A dreadful DC performance was rewarded with a 4-2 victory on penalty kicks after a scoreless match when goalkeeper Joe Willis saved the first two Kickers penalty kicks while DC made all four of their attempts to allow them to advance to the next round in the US Open Cup.
Playing a majority of their starters, DC United struggled mightily to mount any kind of threat on the Richmond goal while their lower division affiliate played with much more control and precision only to be denied in the final third from some stellar play by backup keeper Joe Willis.
In the 17th minute, Richmond midfielder Stanley Nyazamba deftly split DC’s defense sending in former DC Academy player Michael Seaton who is on loan to Richmond in on goal and only a fantastic smother by Willis coming off his line saved United from giving up yet another early goal.
A few minutes later another well-orchestrated Richmond attack was thwarted as Nyazamba and Joseph Ngwenya worked the ball far post to midfielder Nate Robinson for an open look at goal only to see him scuff his shot slightly allowing for Willis to recover and block the shot.
Finally, DC showed some spark in the attack and a couple of lovely corner kicks featured in the United threats on goal. Historically inept at corner kicks in the modern era of soccer, DC United managed to hit the woodwork twice and barely miss another attempt wide in the late stages of the first half.
First in the 31st minute, it was Kyle Porter with a CK right on Lionard Pajoy’s head that he managed to clang off the top of the crossbar, then a few minutes later in the 35th minute, United defender Chris Korb struck a lovely cross to a wide open Dwayne De Rosario at the far post in front of an open goal, but United’s captain hashed up the header off the far post and the ball fell right to Richmond keeper Andrew Dykstra.
Just before halftime, DeRo stripped a Richmond defender and appeared to in on goal only to be muscled off the ball. However, the recovering defender was forced to pass the ball back toward the Richmond goal and only a late scramble by Dykstra to clear it off the line saved an own goal. On the ensuing corner kick, DC again found an open man in defender Conor Shanosky, who had a stellar match in central defense, but his diving header flashed past the near post just wide.
DC’s attack withered in the second half and it was pretty much all Richmond the rest of the way, but Willis was to be the man of the match keeping the Kickers scoreless despite relentless pressure.
In the 50th minute, Willis came out to snare a deadly cross away from Richmond defender William Yomby. In the 55th minute, Richmond again pinged the ball around DC’s defense pulling them apart expertly to allow Nyazamba to burst up through the middle in on goal only for Willis to snuff out the attack coming off his line perfectly.
Again late in the match, Willis came up big as Nyazamba, who was a thorn in DC’s side all night kept an attack alive cleverly and slid a ball to defender Jason Yeisley storming into the DC box, but his point blank shot was well covered by Willis.
Late in the match, a clearly tired DC gave up a few hideous fouls around the box that allowed Richmond some potentially deadly free kicks, but fortunately for United Richmond couldn’t manage a single threat on goal from any of them. So, for the second year in a row, DC headed to overtime in Richmond in the opening round of the Open Cup.
Overtime was much of the same as DC couldn’t control the ball at all, while Richmond continually probed United’s increasingly tired defense. The pressure ended up being too much for United’s Chris Korb as he yanked down a Richmond attacker after getting caught on the wrong side and he was tossed for his second yellow leaving United with ten min for the final twelve minutes.
It got worse two minutes from full time as substitute Carlos Ruiz was also sent off for a reckless challenge from behind. Down to nine men, DC just held on for the penalty kicks after the 30 minute overtime period.
United’s fortunes shifted dramatically in the penalty kicks as Keeper Joe Willis dove to his left to stop the first two spot kicks from Sascha Gorres and Ngwenya sandwiched around a DeRo finish to put United up 1-0. Perry Kitchen made it 2-0 easily, and even though Richmond answered with a goal from Luke Vercollone, Nick DeLeon thundered a shot into the upper 90 that left the Kickers dangling by a thread. Nate Robinson kept them alive with a savvy shot down the middle, but James Riley sent DC into the next round with a cool finish to give DC an insurmountable 4-2 PK victory.
United will host the Philadelphia Union June 12 at 7 PM in Germantown at the socccerplex in the next round of the Open Cup.
Kickers: GK Andrew Dykstra, Henry Kalungi, Shane Johnson (Matthew Delicate – 69’), William Yomby, Luke Vercollone, Michael Seaton (Juan Arbelaez – 60’), Mike Callahan, Stanley Nyazamba (Sascha Gorres – 60’), Nate Robinson, Jason Yeisley, Joseph Ngwenya
D.C. United: GK Joe Willis, Daniel Woolard, James Riley, Chris Korb, Raphael Augusto (Chris Pontius – 58’), Perry Kitchen, Conor Shanosky, Nick De Leon, Kyle Porter (Sainey Nyassi – 91’), Dwayne De Rosario, Lionard Pajoy (Carlos Ruiz – 80’)