Somehow, in the midst of the worst season in team history, D.C. United is playing for a trophy tonight. An MLS record-breaking 13th major trophy. The winner of tonight's match up against Real Salt Lake gets a quarter of a million dollars, a berth in the 2014-15 Concacaf Champions League and a nice helping of glory. So, how the hell did we get here?
It all started back in late May, when the league campaign was - well, let's face it, it was basically already off the rails. United entered the third round of the U.S. Open Cup and was drawn against their USL Pro affiliates, the Richmond Kickers. As with the league season, United were held scoreless down in RVA, through 120 minutes, but they also kept the Kickers off the board, forcing penalties, where United would go on to win, 4-2, and advance to the fourth round.
That next round would see the Black-and-Red re-establish Fortress SoccerPlex as they hosted the Philadelphia Union up in Boyds, Md. on June 12. Dwayne De Rosario suddenly remembered that he's one of the best players in MLS history, scoring a hat trick to down the Zolos 3-1, putting United into the quarterfinals. (Careful - I couldn't find a highlights video, so this is just the full match.)
United played at the Maryland SoccerPlex again in the quarters, this time welcoming the New England Revolution to the I-270 corridor. And then kicking them to the curb. This time, on a late June evening, goals from Chris Pontius, DeRo and Lionard Pajoy (via PK) saw off the Revs 3-1 and got us all thinking about Wiganing our way to a trophy.
Finally, the dreaded road test. Against a team that had demolished United in league play somewhat recently. The Black-and-Red hit the road to visit the Chicago Fire, the self-proclaimed Kings of the Cup, for a chance to play in the final. Not only did United score multiple goals and win, they kept the clean sheet. Sean Johnson derped a goal to Dwayne De Rosario (with some help from Luis Silva), and Nick DeLeon provided the insurance in United's 2-0 win, setting the stage for tonight's tilt in Salt Lake.
And so, here we are. The live thread will be dropping inside of an hour from now, but in the meantime, share your thoughts on United's weird, wild, confusing trip to the Open Cup final this year. In spite of it all - the bad offseason, mid-season departures, the lousy league performances, the interminable lists in the middle of sentences - D.C. United play for a trophy tonight.
More from Black And Red United:
- D.C. United Scouting Report, US Open Cup Final Edition: Real Salt Lake
- Fantasy Focus: Rising to another Lovel
- Filibuster Podcast: 50th Episode US Open Cup Extravaganza
- Escape the Shutdown with D.C. United's 1996 U.S. Open Cup Championship
- D.C. United vs. Real Salt Lake lineup: US Open Cup final edition