Andy Najar

D.C. United held off FC Dallas’ second-half rally in a U.S. Open Cup play-in match at RFK Stadium on Wednesday night, riding an Adam Cristman double to a 4-2 victory that sees the Black-and-Red advance to the next round of MLS qualifying for the nation’s oldest tournament.

D.C. and Dallas had only scored eight goals between them in their first month of league play, yet the two teams defied that statistic with a helter-skelter, end-to-end display that featured six goals in the first 60 minutes.

United raced out to a dream start when Adam Cristman floated in behind the Dallas defense and latched onto Andy Najar’s diagonal ball just five minutes in, chipping a tidy finish over Hoops goalkeeper Kevin Hartman at the top of the penalty box to give the home side a 1-0 lead.

The Black-and-Red celebrated joyously, and with good reason: Cristman’s goal gave the team its first lead of the 2010 season.

Though the visitors looked more creative in the run of play and enjoyed most of the first-half chances, they found themselves two goals down six minutes before halftime when Hartman was victimized by a long-range free kick from Christian Castillo. Hit from some 40 yards out, the Salvadoran winger’s inswinging delivery was intended for a teammate’s head, but Brandon Barklage elected not to flick the ball on and the Dallas goalkeeper could not react in time as it squirmed under him to hand D.C. a 2-0 advantage.

Dallas rookie Jason Yeisley saw an attempt gloved by D.C. ’keeper Perkins mere minutes into the second half and United took advantage, quickly scoring a third as Cristman drifted wide right to curl an excellent cross for Najar to drill home at the far post.

But the joy around RFK was short-lived as the D.C. defense soon let the Hoops back into the game. First Rodney Wallace was too slow to close down Bruno Guarda at the top of the box, giving the Brazilian time to tuck a low drive inside the far post to run the score to 3-1. Minutes later Atiba Harris jinked between Wallace and Devon McTavish inside the area, prompting the latter to nudge him to the turf with referee Chris Penso quick to point to the spot.

Halftime sub Dax McCarty sent Perkins the wrong way on the ensuing penalty kick and FCD found themselves back in contention—only to surrender another goal just short of the hour mark. Running onto substitute Clyde Simms’ lofted pass, Cristman again got the better of Hartman, outracing the veteran ‘keeper and flicking a header into the unguarded net for his second of the evening.

Chastened by the Hoops’ near-comeback, D.C. settled down in the final stages as veterans Jaime Moreno and Santino Quaranta came off the bench to marshal possession and help kill off the game.