Even with a starting eleven that did not resemble its first choice lineup, D.C. United believed it could get a result against the Rochester Rhinos in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup. An early goal by the Rhinos and Mother Nature interfered with that plan.
Colin Rolfe scored in the 27th minute and through two weather delays it stood as the decisive goal in the Rhinos 1-0 win. The loss ends United’s bid to defend its 2013 Open Cup title. Rochester will play the winner of Wednesday’s match between New England and D.C. United affiliate Richmond.
- Long night at the office. United certainly had plenty of time to find their way back into the match after conceding the goal in the 27th minute. Rochester has the best defense in USL Pro and is known for its organization and discipline. Then there was chaos. In the 61st minute the game was stopped as a severe thunderstorm moved through the area. The delay lasted 38 minutes. When play resumed the teams were only able to stay on the field for nine minutes before more bad weather forced another stoppage. The second delay lasted 91 minutes. The final 20 minutes of the match started at 10:42 PM, but United never developed the rhythm to seriously threaten the Rhinos.
- The lineup is not an excuse. With an eye toward being ready for the resumption of league play against Seattle on June 28, head coach Ben Olsen did not put any of United’s usual starters in his first eleven. Jalen Robinson and Taylor Kemp were used as outside back and were active in attack. Nana Attakora and Steve Birnbaum formed the partnership in the middle of the backline with Lewis Neal and Jared Jeffrey just in front of them in midfield. Collin Martin played higher in the center of midfield with Kyle Porter and Alex Caskey out wide. Conor Doyle started at forward. Before the game Olsen said, “I expect to get a win.” It was more than realistic. The United players on the field Tuesday had the quality and experience to defeat Rochester. The Rhinos only had two players, Alex Dixon and Tyler Rosenlund, with MLS experience and were playing their third game in six days. To the Rhinos credit they are moving on.
- Moving forward. United needs to forge ahead without Fabian Espíndola who is expected to miss six weeks with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee sustained in United's 4-2 win at the Montreal Impact on June 11. United has already demonstrated it is a deeper team, but the test of that depth is now about to be put to a test on a new level. Espindola has not only been United’s most dynamic player, but a tireless worker on defense.