D.C. United’s season has been a bit of an unexpected disaster, but there remains a chance for the club to salvage some glory and do something it hasn’t done since 2008: lift a trophy. United will play at the Chicago Fire in the semifinals of the 100th edition of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup tonight. Here are some storylines for United’s showdown with the Fire.
Must Mark Magee
Mike Magee has been a difference maker since he was acquired by Chicago from Los Angeles in exchange for the rights to Robbie Rogers at the end of May. He leads MLS with 14 goals; eight of them have come in his 10 league games with the club. He has added three more goals in Chicago’s run to the Open Cup semifinals. Magee scored goals in each of Chicago’s two wins over D.C. United this season.
Impact of New Faces
Luis Silva, Conor Doyle and Jared Jeffrey are part of the up-and-coming generation of United, and all three recent acquisitions made their presence felt over the weekend in United’s best performance of the season. They each scored in a 3-1 win over the Montreal Impact on Saturday, a game that marked United’s first multigoal effort in a league game since a 3-2 loss to Philadelphia on April 21.
Winner Heads West
Portland and Real Salt Lake won a coin toss held at U.S. Soccer headquarters in Chicago that determined who would host the final, meaning that the winner of the D.C. United-Chicago matchup will be headed west for the U.S. Open Cup championship game. If it is in Portland, it will be held on Sept. 24 at Jeld-Wen Field. If Real Salt Lake wins, the final would not be played until Oct. 1 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Big Invite at Stake
It’s crazy to think that D.C. United, which is in last place in MLS with a 3-15-4 record, could find itself in next year’s CONCACAF Champions League — the premiere intercontinental competition in the region. But the club is just two victories away, with the winner of the U.S. Open Cup automatically entered into the 2014-15 CCL. D.C. United last appeared in the competition in the 2009-10 season.