Playing for a championship never gets old. At least not for D.C. United.
With a win over the struggling Los Angeles Galaxy tonight in the semifinals of the SuperLiga in Carson, Calif., United could do just that again.
United, which was the first team to win the MLS Cup in 1996, also has won championships at the U.S. Open Cup (1996), the CONCACAF Champions Cup (1998) and the defunct Interamerican Cup (1998). The inaugural SuperLiga is an eight-team tournament involving some of the top teams in MLS and the Mexican league.
"Winning the SuperLiga would be another notch in D.C. United's belt," United midfielder Josh Gros said.
United (1-1-1, four points) reached the semifinals despite losing 1-0 at the Houston Dynamo in its last SuperLiga match. It earned a 1-1 tie with Mexican club Monarcas Morelia and beat Mexican team Club America 1-0. The Galaxy (2-1-0, six points) stormed into the semifinals after a 6-5 win over FC Dallas.
If United advances, it will play the winner of the matchup between the Dynamo and Mexican club Pachuca, which was played in Houston last night. The final will be Aug. 29 at a venue yet to be determined.
Tonight's game against the Galaxy, a club in serious danger of not making the MLS playoffs but desperate to salvage something this season, won't be easy.
"They've been dropping a lot of games, but they can beat anybody on the day," Gros said. "They are not doing well in MLS, but they did win their group in the SuperLiga."
Superstar David Beckham, who still is trying to shake off an ankle injury, is expected to play part of the game for the Galaxy. He aggravated his left ankle after playing 20 minutes in Los Angeles' 1-0 loss to United at RFK Stadium on Thursday and wasn't on the Galaxy's roster for the 1-0 loss at the New England Revolution on Sunday. However, the Galaxy will be back on real grass, which Beckham prefers to the FieldTurf used in New England.
United enters the match coming off two big MLS wins — a 3-0 triumph at New England Revolution on Aug. 5 and Thursday's victory over the Galaxy. It is led by Brazilian star Luciano Emilio, who leads the MLS in goals with 13.
"Emilio is playing with a lot of confidence. And when you have confidence, those half-chances become goals," defender Bryan Namoff said. "He's on a roll, and it trickles down through the whole team."
United is hopeful for the return of Christian Gomez, who has missed the last two games with a bruised leg.
"He trained fully [Monday] and looks good," Namoff said.