By AVI CREDITOR
BOYDS, Md. — Antoine Hoppenot was hoping he'd get a second chance to score after letting a golden opportunity slip away. The Philadelphia rookie did, and his team's quest for the U.S. Open Cup is still alive as a result.
Hoppenot's goal two minutes into the first period of extra time gave the Union a 2-1 victory over D.C. United in a chippy fourth-round affair in which both teams finished with 10 men in front of 3,276 at the Maryland SoccerPlex. The Union advance to take on the Harrisburg City Islanders — a club affiliate — in the quarterfinals at a match to be played at PPL Park on June 26.
Hoppenot, a substitute forward, was nearly a goat for the Union after he had his point-blank chance to win it in the final moments of regulation expertly saved by a diving Bill Hamid.
"After missing that one. … I probably should've put that one in," said Hoppenot, whose goal was the first of his professional career. "But the team came up to me, told me I was going to get another chance, to keep my head up and make sure the next one put it in the goal. I was just thinking about the next one. It came, and I put it in the back of the net."
He made good on his chance for retribution, running onto Freddy Adu's curled ball from the left that skidded off the top of centerback Emiliano Dudar's foot at the top of the D.C. box. Hoppenot finished with precision in the 92nd minute to put away the MLS Eastern Conference leaders.
"I just saw Antoine in line with the defender, and when you see that, you know he's going to win the foot race," Adu said. "So you've got to put the ball in front, and I just saw him and was able to slip it in between the two centerbacks, and he got on the end of it."
D.C. Designated Player forward Hamdi Salihi had two chances to tie it up for United. His 110th-minute blast from just outside the box was tipped away by a diving Zac MacMath, who made his return between the posts after sitting out with concussion symptoms. Salihi then fluffed a chance in front of the goal in stoppage time of the second period of extra time, lifting his chance over the bar.
The game needed to go to extra time after veterans Brian Carroll and Josh Wolff exchanged goals at the end of the first half. At the onset of first-half stoppage time, Carroll had a shot from outside the area take a deflection and wrong-foot Hamid to open the scoring.
D.C. wasted no time in responding, working an aesthtic combination with Salihi bending a ball wide right to Andy Najar, who crossed to the far post for Nick DeLeon. The rookie headed back across goal to an unmarked Wolff, who nodded home the equalizer in the final moments of the half.
Neither team seriously threatened in the second half until the 81st minute, when Brandon McDonald sliced through the defense and slipped a through ball for Maicon Santos, who had his shot stopped by a MacMath kick save. Philadelphia nearly won it on Hoppenot's chance at the death that got stuffed by Hamid and ultimately went ahead on the rookie's next opportunity.
"I go to sleep thinking about scoring the game-winning goal for the Union, so to have it happen is incredible," Hoppenot said.
Hoppenot nearly scored a second goal in extra time, curling a shot from distance that caromed off the crossbar in the 115th minute. Midway into the second period of extra time, simmering, game-long tensions boiled over, as Brandon McDonald and Carlos Valdes were shown straight red cards for an altercation in the area that caused both teams to clash while embattled referee Jose Carlos Rivero attempted to separate the two teams and restore order.
The incident prompted United coach Ben Olsen to enter into a postgame rant about the officiating, which was uneven throughout the match for both teams. Philadelphia's Michael Farfan, for example, was already sitting on a yellow while he committed a dangerous challenge on Perry Kitchen that only drew a foul. After the whistle, Farfan blatantly shoved Kitchen in front of Rivero, only to receive his third warning since picking up his card.
"It was a typical Open Cup game," Olsen said. "The referees were lousy. They always are. For both teams. Every Open Cup game it just turns into an absolute circus. Maybe that's the fun of the Open Cup, that it's an absolute zoo every game. But it gets old. I'm not blaming the referees tonight, but it doesn't help. At the end of the day this game is a perfect reminder of what we can't do. That attitude that we cannot come to a game with."
The red card will force Valdes to be suspended for the quarterfinal match against Harrisburg, with the Union already perilously thin at centerback. Amobi Okugo did an admirable job filling in for the injured Sheanon Williams as Valdes' partner in the back, and he'll likely be called upon again in Valdes' absence in the next round.