Get ready to spend the six weeks between now and August 7 hearing a lot about Wigan Athletic Football Club. The Latics, as they're known over in the UK, famously won this year's FA Cup while simultaneously being relegated form the Premier League. On this side of the pond, D.C. United just punched their ticket to the U.S. Open Cup semifinals with a 3-1 win over the New England Revolution at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds. Of course, the Black-and-Red are having an awful season in league play, but if they manage to win their next two games in the Open Cup, they could repeat Wigan's dubious feat. And so, even if this is the first you've heard the comparison, it won't be the last.
But there are worse things, like the alternative (i.e. not even being alive for a trophy). D.C. is still in the hunt for the 100th Open Cup title, though, thanks to a first half
blast goal at Matt Reis' far post from Chris Pontius, a second half header by Dwayne De Rosario and a late penalty kick earned and converted by - wait for it - Lionard Pajoy. The effort was enough to overcome an early second-half equalizer from Juan Toja, whose free kick Joe Willis saved off the crossbar before the ball unfortunately rebounded off his back and into the goal.
United will travel for the semifinal on August 7 to take on the winner of tonight's match between the Chicago Fire and third division Orlando City. (I personally enjoy this particular matchup because it involves two teams whose full names include the phrase "Soccer Club." Proper Yanks, them.) Between now and then, though, it's back to MLS, where hopefully los Capitalinos will build on two consecutive wins (in all competitions) this Saturday against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
If not, then I suppose there's always that Wigan comparison to fall back on.