D.C. United bested the home side Charleston Battery 3-1 to win the fabled “Coffee Pot Cup” as 2,634 fans supporting both sides packed Blackbaud Stadium on a mild February night in Charleston, SC.
D.C. United opened the first half with Joe Willis in goal and a back line of Chris Korb, Brandon McDonald, Emiliano Dudar and Jose Burciaga. The midfield consisted of Danny Cruz, Branko Boskovic, Supplemental Draft pick Lance Rozeboom, and Nick DeLeon while trialist Ryan Richter joined Maicon Santos at striker.
Of note was Branko Boskovic’s 45 minutes in the central midfield where he orchestrated the attack and played a major role in United’s first goal. Just 13 minutes into the first half, Boskovic played a smooth ball over the top of the Battery defense to Santos. The Brazilian took a few quick touches and buried the ball in the net past Charleston keeper Kevin Klasila.
In the 29th minute, Charleston equalized through Jose Cuevas who headed home from point-blank range. Clearly upset with the concession, the Black-and-Red came back just seconds later on a long ball from Jose Burciaga that trialist Ryan Richter nodded past Klasila.
Up 2-1 at the break, United head coach Ben Olsen made some adjustments. Ethan White, Dejan Jakovic and Andy Najar came on at the back while Stephen King replaced Boskovic in midfield. In the 61st minute, recently-signed Andrew Dykstra entered against former club.
With all the changes, United struggled to find a rhythm early in the second half. A second wave of substitutes seemed to swing momentum back in D.C.'s favor as Josh Wolff, Chris Pontius, Hamdi Salihi and Conor Shanosky came on and helped the Black-and-Red take control of possession.
Things turned ugly in the 76th minute when Battery defender Mark Wiltse came in recklessly on midfielder Danny Cruz and was shown a straight red card for the sliding tackle. Cruz left the game immediately and was taken to a nearby hospital for evaluation.
Working with a man advantage, D.C. United delivered the killer blow to any Battery hopes of an upset. Najar went on a brilliant run, combining with Wolff before crossing to Salihi who finished with ease. The Albanian's goal marks his second for United in as many matches, delivering on the promise of his world-class strike rate.
The victory ensures that United will claim the Carolina Challenge Cup for the third year in a row. D.C. will wrap-up the preseason tournament on Saturday against the Columbus Crew as they undergo their final test ahead of the March 10 season-opener against Kansas City at RFK.
Joe Willis (Andrew Dykstra 61'); Chris Korb, Brandon McDonald (Dejan Jakovic 46'), Emiliano Dudar (Ethan White 46'), José Burciaga [trialist] (Andy Najar 46'); Danny Cruz (Daniel Woolard 78'), Branko Boskovic (Stephen King 46'), Lance Rozeboom [trialist] (Conor Shanosky 61'), Nick DeLeon (Chris Pontius 71'); Ryan Richter [trialist] (Josh Wolff 61'), Maicon Santos (Hamdi Salihi 71')
Kevin Klasila (Mitch Hildebrand 46'), John Wilson (Sean Flately 46'), Colin Falvey, Kyle Hoffer (Luca Bellisimo 46'), Mark Wiltse, Taylor Mueller (Sean Bateau 61'), Charlie Romero (Fuad Ibrahim 46'), J.C. Mack (Ben Sippala 73'), Jose Cuevas, Dane Kelley, Sallreu Bundu (Zach Prince 46')
- CHS - Mark Wiltse (ejection) 76'
- DC - Maicon Santos 13' (Boskovic)
- CHS - Jose Cuevas 29' (Romero)
- DC - Ryan Richter 31' (Burciaga)
- DC - Hamdi Salihi 88' (Najar)