WASHINGTON — Despite an encouraging draw against the New England Revolution on Saturday, league-worst D.C. United are still long shots to make the postseason.
That’s why Ben Olsen’s club, while still hopeful things can turn around in their MLS slate, is putting so much stock into winning the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
“With the way our season’s going, we have to try and win a trophy somewhere – whether we turn things around in MLS or we win this Open Cup,” said defender Ethan White. “We’re taking every game seriously.”
D.C. will face the Philadelphia Union, the team that eliminated them from the Cup last season, Wednesday at the SoccerPlex in Boyds, Md. (7 pm ET).
Last year at the SoccerPlex, Philadelphia’s Antoine Hoppenot scored an overtime winner in the Union’s 2-1 victory. As matches between these clubs so frequently do, things turned ugly toward the end when both Brandon McDonald and Carlos Valdes were shown red cards in the second overtime period. Overall in the last two Open Cup matches between these two I-95 rivals, there have been nine yellow cards and four ejections.
“They’re right up the street,” White said. "We’ve always had some tough battles with them, whether it’s from preseason or last year when we got the red card last time we played them."
While United were encouraged by their performance on defense against the up-tempo Revs, the offense still failed to convert on its opportunities. The same happened in United’s third-round Open Cup victory against the Richmond Kickers, where D.C. advanced 4-2 in penalty kicks after a scoreless draw through 120 minutes of game action.
“We’re not having the best season, so this is a chance for us to win a championship and get into the [CONCACAF] Champions League,” said midfielder Nick DeLeon. “That would be pretty cool. The guys in here are focused and we’re not taking it lightly.”
DeLeon said he was encouraged by the offense’s performance against New England and said it was arguably the club’s best performance of the year — a low bar for a team’s that’s scored only six times this term.
“I think our confidence in what we’re doing is moving in the right direction,” DeLeon said. “We’ve just got to keep going and keep that faith.”