BOYDS, Md. – D.C. United advanced in US Open Cup qualification rounds with a 4-2 win on penalty kicks over the Philadelphia Union after a 2-2 draw Wednesday evening at the Maryland SoccerPlex.
The two sides exchanged first half goals via Carlos Ruiz and Josh Wolff and then went scoreless until extra time, when DC defender Daniel Woolard gave his side the lead, smashing home off a goalmouth scramble. Not to be outdone, Philadephia’s Brian Carroll equalized from a corner kick in the 118th minute to force penalty kicks.
In penalties, Union forward Jack McInerney missed a spot kick, and DC 'keeper Bill Hamid saved one from Roger Torres, setting up United midfielder Branko Boskovic to seal the win. The Montenegrin obliged, sending his shot high to the right of Union goalie Faryd Mondragon.
The frenetic ending to the game was as sharp contrast to its slow start, as the two sides battled for possession in the midfield. Things picked up after the quarter-hour and Philadelphia struck first in the 18th minute. A long throw-in from defender Sheanon Williams wasn’t properly cleared and an unmarked Ruiz had time to settle and fire past DC's Hamid.
The home side sent numbers forward in search of an equalizer. United’s Andy Najar created a great chance, dribbling past Williams, only to see Mondragon snare his cross.
United eventually netted the equalizer a minute before halftime. Defender Ethan White had his shot blocked off a corner but forward Joseph Ngwenya pounced on the deflection and crossed the ball back in to an open Wolff, who headed in from inside the six-yard box.
Each side had second-half chances to take the lead. Sebastien Le Toux got behind the United defense on the left flank and Hamid bobbled his low cross before DC's defense was able to clear it.
Looking to break the deadlock, Najar almost gave DC the lead. Stephen King found Najar in space at the top of his box and the Honduran attacker unleashed a low shot inches wide of the far post. United kept the pressure on, as Boskovic forced a save from Mondragon in the 78th minute.
Philadelphia answered back and substitute Danny Mwanga tested Hamid in the 85th minute.
A wild finish to regulation saw Philadelphia go down to 10 men when Carlos Valdés was sent off in the 87th minute with a his second yellow card, and Union rookie Michael Farfan cleared a King cross off the line.
Up a man in extra time, D.C. United dominated possession and created the majority of scoring opportunities. Blake Brettschneider hit the post and Mondragon was alert to save an Ngwenya opportunity.
With the win, DC move on to host the New England Revolution on April 26, at the Maryland SoccerPlex. Kickoff is set for 7:30 pm ET.