United sails past Harrisburg and into US Open Cup semi-finals thanks to 2-0 win

Boyzz Kuhmalo

Boyzz Kuhmalo sends a cross that would curl into the back of the net for D.C. United's second goal against the Harrisburg Islanders. Photo: Tony Quinn.

In a season that has gone horribly wrong, at least D.C. United can count on one bright spot. Their performance to date in the U.S. Open Cup tournament. Tonight the Black-and-Red cruised to a comfortable 2-0 win over the visiting Harrisburg City Islanders behind goals from newcomer Branko Boskovic and Boyzzz Khumalo.

United got things started immediately when Devon McTavish curled a pass over City Islander defender Anthony Calvano and into the path of Santino Quaranta. Quaranta pushed past defender Jerritt Thayer and got to the end line when he sent a ball diagonally to the penalty spot where Boskovic calmly slotted past City Islander goalkeeper Danny Cepero for a 1-0 lead after just 41 seconds. United continued to pile the pressure on the visitors and almost doubled their lead in the 36th minute when Boskovic’ free kick sailed inches over the bar. Harrisburg’s only plausible attempt at goal was in the 26th minute when Kai Kasiguran volleyed a rocket just over the bar after United had trouble clearing a corner kick.

United came out after halftime just like they did in the first half and doubled their lead in the 47th minute. However, this goal was one for the record books as United goalkeeper Bill Hamid sent a long clearing kick over the Harrisburg defense and sent Boyzzz Khumalo free down the right wing. With plenty of time and two United players crashing the penalty area, the South African hit what was most definitely a well intentioned cross that somehow took a turn and ended up in the net. The look on Khumalo’s face after the goal (right) told the story as he seemed almost apologetic in scoring the goal. The real laughter however was coming from the stands where his injured and resting teammates Adam Cristman, Chris Pontius, Dejan Jakovic, Juan Manuel Pena, Rodney Wallace and Marc Burch couldn’t contain themselves.

After the second goal from United the match started to take a bit of a dark turn and in the 75th minute Harrisburg were down to 10 men when defender Tyler Ruthven was red carded for a vicious tackle from behind on Khumalo that temporarily set nerves on edge. Credit to both teams however for not taking it further and United enjoyed stroking the ball around to kill off the rest of the match. United did have an opportunity late on to make it 3-0 but McTavish’ left-footed blast off of a nice no-look pass from Jaime Moreno deflected off the crossbar in the 83rd minute.

United will now face the Columbus Crew on Wednesday, September 1st at RFK Stadium at 7:30 pm in the semi-final round of the US Open Cup. Columbus made the final by virtue of their easy 3-0 win over the Charleston Battery two weeks ago. United will face English Championship side Portsmouth this Saturday evening at RFK at 7:30 pm.

United Notes

  • United lost out on the lottery to select US Youth International Sal Zizzo to Chivas USA. Zizzo had been with Hannover 96 of the Bundesliga for three seasons but only made 9 first-team appearances in his stay
  • United will apparently bring in US born winger Jemal Johnson for a trial. Johnson had been playing in the lower English divisions for various teams the past few seasons
  • Adam Cristman was back from his hernia surgery in Germany and in the stands with his two-month old daughter
  • Chris Pontius does not have a broken foot as originally feared after injuring it in the first half against the Galaxy this past Sunday. He will be held out of this weekends match with Portsmouth in hopes of having him fit for their match at Real Salt Lake on July 31st
  • Dejan Jakovic sore hamstring has him out for this weekend and he also is hoping to be ruled fit by next weekend
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