Andy Najar and D.C. United were bounced from the US Open Cup qualifying round Wednesday night for the first time since 2002.
Courtesy of D.C. United

Miscues doom DC's run of participation in USOC

BOYDS, Md. – For the first time since 2002, D.C. United won’t be playing in the US Open Cup.

Tuesday night’s 3-2 loss to the Revolution saw United knocked out in the qualifying phase of the competition, as a trio of defensive miscues went punished by New England. DC fell behind 3-0, and a furious second-half rally came up just short.

This despite controlling play for most of the first half and controlling possession. However, New England made their chances count, punishing three defensive lapses to come away with the win.

“I think we certainly showed more than [the Revolution] did in the first 50 to 60 minutes,” DC head coach Ben Olsen said Tuesday night. “It wasn’t great, I don’t think either team was great, but we certainly had the ball. We just didn’t simplify things and move the ball side-to-side and just find the open man.”

Down 1-0 at the half, things got worse two minutes after the break when Kheli Dube grabbed his second goal of the night. It came when Ethan White failed to clear a bouncing ball out of the back, and substitute Alan Koger found Dube wide open at the top of the box.

After another series of failed clearances allowed Koger to put New England up by three goals, DC finally woke up, thanks to midfielder Branko Boskovic.

From Olsen’s perspective, it was good to see the fight, but he lamented not having that kind of spark from the game’s beginning, as opposed to having to rally from a multiple-goal deficit.

“The energy and the fight towards the end was great and exciting but the good teams don’t have to do that,” Olsen said. “The good teams put all that energy and passion in the beginning of the game so they don’t end up fighting to get a result, but we will put it behind us.”

As he was against New York last week, Boskovic was a spark in the second half. With the game still 2-0, he tested New England ‘keeper Bobby Shuttleworth with a curling free kick before hitting the post from a similar spot a few minutes later.

Boskovic finally scored, adding a late brace before coming off with a knee contusion. He’s expected to undergo an MRI Wednesday to fully evaluate the injury.

“I think in the second half we played very good,” he said postgame. “We scored two goals and found our game. A lot of games we have problems in defense – they scored so easy against us – we must be more stronger in defense.”

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