WASHINGTON -- D.C. United advanced to the U.S. Open Cup final for just the third time in their 12-year history on Tuesday night, taking advantage of a inexperienced New England Revolution squad with a 3-1 victory at RFK Stadium, paced by a Luciano Emilio double and a well-taken matchwinner from Santino Quaranta in the 48th minute.
The young Revs fought valiantly and entered the halftime break level at 1-1, but could not overcome United's experience and quality, especially after Wells Thompson's second-half ejection following a second yellow card.
United will take on the USL1 Charleston Battery in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final, to be played Sept. 3 at RFK Stadium. The Battery defeated the Seattle Sounders in a penalty kick shootout Tuesday, after the teams played to a 1-1 draw over 120 minutes. United last played in the final in 1997, losing on penalties to the Dallas Burn; their lone Open Cup title came in 1996, when they defeated Rochester at RFK Stadium.
The starting lineups for each club reflected their differing priorities at this stage in the campaign, with United fielding a nearly full-strength first XI while the visiting Revolution used a multitude of reserves, including four rookies, though the side was captained by veteran Shalrie Joseph.
D.C. took less than four minutes to get on the board, finding the net on their first meaningful foray forward. Right back Bryan Namoff charged down the right touchline and sent a deep cross into the penalty area, where Emilio met the service with a calm header past a helpless Doug Warren for a 1-0 United lead.
Ivan Guerrero broke into the left side of the Revolution box mere seconds later, and Fred came within inches of connecting with his endline cutback to the back post as Warren scrambled to get back across the face of his goal. United threatened again shortly thereafter when Santino Quaranta's inswinger to the far post nearly sat up for Jaime Moreno, only to bounce a bit too high for D.C.'s Bolivian captain.
The match's tempo eased somewhat as the half wore on, with the home side enjoying the lion's share of possession while New England's greatest threat resided in set pieces lofted into the United box.
But the Black-and-Red were soon left stunned by another sudden breakdown in the back, as the Revs grabbed a 33rd-minute equalizer on an unsightly sequence in the United box. Rookie Joe Germanese was the beneficiary of some sloppy defending as he latched onto the loose ball after Adam Cristman's initial shot was blocked right in front of the goalmouth, stroking a low finish underneath Zach Wells to draw the Revs level.
Moreno led the D.C. response, earning a free kick some 25 yards out from goal that allowed Quaranta to rasp a scorching drive at Warren's net, but the effort flew inches wide of the left post. The Baltimore native was handed an even more inviting look four minutes later when Guerrero's right-wing free kick dropped at his feet as he floated near the far post, but Quaranta chopped a bouncing volley wide of the target as the crowd moaned.
The Revs came agonizingly close to a second goal of their own in first-half injury time, however, when Cristman fed Khano Smith as the Bermudian international surged into the box. Smith clipped his angled shot past an advancing Wells only to watch it trickle just wide of the left post.
His reserves holding their own against United's starters after 45 minutes, Revolution boss Steve Nicol could hardly have drawn up a better progression of events, while D.C. head coach Tom Soehn was surely fuming at his own side's lack of sharpness.
Having no doubt heard quite a few pieces of Soehn's mind at the halftime break, United started the second stanza off with a bang as Quaranta fed Emilio with a brilliantly measured through ball that sent the Brazilian striker in alone on Warren. But the Revs' backup netminder stoned the reigning MLS Golden Boot winner, getting down well to deflect Emilio's shot and preserve the deadlock.
It wouldn't stay that way for long, however, as Quaranta put an even brighter shine on his lively display by delivering the go-ahead goal. Moreno spotted his tall teammate's movement in behind the New England back line and delivered a soft, bouncing pass over the top, drawing Warren off his line, and Quaranta took full advantage with a quick chip over the 'keeper's head and into the net to push the score to 2-1.
More than just a lead, the crisp finish gave D.C. a priceless confidence boost -- but their untimely mental errors continued when Devon McTavish's poor pass out of the back forced him to commit a foul not far outside his own box in the 50th minute. On the ensuing set piece Amaechi Igwe sent a left-footed shot over the defensive wall and on target, but Wells shuffled to his left to glove the effort cleanly.
Then Cristman almost created a goal out of a hopeful punt forward, muscling past McTavish to reach the bouncing ball and nearly juking Peralta in the United box, only to be denied by a late sliding challenge from the Argentinean center back.
The game took another turn in the 71st minute when New England's Thompson pursued Moreno into the center circle as the Bolivian held possession.
The Revs winger had been doggedly shadowing the United legend for long periods all night, but at this moment -- having already earned a yellow card for a 54th-minute challenge on Guerrero -- Thompson's tenaciousness was ill-advised as he hacked Moreno down in plain view of referee Jorge Gonzalez and was duly issued his second caution of the evening.
Playing alongside Gonzalo Martinez, D.C.'s first-choice left back, for the first time since his arrival from San Jose, Guerrero had been laboring to build chemistry with the Colombian defender. But the duo linked together a sharp combination in the 76th minute, springing the Honduran international into open space -- but his work went for nothing as Fred badly mishit his attempted finish of the ensuing cross.
Joseph was ranging further and further forward in search of a late goal to bolster his team's sagging comeback hopes and his thunderous right foot still presented a substantial threat to Wells on set pieces. Smith baited Namoff into committing a foul to earn one such opportunity on the edge of the United box in the 78th minute, but Joseph was unable to curl his shot around the wall and the home fans breathed a bit easier.
United iced the game three minutes later as Emilio was able to take advantage of more tireless work by Guerrero along the left flank, collecting the Honduran's cutback and moving to his left before slotting a low finish through a crowd of bodies and into the net for a 3-1 lead that the Black-and-Red would not relinquish.
Charles Boehm is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
New England Revolution
vs. D.C. United
August 12, 2008 -- RFK Stadium
Luciano Emilio 1
(Bryan Namoff )
Joe Germanese 1
Santino Quaranta 1
(Jaime Moreno )
Luciano Emilio 2
(Ivan Guerrero )
New England Revolution -- Doug Warren, Rob Valentino, Gary Flood, Amaechi Igwe, Wells Thompson, Shalrie Joseph, Pat Phelan, Khano Smith, Joe Germanese, Adam Cristman, Brandon Manzonelli
(Brandon Tyler 75),
Substitutes Not Used: Chris Albright, Sam Brill, Brad Knighton
D.C. United -- Zach Wells, Bryan Namoff, Devon McTavish, Gonzalo Peralta, Gonzalo Martinez, Santino Quaranta
(Jode Vide 79), Fred
(Mike Zaher 88), Clyde Simms, Ivan Guerrero
(Quavas Kirk 86), Luciano Emilio
(Rod Dyachenko 89), Jaime Moreno,
Substitutes Not Used: Pat Carroll, Craig Thompson, James Thorpe
|D.C. United||New England Revolution
(Santino Quaranta 4)
(Adam Cristman 2,
Khano Smith 2)
|shots on goal:||4||
(Luciano Emilio 3)
(Joe Germanese 1,
Khano Smith 1)
(3 tied with 3)
(Amaechi Igwe 4)
(Jaime Moreno 1)
(Zach Wells 1)
(Doug Warren 1)
NE -- Amaechi Igwe (caution; Tactical Foul) 38
NE -- Wells Thompson (caution; Reckless Tackle) 54
NE -- Wells Thompson (ejection; Second Caution) 71
referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Referee's Assistants: Jason Cullum; Victor Matheson
4th official: Jeff Gontarek
time of game: 1:50
weather: Partly Cloudy -and- 84 degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial