DC United earned their first road win of the season, 2-0 over the Chicago Fire to punch their ticket to the 2013 US Open Cup Final. Photo: Chicago Fire
DC United, desperate to salvage what has been a nightmare regular season, traveled to Toyota Park and did something they had not done this year in any competition: Win a game on the road.
United punched their ticket to their fifth US Open Cup Final with a 2-0 win over the Chicago Fire, handing the four-time champions their first-ever home loss in US Open Cup play. DC return to the championship game for the first time since 2009 when they failed to repeat as champions, losing to the Seattle Sounders, 2-1.
Dwayne De Rosario took advantage of a mishandled ball by goalkeeper Sean Johnson just before halftime to score his tournament-leading fifth goal, and on the other side of the break, Nick DeLeon gave United a two-goal advantage that they would not relinquish.
Much like Wigan of the English Premier League, DC United is attempting to win the tournament despite a bottom-of-the-table performance in league play. Wigan upset the mighty Manchester City in the FA Cup Final and became the first club to win the tournament and be relegated in the same season. Fortunately for United, Major League Soccer teams do not get relegated.
DC United will need to win one more road game to lift the trophy for the third time (1996, 2008) as the championship game will be hosted by Real Salt Lake on Oct. 1 at Rio Tinto Stadium. RSL defeated the Portland Timbers 2-1 in the other Semifinal. The winner will book an automatic place in the 2014/15 CONCACAF Champions League and win $250,000 in prize money.
The two teams canceled each other out for the majority of the first half, with each team taking turns controlling possession. The best chance for Chicago in the first half came from Dilly Duka in the 19th minute. He found space on the left wing and sent a cross into the box that was deflected. The ball redirected to the far post where it found Patrick Nyarko who tried to volley it in from a tight angle but was unable to put it on target. In the 27th minute, Alex headed a Nyarko cross on frame, but it went right into the arms of DC goalkeeper Joe Willis.
A few minutes later, a Chicago cross came in from the right wing and found Mike Magee on the left side of the box but his volley went wide.
The later part of the half belonged to United starting with a counter attack in the 37th minute as De Rosario received a cross in the box but hit it wide of the goal.
De Rosario would put DC on the scoreboard just before the halftime break when Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson leaped to deal with a ball that deflected up into the air in the penalty area. He was unable to hang on as the ball spilled to the ground and De Rosario was there to dribble away from Johnson and fire it into the net despite the sliding attempt of Fire defender Austin Berry. It was De Rosario’s ninth career Open Cup goal, tying him for 8th on the Modern Pro Era’s goalscoring list with Tomas Boltnar (Des Moines Menace), Matthew Delicate (Richmond Kickers/Rochester Rhinos), Randi Patterson (Charleston Battery/Carolina Dynamo) and Carlos Ruiz (FC Dallas/Los Angeles Galaxy).
The fans were barely settled back into their seats after halftime when the visitors struck again. In the 48th minute, Nick DeLeon received a pass from James Riley who beat Johnson to put United up 2-0. In the 60th minute, Johnson kept his team in the game with a save off a breakaway by Conor Doyle.
After that, the Fire pushed forward to try to cut the lead in half, but the United defense held on. In the 76th minute, a ball fell out to the top of the box where Alex’s well-struck volley was headed toward the back of the net but it was deflected out of danger by the traffic in front of goal. Two minutes later, Berry moved into the box to contribute to the offense and nearly scored when he got a touch to the ball and saw it rolling slowly toward the lower left corner of the net, but Perry Kitchen cleared it off the line for United.
Duka sent a cross into the box in the 84th minute and took a deflection and nearly got behind Willis, but he was able to recover and clear the ball. The Fire retrieved the ball and sent it back into the box for Duka who received the ball with his back to goal near the 6-yard box. His attempt to juggle the ball, back in and volley it was thwarted by Willis who smothered the ball just outside of his goal.
Duka had another shot attempt from outside the box in the final minutes of regulation, but Willis was there to make one of his six saves as the DC defense held on for their second clean sheet of the tournament.
Semifinal: DC United 2-0 Chicago Fire
August 7 | Toyota Park – Bridgeview, IL | Attendance: 11,036