It wasn’t artistic or clinical, but all that mattered was the result: The Crew earned a berth in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup for the first time since winning it in 2002.
Taking advantage of two calls after yielding a penalty in the 13th minute, the Crew gutted out a 2-1 extratime semifinal victory over D.C. United in RFK Stadium on Wednesday.
“It wasn’t perfect soccer, but we won,” midfielder Brian Carroll said. “That’s great, and we’re moving on.”
The Crew were a minute away from their third straight shutout in as many different competitions before an Andy Iro shot went off defender Marc Burch for an own-goal in the 89th minute.
Iro thought the goal was his but was happy nonetheless.
“I’d like that goal,” the center back said. “I put the shot on the frame. It took a deflection but it was going in anyway. It should be my goal, but honestly the bigger picture is winning.”
The deciding goal came in the eighth minute of extra time when Steven Lenhart dribbled into the box against 10-man United and drew a penalty that Guillermo Barros Schelotto converted.
“We had to battle back the whole game,” Carroll said. “Being down 1-0 is never easy, but we showed grit and determination.”
The Crew knew the league's last-place team had put its entire season into the game, yet DC seemed uninspired for much of the match. The hosts paid dearly when Iro took down Pablo Hernandez to set up the game’s first score.
“Yeah, it was a foul,” Iro said. “He sold it. I didn’t really tackle him, but there was contact. You’re on the road. I wasn’t too surprised.”
Hernández was ejected in the 59th minute. He and Danny O'Rourke tangled near midfield, and Hernández was shown red after trying to trip O’Rourke, who received a caution for his actions.
After a controversial 1-0 loss to Santos in the CONCACAF Champions League eight days earlier and Saturday’s 0-0 draw with FC Dallas, the Crew got several breaks.
The biggest might have been in the 47th minute when Andy Najar beat backup goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum, but his effort hit the left post.
Najar also missed a tap-in shortly after the own goal that would have put DC in front. Then, in the 105th minute, United defender Dejan Jakovic shot high over the open goal.
It was perhaps an omen for the Crew, who lost in stoppage time at Santos.
“Scoring toward the end of the game tonight sort of flip-flopped our game at Santos,” Carroll said. “It’s always nice to finish out a game strong. I hope the luck has changed.”