- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 23, 2009

In its defense of the U.S. Open Cup, D.C. United opened with a decisive victory.

Midfielder Fred and rookie Brandon Barklage scored as United beat FC Dallas 2-0 in a preliminary game at RFK Stadium on Wednesday night.

With United missing at least six regular starters in the opening lineup, the win was a positive sign for a club that had struggled to take advantage of its many chances this season. It also suggested United may have the depth on its roster to play in multiple tournaments this year.

“I’ve said from the beginning we have a deep team, and it was fun to get those [rookies] on the field and let them show what they are about,” United coach Tom Soehn said.

United preserved the shutout when Dallas forward Kenny Cooper missed a penalty kick in the 88th minute.

The early pressure all came from United. Andrew Jacobson shot wide in the seventh minute, then Fred fired over the crossbar.

Before long, United’s probing was too much for the visitors. In the 21st minute, rookie striker Chris Pontius played a perfect ball into the path of the onrushing Fred. The speedy Brazilian easily slotted the ball past Dallas goalie Ray Burse to give United the lead.

“The good communication on the field with Chris played off,” Fred said.

Santino Quaranta nearly increased the lead with a shot just before the break after collecting a fine pass from the hardworking Barklage, who was making his first start.

“I’m just out there to make the plays, and I love playing with [Pontius] a lot,” Quaranta said.

Marc Burch, United’s left-footed specialist, had two well-taken free kicks stopped by Burse. The goalkeeper also pulled off a fine save to stop Thabiso Khumalo’s header.

United sealed the win in 66th minute. Quaranta, who played a role in the first goal, set up a pass from left corner for Barklage, who fired a blistering low shot into the net from 20 yards out.

“I decided to take a rip, and fortunately it went in the far corner,” said Barklage, a third-round draft pick who was playing in an unfamiliar attacking role. “I felt I was in la-la land [after the goal], and it took me a while to get back in the game. My mind was somewhere else, but it felt good.”

Milos Kocic made his debut in goal for United. Rodney Wallace, Jaime Moreno, Dejan Jakovic and Anthony Peters all came off the bench late in the game.

United advances to play the winner of the San Jose Earthquakes-Red Bulls matchup next month at a site to be determined.

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