After a US Open Cup hiatus that saw the Columbus Crew absent from the tournament for the last two years, the Crew have returned to the championship game with a 2-1 extra time victory over DC United in the semifinals.
Andy Iro atoned for his foul that gave DC United a 13th minute penalty kick, by scoring an 89th minute equalizer. Photo: Tony Quinn | DC United
The visitors battled back from an early 1-0 deficit, which was helped by a 59th minute red card issued to United’s goalscorer Pablo Hernandez. DC United appeared on their way to becoming the first team in almost 30 years to reach the championship game three years in a row, but Andy Iro directed a shot that bounced off United defender Matthew Burch for an own goal in the 89th minute. In extra time, Guillermo Barros Schelotto converted a penalty kick in the 98th minute to send the Crew back to the title game for the first time since they lifted the trophy in 2002.
In 2002, Columbus won the US Open Cup by defeating the Los Angeles Galaxy, 1-0, on a first half goal by Freddy Garcia set up by Brian West. They celebrated their first championship of any kind in front of their home fans at Crew Stadium in 2002, but in order to win it this year, they will have to play on the road. If Seattle wins their semifinal match, the Crew will travel to Qwest Field on October 5, and if Chivas USA win, the final will be played on October 12 at the Home Depot Center.
Both teams created chances early in the game, but DC would break through in the 13th minute. Pablo Hernandez was taken down just inside the penalty area by the Crew’s Andy Iro and the referee awarded a penalty kick. Hernandez would step to the spot and score his first goal as a member of DC United to give his team an early lead.
After the halftime break, United nearly doubled their lead when Andy Najar fired a shot from close range, but the ball rang off the post.
The game changed in the 59th minute when the goalscorer Hernandez lashed out at Columbus midfielder Danny O’Rourke. Hernandez was shown a straight red for attempting to kick O’Rourke, who was shown a yellow card for his role in the dust-up.
Eddie Gaven of the Columbus Crew tackles DC United's Andy Najar. Photo: Tony Quinn | DC United
Despite playing a man down, DC was able to hold off Columbus’ attack. In the 71st minute, Eddie Gaven broke in on the left side of the penalty area and found himself one-on-one with DC goalkeeper Bill Hamid, but the rookie made the save and covered up the rebound to preserve the 1-0 lead.
The Crew continued to put on the pressure and it paid off in the final minutes. Iro atoned for his earlier foul that led to a penalty kick when he received a ball just inside the box. He used his size to fight off his defender, finding enough space to turn and fire a low shot that struck United defender Marc Burch on the way into the back of the net.
In extra time, the Crew would punch their ticket to the final when Steven Lenhart was taken down in the penalty area. Guillermo Barros Schelotto would take a cool strike from the penalty spot to give Columbus a 2-1 lead. Shorthanded DC would still threaten in the last 20 minutes, but the Crew’s defense would hold them off.
DCU: Bill Hamid (GK), Stephen King, Devon McTavish (Jamie Moreno 99th), Julius James (Carey Talley 90th), Clyde Simms, Santino Quaranta, Danny Allsopp (Jordan Graye 72nd), Pablo Hernandez, Andy Najar, Marc Burch, Dejan Jakovic
CLB: Andy Gruenebaum (GK), Frankie Hejduk, Andy Iro, Chad Marshall, Danny O’Rourke (Dilly Duka 68th), Gino Padula (Jason Garey 68th), Adam Moffat (Kevin Burns 78th), Eddie Gaven, Brian Carroll, Steven Lenhart, Guillermo Barros Schelotto Stats
Shots – Columbus 11:12 DC United Shots on goal – Columbus 6:4 DC United Saves – Columbus 3:5 DC United Fouls – Columbus 13:12 DC United Corner Kicks – Columbus 1:4 DC United Offsides – Columbus 7:1 DC United
Referee: Chris Penso Referee’s Assistants: Sean Hurd, Cyril Madukanya 4th Official: Jeff Gontarek Weather: Clear, 91 degrees Attendance: 3,411
Broadcast journalist / sports play by play announcer that created TheCup.us (in 2003) and continues to run the site. Currently works as a producer/host at Michigan Radio, the state's top NPR station. An active member of the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association and the North American Soccer Reporters. Proud alum of Temple University and Lansing Community College. Read his work on TheCup.us HERE.