D.C. United has endured a nightmare season. Can’t score goals much less create many chances and defensive blunders have reared their ugly head on more than one occasion.
Yet the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup has been an oasis for the side as United stunned the Chicago Fire 2-0 tonight at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois to reach the clubs fifth Open Cup final. United will play Real Salt Lake on October 1st after their 2-1 win over the Portland Timbers late this evening. RSL will be playing in their first ever U.S. Open Cup final.
Dwayne De Rosario scored in the 44th minute, his fifth goal in the past three Open Cup matches, and Nick DeLeon scored in the 48th to give United all they would need against a clearly lethargic Fire team that just three weeks ago had handed United an embarrassing 4-1 defeat at Toyota Park.
After a very sloppy start to the match, United started to gain control of possession, conceding a few half-chances to the Fire that were easily handled by goalkeeper Joe Willis. With the first half winding down, it was Chicago’s goalkeeper Sean Johnson who couldn’t handle a routine clearance and provided the Black-and-Red with their opportunity to open the scoring.
Nick DeLeon’s shot from 25-yards straight out from goal was deflected and looping towards Johnson. Luis Silva took advantage of Chicago’s sleepy defense and put up a challenge to Johnson who flubbed his catch attempt under the pressure of Silva. De Rosario pounced on the loose ball and took a touch to his left to avoid the scrambling goalkeeper. De Rosario easily put the ball into the far side netting to send United into the locker room with a 1-0 lead.
After the break United came out like a house on fire and doubled their lead in the 48th minute. Nick DeLeon was slipped a beautiful pass at the top of the penalty area and the second-year man from Louisville turned to fire on goal. His shot appeared to take a deflection off of midfielder Joel Lindpere and the misdirection into the near side netting easily beat Johnson who was already committed to a far post shot.
Unlike most of their MLS campaign, United saw the match out with not too much difficulty and nearly took a 3-0 lead in the 60th minute when Conor Doyle, subbed on for an injured Luis Silva, split two Fire defenders to a bouncing ball deftly chipped by De Rosario and ripped a one-time rocket that forced a wonderful diving save from Johnson.
At the other end of the pitch, Joe Willis and his defense put out a few nervy fires with Perry Kitchen and James Riley both making goal line saves to help preserve the shutout and send United to another appearance in the U.S. Open Cup Final.
In a season that has gone terribly wrong, United can hopefully draw strength from this Cup run and look to turn around what has quickly become an historic season for all the wrong reasons.