Tampa Bay Sports Day

DC United takes Open Cup thriller in penalty kicks

A lifeless first quarter hour between DC United and the Philadelphia Union in their U.S. Open Cup play-in game gave way to a riveting affair, reaching a crescendo with two goals in extra time and United’s converting on all of their penalty kicks to defeat the Union 3-2 at the Maryland SoccerPlex.

Branko Boskovic scored the game winner on United’s fourth penalty kick after Jack McInerney missed and Bill Hamid made a foot save on Roger Torres on the Union’s previous two kicks.

The Union, who started the match with nine regular starters on the field, played the final 3-minutes of regulation and through both of the overtime periods shorthanded after Carlos Valdes received his second yellow card and was ejected in the 87th minute. The second card was for dissent. Valdez had received his first caution for a reckless tackle in the 39th minute.

Union head coach Peter Nowak was also ejected just moments after his team drew even in the extra period for repetitive arguing with referee Andrew Chapin.

With these ejections and United’s squandering that lead in overtime with the manpower advantage left head coach Ben Olsen a bit salty despite the win.

“I am obviously glad we won but we gotta win that game outright,” said Olsen. “We gotta be a little bit savvier in how we deal with games and manage games. Up a man, we get that second goal and it shouldn’t be an issue anymore. We got to make sure we know that every play is important.”

“We just got to move the ball,” Olsen continued. “They are gambling so we got to move the ball as quick as possible. First, we need to finish off the game. We have one or two chances where we can bury the game and it’s over; we got to take care of that part.

“But we also have to be a little smarter. Set-pieces are the one area where they are gonna get at us so make sure you are doing your part and getting your man and making sure the commitment is there on the set-pieces. It wasn’t good there.”

After the two teams exchanged first half goals, United defender Daniel Woolard knocked in a rebound off a Chris Pontius shot to give United the lead in the 111th minute only to see former United standout Brian Carroll equalize in the 118th minute, on a shot that Woolard also got a piece of on its way past a helpless Hamid and into net.

“I was at the back post and was trying to head the ball across the front of the goal and it hit Pontius in the back and he turned and hit it and then it hit somebody else and it fell in front of me and I hit it hard near post and I was lucky it went in,” said Wollard.

The unfortunate bounce off Woolard for the Union’s equalizing goal conjured up an unpleasant U.S. Open Cup experience at this very stadium for the 26-year old from his days with the Chicago Fire.

“It brought back flashbacks,” said Woolard, who spent his first three professional seasons with the Fire. “I scored a goal in the first half- I am two-for-two playing here in scoring goals-then DC came back, scored and we lost in overtime so it kind of brought back memories of that.”

Hamid saved the first Union attempt during the sequence and got a good piece of Carroll’s shot as well but it had just enough impetus to knick Woolard on its way into the net for the tying goal.

After the uninspiring start by both clubs, it was the cagey veteran Carlos Ruiz who gave Philadelphia the lead on their first real chance, popping in a long Sheanon Williams throw-in from the right side in the 18th minute.

Josh Wolff was the opportunistic beneficiary of a deflection off the head of Joseph Ngwenya during a melee in front of the Philadelphia goal to equalize just moments before the halftime whistle. Ethan White got on to the original cross from the right flank but his attempt was blocked only as far as the right corner of the 6-yard box where Ngwenya got enough of the ball to guide it to the other side toward Wolff who nodded it home inside the right post.

United outshot the Union by a wide margin (23-5) and controlled possession throughout most of the match even prior to the Valdes ejection.

“When it’s 1-1 and you are up a guy, obviously you want to utilize that guy,” said Wolff about his team being up a man and nearly squandering the win. “They sat in at that point, they knew what they were trying to do which was get it to PK’s. We went up 2-1 and I think we had a chance to make it 3-1 and that is regulation or overtime, when those chances come, you got to be ready to kill the game off and we didn’t.”

Jakovic came on for a pedestrian Rodrigo Brasesco in central defense at the start of the second half as did Blake Brettschneider for Wolff up front.

Brettschneider made a case for himself nicely, sneaking a low cross through from the left side of the penalty that seemed to fool Boskovic who never got off a shot. Boskovic did get off a shot in the 78th minute however forcing Mondragon to make a solid save.

United pelted the Union penalty area with numerous crosses resulting in some tantalizing misses and they nearly ended it in stoppage time but Stephen King’s cross was cleared off the goal line by Michael Farfan, who was playing right back at the time and subsequently slid into central defense in overtime versus his customary flank midfield position.

D.C. UNITED: Hamid; Barklage, White, Brasesco (Jakovic 41′), Woolard; Najar, King, Fred (Pontius 89′), Boskovic; Wolff (C), Ngwenya

Unused substitutes: Brettschneider, Morsink, Simms, Shanoksy, Willis

PHILADELPHIA UNION: Mondragon (C), Harvey, Valdes, Califf, Williams (Mwanga 73′), Nakazawa, Carroll, M. Farfan, Daniel (Roger Torres 66′), Le Toux, Ruiz (McInerney 80′)

Unused substitutes: Holder, Richter, Pfeffer, Agorsor

Philadelphia Union – Carlos Ruiz 18′ (Williams)
D.C. United – Josh Wolff 45′ (Ngwenya) | Video
D.C. United – Daniel Woolard 111′
Philadelphia Union – Brian Carroll 118′

Penalty Kicks:
Philadelphia Union – Le Toux – made
D.C. United – Pontius – made
Philadelphia Union – McInerney – miss
D.C. United – Barklage – made
Philadelphia Union – Torres – saved
D.C. United – Najar – made
Philadelphia Union – Nakazawa – made
D.C. Uniited – Boskovic – made

D.C. United – 4, Philadelphia Union 2

Fred – caution 25′
Carlos Valdes – caution 39′
Dejan Jakovic – caution 70′
Carlos Ruiz – caution 73′
Carlos Valdes – second caution/ejection 86′
Piotr Nowak – ejection 118′

Referee: Andrew Chapin
Assistants: Eric Weisbord, Kevin Klinger
4th official: Michael Donovan