Desmond lifted the FAI Cup with St Patrick’s Athletic, but the Dubliner is set for one of the biggest nights of his footballing career in the early hours of Thursday morning when his new club Sacramento Republic take on Orlando City in the US Open Cup final.
ogether with fellow Dubliner Dan Casey, Desmond (27) has enjoyed a whirlwind year with the USL Championship team, thanks to a stunning run to the American cup final including victories over esteemed MLS rivals LA Galaxy and Sporting Kansas.
Desmond, Casey and Sacramento know they will be up against it as they take on another MLS side at Orlando City’s own 28,000-seater Exploria Stadium, with the game sold out well in advance.
The Dublin-born Sacramento defenders are likely to recognise the brogue of one of their opponents as they face up to Crumlin-born winger Jake Mulraney in the colours of Orlando.
Mulraney (26) saw service in England and Scotland with Queen’s Park, Dagenham & Redbridge, Stevenage, Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Hearts before making the trip to the Us to join Atlanta United in 2020.
The former Crumlin United product joined Orlando at the start of the current MLS season, making 21 appearances for the Florida club so far.
Sacramento’s stunning run to the final has raised eyebrows in US soccer circles, as only one non-MLS team, the Rochester Rhinos, has won the US Open Cup (in 1999), while none have got to the final in 14 years.
The game also represents Orlando City’s first time in the final, so history will be made regardless of the outcome.
From an Irish point of view, all eyes will be on the three Dubliner seeking the iconic piece of silverware.
US Open Cup final: Orlando City v Sacramento Republic (KO 1am Thursday)