DC United and the New York Red Bulls had differing views on their Round of 16 tie on Tuesday night at Audi Field, and the visitors’ 3-0 victory reflected which side took it more seriously.
While the Red Bulls fielded a relatively strong line-up, United caretaker manager Chad Ashton’s picks fell somewhere between the aforementioned second and third options – even though the Red Bulls are DC’s fiercest rivals. and that this tournament offers the opportunity to lift a trophy.
“It’s hard to sit there the second half saying, ‘We’re getting our asses kicked right now,'” Ashton said. “But if I really look at the big picture, it’s the right decision. If we had chased some of the guys we ran over the weekend…it would have put them in physical danger. We simply cannot afford that right now.
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Three days after beating Houston and four days before heading to Miami in MLS, Ashton rested most of his regulars and extended opportunities to secondary players and second division Loudoun United calls.
“These are guys who haven’t played together,” Ashton said. “It’s basically a training day and they get thrown out there, and I probably put them in a position of failure. It’s on me at the end of the day.
DC hung on for most of the first half but conceded a goal less than a minute before intermission and another less than three minutes after the break in front of an announced crowd of 8,290.
Luquinhas, a Brazilian striker, scored the opening goal and then assisted John Tolkin. Zach Ryan capped the scoring in the 68th minute in the first cup clash between the MLS founding members in 13 years.
“The way we played our game, I don’t think we deserved to win,” defender Tony Alfaro said. “It could be a mix of guys not playing together, but I don’t want to use that as an excuse. We’re all part of the organization, so I think we should be on the same page.
United’s roster included three main players (keeper Rafael Romo, defender Donovan Pines and midfielder Chris Durkin), four typical substitutes (Alfaro, Drew Skundrich, Griffin Yow and 17-year-old Jackson Hopkins) and four base players. Loudoun. Pines only played one half and Durkin managed 69 minutes. Four of the seven available submarines came from Loudoun.
The Red Bulls started seven players who were in the lineup for a 1-1 draw with Portland on Saturday. Eleven minutes into the game, however, Aaron Long, a central defender for the United States national team, left with an injury.
The Red Bulls were comfortable playing on the road: they won their first five away games of the regular season, tying an MLS record set by the LA Galaxy in 1998, and had advanced in this tournament with a 2-1 win at second tier Hartford last month.
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New York were superior but scoreless in the first half until deep into stoppage time. Dru Yearwood unlocked United’s defence, sliding the ball through a channel towards Luquinhas for an eight-yard shot into the corner the further.
In the 48th minute, Luquinhas worked Alfaro down the right side and crossed to Tolkin for a 14-yard slip.
United were then caught sleeping from a set piece, a regular occurrence this year. Dylan Nealis (Georgetown) played a quick free kick to replace Cameron Harper, whose low cross was redirected by Ryan.
United finished with a shot on goal and two corner kicks.
The tournament features teams from all levels of American football, with MLS clubs entering in the third round or later. United had advanced with a 3-0 win at Flower City Union, a fourth-flight team from Rochester, NY, in what turned out to be Hernán Losada’s last game as manager.
“We prioritize the league over the Open Cup. It’s as simple as that,” Ashton said. “It was, ‘Hey, let’s take a chance. Can we shake things up and then defend? Unfortunately, it just didn’t go that way.”
DC (4-5-0 in MLS, including 2-1-0 under Ashton) resumes the regular season on Saturday at Inter Miami (3-6-1).
Remarks: In anticipation of roster changes this summer, United have secured a spot on Portland’s international roster for $160,000 in 2023, a person familiar with the trade has said. The transfer window reopens on July 7, although teams can finalize deals earlier. …
Bill Hamid, United’s first-choice goalkeeper who needed at least six stitches for a leg injury sustained on Saturday, is expected to be in uniform this weekend. Andy Najar (hamstring), Moses Nyeman (thigh) and Nigel Robertha (concussion) have resumed jogging but remain unavailable to play.