US Open Cup: Dwayne De Rosario, Chris Pontius click to devastating effect in DC United win

Chris Pontius

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USA Today Sports

BOYDS, Md. – In the second half of D.C. United’s US Open Cup quarterfinal match against New England on Wednesday night, D.C. captain Dwayne De Rosario approached Chris Pontius and requested that Pontius look for him back post on free kicks.

After Pontius delivered an effort a bit short on a free kick attempt, he didn’t miss on his corner service in the 69th minute, which led to De Rosario’s game-winning header.

Pontius and De Rosario, arguably D.C. United’s top two offensive threats, played together up top for the first time this season at the Maryland SoccerPlex and both were pleased with the result. De Rosario scored his fourth Open Cup goal (after netting a hat trick against Philadelphia a round earlier) and Pontius notched a goal and an assist in the 3-1 win against the Revs.

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“I thought we had some good attacks, some creative stuff,” said United coach Ben Olsen. “Things not as much A to B. And I attribute Dwayne and Chris for that. I thought they did a good job being a little bit more unpredictable than usual.”

In 16 MLS matches this year, United’s offense has generated eight goals. In three Open Cup contests, they’ve scored six times. Wednesday was the first time all year they’ve had three different goal scorers in a match.

“I thought we did good,” De Rosario said of playing with Pontius. “Obviously it’s the first time this season so there’s still things we need to work on. But he’s mobile, he reads the game well, [and it was] a great finish, an instinctual finish by him, which is always good to see. I’m very pleased with the win and I felt good with the partnership.”

United outclassed New England in the first half, firing 10 shots to the Revs’ two. On the game, United finished with 15 shots (eight on target) and looked far more dangerous on the attack than they have many times earlier this year.

“Today, our service was better, our runs were better,” Pontius said. “We’re threatening and getting looks on goal. That’s a big thing for us and I think that can build our confidence even more.”

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De Rosario attempted six shots before coming off in the 83rd minute, while Pontius fired toward the goal three times before coming off after 74 minutes.

“Dwayne looks like he’s back and that’s a big deal for us,” Olsen said. “Certainly in this Open Cup, he’s been as good as anybody and he put the team on his back there once [New England] scored [to tie it at 1-1]. I think he kind of willed us to get that next goal.”

Pontius put D.C. ahead, 1-0, in the 44th minute – a goal that came minutes after he missed a golden opportunity. Pontius made an inspired run to catch up to a through ball by Nick DeLeon and found himself one-on-one with goalkeeper Matt Reis. Aiming for the far post, Pontius muffed the shot and hit it well wide of the target.

“I was thinking to myself, how did I miss that first one?” he said. “So I had to make up for it with the second. I tried hitting the first one with the outside of my foot and completely mis-hit it, so I had to pull one back for the team.”