After a desultory first half, United’s Jaime Moreno livened up the proceedings with a stunning goal through traffic two minutes into the second half. Santino Quaranta began the play with a lovely diagonal ball out of midfield impeccably picking out Boyzzz Khumalo gliding down the right sideline. United’s South African winger cut inside and slipped the ball easily to Jaime Moreno alone at the top of the area.
Seemingly with all the time in the world, the legendary Bolivian scorer slotted an untouchable shot through traffic into the lower corner of the net. The goal was Moreno’s 13th of his open cup career and leaves him as the sole leading scorer in Open Cup history, and more importantly the goal made up for horrendous miss by Moreno on the only real chance of the match just before halftime.
Neither United nor Richmond looked particularly sharp in the opening 45 minutes as United looked to control the ball, but rarely created any opportunities on against a big and resolute central defense for the Kickers. Richmond, on the other hand, struggled with possession and far too often looked for the long ball over the top to Delicate that was usually easily cut out by Jakovic and Rice in central defense for DC.
However, Richmond did mange the first real chance of the match halfway through the first half as Barry Rice wildly took out Delicate near the corner flag giving the Kickers a freekick that was virtually a corner kick. Richmond captain Mike Burke stroked the ball into the box, but it deflected out to Richmond’s Luke Vercollone at the top of the box and he smashed a wicked shot that Hamid had to frantically scramble away.
Yet as halftime loomed, Quaranta, who had come in the 40th minute when Emilio had to come out a bit woozy after being hammered by Richmond’s keeper, aggressively attacked and drew Richmond’s defense only to slot the ball perfectly through to Allsopp in alone down the left hand side of the box. As Pascale came out to challenge, the Aussie slipped the ball across to Moreno 12 yards out staring at an open net, but the most prolific goal scorer in MLS history incredibly shot the ball well over the bar.
In the second half, ten minutes after Moreno gave the United the lead, it was Quaranta again involved in the action as he was to get on the score sheet himself with a somewhat lucky goal that deflected into the net. It was another play set up by Khumalo on the right hand side as Richmond’s Sacha Gorres ill-advisedly attempted to cut out another long diagonal down the right, but missed completely allowing Boyzzz to turn unfettered into the right side of the box, where he looked up and picked out Santino bursting in from the left. Unfortunately, Tino hesitated instead of shooting and the play might have been lost had not the ball fallen to Moreno who calmly poked the ball back to Santino try again and this time his powerful shot took a deflection and looped over Pascale in the Richmond net to complete the scoring.
Facing elimination, Richmond made a game of it over the final 30 minutes, but failed to convert two lovely opportunities. In the 60th minute, Edson Elcock ghosted by Andy Najar playing right back and took an angled shot from the left that screamed past the far post just wide and high. Then in the 66th, Kicker right back David Hertel curled a lovely ball around DC’s defense that sent Delicate barreling in on goal, but with only Hamid to beat he pretty much shot it right United’s rookie keeper and the chance was lost. Despite more pressure, Richmond did really threaten United’s goal for the rest of the match.
With the win, United looks to host the Harrisburg City-Islanders in the quarterfinals for the second year in a row July 21 at the Maryland Soccerplex in Boyds. That match was previously announced as also being played at George Mason, but perhaps the appalling NOVA traffic, and a brutal first 45 minutes where the entire attendance had to stare into the setting sun changed the right people’s minds into returning to the soccerplex.
United has now reached the quarterfinals of the Open Cup nine of the 12 times they have entered the tournament. They did not enter the 1998 version of the tournament due to international commitments. DC has faced lower division competition in the quarterfinals four times and been victorious every time including last year when they faced Harrisburg as well.
Should United get past Harrisburg, they will face the winner of the Columbus Crew and Charleston Battery match on the other side of their bracket. Should Charleston upset the Crew, DC would not face MLS competition until the final for the second year in a row. All four MLS teams will have made the final eight in the other bracket if defending champion Seattle beats Portland in a match being played right now (tied 1-1 heading to OT as I post this).