D.C. UNITED 2, KICKERS 1
If there was any doubt whether D.C. United forward Abdul Thompson Conteh deserved a return to the starting rotation, he dispelled it last night at RFK Stadium.
Conteh, making his first start in five games despite being United’s leading scorer, scored both goals in a 2-1 win over the Richmond Kickers of the A-League in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup.
Conteh is the leading scorer in U.S. Open Cup play with five goals and leads United with nine goals in Major League Soccer play.
“I think anytime that you can get a player that can produce two goals in any given game, you’ve got to put a big, big plus after his name,” United coach Thomas Rongen said.
United will move on to face the New England Revolution in the semifinals Aug. 22 at a venue yet to be determined. United has beaten the Revolution all three times the teams have met this season in MLS play.
United’s first goal developed near midfield. United midfielder Brian Kamler played a wall pass to midfielder Stephen Armstrong on the left wing. Armstrong took it to the endline, then sent a cross that hardly altered course when it skimmed off of forward Chris Albright’s head as he made a fadeaway leap at it.
The ball curved out to Conteh, who controlled it with his torso, then unleashed a low-flying rocket inside the right post.
“When the cross came and I saw Chris attempt to go [for] a header, I just backed out … five yards, hoping the ball would drop back,” Conteh said. “It didn’t drop back exactly how I wanted it, because I was going to first-time it, but I just put it in my stomach to bring it down and then lifted my head up.
“I hit it with everything I’ve got back there, and the ball just skipped right in.”
Conteh’s second goal was just as brilliant. He received a leading pass from United midfielder Marco Etcheverry that gave the speedy forward 30 yards of open field with nothing between him and the goal but goalie Mike McGinty.
McGinty came off his line, but Conteh flicked the ball to the right at the top of the box, then tapped it into the wide open goal in the 86th minute to make it 2-0.
“I was like, it’s 1-0, we need an insurance goal in case something happens,” Conteh said.
The successful attempt was the mirror-image of a chance by United forward Jaime Moreno in the 69th minute.
At midfield, Etcheverry passed it forward to Conteh, who one-timed a leading pass to a sprinting Moreno. Moreno came in one-on-one with the Richmond keeper and tapped the ball left but hesitated on the open goal.
That hesitation blew his chance at the score. Kickers defender Peter Luzak raced from behind and slid in to deflect Moreno’s shot over the endline and out of harm’s way.
“Luzek is a pretty crafty defender,” Rongen said.
Richmond’s lone goal came in the 88th minute off a beautifully set up shot. Kickers midfielder Mike Burke found forward Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi near the left side of the endline, and Adu-Gyamfi slotted it to the near post as forward Kevin Jeffrey slid ahead of United goalkeeper Mike Ammann to get his third goal in U.S. Open Cup play.
Notes United defender Mark Watson will undergo season-ending surgery Tuesday to put a screw in a stress fracture in his right foot. He suffered the injury in May while on duty with the Canadian national team… . United midfielder Bobby Convey will return to practice in three weeks after successful abdominal surgery… . United players Mark Lisi and Scott Vermillion sat out with muscle strains.