After more than 120 minutes of scoreless soccer, the Black-and-Red came up short in the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, falling to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in a penalty shootout. The Strikers now move on to the fifth round to play an undetermined opponent, while United are eliminated from the competition.
Scoring opportunities were hard to come by as the teams battled for supremacy throughout the match, but several goal-line clearances kept both sides off the board. United took an early lead in the shootout when Strikers’ forward (and former United attacker) Maicon Santos missed his penalty attempt, but ultimately lost 4-3. Substitute Matheus Carvalho scored the winning penalty for the visitors.
“It’s obviously disappointing to go out of this tournament, especially this early, but the guys gave me everything they had,” said United head coach Ben Olsen of his team’s effort in the match. “We didn’t finish some of our chances that were there, and when it goes to PK’s it’s a bit of a coin flip.”
With a return to MLS action in just three days, the match provided an opportunity for Olsen to call upon some of United’s new faces. Alhaji Kamara made his first start for the club and provided good energy from the front, while recent Homegrown signing Chris Durkin played 86 minutes in his D.C. United debut. The precocious 16-year-old midfielder/defender looked solid in his first appearance.
“Both I thought were great,” said Olsen of Kamara and Durkin. “I don’t think we rewarded Kamara enough for some of his running… Durkin was fine. He didn’t look out of place to me.”
“This was a competition that we really wanted to do well in, so even though I thought we played relatively well, we just didn’t have that killer instinct to get our goal,” said United midfielder Rob Vincent of the team’s performance. “I think if we scored, it probably would have been relatively comfortable, maybe we would have went on and got two or three, but we couldn’t get that first one and you always kind of leave yourself with that 50/50 chance in a penalty shootout, and we are disappointed.”
After a two-week break for Copa America, United resume their MLS campaign on Saturday at 9 PM against the Houston Dynamo on NewsChannel 8.