D.C. United escape Richmond with a shootout win in U.S. Open Cup battle

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Sports,D.C. United,Craig Stouffer

D.C. beats Richmond in U.S. Open Cup battle

RICHMOND -- D.C. United secured a much-needed confidence boost with a penalty shootout victory over the third-tier Richmond Kickers after a scoreless draw in the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

United goalkeeper Joe Willis, in a duel with his own understudy, Andrew Dykstra, who was in the net for the Kickers, dove to his left to save consecutive penalties by Sascha Gorres and Joseph Ngwenya as D.C. prevailed 4-2 before 4,752 at City Stadium.

"[United assistant coach] Preston [Burpo] told me where they were going," Willis said. "Once again, you've got to credit the coach. ... He went back like seven years [on Gorres] to find a penalty kick. He told me Ngwenya likes to stutter step."

In the teams' first meeting since Richmond became D.C.'s minor league affiliate, Dykstra, United's third string goalkeeper, and Michael Seaton, a 17-year-old rookie forward, suited up for the Kickers, where both players are on loan. In one early sequence, Dykstra collided with United's Nick DeLeon at one end, and a moment later, Willis flattened Seaton.

After the Kickers made an initial push, forcing two Willis saves, the visitors grew increasingly in control. United hit the woodwork twice just after the half-hour mark, first when Lionard Pajoy redirected a corner kick of the corner of the goal in the 31st minute. Moments later, De Rosario's wide-open header from six yards hit the right post, only to bounce back across the goal, and Dykstra scooped up the ball just before it trickled in off the left post.

For the second straight season, United and the Kickers were unable to produce a winner in regulation. But there was no sign of the kind of dramatic goal that United produced in the 107th minute last year. Instead, United was reduced to nine men in the span of three minutes after a second yellow card for Chris Korb and a straight red for Carlos Ruiz.

The victory was a reprieve from United's 10-game winless streak in league play and earned United a fourth-round rematch with the Philadelphia Union on June 12 at Maryland SoccerPlex.

"Hopefully this feeling of winning will come back to us and motivate us for the future," Willis said.

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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Craig Stouffer

Staff writer - sports
The Washington Examiner