BOYDS, Md. – D.C. United’s 2016 U.S. Open Cup run was a short one.
D.C. were bested by the NASL’s Ft. Lauderdale Strikers, undone in penalty kicks after 90 minutes of scoreless regulation and a breathless half hour of extra time. For the second time in three years, United’s Cup run ended the same day it began.
“We’re disappointed to go out of this tournament,” United head coach Ben Olsen said after the match. “The guys gave me everything they had, and on the day we didn’t finish some of our chances that were there, and it goes to PK’s [and at that point] it’s a bit of a coin flip.”
Olsen used a reserve-heavy starting 11 that featured only one regular – defender Sean Franklin – and it showed early. United lacked cohesion during the first half of the match and struggled to connect through midfield. Ft. Lauderdale looked no better, though.
About an hour in, United began to creak to life. 16-year-old homegrown product Chris Durkin – starting his first ever game as a pro – grew into the game, connecting well with his new teammates. United newcomer Alhaji Kamara also gave United fans reason for hope, though his two best efforts were thwarted by Strikers keeper Diego Restrepo.
“Both [Alhaji and Chris] I thought were great,” said Olsen. “I don’t think we rewarded Kamara enough for some of his running. He was in a few very good spots there in the box, where we’re getting in line, where we just chose to shoot rather than hit him when he was naked around the six. Again, he was in good spots, he knew what he was doing up there. I think with a few different guys around him he’ll have a little more success.”
Ahead of their encounter with the Houston Dynamo this Saturday (9 pm ET, MLS LIVE), the USOC loss also gave Olsen a chance to give other players – defenders Jalen Robinson and Luke Mishu and midfielders Julian Buescher, Miguel Aguilar and Rob Vincent – meaningful minutes.
“Again, we’ve been looking for minutes for a bunch of guys who were out there tonight,” said Olsen. “And we learned a lot about them over the course of this long game. Again, I think most of them played well and are gonna be better for this game.”