It’s back to the drawing board for Ben Olsen and DC United as the New England Revolution raced to a 3-0 lead then hung on to defeat United 3-2 to eliminate DC from the US Open Cup in United’s first ever loss in regulation at the Soccerplex.
In yet another example of the cruel way Nicolball has of finding a way to create wins from straw, DC United dominated play for much of the game only to find themselves way behind and scrambling for late goals to even make the game respectable.
For the first 45 minutes, DC dominated play between the 18 yard boxes, but was simply unable to finesse the ball into any really serious scoring chances, preferring to go more direct and pretty much playing into the hands of NE’s stalwart central defense who survived the pressure well, and created a perfect recipe for a classic NE counter.
Sure enough, NE’s Kheli Dube found the back of the net to give the Revs the 1-0 lead against the run of play in the 34th minute as United’s left side of defense (Daniel Woolard and Rodrigo Breseco) got caught upfield at the same time, so when NE’s Ousmane Dabo found Kenny Mansally racing in behind them, DC’s Ethan White was forced to come out and try to cover leaving the middle wide open. From there it was a far too simple matter for Mansally to slip it to Dube at the top of the box for a wide open shot past the helpless Pat Onstad in goal.
Dube would strike again just after halftime as Ethan White would get caught turning the wrong way under pressure and got stripped of the ball by NE’s second half sub, Alan Koger, who set up Dube at the top of the box for another wide open easy finish in the 47th minute for the 2-0 lead.
Down two goals despite controlling the ball for much of the game, DC coach Ben Olsen turned to regular starters, Chris Pontius and MLS leading scorer Charlie Davies. Unfortunately, yet another defensive mistake doomed United as NE scored the third goal from which United simply could not recover. This time it was a poor clearance by Kurt Morsink as he attempted to blast the ball out of the box, only to hit Kroger right in the body, and it fell right to his feet where he was able to beat Onstad easily from 6 yards in the 69th minute for what would eventually be the game-winning goal.
Down 3-0, United finally got focused enough to actually put serious threats on the NE goal. In particular Branko Boskovic began to find space all around the NE penalty area and would begin to exert his will on the game. Boskovic had hit the post on a lovely free kick in the 58th minute to make it the third time he had struck woodwork in the past two games, but “Pub Crawl” (Hey, he hits every bar, what can I say!) would finally score his first goal in a DC uniform in the 73rd minute.
NE actually set up the goal with a poor clearance of their own by Otto Loewry, who struck the ball right to Charlie Davies steaming in towards goal, incredibly Davies passed up a shot of his own to feed Boskovic just inside of the area, and DC’s Montenegrin midfielder pulled off a nice move to make space between two defenders and clipped a ball untouchably into the far side netting to make it 2-1.
From that point on, it was all DC peppering shots at the NE goal, but it wasn’t until the 82nd minute when Boskovic again found side netting with a cool finish to draw DC to within one. This time it was Andy Najar making a nice move and lovely pass across the top of the area to find Boskovic moving down the left hand side of the box, where he made space to rip a glorious shot back across the box through NE’s Bobby Shuttleworth’s hands, and into the back of the net to make it 3-2.
However, it was too little too late as Boskovic was chopped down by Koger in the 86th minute (yellow card) and had to limp off the field leaving United down to 10 men for the last few minutes of the match, as the US Open Cup has changed rules recently to only allow three subs, as opposed to four as has been custom in the past. So, once Dax McCarty had come on in the 79th, DC was out of substitutions.
Without any more ideas on the field, United allowed NE to escape from the Soccerplex with the victory which eliminated them from the MLS qualification process for the Open Cup. It is the first “defeat” ever for DC in this tournament at the Soccerplex, where they had gone 13-0-1 (with that draw ending up as a loss to Dallas on penalty kicks in 2005) until tonite.
With the loss, DC does have a pretty solid chance of extending their incredible string of home matches in this tournament, however. This was United’s 17th straight home match, and had they won were slated to have to play away for the first time since 2007. Now they will likely be looking at more MLS play-in matches for next year’s tournament, and who wants to take bets on what team wins those coin flips?
*Notes: Boskovic is believed to have a bruised knee, but will get an MRI tomorrow to determine his availability for the future. He is quoted as saying after the match that although painful, he feels it is nothing too serious.
NE — Dube 34′ (Mansally)
NE — Dube 47′ (Koger)
NE — Koger 69′
DC — Boskovic 73′ (Davies)
DC — Boskovic 83′ (Najar)
DC — Boskovic, caution 16′
NE — Loewy, caution 50′
NE — Dube, caution 80′
NE — Cochrane, caution 85′
NE — Koger, caution 86′
DC — Morsink, caution 88′
D.C. UNITED — Pat Onstad; Brandon Barklage, Rodrigo Brasesco (Dax McCarty 79′), Ethan White, Daniel Woolard; Andy Najar, Branko Boskovic, Kurt Morsink, Santino Quaranta (C); Joseph Ngwenya (Charlie Davies 68′), Blake Brettschneider (Chris Pontius 64′)
Unused substitutes: Bill Hamid, Stephen King, Conor Shanosky, Perry Kitchen
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION — Bobby Shuttleworth; Darrius Barnes, Ryan Cochrane, Otto Loewy (Michael Augustine 91′), Chris Tierney; Sainey Nyassi, Ousmane Dabo (Diego Fagundez 76′), Stephen McCarthy, Ryan Kinne; Kheli Dube, Kenny Mansally (Alan Koger 46′)
Unused substitutes: Tim Murray, Zack Schilawski