Players from NYCFC celebrate a goal against D.C. United in the Round of 16 of the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: NYCFC
Prior to this year’s Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, New York City FC hadn’t really made much of an impact in the tournament. They had been one-and-done in their first four tournament appearances since joining MLS in 2015. Oh, how times have changed. Thanks to a pair of late first half goals, New York has won back-to-back games after a 2-1 defeat of D.C. United at Audi Field on Wednesday night.
With the win, the Pigeons in blue become the first New York City-based club to reach the Quarterfinals since the 1999 Staten Island Vipers (A-League, Div. 2 pro).
As opposed to United’s last Open Cup game at Audi Field last round against the Philadelphia Union which featured only a handful of shot attempts through 90 minutes, tonight’s Atlantic Cup encounter had a bit more of an attacking flair. With an extra week of training to remove the rust, D.C. came out of the gates swinging with Acosta hitting a clever backheel to a waiting Wayne Rooney in the first minute. Rooney pounced on the chance, smashing a shot on target that just hit the post.
Sensing that D.C. were going to be a bit more aggressive in the attacking end, NYCFC used their speed on the counter-attack to startle the D.C. defense. Alexandru Mitria blew past the D.C. defense in the 6th minute and hit low effort which forced United goalkeeper Chris Seitz to make a bit of an emergency stop but he was successful in ending the attacking chance.
As seems to happen with many D.C.-NYC matches, there was a bit of controversy to rile up both sets of supporters. On a corner kick in the 9th minute, Heber of NYCFC hit a header that went into the back of the net. However, the goal was waved off due to a handball.
NYCFC continued to press the United backline but were dealt a blow in the 33rd minute when Ulises Segura burst past New York’s defense and made a darting run down the right flank. He found a surging Wayne Rooney just inside of the eighteen on the left side and hit a low curling effort that easily connected with the Englishman. Rooney’s went for the far corner and found it, beating Brad Stuver for the 1-0 advantage.
Despite going down a goal, NYCFC stuck to their guns, using their speed on the outside to force D.C.’s backs to collapse inward. In the 38th minute, Keaton Parks, who scored a pair of goals in New York’s Round 4 win over North Carolina FC, found Mitria with ample space on the inside. The Romanian talisman, who has come alive as of late for The Pigeons, continued his scoring streak by hitting a blistering shot past Seitz to level the score.
Before United could catch their breath they found themselves once again on their backheels and digging the ball out of the back of the net. Ismael Tajouri Shradi forced the D.C. defense into panic mode with a pacey run down the right side. Before the United back four could organize, he hit a dart of a shot toward the far right post to make it 2-1 just before the half.
After a frenetic first half, the pace slowed down in the second 45 with NYCFC containing the high-powered D.C. attack. New York’s Parks retained possession for large portions of the half, making smart, efficient passes to his defenders and outside midfielders. That forced United to chase the Pigeons, killing valuable clock time.
United’s best chance came in the 71st minute when Lucas Rodriguez hit a shot from the right side. Although his effort got the United supporters to their feet they were unable to celebrate as Stuver punched the chance away.
D.C.’s final attacking chance came in the 90th minute when Rooney laced a low curling cross into the box that found Segura. Although he would eventually be called offside, Segura’s header rattled the NYCFC faithful who made the trek down to the Nation’s Capital. Stuver allayed any sort of fears that they might have, making the save to finish the match.
D.C. United – Chris Seitz, Steve Birnbaum, Frederic Brilliant, Joseph Mora, Leonardo Jara (Jalen Robinson 45’), Antonio Bustamante (Russell Canouse 70’), Chris Durkin, Lucas Rodriguez (Griffin Yow 88’), Wayne Rooney, Ulises Segura, and Luciano Acosta
Yellow Cards-Robinson (55’), Acosta (69’), and Rodriguez (76’)
New York City FC- Brad Stuver, Sebastien Ibeagha, Anton Tinnherholm, Maxime Chanot, Keaton Parks, Alexander Ring, Alexandru Mitru (Juan Torres 90’), Heber (Valentin Castellanos 49’), Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, and Maxi Moralez,
Goals- Mitria (38’) and Tajouri Shradi (40’)
Yellow Cards- N/A