Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 17th, 2015 – D.C. United left it late but eventually overcame the Pittsburgh Riverhounds 3-1 this evening at jam-packed Highmark Stadium behind goals from Kofi Opare and Nick DeLeon in the first extra time period.
With an important Eastern Conference match against New England on Sunday night, United head coach Ben Olsen decided to play every eligible (and non-injured) reserve player tonight and a few first-team regulars and it seemed to work initially as United pounced early for a 1-0 lead.
Luis Silva’s corner kick in the 8th minute was flicked on at the near post by Conor Doyle to the back post where Facundo Coria had the easiest of tap-ins to stake United to a 1-0 lead.
However the lead did not last long and it was a mistake from Kofi Opare in the 24th minute that gifted the third-division USL side a penalty kick. Opare badly misplayed a routine clearance and allowed Kevin Kerr to cut in front of him just inside the penalty area and took him down.
Rob Vincent, the USL’s leading goal scorer, easily beat Andrew Dykstra to level the match at 1-1 from the spot. Although United were dangerous on set pieces their run of play was fractured and unbalanced. Having particularly bad evenings were Luis Silva and Jared Jeffrey as they both coughed the ball up routinely while not even under heavy pressure.
Their mistakes essentially fueled the Riverhounds and all of their close chances at goal but Dykstra was up to the task.
After the break it was the Black-and-Red who started to stamp their authority on the match but could not come up with the key pass or shot to push them past their pesky counterparts.
All that changed however once the teams got to the first of two 15-minute extra time periods. Desperately wanting to avoid penalty kicks, United wasted no time jumping back into the lead as they scored two minutes after the restart. Jared Jeffrey’s corner kick was powered home by Opare and then United pushed it to a two-goal lead when Jairo Arietta’s floated cross met Nick DeLeon’s head for a perfect finish into the corner of the goal and a finish to the match.
United will now wait until tomorrow afternoon to learn their 5th Round opponent in the Round-of-16 and where the game will be played.
United will return to action this Sunday afternoon when the welcome the New England Revolution to town at 5pm. The match will be shown on ESPN2.