McColm Cephas scored goals on either side of halftime and the A-League Richmond Kickers unceremoniously dumped D.C. United from the 2004 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with a 2-1 victory Wednesday night at University of Richmond City Stadium.
United joined the MetroStars, New England Revolution and Los Angeles Galaxy as MLS teams eliminated by sides from the U.S. second division in the Open Cup.
"I'm extremely disappointed, no question," said United head coach Peter Nowak. "We're going back to work tomorrow and we will work, because we didn't work tonight."
United opened the game as the aggressor with Alecko Eskandarian, Jaime Moreno and Josh Gros holding possession deep into Richmond's defensive third. The hosts' countered with equal parts heart and scrappiness. While Eskandarian's re-start nearly missed Ezra Hendrickson's back post run, the Kickers nearly dented the scoreboard on shots by Joey Worthen and Kevin Jeffrey.
The majority of the game soon moved to the middle third of the field with neither team making quality advances at goal. Gros and Dema Kovalenko had opportunities after gaining the endline, but saw their crosses go wanting.
Having re-taken control of the game, a defensive lapse proved costly in the 33rd minute. Mike Petke and 'keeper Nick Rimando both attempted to collect a long pass out of the Kickers' defense, but as they approached neither won possession and a hustling Cephas was on the score sheet with the game's first tally.
Playing from behind, the Black-and-Red immediately began heavy pressure with the help of halftime sub Freddy Adu. Within five minutes, David Stokes nearly converted Adu's corner kick before two more quality crosses were left unfinished. A Moreno half-chance on a deceptive restart was later foiled as well.
Play continued throughout the Kickers defense until a counterattack led by Worthen doubled the Kickers' lead. Worthen and former United stalwart Richie Williams executed a fine one-two freeing space along the left sideline before Worthen's quality cross found Cephas for his second goal of the match.
United went right back to work. A Kovalenko blast passed just over the crossbar, then Adu nailed the woodwork above Ronnie Pascale, but United couldn't hit home. Adu later found Kovalenko, but the Ukrainian's six-yard bid was deflected just wide of frame.
United remained undeterred and the effort was finally rewarded when Nana Kuffour, making his United debut, headed home an Adu corner kick in the 82nd minute, but it wasn't enough.
U.S. OPEN CUP FOURTH ROUND
Richmond Kickers vs. D.C. United
RICH - McColm Cephas (Ronnie Pascale) 33
RICH - McColm Cephas (Joey Worthen) 64
DC - Nana Kuffour (Freddy Adu) 82
Richmond: Ronnie Pascale; Matt O'Toole, Tim Brown, Kevin Knight, Peter Luzak, Tony Williams; Richie Williams, Clyde Simms (Matt Delicate 72), McColm Cephas (Mike Burke 83), Joey Worthington; Kevin Jeffrey (Paul Lekics 61).
SHOTS: 7; FOULS: 14; OFFSIDES: 2; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 2
D.C. United: Nick Rimando; Brandon Prideaux (Freddy Adu 46), Mike Petke, Bryan Namoff; Ezra Hendrickson, Kevin Ara (David Stokes 46), Brian Carroll, Dema Kovalenko, Josh Gros; Alecko Eskandarian, Jaime Moreno (Nana Kuffour 77).
SHOTS: 8; FOULS: 11; OFFSIDES: 4; CORNER KICKS: 6; SAVES: 1
DC - Dema Kovalenko (caution) 42
RICH - Richie Williams (caution) 42
DC - Brandon Prideaux (caution) 45+
RICH - Kevin Jeffrey (caution) 45+
DC - Josh Gros (caution) 45+
DC - Freddy Adu (caution) 90+
Referee: Hector Tobin
Assistant Referees: Bill Ditmar; Scott Johnson
4th Official: Chip Boatwright
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 92 degrees