After getting an early goal and failing to increase their advantage despite numerous chances while playing a man up, D.C. United finally put away the MetroStars by a 3-0 scoreline on Wednesday night at RFK Stadium to run their unbeaten streak to five matches.
Bobby Boswell gave United a first-half lead, then just before halftime MetroStars captain Amado Guevara was sent off upon receiving a second yellow card. After spurning some quality opportunities, United's Jaime Moreno was sent off on the hour to level the manpower situation, but Dema Kovalenko and Josh Gros scored over the final quarter-hour to provide the final margin.
The intensity of this Atlantic Cup rivalry flared up in the 10th minute when Guevara scythed down Kovalenko deep in the MetroStars end, drawing the match's first booking from referee Terry Vaughn and setting up a dangerous free kick.
Guevara's foul was a reaction to his rage at Vaughn's decision not to whistle Kovalenko and Moreno as they combined to dispossess the Honduran, but his team paid dearly for his error. Off the set piece, D.C. playmaker Christian Gomez swerved in a near-post cross that met Bobby Boswell's late run perfectly, and completely unmarked, the rookie nodded in the match's opening goal with ease.
Another Metros foul gave D.C. a great chance in the 26th minute, and provided further cause for coach Bob Bradley to be concerned about his defense. This time Gomez served up a dipping cross from the right channel that dropped well for Moreno near the penalty spot. Shockingly, Moreno was also given a free header but his angled effort skipped wide.
The Metros box was overrun again at the half-hour mark. Namoff roamed forward and combined with Gomez to spring Moreno in front of the goalmouth, but a last-ditch slide tackle by Seth Stammler knocked the ball wide, where Kovalenko had a clear shot at goal only to be denied by a fine diving save from Meola.
The chippiness continued as Jeff Parke picked up a 38th-minute yellow card for a foul that looked like a product of accumulated frustration at United's extended possession. But that mistake was mirrored by an even harder tackle from behind by Namoff less than a minute later, prompting a card for him as well.
More aggression led to another big break for the home side in first-half injury time, as Guevara's temper got the better of him again. Not known as an aggressive player, the 2004 MLS MVP was pressuring Ben Olsen and inexplicably clattered into the United veteran from behind long after he had released the ball.
The duo collapsed in a heap, and after Guevara arose, Vaughn brandished a second yellow card at the Metros captain, sentencing him to an early shower and his team to an uphill climb in the second half.
United swiftly resumed their attacking ways after the break. Moreno found Gomez making a diagonal run into the Metros box with a precisely weighted pass, and though Parke slid in to block the Argentinean's shot, the deflection spun high and dropped towards the net, forcing Meola to tip it over the bar.
Youri Djorkaeff was proving to be one of the few bright spots for the visitors, marshalling the attack and testing D.C.'s defense with some silky touches. But it was teenager Eddie Gaven who transformed the match with a brave solo run at the hour mark.
Though mired in a slump of late, Gaven showed plenty of confidence as he took possession near midfield and ran at the entire United back line. When Boswell stepped up to challenge, Gaven pushed the ball into the space behind the center back and sprinted ahead.
Goalkeeper Nick Rimando began to race off his line, but changed his mind, and a backtracking Moreno felt compelled to commit a professional foul, running up Gaven's legs just outside the D.C. penalty area. Seeing that Gaven would have been clear to goal, referee Vaughn immediately produced the second red card of the night, reducing United to 10 men and handing the Metros a lifeline. Djorkaeff almost leveled metters immediately on the ensuring free kick, curling an excellent shot that skimmed just over the crossbar.
More controversy broke out 10 minutes after Moreno's ejection, as Brian Carroll made an ambitious run that got him behind the Metros back line. Chris Leitch flew in with a desperate sliding tackle that gave Carroll no chance to continue, but the RFK fans booed angrily when Vaughn only gave the defender a yellow card despite the circumstances being similar to Moreno's.
But the United faithful had something better to scream about minutes later, as substitute Jamil Walker made an immediate impact after entering the match in place of Gomez. Walker squared to Quaranta just inside the Metros half, then made a lung-bursting diagonal run towards goal that Quaranta rewarded with a delicate pass into space.
Walker used his startling pace to beat Parke to the ball, then showed power to shrug off the defender's challenge and square past Meola to a late-arriving Kovalenko, who had the simplest of finishes into an empty net.
The visitors were soundly beaten, but Gros put a late exclamation point on the win when he raced down the right flank before cutting back to scuff a left-footed shot just inside the near post to make it 3-0.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Dema Kovalenko (D.C. United)
Charles Boehm is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
MetroStars (7-7-8) vs. D.C. United (10-6-5)
August 10, 2005 -- RFK Stadium
DC -- Bobby Boswell 2 (Christian Gomez 4) 11
DC -- Dema Kovalenko 2 (Jamil Walker 1, Santino Quaranta 4) 76
DC -- Joshua Gros 4 (Jamil Walker 2) 87
MetroStars -- Tony Meola, Chris Leitch (Mike Magee 72), Jeff Parke, Seth Stammler, Jeff Agoos, Eddie Gaven, Michael Bradley, Amado Guevara, Youri Djorkaeff (Abbe Ibrahim 78), Sergio Galvan Rey, Ante Razov.
Substitutes Not Used: Jason Hernandez, Eric Quill, Zach Wells.
TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Youri Djorkaeff 3, Ante Razov 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Youri Djorkaeff 2); FOULS: 11 (Amado Guevara 3); OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 3 (Youri Djorkaeff 2); SAVES: 4 (Tony Meola 4)
D.C. United -- Nick Rimando, Bryan Namoff, Bobby Boswell, Brandon Prideaux, Dema Kovalenko, Brian Carroll, Christian Gomez (Jamil Walker 75), Ben Olsen (Clyde Simms 78), Joshua Gros, Jaime Moreno, Santino Quaranta.
Substitutes Not Used: Shawn Kuykendall, Matt Nickell, Troy Perkins, Jason Thompson, Nick Van Sicklen, Andrew Weber, John Wilson.
TOTAL SHOTS: 17 (Dema Kovalenko 4, Santino Quaranta 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 7 (Dema Kovalenko 2, Santino Quaranta 2); FOULS: 14 (Santino Quaranta 3); OFFSIDES: 4 (Dema Kovalenko 2, Santino Quaranta 2); CORNER KICKS: 7 (Christian Gomez 5); SAVES: 3 (Nick Rimando 3)
MET -- Amado Guevara (caution; Dissent) 10
MET -- Jeff Parke (caution; Game Disrepute) 38
DC -- Bryan Namoff (caution; Game Disrepute) 39
MET -- Amado Guevara (caution; Game Disrepute) 45
MET -- Amado Guevara (ejection; Second Caution) 45
MET -- Youri Djorkaeff (caution; Game Disrepute) 52+
DC -- Jaime Moreno (ejection; Denied Goal Scoring Opportunity (Foul)) 60
MET -- Chris Leitch (caution; Reckless Foul) 69
DC -- Bobby Boswell (caution; Reckless Foul) 79
Referee: Terry Vaughn
Referee's Assistants: -George Vergara; Bill Dittmar
4th Official: Andrew Chapin
All Statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.