This was never supposed to be the way it went down, but that doesn't make it any less sweet. D.C. United, by virtue of a Lewis Neal (LEWIS NEAL!) goal and monster performances from the defense and Bill Hamid have won their MLS all-time best 13th major trophy, defeating Real Salt Lake in the 100th U.S. Open Cup final tonight in Sandy, Utah by the score of 1-0. Nobody (by which I mean everybody) is talking about the Black-and-Red's league-worst, historically bad record in MLS this year, but who cares? We won. A final. Right now, at this moment and for the next 12 months, D.C. United are the champions of American soccer.
The game plan was pretty simple: Hope and pray. Hope and pray that Dejan Jakovic and Ethan White would step up and Bill Hamid would go all #TCHUB (without the red card). It happened. Hope and pray that Perry Kitchen and John Thorrington could stand up to RSL's diamond midfield, especially Javier Morales. It happened. Hope and pray that the old/new forward partnership of Dwayne De Rosario and Chris Pontius would create problems for the hosts' center backs. It happened. Hope and pray that Nick DeLeon and surprise starter Lewis Neal could find some joy pinching into the middle to help the spine of the team and allow fullbacks Chris Korb and James Riley to overlap with success. It happened. Hope and pray for a goal, some way, any way possible. It fucking happened.
Lewis Neal's goal very late in the first half was the difference. It started with John Thorrington's run at Tony Beltran, beating him to lash a low cross toward Dwayne De Rosario. The ball was knocked away, but only as far as Neal, who beat two RSL defenders to the loose ball in the box and put his first-time shot past Nick Rimando for the game-winner. You want footage of the goal? I'm only too happy to oblige.
We'll have plenty more tomorrow. For tonight, drink it in, folks. Even in what was (until tonight) our worst ever year as a soccer club, D.C. United have still won more trophies than some unnamed teams have won in 17 years of existence. We are champions. You can't beat that with a stick.
More from Black And Red United:
- Real Salt Lake vs. D.C. United - 100th United States Open Cup Final TV schedule, preview, projected lineup, prediction, and live thread
- D.C. United's road to the 2013 U.S. Open Cup Final - How did we get here?
- 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