Kheli Dube had one of his best games since the 2009 season, scoring twice to guide the New England Revolution to a 3-2 victory against DC United Tuesday evening at the Maryland Sportsplex in a Major League Soccer US Open Cup qualifier. The victory propelled the Revolution to the final round of the eastern qualification bracket and a meeting with Sporting Kansas City on the road for a tournament berth.
A sloppy affair through the first half hour due to mixed lineups consisting of many reserve players, Dube changed the complexion of the match with the opening tally 34 minutes in on a pair of nice passes from Kenny Mansally and Ousmane Dabo.
Dube doubled the advantage just moments into the second half, stunning the home side who barely had time to settle in. Rookie Alan Koger, who came in for Mansally at the break, set up the goal.
The goals were Dube’s first in any US Open Cup related game, but more surprisingly, matched his entire output for the 2010 campaign in which he played 20 games for the Revolution. His only other multiple-goal game came in 2009 when Dube scored all three goals in the 3-1 win over Real Salt Lake (Aug. 23).
Koger added to his already impressive professional debut, with a goal in the 69th minute to put the game seemingly out of reach at 3-0. Koger it In his first-ever official match a professional, Koger made it a three-goal lead in the 69th minuteWith a two goal lead, it looked like the Revolution had the match in hand, and when Koger added a goal of his own in the 69th minute to go with his assist in his first-ever official match as a professional, it seemed like the contest was over.
But DC United, who had not missed the tournament since 2002 despite needing to qualify the past two years, showed they were no quitters and fought back down 3-0. Branko Boskovic led the charge with two goals, scoring in the 73rd minute on an assist from second-half sub Charlie Davies and cutting the lead to one 10 minutes later courtesy of Andy Najar.
The Montenegrin international seems to enjoy US Open Cup related matches. In two years with DC, he has yet to score in league play, but now has three in cup-related games having previously scored the opening goal of the side’s 2-0 quarterfinal win over USL-2 (pro third division) Harrisburg City Islanders.
The rally took everyone’s attention away from the daunting skies above threatening thunderstorms that could halt the play at any time in the second half. But as the game came to a physical conclusion, DC United was unable to find the equalizer as time ran out.
For the Revolution, who missed the tournament last year for the first time since 2002, they are one match away from returning to the only event in which the club has won a championship (aside from the SuperLiga exhibition tournament). They will travel to Kansas City on May 25 to face a club they defeated just this past Saturday, 3-2, in Foxborough, overcoming a 2-1 deficit.
As for trends, New England’s unbeaten streak in league and cup-related play is now six games with five straight victories. DC’s last win against the Revolution, 2-1, came at home October 16, 2008. Ironically, United’s run of consecutive cup-related home matches (19) may continue further, depending on 2012’s fixture details, with the loss meaning they will not be traveling to Kansas City.
2011 US Open Cup qualifying (MLS)
New England Revolution 3:2 DC United
Maryland Soccerplex (Boyds, Md.) – April 26, 2011
DC UNITED: Pat Onstad (GK); Brandon Barklage, Rodrigo Brasesco (Dax McCarty – 79th), Ethan White, Daniel Woolard; Andy Najar, Branko Boskovic, Kurt Morsink, Santino Quaranta (C); Joseph Ngwenya (Charlie Davies – 68th), Blake Brettschneider (Chris Pontius – 64th) || Unused substitutes: Bill Hamid, Stephen King, Conor Shanosky, Perry Kitchen
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION: Bobby Shuttleworth (GK); Darrius Barnes, Ryan Cochrane, Otto Loewy (Michael Augustine – 91th), Chris Tierney; Sainey Nyassi, Ousmane Dabo (Diego Fagundez 76′), Stephen McCarthy, Ryan Kinne; Kheli Dube, Kenny Mansally (Alan Koger 46′) || Unused substitutes: Tim Murray, Zack Schilawski
NER: Kheli Dube (Kenny Mansally) – 34th minute
NER: Kheli Dube (Alan Koger) – 47th minute
NER: Alan Koger (Unassisted) – 69th minute
DCU: Branko Boskovic (Charlie Davies) – 73rd minute
DCU: Branko Boskovic (Andy Najar) – 83rd minute
Branko Boskovic – caution 16′
Otto Loewy – caution 50′
Kheli Dube – caution 80′
Ryan Cochrane – caution 85′
Alan Koger – caution 86′
Kurt Morsink – caution 88′
Referee: Juan Carlos Rivero
Assistants: Mark Gorak, Ian O’Neil
4th official: Michael Donovan