- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Spurred on by the memory of one of the biggest upsets in the history of the U.S. Open Cup, the Harrisburg City Islanders gave D.C. United a fretful final 25 minutes on Tuesday night.

But unlike the 2007 meeting between the two teams, United found the board early and held on for a 2-1 victory in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals at Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds.

Harrisburg, which plays in USL2, eliminated United in its opening game of the 2007 tournament with a narrow victory on a high school field in Pennsylvania. Six players from that club were on the roster Tuesday, and the club didn’t back down from an early deficit.

United will face the Rochester Rhinos in the semifinals at the SoccerPlex on July 21. Rochester defeated Wilmington 2-1 on Tuesday in their quarterfinal.

United came out the aggressor in its quarterfinal, easily dominated possession and scored both its goals in the first 18 minutes of the match.

Forward Thabiso Khumalo opened the scoring in the eighth minute after a flurry of chances in the early going. Midfielder Devon McTavish floated a pass from the left flank across the goal to an unmarked Khumalo, who dropped an easy header past goalkeeper Chase Harrison.

“I think it’s like my first time scoring with my head,” Khumalo said.

Andrew Jacobson doubled the lead when he headed home a corner kick from Fred in the 18th minute.

United put a total of six shots on goal in the first half and could have doubled its lead, but Fred and McTavish each bailed out of one-on-one situations with Harrison in tight angles.

Harrisburg could muster offense only from midfielder Ty Shipalane, a South African midfielder who for some reason was wearing his shorts backward. He put two shots on goal in the first half, one on a quick restart on a free kick that almost caught United keeper Milos Kocic off-guard.

United came out a little complacent in second half, maybe expecting another meek half from Harrisburg.

The City Islanders’ offense sprang to life after midfielder Mo Oduor was sent off with a straight red card for cleating United midfielder John DiRaimondo in the 49th minute. The club suddenly looked dangerous on counterattacks and took advantage of some sloppy United defense in the 64th minute.

“It really came on the red card,” United coach Tom Soehn said of Harrisburg’s turnaround. “We thought we had the game won and forgot what it takes to do that and the movement off the ball. We got very complacent.”

A sloppy clearance from central defender Greg Janicki was intercepted by Shipalane just outside United’s 18-yard box. Shipalane lost the ball in the middle of the box, but it was scooped up by forward Nicki Patterson, who scored to cut United’s lead in half.

Harrisburg kept pushing for the equalizer and almost got it in the 73rd minute when midfielder Brandon Swartzendruber played the ball to David Schofield inside the 6-yard box off the left post. Schofield blasted his attempt over a diving Kocic and off the crossbar.

“If you keep a team around in this tournament or in any part of the world, if you keep a team around and they get one back, [then] all of a sudden now you’re scraping for it,” Soehn said.

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