BOYDS, Md. – On Saturday, Dwayne De Rosario was benched. On Wednesday, he authored a legendary response.
D.C. United’s veteran captain scored a hat trick – on three very different goals – to lead his team to a 3-1 victory against Philadelphia in the fourth round of the US Open Cup, sending his team into the quarterfinals.
“I thought Dwayne was a stud. The guy’s a winner,” said United coach Ben Olsen. “He’s been through a lot, I put him through a lot and he responded tonight like you would expect him to respond. That’s a positive sign.”
While United are struggling through the MLS campaign with a league-worst 1-10-3 record, they’ve now delivered two strong Open Cup performances and will face the New England Revolution in the USOC quarterfinals back here at the Maryland SoccerPlex on June 26.
De Rosario’s goal output Wednesday night was exactly half of the total goals scored by United in 14 MLS matches this season.
“I have a strong personality, I’m passionate and [Olsen] has a strong personality, too, so we’re going to bump heads,” De Rosario said. “But at the end of the day, my job is to go out there and try to do what I can to help this team. Thankfully I was able to do that tonight.”
Earlier in the year, De Rosario voiced his displeasure with how he was being utilized as a forward and explained that he couldn’t be effective if he kept “watching the ball go over his head.” Against New England last Saturday, he played 15 minutes after being benched for the second time this season as a result of a coach’s decision – the first coming in a 2-0 loss against Portland after which he voiced displeasure with the move.
Despite playing up top against the Union, things were far different this time for the dynamic Canadian as United midfielders John Thorrington and Perry Kitchen turned in strong performances and the club’s off-ball movement helped De Rosario slide into ideal spots on the pitch. He scored goals in the 24th, 75th and 85th minutes – the final strike a lob from roughly 40 yards out that caught Philadelphia goalkeeper Zac MacMath off his line.
“It felt real good just to get the first one, but it comes from the work from behind me,” De Rosario said. “Those guys did a fantastic job holding down the middle and giving me balls and releasing me through. The wingers did a great job of stretching [Philadelphia] and keeping the field big.”
With United’s odds of making the MLS postseason low, Olsen and his group are putting plenty of stock into their Open Cup run.
“It’s a good vibe right now,” Olsen said. “There’s a sign of confidence about us that we can get out of this thing.”