In a misery-filled season for last-place DC United featuring just three league wins out of 27, plaudits have understandably come few and far between. Goalkeeper Joe Willis earned one of those bright spots by winning TheCup.us Player of the Round honors for his role in a 2-0 Semifinal victory over the Chicago Fire.
Willis becomes the second DC player to win Player of Round in this year’s tournament. Dwayne De Rosario won the award, which is voted on by staff at TheCup.us and a select panel from the North American Soccer Reporters, in the Fourth Round.
Taking home nearly two-thirds of the 1st-place votes, Willis became the first goalkeeper to win the award since Richmond Kickers net-minder Ronnie Pascale did it in the Quarterfinals of the 2011 edition of the tournament against Sporting Kansas City.
Willis made six saves against the Fire in a 2-0 victory. De Rosario and Nick DeLeon scored on either side of halftime to give DC the lead, and Willis and his backline absorbed a slew of Chicago pressure to hand the Fire its first-ever home loss in the competition.
United will attempt to salvage their season on oct. 1 in the championship game against Real Salt Lake, in the first-ever Open Cup Final held in Utah. Willis, or DC United’s other keeper Bill Hamid, will most likely have to turn in another Player of the Round-quality performance to bring DC their third Open Cup title. Along with winning a trophy, the victor will also earn a place in the 2014/15 CONCACAF Champions League and a $250,000 prize.
2013 TheCup.us Player of the Round Honors
Final: Bill Hamid (DC United)
Semifinals: Joe Willis (DC United)
Quarterfinals: Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers)
Fourth Round: Dwayne De Rosario (DC United)
Third Round: Frederic Piquionne (Portland Timbers)
Second Round: Brandon Fricke (Des Moines Menace)
First Round: David Geno (Seattle Sounders U23)
Preliminary Round: Gustavo Villalobos (FC Hasental)