By Quinn Casteel
Germantown, Md. – D.C. United saw its hopes of capturing a third U.S. Open Cup title come to an end on Tuesday night, as the Black-and-Red fell 2-1 in extra time to MLS rivals Philadelphia Union in a fourth round match played in front of a crowd of 3,276 at the Maryland SoccerPlex.
Antoine Hoppenot scored what would prove to be the game-winning goal in just the second minute of extra time after the teams played to a 1-1 draw in regulation. Hoppenot received a pass from former United player Freddy Adu as he found an alley in the center of the D.C. United box and bounced a shot past United goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
“He was trying very hard, stretching defenders and using his speed that allowed him to get behind them, and he got rewarded for it,” said Philadelphia head coach Peter Nowak, who led United from 2004-2006, of Hoppenot’s contributions. “He worked hard and I thought he deserved to score.”
From there, it would be 28 minutes of hard-nosed, and at times, violent soccer as the Union held on and advanced to the quarterfinals of the tournament. The remainder of overtime saw D.C. pepper Philadelphia goalkeeper Zach MacMath with shots but continually come away empty, which led to frustration from the United players and eventually gave way to a major altercation in the 22nd minute of extra time. D.C. defender Brandon McDonald and Philadelphia captain Carlos Valdez would receive red cards for starting a shoving match at the top of the Philadelphia box, which quickly escalated into a scrum involving nearly every player on the pitch.
McDonald’s altercation with Valdez was the pinnacle of what had been a relentlessly chippy match from the get-go, with a total of 43 fouls, five yellow cards and two reds between the two sides.
“Every Open Cup game turns into an absolute circus,” said United Head Coach Ben Olsen after the match. “Maybe that’s the fun of the Open Cup, in that it’s an absolute zoo, but it gets old. I’m not blaming the referees but it doesn’t help… The refs don’t punish guys for committing fouls and it just escalates.”
Offense was hard to come by for the entire match, and United were unable to record a shot on goal until the 43rd minute, when Josh Wolff broke through the Philadelphia defense and sent a shot from outside the box into MacMath’s arms.
Philadelphia had not been able to do much either until the very end of the first half, recorded just three shots in the opening period. However, they found life in the first minute of stoppage time, receiving an unassisted goal from Brian Carroll. The former United star knifed through the D.C. defense and played a deflection during a scramble inside the box, and was able to strike the ball with enough power to get it past Hamid and into the right side of the net.
Moments later, United, who were just two minutes removed from their first shot on goal, were able to equalize as they scored the second goal of first-half stoppage time. Andy Najar sent a long cross from the right side into the penalty area, where Nick DeLeon sent a header across the net to Wolff, who was easily able to tap it in with MacMath caught out of position still trying to defend a potential shot from DeLeon.
In the second half, both teams would threaten but neither side found results. The game continued to get more and more physical, and as a result both attacks suffered. United and Philadelphia would each manage only two shots, with one on target a piece in the second half. However, Philadelphia nearly found more stoppage-time magic in the final moments of regulation, when Hoppenot broke through the defense and had what appeared to be the game-winning goal. But his close range shot was saved on a brilliant effort by Hamid and the French-born midfielder was forced to save his heroics until overtime.
United will have a chance at revenge against the Union in less than two weeks, as they play their next MLS regular season match on June 16 in Philadelphia.