In the opening round of Major League Soccer’s US Open Cup qualifying tournament, DC United survived a 10-man Philadelphia Union squad who scored a late equalizer in extra time and took the game into penalty kicks. United would prevail in the shootout, 4-2, to move on to the next round to host the New England Revolution on April 26 at the Maryland Soccerplex at 7:30 p.m.
After the Union’s Carlos Ruiz and DC’s Josh Wolff traded first half goals, the second half went by scoreless despite Philadelphia’s Carlos Valdes being sent off for his second yellow card in the 85th minute. DC’s poured on the pressure and took the lead with a goal by Daniel Woolard in the 111th minute, but the Union wouldn’t give up. In the 118th minute, the shorthanded visitors got an equalizer from veteran, and former DC player, Brian Carroll to send the match into PKs.
DC remains unbeaten in five all-time qualifying matches (4-0-1), while the Union have been eliminated in their opening game in each of their first two seasons.
Both teams fielded their best squads for the night and much was expected. The game initially began with Joseph Ngwenya finding loads of space in the attacking third of the field, feeding Najar with dangerous balls.
Philly’s chances started showing in minute 12 of play when Harvey’s cross found the head of Carlos Ruiz at top of the box, only to be cleared by Ethan White of DC United.
Minute 14 was the best chance for DC so far as Andy Najar ran onto a through ball from Ngwenya, crossing into Fred who misfired it past the veteran Union goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon.
Sons of Ben had their moment to finally celebrate in the 18th minute when Sheanon Williams launched a low throw-in into a crowded penalty area. Eventually the ball fell to Ruiz, who turned and finished from 10 yards out.
United then bombarded Philadelphia with counter attacks, sending Andy Najar onto multiple dangerous runs.
Philly had chances came again most notably in the 30th minute when Sebastien Le Toux hit Ruiz’s pass just wide.
Right before the halftime whistle came, DC took advantage of a well-taken corner where White initially took a shot at goal, but it was Josh Wolff who eventually put it in the back of the net after a series of deflections in the Philly box. Chance well-taken and it was all square headed into the locker rooms.
Minute 46 saw the substitution of DC goal scorer Josh Wolff, who is tied along with Ruiz for 5th on the Professional Era (1995-present) goalscoring list with 9 career goals, coming off for Brettschneider who made a name for himself later on the second half.
In the 47th minute, Andy Najar sent in a very dangerous cross from the right, but Faryd Mondragon was able to deflect it away just before Ngwenya could tap in.
Both DC and Philly were exchanging possession as the game continued but it was DC United that was taking control of the game. A series of shots from Carlos Ruiz had followed all that with the DC defense being forced to stiffen.
In minute 68, best chance of the half for DC when Brettschneider crossed the ball to Boskovic. The Montenegrin had unfortunately stretched the situation, taking too long before Mondragon could easily scoop it up.
The game had turned more and more physical as it neared the end, especially when Peter Nowak stood up in the 80th minute, having serious talks with the officials.
As if that wasn’t enough, Valdes was shown his second yellow card in the 85th minute after arguing with the referee and kicking the ball into the stands. Philadelphia was forced to play with ten men the rest of the way.
Last pieces of actions included Andy Najar playing a through ball to Brettschneider, who tried to cross to Ngwenya with Mondragon having none of it.
After 5 minutes of added time, we headed into extra time and this one was definitely turning into a nail-biter.
First period of extra time without a doubt belonged to DC United as Chris Pontius paired up with Brettschneider hitting shot after shot and DC holding the majority of possession.
A similar goal came in for DC in the 112th minute when former Chicago Fire defender Daniel Woolard knocked in a deflected ball to make it 2-1, but the show was not over yet.
Two minutes from the final whistle, Carroll knocked in a deflected ball as well, only this time in the Union’s favor. It was 2-2 just a couple of minutes before referee Andrew Chapin could call it a night.
Surprisingly enough, the game went into penalties where Bill Hamid proved massive. After Jack McInerney sent his attempt over the bar, it was Roger Torres who had his shot saved, while United converted all four of their attempts.
DC United now will host the New England Revolution on April 26 in Round 2 of the 2011 US Open Cup qualifying tournament. It will be their 19th consecutive Open Cup home game (including qualifying).
2011 US Open Cup qualifying (MLS)
Philadelphia Union 2:2 DC United (DC advances 4-2 in PKs)
Wednesday, April 6 – Maryland Soccerplex (Boyds, Md.)
DC United lineup: Bill Hamid (GK); Brandon Barklage, Ethan White, Rodrigo Brasesco (Dejan Jakovic – 41th), Daniel Woolard; Andy Najar, Stephen King, Fred (Chris Pontius – 89th), Branko Boskovic; Josh Wolff (Brettschneider – 46th), Joseph Ngwenya | Unused substitutes: Simms, Morsink, Shanoksy, Willis
Philadelphia Union lineup: Faryd Mondragon (GK), Jordan Harvey, Carlos Valdes, Danny Califf, Sheanon Williams (Danny Mwanga – 73rd), Kyle Nakazawa, Brian Carroll, Michael Farfan, Keon Daniel (Roger Torres – 66th), Sebastien Le Toux, Carlos Ruiz (Jack McInerney – 80th) | Unused substitutes: Holder, Richter, Pfeffer, Agorsor
PHI: Carlos Ruiz (Sheanon Williams) – 18th minute
DCU: Josh Wolff (Joseph Ngwenya) – 45th minute
DCU: Daniel Woolard (Unassisted) – 111th minute
PHI: Brian Carroll (Unassisted) – 118th minute
PENALTY KICK SUMMARY
PHI: Sebastien Le Toux – MADE
DCU: Chris Pontius – MADE
PHI: Jack McInerney – MISS (high)
DCU: Brandon Barklage – MADE
PHI: Roger Torres – SAVED
DCU: Andy Najar – MADE
PHI: Kyle Nakazawa – MADE
DCU: Branko Boskovic – MADE
DCU: Fred (Caution) – 25th min.
PHI: Carlos Valdes (Caution) – 39th min.
DCU: Dejan Jakovic – 70th min.
PHI: Carlos Ruiz (Caution) – 73rd
PHI: Carlos Valdes (Second Caution / Ejection) – 85th min.
PHI: Piotr Nowak (Ejection) – 118th min.
Referee: Andrew Chapin
Assistants: Eric Weisbord, Kevin Klinger
4th official: Michael Donovan