GERMANTOWN, Md.- The Ocean City Barons played against some of the best players Major League Soccer had to offer.
You wouldn't have known by watching that the Barons were just an amateur squad. For 74 minutes, Ocean City didn't play like one.
It held off D.C. United (7-3-8) for most of the game with goalie Tunde Ogunbiyi and his acrobatic saves. However, United's Christian Gomez scored on a penalty kick in the 74th minute to break the scoreless tie, leading to an eventual 2-0 win in a third-round Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup game.
This was the furthest the Ocean City franchise (8-4-1), which competes in the United Soccer League's Premier Development League, has gotten in the Open Cup and didn't necessarily waste the opportunity. The Barons played hard in front of an announced crowd of 2,021 Tuesday night.
"Getting the experience with the guys I have known for the past six years was great," Joe Banks said. "The second goal was tough. We had some really good chances. We were right there."
United's Ange N'Silu made it 2-0 in stoppage time.
D.C. United didn't start some of its better players, specifically Chris Pontius and Gomez. Pontius started the second half and Gomez came in midway through the period. That's when the tempo changed, giving D.C. United an extra edge.
"They had to bring their three in the game to get them over the hump," Banks said.
When a team is overmatched on paper, the logical plan is to tuck in the defense and create plays off turnovers. That's the route Ocean City took and Ogunbiyi was ready for more work.
The goalie from Boston College looked forward to the match, knowing he was going to be bouncing around in front of the net. He tested his skills against those from Major League Soccer and finished with 10 saves.
"Tunde has been amazing throughout this Cup run," said coach Neil Holloway, who was ejected for arguing early in the second half. "He's a huge talent, and I think one day he can go on and play in the MLS himself. He kept us in the game with some tremendous saves tonight."
Ogunbiyi received a penalty when he ran into Gomez inside the box. When the official blew his whistle, Ogunbiyi threw his arms up and couldn't believe the call was made.
"That's a bold call to make," he said. "But you can't do anything about it now. I couldn't have sat on my line. That's the best play I could have made."
But he was ready for this, too. Gomez set up, looked to the left and shot right. Ogunbiyi felt Gomez would try to trick him by looking the other way, so he dove to his left. The ball skipped just under him.
"He tried to mess with my head by looking the other way. I took a gamble," Ogunbiyi said. "It was just unlucky, really. Any amount of luck and we could have won this game."
The Barons had a couple of chances in the first half. Kevin Curran, an Ocean City High School graduate, shot the ball from 40 yards out and United goalie Milos Kocic made a diving save. Banks had a bicycle kick that landed on goal, but Kocic was there again.
"For them, it's a big game and they came out and competed hard," D.C. United coach Tom Soehn said. "They looked for us to make a mistake, and in the first half, we almost did."
The Barons had an opportunity in the winding minutes without Holloway on the side. Ocean City hit the ball several times in the box and got as close as going in without crossing the line.
Holloway was ejected in the 54th minute after injecting English football passion into the game.
Holloway didn't agree with the fourth official telling him to sit down and, apparently, not telling Soehn to do the same.
"I think the fourth official caused a lot of problems," Holloway said. "He's supposed to keep the calm in the technical areas. I simply asked him a question. … Next thing I know, he's asking me to leave the biggest game in the Ocean City franchise history."
Notes: The Harrisburg City Islanders (USL-Division 2) upset the MLS' New England Revolution 2-1 in New Britain, Conn. Ocean City High School graduate and former Press Player of the Year Chad Severs started and played the entire game for the Islanders.
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