PISCATAWAY, N.J. — In the end, it was not enough. Neither Hristo Stoitchkov’s near Herculean effort nor third-string goalkeeper Jorge Geddes’ two stellar saves in the second half could save D.C. United last night in a 3-2 U.S. Open Cup semifinal loss to the MetroStars before 3,791 at Rutgers University’s Yurcak Field.
MetroStars forward John Wolyniec provided the late-game heroics with an 88th-minute winner through traffic to send the MetroStars to the Cup final against the Chicago Fire on Oct.15 at Giants Stadium.
“We stuck all sorts of inflammable liquids up their backsides at halftime, and the response was way better in the second half,” United coach Ray Hudson said. “But let’s be honest — we’re carrying some serious wounded on this squad. But the guys showed tremendous character and response.”
With United down a goal late in the second half, Stoitchkov went from assistant coach to substitute extraordinaire and set up the tying goal in the 76th minute. After MetroStars goalie Jonny Walker bobbled Stoitchkov’s cross, Ronald Cerritos tapped the ball into the open net to tie the score.
Following a furious sequence in the box, which saw Mike Petke clear a ball off the line and Geddes make a stab on Ricardo Clark’s shot, Wolyniec collected the loose ball and pushed it through traffic from the top right of the box.
In the final of three games with the MetroStars in six days, United went ahead in the 18th minute when Galin Ivanov headed Earnie Stewart’s corner kick inside the far post from 12 yards out.
But the MetroStars answered two minutes later as Amado Guevara nodded in Edgar Bartolomeu’s cross from the left touch line.
Guevara then put the MetroStars ahead in the 43rd minute after Brandon Prideaux was booked for tripping Eddie Gaven following a turnover deep in United’s defensive third.
Guevara, who scored the winner in a 2-1 quarterfinal win over New England on Aug.27, bent a free kick from 25 yards out to the left of United’s five-man wall to give the MetroStars a 2-1 halftime lead.
After already losing Rimando to a season-ending knee injury last Thursday, United lost its backup keeper when Doug Warren was sent off for tripping Andrzej Juskowiak, who was on a breakaway in the 59th minute.
Down to 10 men, Geddes, whose only other appearance was in a friendly with El Salvador, replaced Ivanov and did well to come off his line and stop Richie Williams, who raced into the left side of the box in the 76th minute.