BOYDS, Md. – Two Kheli Dube goals on either side of the break paced the New England Revolution to a 3-2 win over D.C. United in a US Open Cup play-in match at the Maryland SoccerPlex on Tuesday evening.
The Revolution jumped out to a 3-0 lead and held on despite a second-half onslaught by DC, who trimmed the deficit thanks to two Branko Boskovic goals.
The match got off to a choppy start, but after things settled down a bit, the visitors struck gold in the 35th minute.
Ousmane Dabo, who was making his Revs debut, lofted a ball over the DC back line for Kenny Mansally. The Gambian pulled a cross back for Dube at the top of the box, and the forward fired past United goalkeeper Pat Onstad for the 1-0 lead.United almost managed an immediate response. Andy Najar found space on the Revolution flank and his deflected cross fell straight to forward Blake Brettschneider, who followed up and volleyed over Bobby Shuttleworth’s goal.
Two minutes after the break, Dube struck again on the counter. Substitute Alan Koger played a bouncing through ball towards the unmarked Zimbabwean, who blasted an 18-yard shot past Onstad to double the Revolution lead.
Looking to get back in the game, DC had great opportunities from set pieces to score. Boskovic was the danger man in the second half, forcing Shuttleworth into a save on a direct free kick from 19 yards out, and hitting the post on another chance a few minutes later.
Koger struck in the 69th minute to extend New England's lead. His initial shot was saved nicely by Onstad, but a Koger collected a failed clearance and slotted in past the ‘keeper.
DC finally got on the board in the 73rd minute. Throwing numbers forward, Kurt Morsink poked in a pass to substitute Charlie Davies at the top of the box. Davies layed it off to an open Boskovic, who created spaced and slammed home a left-footed shot past a diving Shuttleworth.
It was Boskovic who tallied again in the 82nd minute to make for a nervy ending. The Montenegrin found space from 30 yards out and dialed up a long-range effort that eluded Shuttleworth once again.
With minutes left, the DC rally was cut short. Boskovic was forced to come off with an injury, forcing United to finish with 10 men and giving the New England defense an edge, which they took advantage of to hold firm and keep the slim lead.
With the win, New England advance to the next round of US Open Cup qualification, where they'll face Sporting Kansas City. Two-time Open Cup champions DC, meanwhile, saw their participation cut short.
NE -- Dube 34' (Mansally)
NE -- Dube 47' (Koger)
NE -- Koger 69'
DC -- Boskovic 73' (Davies)
DC -- Boskovic 83' (Najar)
DC -- Boskovic, caution 16'
NE -- Loewy, caution 50'
NE -- Dube, caution 80'
NE -- Cochrane, caution 85'
NE -- Koger, caution 86'
DC -- Morsink, caution 88'
D.C. UNITED -- Pat Onstad; Brandon Barklage, Rodrigo Brasesco (Dax McCarty 79'), Ethan White, Daniel Woolard; Andy Najar, Branko Boskovic, Kurt Morsink, Santino Quaranta (C); Joseph Ngwenya (Charlie Davies 68'), Blake Brettschneider (Chris Pontius 64')
Unused substitutes: Bill Hamid, Stephen King, Conor Shanosky, Perry Kitchen
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION -- Bobby Shuttleworth; Darrius Barnes, Ryan Cochrane, Otto Loewy (Michael Augustine 91'), Chris Tierney; Sainey Nyassi, Ousmane Dabo (Diego Fagundez 76'), Stephen McCarthy, Ryan Kinne; Kheli Dube, Kenny Mansally (Alan Koger 46')
Unused substitutes: Tim Murray, Zack Schilawski
Referee: Juan Carlos Rivero
Assistants: Mark Gorak, Ian O'Neil
4th official: Michael Donovan