D.C. United was bounced from the U.S. Open Cup tournament last night, losing in sudden-death overtime to the minor league Charleston (S.C.) Battery, 4-3, at Charleston's Blackbaud Stadium.
United fell behind by two goals in the first half, battled back to tie it and then took a 3-2 lead on A.J. Wood's goal with about six minutes left in regulation. But Bulgarian midfielder Ivailo Ilarionov forced overtime with a goal in the 87th minute, then won it in the 100th minute by finishing a two-on-one with Jamaican defender Dean Sewell.
The Battery became the third team from the A-League--the U.S. equivalent of a second division, behind Major League Soccer--to upset an MLS team and advance to the quarterfinals. The U.S. Open Cup is an 85-year-old tournament that includes professional and amateur teams from all over the country. United won the title in 1996 and was runner-up in '97.
The tournament is run by the U.S. Soccer Federation, not MLS, so instead of a shootout at the end of regulation, a 30-minute sudden-death overtime was played.
United was without four U.S. stars--defenders Jeff Agoos and Carlos Llamosa and midfielders Ben Olsen and Richie Williams--who have been on national team duty at the Confederations Cup in Mexico and Bolivian midfielder Marco Etcheverry (sore heel). Also, midfielder John Maessner was not eligible to play because he was acquired after the July 1 tournament roster deadline.
The Battery, which has an 11-10 record in the A-League, got off to a terrific start with goals in the 12th and 24th minutes by Mike Burke (Loyola, Md.) and Sewell, respectively.
United cut the deficit in half just four minutes later when Jaime Moreno curled a high shot past goalie Dusty Hudock. The equalizer came 14 minutes into the second half on a 12-yard header by rookie midfielder Chris Albright for his first professional goal. Jason Moore set it up with a high pass from the right side.
In the 84th minute, Moreno was at it again, slipping a pass to Wood for a 17-yard shot that gave United the lead. But three minutes later, the Battery re-tied it when Ilarionov negotiated the right side of the penalty area and poked the ball over goalie Tom Presthus's shoulder.
United nearly won it early in overtime, but Mike Slivinski's cross struck the crossbar after floating over Hudock.
United resumes its MLS season Sunday against Tampa Bay at RFK Stadium.
BURN 2, METROSTARS 0: Jason Kreis scored his 14th goal of the year in the 71st minute and John Jairo Trellez added a goal with about five minutes left as host Dallas (11-11) broke a two-game losing streak. New York/New Jersey (5-14) has lost four in a row.