For the second season in a row, DC United has ousted FC Dallas from the Open Cup with a two goal win in RFK. United’s home-grown youth player Andy Najar was the catalyst to stunning offensive display by United as he assisted on the first goal and scored the game winner in the second half of a 4-2 win over FC Dallas.
DC United wasted no time getting onto the scoreboard as United rookie Andy Najar collected a loose ball in midfield in the fourth minute and slyly lofted a tantalizing ball into Cristman’s path behind the flat Dallas defense. Cristman easily chipped the charging Hartman for the early 1-0 lead. It was United’s first home goal of the season and the RFK faithful erupted with enthusiasm as you can well imagine. Like a long lost relative that goal was avidly embraced by a decidedly skeptical crowd, I can tell you.
“[It was a] very, very good performance from Andy. The big thing we took from the last performance he had was ‘we got to get him farther up the field’. He’s very good 1-v-1 and just makes things happen, and that was the case this evening. He had a good all-around performance – scored a goal, got an assist, probably should’ve had a second goal. But really showed some great qualities there and I’m very pleased with his performance.” United coach Curt Onalfo said after the match.
Despite a spirited response from the Texans which included Dallas’ young midfielder Brek Shea schooling United’s rookie right back Jordan Graye like a science fair project, DC held on to their slim lead mainly through some stellar goalkeeping from United’s previously shaky Troy Perkins. United’s gigantic off-season signing, given the players and coin that it cost to reclaim him, redeemed himself admirably in this match with a stunning save on Shea in the 9th minute. But United also got the benefit of a scorching Dallas miss in the 25th minute as Dallas’ Eric Avila set up rookie Penn State rookie Jason Yeisley behind United’s sophomore Rodney Wallace for a blistering shot that skipped barely wide.
“Yeah, I think I played better tonight – I played the way I want to play. Sometimes things happen, I feel better and the confidence is coming back and now I just have to keep it going”. United’s Troy Perkins said after the match.
Interestingly, with the match somewhat in doubt although United clinging to a 1-0 lead, United’s Mr. Positive, Curt Onalfo got chucked from the match in the 31st minute for arguing with the fourth official. It was unclear what exactly he was arguing for or against as the officiating was pretty irrelevant to the flow of the match at that point. However, if he was trying to send a message to his team about the importance of this match, the message was sent because DC essentially put the game away in the next 20 minutes of game time.
First, Adam Cristman draws a FK on Dallas’ Bruno Guarda and Castillo lines up a leftie effort from 40 some yards that fools Dallas’ Kevin Hartman and sneaks into the far post. United’s Brandon Barklage deserves some credit for attacking the ball as it sailed in front of Hartman, but since he was no closer to that cross than Costanza from an awning, a goalkeeper of Hartman’s obvious quality has to take the blame for that one sneaking in for the 2-0 lead in the 39th minute. Incredibly, Najar almost scored again barely thirty seconds later, but his shot skipped wide as Hartman barreled into him hoping to prevent a total catastrophe for Dallas in this relatively evenly contested first half.
Then a few minutes after halftime, DC struck again. This time it was Cristman who was sent down the right hand side who curled a perfect cross to Najar hammering in to the back post for the easy finish behind Dallas rookie Edson Edwards for the game winning goal and a seemingly insurmountable 3-0 lead.
But of course,DC just couldn’t allow their long suffering fan an easy night as Dallas did make things interesting with a Bruno Guarda goal in the 52nd minute. Again it was Brek Shea creating havoc down the left side and crossing into the box where Rodney Wallace nodded a woeful clearance right to Guarda for him to tee up a wicked volley into the far post side netting to cut the lead to 3-1.
Then a silly PK cut the lead to one as McTavish or Wallace cut down Hospital Harris uneccessarily when he hopefully cut in between them inside United’s penalty area giving up a penalty kick that could have swung the momentum back in Dallas’ favor. Dallas’ McCarty slotted in the PK easily and the lead was cut to 3-2, but DC struck right back to the great relief of the meager RFK faithful who braved a non-league match on a chilly night when the Caps were playing for their playoff lives in game seven right down the road. (They lost and not too happy about that either!)
“It’s nice to have that confidence knowing we are going to score. I think we learned how to fight tonight and keep a lead and to battle back when they got on the board. I think it shows great character and this is a great step forward for us.” United’s Troy Perkins said after the match.
DC United responded admirably with a stunning goal from Adam Cristman as he launched himself onto a perfect chip over the defense from Clyde Simms for a lovely nod over the charging Hartman to complete the scoring at 4-2.
“Adam [Cristman] does a great job of playing off of the opposing back four, and he put his hand up and I just chipped [the ball] in there. He did well with it, and fortunately I played a good ball where he could bait the goalkeeper a little bit and it worked out well with a good goal.” Simms said after the match.
With the win, DC advances to face the reigning MLS Champions RSL who beat SJ on penalties in the other match in this bracket last week.
United returns to MLS play this weekend when the Red Bulls come to RFK for a crucial league match this coming weekend. United midfield general Santino Quaranta pointed out the obvious after the match as he emphasized the importance of just winning any match for a team that was mired in such a bad situation with injuries and its league results.
“It was very important to get that first win for the morale of the team, first off. Second of all, the guys that were in there worked very hard and it was certainly a team effort. Any win is a good win right now, and it is a great feeling.” Santino Quaranta said after the match.
“Just getting the monkey off of our back builds our confidence and lets us know that we can find ways to win and we just have to put it all to work. If we play as a team and fight for each other good things are going to happen; we saw that tonight.”
That monkey off their backs is a feeling all United fns share without question.