D.C. United and FC Dallas waged an epic battle in their U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal match at the Maryland SoccerPlex on Wednesday night, trading blows for 120 minutes before the visitors advanced to the final four thanks to an agonizing penalty kick shootout following a 1-1 draw.
Christian Gomez had given United the lead just after the start of the second half, but just when it seemed as United had booked passage to the semifinals, Carlos Ruiz scored well into stoppage time to send the match into extra time. FC Dallas then won the shootout 4-1.
United had two wonderful chances in the opening quarter hour. First, Gomez whipped a dangerous free kick into the box that Hoops netminder Scott Garlick saw late due to the looming figure of Bobby Boswell. But Garlick got down well and parried the effort just wide of the post.
Jamil Walker's quickness exposed the Dallas back four in the 15th minute, and should've resulted in a 1-0 lead for the home side, but after running onto Santino Quaranta's cross and cutting past Greg Vanney, Walker smacked his shot off the outside of the near post with only Garlick to beat.
United failed to capitalize on another glorious chance in the 34th minute. Ben Olsen charged right at the heart of the Dallas defense, denied only by Greg Vanney's last-second intervention. But the rebound dropped straight for Gomez and with Garlick totally exposed, the Argentine struck a low first-time shot that skipped just wide of the far post.
After laboring for 45 minutes with no reward, United immediately opened the second half with the goal they'd been looking for, coming from the ever-reliable Gomez. The Hoops defense against found themselves pressed deep into their own box by United's combination play and Dema Kovalenko set up Gomez to roll a simple finish under Garlick from close range.
Dallas continued to look dangerous, however, with Ramon Nunez and Ruiz discomfiting D.C.'s defenders with deft footwork and quick touches.
Kovalenko had drawn referee Abbey Okulaja's ire for several hard challenges, and it seemed that his hard-man reputation came back to haunt him -- and his team -- yet again in the 73rd minute.
Kovalenko was penalized for elbowing Bobby Rhine as he shielded the ball from the FCD defender, and Carey Talley, perhaps sensing a chance to goad the combustible United midfielder into drawing a second yellow, immediately initiated a confrontation.
The cynical tactic worked. Kovalenko responded with a shove and Okulaja produced cards for both players, resulting in an ejection for Kovalenko and a man advantage for the visitors.
At first, Dallas struggled to maintain extended possession in the United end as the home side brought on Bryan Namoff and switched to a four-man back line. Tired and shorthanded, United defended with increasing desperation as the minutes ticked away and Dallas took a stranglehold on possession and probed for the equalizer.
They were given a boost when four minutes of injury time were added, but United's Brian Carroll could've put the match out of reach just seconds afterwards when he followed second-half sub Freddy Adu on a quick counterattack. Adu nutmegged Vanney and squared to Carroll as he waited alone in front of Garlick's goal, but the midfielder somehow looped his shot wide.
United were punished for the mistake in heartbreaking fashion. With mere seconds to go, Ruiz took possession 25 yards out and turned to goal, boldly running at Boswell and cutting left past Facundo Erpen before stroking a cool finish past Perkins to level the match at 1-1.
In extra time, the visitors rained cross after cross into the box, but Boswell and company turned them all aside before trying to clear quickly and catch Dallas on the counter. But neither team could break the deadlock and when time expired, both sides braced for the intense pressure of a penalty kick shootout. Ruiz led off with a confident finish to Perkins' right, but Adu responded for D.C. with a confident conversion of his own. Vanney stepped up and made his try, but then the home crowd, now clustered on the berm behind the goal, moaned as John Wilson prodded his effort wide right.
Rhine went next for the Hoops and made no mistake, putting his side up 3-1 and handing the onus to United's Gros. The D.C. winger placed his shot well, but Garlick got full extension to tip the shot around his right post. Former University of Maryland star Abe Thompson strode forward for Dallas and ended the marathon evening with an emphatic shot that sent his side to the semifinal round.
Charles Boehm is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
FC Dallas vs. D.C. United
August 24, 2005 -- Maryland SoccerPlex; Germantown, MD
DC -- Christian Gomez (Dema Kovalenko) 47
DAL -- Carlos Ruiz (unassisted) 94+
FC Dallas Win on Penalty Kicks 4-1
Penalty Kicks Summary (After 120 minutes):
DAL -- Carlos Ruiz, Goal
DC -- Freddy Adu, Goal
DAL -- Greg Vanney, Goal
DC -- John Wilson, Wide Right
DAL -- Bobby Rhine, Goal
DC -- Joshua Gros, Saved
DAL -- Abe Thompson, Goal
FC Dallas -- Scott Garlick, Bobby Rhine, Clarence Goodson, David Wagenfuhr (Chris Gbandi 30), Greg Vanney, Simo Valakari (Abe Thompson 119), Arturo Alvarez (Roberto Mina 76), Carey Talley, Ramon Nunez, Eddie Johnson (Drew Moor 90), Carlos Ruiz.
Substitutes Not Used: Jeff Cassar, Steve Jolley, Aaron Pitchkolan.
TOTAL SHOTS: 13 (Ramon Nunez 3, Carey Talley 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Ramon Nunez 2); FOULS: 17 (Clarence Goodson 3, Simo Valakari 3); OFFSIDES: 5 (Eddie Johnson 3); CORNER KICKS: 5 (Ramon Nunez 3); SAVES: 3 (Scott Garlick 3)
D.C. United -- Troy Perkins, Facundo Erpen, Bobby Boswell, Brandon Prideaux, Dema Kovalenko, Brian Carroll, Christian Gomez (Bryan Namoff 77), Ben Olsen (Clyde Simms 87), Joshua Gros, Santino Quaranta (John Wilson 90), Jamil Walker (Freddy Adu 65).
Substitutes Not Used: Shawn Kuykendall, Matt Nickell, Andrew Weber.
TOTAL SHOTS: 9 (Christian Gomez 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Christian Gomez 2); FOULS: 24 (Dema Kovalenko 6); OFFSIDES: 4 (Santino Quaranta 2); CORNER KICKS: 6 (Freddy Adu 3, Christian Gomez 3); SAVES: 4 (Troy Perkins 4)
DAL -- Clarence Goodson (caution; Reckless Foul) 10
DC -- Jamil Walker (caution; Reckless Foul) 27
DC -- Dema Kovalenko (caution; Tackle from Behind) 53
DC -- Dema Kovalenko (caution; Game Disrepute) 72
DC -- Dema Kovalenko (ejection; Second Caution) 72
DAL -- Carey Talley (caution; Game Disrepute) 73
DAL -- Greg Vanney (caution; Pushing, Holding) 91
DC -- Ben Olsen (caution; Dissent) 106
DC -- John Wilson (caution; Reckless Foul) 119
Referee: Abiodun Okulaja
Referee's Assistants: -Kermit Quisenberry; Richard Eddy
4th Official: Andrew Chapin
Time of Game: 2:40
All Statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.