United Captures U.S. Open Cup Title

By Paul Tenorio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 4, 2008

Standing in front of the Barra Brava section, passing the U.S. Open Cup from player to player and applauding the fans -- who waved flags and chanted -- D.C. United finally had something to celebrate.

After four years without a championship, and during a season in which it has struggled both internationally and domestically, United added to its trophy-filled past last night, winning its first U.S. Open Cup title in 12 years with a 2-1 victory over the Charleston Battery in front of 8,212 at RFK Stadium.

Behind goals from its two Brazilian playmakers at the start of both halves -- forward Luciano Emilio in the fourth minute and midfielder Fred in the 50th -- United claimed the U.S. Open Cup for the first time since its inaugural season in 1996 when it downed the Rochester Rhinos, 3-0. It was United's first championship since it won its fourth MLS title in 2004 with a 3-2 victory over Kansas City. United is now 10-2 in all Cup finals.

"It's another one that goes in the case," United forward Jaime Moreno said. "You keep adding [trophies] and that's what we want, that's what we work for. It's a tradition, it's a team that always tries to be in the big picture of big tournaments, of the MLS."

It was Moreno's cheeky back heel in the fourth minute that set up United's first goal.

The veteran forward's quick flick found Santino Quaranta on a run into the box from the right side, and Quaranta took a touch in the box before being taken down by a Charleston defender. The ball rolled slowly to Emilio, and from just on top of the 18-yard box the Brazilian placed a shot neatly into the upper right corner to give United a 1-0 lead.

The goal may have come at a cost, however, as Emilio removed himself from the game immediately after the shot. United said Emilio aggravated his groin strain, and the forward ruled himself out for Saturday's game at San Jose.

"Today, I contacted the ball and [the groin] went back to zero," Emilio said. "It's very tight and sore, and I need to rest."

The one-goal lead Emilio provided did not last long.

Just six minutes later, the Battery drew even when a long diagonal ball from the defense found right midfielder Chris Williams on the wing, skipping past United defender Marc Burch, who said he expected the ball to check up. Williams collected the ball as Burch recovered, and then dropped a soft pass back to forward Ian Fuller, who smacked an uncontested shot to the near post from inside the box.

Charleston continued to show it was not intimidated by United's history, looking dangerous in the attack, at times stringing together several passes in its attacking third.

That attack nearly gave the Battery the lead in the 20th minute, when a quick counterattack up the left sideline freed Lazo Alavanja on a run through the United defense. But Alavanja's shot crashed off the far post and out.

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