After a scrappy, uneventful 100 minutes or so of soccer, D.C. United and the Philadelphia Union seemed destined for penalty kicks in their U.S. Open Cup fifth round clash. Instead, the game sparked to life late, with Antony Fontana giving the Union the lead only for United to respond with late, late goals from Chris McCann and Wayne Rooney handing the Black-and-Red a wild 2-1 win.
With both teams hampered by injuries and Gold Cup absences, the game had a strange feel from the start. United had some positive news, as Joseph Mora made his long-awaited return from a broken jaw, and there was a debut for homegrown midfielder Antonio Bustamante. However, Philadelphia dominated the early exchanges, with Ilsinho nearly forcing an own goal in the opening minutes.
United finally got something going in the 18th minute, with Mora’s run up the left ending with a cutback for Lucas Rodriguez. The Argentine’s shot was blocked towards Luciano Acosta, who was then tackled inside the box by Aurelien Collin. However, that tackle nearly produced an own goal, as the ball ricocheted off of Alejandro Bedoya before going inches wide.
Philadelphia reasserted themselves quickly, with Fafa Picault dancing into the box before firing towards the back post. Referee Marcos de Oliveira ruled that Chris Seitz made a save, which was just enough to preserve the 0-0 scoreline.
The home side grew into the game, and nearly took the lead in the 29th minute. Mora’s 60-yard cross-field ball picked out Acosta unmarked at the far post. Acosta drew Fabinho in before crossing into the goalmouth for Wayne Rooney, only for Mark McKenzie to hack the ball clear at the last moment.
Rooney and Acosta combined to rip through the Union’s central midfield in the 38th minute, but McKenzie made another critical intervention, getting a toe in just before Acosta’s final pass was going to set Rodriguez up for a great shooting opportunity from 12 yards out.
Seconds into the first half, United created their best chance yet. After high pressure had forced a long ball, Jara stepped up to win a McKenzie hoof forward. He found Acosta, who produced a clever heel flick to move the ball along to Rooney. Rooney adroitly returned the ball to Acosta in stride, before Acosta dished to Ulises Segura. In a great spot about 14 yards out, Segura opted for power, only to be denied by Union goalkeeper Matt Freese.
At the hour mark, both teams had great chances. First, the Union had a rush upfield that ended with Sergio Santos teeing up Picault. A goal seemed certain, but Picault took a touch, allowing Steven Birnbaum to get into position to block his shot.
At the other end, Jalen Robinson won a foul along the Union left. Rooney’s service into the box picked out Frederic Brillant totally unmarked, but with Freese flat-footed, the center back’s header smacked into the post. The rebound went right to Segura, but he was perhaps unprepared, and somehow looped his finish up onto the top of the bar, letting the Union off the hook.
Seitz was forced into a tricky save by Jamiro Monteiro in the 69th minute, while United had a loud shout for a penalty kick in the 76th minute. After Acosta’s run down the right nearly gave him a breakaway, McKenzie poked the ball free. Rooney collected it and sent Segura through in the right channel, only for he and Freese to collide at the crucial moment. Replays showed Freese take out Segura’s leg rather than getting the ball, but de Oliveira opted to only give a corner.
At the other end, Brillant had to produce a wonderful tackle to deny Picault in the 80th minute as the game became stretched, but neither team could carve out a true opening to get a winner before the end of a regulation 90 minutes.
United had a great chance to take an early lead in extra time, as Rooney had a free kick blocked by the Union wall inches outside the box. His second free kick attempt went in low, but pinballed around, clipping substitute Quincy Amarikwa in the back before bouncing out of danger. Moments later, Segura’s 99th minute cross/shot nearly picked out Acosta, only for Collin to poke the ball away from danger at the last moment.
The Black-and-Red were doing all of the work in extra time, with substitute Chris McCann getting up the left wing to swing a low cross in. Griffin Yow lunged at the ball in the goal mouth, but couldn’t get a clean shot away, allowing Freese to gratefully make the save.
Alejandro Bedoya had been quiet, but his 107th minute attempt to cross the ball very nearly floated over Seitz and in. The one-time Union goalkeeper, now with D.C., had to backpedal and swat the ball away for a corner.
Yow was busy, with Collin blocking his 110th minute effort from 17 yards just barely behind after good work from Segura to create the chance. Two minutes later, the same duo combined again, with Freese just barely diving in to punch away Segura’s cross before Yow could tap it in. The Union weren’t clear, though, and Rooney’s ball back into the mixer was acrobatically fired over the bar by Amarikwa.
After all that pressure, though, it was the Union who took the lead. Rooney disrupted a run forward from Haris Medunjanin, but the ball rolled favorably to Jamiro Monteiro. The Cape Verde international offered up a clever lob, sending substitute Anthony Fontana running in behind, and the Union academy product produced an awkward finish past Seitz in the 113th minute.
United were down, but they weren’t out, and in the 118th minute they equalized. Rooney’s corner changed direction on its way in, and Freese — who had come off his line — misjudged it. McCann did the rest, beating the Union defense to the ball to nod into the empty net.
With the game seemingly sure to go to penalties, United somehow produced further dramatics. McCann won a punt forward in the air, with the ball going straight to Yow. Yow drove forward before laying it off to Acosta, who drove into the box. Bedoya arrived late, trying to poke the ball free, but only managed to swipe the Argentine’s legs out from under him. De Oliveira had no hesitation pointing to the spot, and Rooney took care of business, powering a 120th minute spot kick past Freese to give United a stunning comeback win.
United will find out their Round of 16 opponent in the Open Cup draw tomorrow. That will be their next game, with the draw also determining the schedule.
U.S. Open Cup - Fourth Round
D.C. United 2 (McCann 118, Rooney 120pen)
Philadelphia Union 1 (Fontana 113)
(after extra time)
DCU (4231): Chris Seitz; Jalen Robinson (Quincy Amarikwa 90), Frederic Brillant, Steven Birnbaum, Joseph Mora (Chris McCann 96); Leonardo Jara, Antonio Bustamante (Griffin Yow 73); Ulises Segura, Luciano Acosta, Lucas Rodriguez; Wayne Rooney (C)
Union (4231): Matt Freese; Olivier Mbaizo (Ray Gaddis 98), Mark McKenzie, Aurelien Collin, Fabinho (Matt Real 90); Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya (C); Ilsinho, Jamiro Monteiro, Fafa Picault (Zachary Zandi 100); Sergio Santos (Anthony Fontana 109)
DCU - Robinson 68, Rodriguez 83
Union - Bedoya 95, McKenzie 96, Ilsinho 115