United hangs on for 2-1 win over Harrisburg to reach Open Cup semi-final round

For 50 minutes in last nights U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal matchup between D.C. United and the Harrisburg City Islanders, it really wasn’t much of a match. United got up top early thanks to early goals from Boyzzz Khumalo in the 8th minute via a beautiful bending ball from Devon McTavish and an Andrew Jacobsen header from a corner kick in the 18th minute. United was in complete control of the match.

That all changed in the 49th minute when City Islander midfielder and captain Mo Odour was sent off for a vicious elbow to the face of United midfielder John DiRaimando. At this point you would expect the MLS side to step on the necks of their USL2 foes and put them away. In a season that has seen United repeatedly allowing teams to stay in matches due to not finishing chances and mind-numbing defensive mistakes, it was yet another mistake that allowed Harrisburg the confidence they needed to get back into the match.

In the 64th minute, United defender Greg Janicki was a bit too casual in trying to thread a ball to a teamate and simply passed it right into the path of the City Islander’s most dangerous player on the evening Ty Shipalane. The crafty South African sped towards United’s goal and was tackled off the ball by United defender Avery John. However the loose ball found it’s way to the left foot of Harrisburg midfielder Nicki Paterson who easily beat Milos Kocic to half the deficit at 2-1.

Harrisburg kept appyling the pressure to the clearly rattled United defense and nearly drew the match level in the 73rd minute when substitute David Schofield managed his way past the United defense and rocketed a shot off the underside of the crossbar and sent shockwaves through the crowd of 2,137 at the Maryland SoccerPlex. United managed to dodge that bullet and even managed a few counterattack chances that should have put the game away for good but never materialised. United did manage to score twice in the second half but both goals were called back for sketchy offside calls.

United now will face the Rochester Raging Rhinos, a 2-1 winner over Wilmington last night, in the semi-final round on July 21st at the Maryland SoccerPlex.

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