Real Salt Lake vs. DC United | US Open Cup Final Preview

REAL SALT LAKE vs. D.C. UNITED
RIO TINTO STADIUM, Sandy, Utah
October 1, 2013 (US Open Cup Final)
9 pm ET (GolTV)

Game notes courtesy of RealSaltLake.com and DCUnited.com

Tuesday's US Open Cup final is a matchup of two teams on opposite ends of the spectrum in the MLS season: Real Salt Lake, vying for the top spot in the Western Conference and the Supporters' Shield crown; and D.C. United, just looking to get out of the basement in the East standings. United could put away the sour taste of a lackluster season with a win over RSL when the two clubs meet for the Open Cup at Rio Tinto Stadium at 9 pm ET.

RSL earned a spot in the final with a 2-1 home win over rival Portland Timbers on Aug. 7. It is the first time RSL have advanced to the final. Meanwhile, D.C. United took on the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park and came away with a convincing 2-0 victory, also on Aug. 7. This will be D.C. United's fifth appearance in the Open Cup final, last appearing in 2009 in a loss to Seattle Sounders. United won the Open Cup in 1996 and 2008.

REAL SALT LAKE

Since the Open Cup added pro teams to the tournament in 1996, home clubs have recorded a 12-3 record in the final, boding well for the Claret-and-Cobalt.

Kreis, Borchers, & Morales preview USOC final

RSL took care of business in four home Open Cup matches to advance to Tuesday’s final, beating lower-division side Atlanta Silverbacks 3-2 after extra time in the third round on May 28, toppling USL PRO squad Charleston Battery 5-2 after extra time in the fourth round on June 12, defeating the NASL Carolina RailHawks 3-0 in the quarterfinals on June 26 and besting Western Conference foe Portland Timbers 2-1 in the semis on Aug. 7.

The Claret-and-Cobalt emphasized the Open Cup from the jump this year, playing Captain Kyle Beckerman, MF Javier Morales, MF Ned Grabavoy and DF Chris Wingert in all four USOC games thus far. The run to the final is the farthest Real Salt Lake have ever advanced in the Open Cup, besting the club’s two runs to the tournament quarterfinals in 2006 and 2011.

Real Salt Lake rested their regular lineup on Saturday at Vancouver Whitecaps FC in advance of Tuesday’s Open Cup final, with head coach Jason Kreis leaving Beckerman, Morales, GK Nick Rimando, DF Nat Borchers, DF Tony Beltran and other heavily used players in Salt Lake to better prepare them for Tuesday. Of course, that didn’t affect the Claret-and-Cobalt against the 'Caps, with RSL getting an early goal from FW Devon Sandoval to down Vancouver 1-0 at BC Place.

RSL are hoping to hoist a trophy in front of their fan base at Rio Tinto Stadium for the first time. In two previous attempts, they were unsuccessful: losing 1-0 to the New York Red Bulls in the 2008 Eastern Conference Championship and by the same 1-0 scoreline to Mexican side Monterrey in the second leg of the 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League final.

D.C. UNITED

Before defeating the Fire, United dispatched three other opponents to reach the championship. In the third round, the Black-and-Red defeated USL PRO affiliate Richmond Kickers 4-2 on penalty kicks after both teams went scoreless through 120 minutes. Next up was the Philadelphia Union in the fourth round, where United advanced by a score of 3-1. Captain Dwayne De Rosario notched a hat trick in the victory and was named “Player of the Round” as a result. In the quarterfinals, the Black-and-Red beat the New England Revolution, again by a score of 3-1, with goals from De Rosario, Lionard Pajoy and Chris Pontius.

Olsen, De Rosario and Kitchen preview USOC final

This championship draw marks the second time United will take on Real Salt Lake in Open Cup play. In 2010, the Black-and-Red downed Real Salt Lake 2-1, with a game-winning goal from Andy Najar in the 107th minute, to send United to the round of 16. The last time these two teams faced off against each other in all competitions was on March 9, when United won 1-0 in their 2013 home opener.

D.C. United have won the US Open Cup twice in their 18-year history. In 1996, D.C. United pulled off the first "double" in league history, winning both MLS Cup and the US Open Cup. The Black-and-Red beat the second-division Rochester Raging Rhinos 3-0 in the 1996 Open Cup final on the strength of goals from Eddie Pope, Jaime Moreno and Raúl Díaz Arce. In 2008, United captured their second Open Cup title when they beat the second-division Charleston Battery 2-1, with goals from Fred and Luciano Emilio.

The 100th edition of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup includes a random selection process for determining home teams from the first round through the finals among clubs that have applied to host. The process, decided by a coin flip, gives participating teams with venues meeting tournament standards an equal chance at hosting. In years past, the two semifinal matches and the final were determined through a "sealed-bid" process.

The 2013 tournament featured 68 teams, an increase from the 64 that competed last year, marking the largest field in the modern era (1995-present). This year also marks the second consecutive year in which all US-based Division I, II and III teams will participate in the tournament proper: 16 from Major League Soccer, six from the North American Soccer League and 12 from USL PRO. All Division II clubs and eight of the Division III sides entered the competition in the second round, while Division I teams received a bye to the third round.