It took over 70 minutes, but D.C. United eventually broke through against NISA side Flower City Union en route to a 3-0 2022 U.S. Open Cup victory. Ola Kamara struck twice and had an assist for Nigel Robertha as the Black-and-Red had to work for their win in utterly miserable conditions on the banks of Lake Ontario.
Facing lower-level opposition and the second of three games in a week, Hernán Losada retained only Ola Kamara from the side that crumbled late in a 3-2 loss to Austin FC this past Saturday. Losada’s changes included a first appearance of the season for Jon Kempin, while Hayden Sargis and homegrown defender Jacob Greene both made their competitive debuts with United. That said, the rotation still meant starts for the 2021 MLS Golden Boot runner-up (Kamara), a Designated Player (Edison Flores), and the World Cup-bound Ecuador national team’s top scorer in qualifying (Michael Estrada).
United really should have scored in the 12th minute , as a recycled corner was pumped back in from the right. Flower City felt they had caught Estrada offside, but no call came. The ball fell perfectly for Estrada, but while leaning back, he scuffed his shot, with Maykell Ortega using an outstretched leg to keep the ball from rolling past him.
Griffin Yow and Kamara worked a clever one-two ten minutes later, with Ortega doing well to charge down Yow’s effort, while Estrada missed an even bigger chance seconds later after Ted Ku-DiPietro single-handedly won the ball on the press and set the target man up on a platter. Estrada’s casual shot beat Ortega, but rolled wide.
The traffic was all in one direction, but United couldn’t find a finish. Yow had a 33rd minute goal called back for offside, while Kamara’s awkward shot from a Gaoussou Samaké cutback in the 40th minute floated wide. Flores then fed Kamara two minutes later after good pressure, but curled his shot inches wide.
However, just before halftime, a simple long ball nearly gave the home side a shock lead. Tony Alfaro couldn’t hold off Jay Lee, and the forward’s angled shot required a strong save from Kempin at the near post.
The second half played out in largely the same fashion, but aggravatingly for United, there were fewer chances as Flower City’s low block remained solid and organized.
Finally, though, the breakthrough arrived in the 73rd minute. Halftime substitute Nigel Robertha got to the endline on a counter before cracking a shot off the post, and though no one could punch it home, Drew Skundrich kept the play alive. Moving play out to the right, Skundrich found Ku-DiPietro, whose cross drew Ortega only for the goalkeeper to not cleanly claim the ball. Gifted another golden chance, Kamara took advantage, diving in to nod the ball into the empty goal from the doorstep and break the deadlock.
The goal appeared to break Flower City’s spirits, and Robertha made it 2-0 in the 81st minute. Yow did well to block a clearance, feeding Kamara in the box. Kamara crossed low, and though the hosts had chances to clear, the ball rolled to Robertha, who cut back on a defender before fizzing a low shot past Ortega.
Yow then sent Robertha in alone on a breakaway after United broke up a surge forward from Flower City. Kamara went to round Ortega, who tripped him up, with referee Luis Arroyo pointing directly to the spot. Kamara made it 3-0 from there, sending Ortega the wrong way to conclude the scoring.
With the cup win, United will enter Friday’s Round of 32 draw, but in the meantime they’ll begin prep for a crucial return to MLS play this Saturday, when they host the New England Revolution. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30pm.
Highlights will be added when they are made available.
U.S. Open Cup - Third Round
Flower City Union 0
D.C. United 3 (Kamara 73, 86pen; Robertha 81)
Flower City (4321): Maykell Ortega; Benjamin Watson, Andriy Demydiv, Mitchell Brickman, Colin Muller; Andre Deas Jr., Jordan Saling (Alex Ainscough 87), Lukas Fernandes (C); Suniel Veerakone (Giancarlo Cañas-Jarquin 87), Auston Kranick; Jay Lee (Ryan Curtis 46)
DCU (3412): Jon Kempin; Jacob Greene (Donovan Pines 76), Hayden Sargis, Tony Alfaro (C); Griffin Yow, Drew Skundrich, Ted Ku-DiPietro (Jeremy Garay 80), Gaoussou Samaké (Tyler Freeman 46); Edison Flores; Michael Estrada (Nigel Robertha 46), Ola Kamara (Kimarni Smith 87)
Flower City - Ortega 85
DCU - None