There will be no rest for D.C. United.
Coming off a huge road loss and with just one day’s rest, United faces the New England Revolution in a crucial U.S. Open Cup semifinal match at RFK Stadium on Tuesday night.
The Open Cup is America’s oldest soccer tournament. This year’s event takes on additional significance because the winning club will receive $100,000 and an automatic berth in CONCACAF Champions League next year.
United suffered a 4-1 loss at the New York Red Bulls on Sunday, its worst defeat to its division rivals at Giants Stadium. Following the game, the team bus was delayed two hours because of traffic problems. United captain Jaime Moreno said he got home at 3 a.m. Monday.
The 34-year-old forward, who scored United’s lone goal against the Red Bulls before being replaced at halftime, rested his sore back while his teammates worked in a short training session Monday.
“We’ve got to bounce back,” Moreno said. “We have a big opportunity to get into the final. We know it’s not going to be easy, but we are going to pull the team together and try and get a win.”
If United beats the Revolution, it will play the winner of the all-USL First Division clash between the Seattle Sounders and the Charleston Battery in the championship game Sept. 3. If Charleston and United advance, the final will be at RFK. If United and Seattle advance, it will be at Qwest Field in Seattle.
United has not won a title since claiming the 2004 MLS Cup.
“We’ve wasted two years in a row not being in a championship match, so we don’t want to let this one slip out of our hands,” said Moreno, who is the all-time leading scorer in Open Cup play with 11 goals.
The Revolution come to RFK following a 2-1 loss at home to the Chicago Fire on Saturday in league play but have had an extra day’s rest.
United defender Marc Burch is suspended for Tuesday’s game because of a red card and likely will be replaced by defender Gonzalo Peralta, who is back on the roster following surgery for a sports hernia.
Peralta’s return comes just as United appears to be getting healthy after a rash of injuries. Midfielder Santino Quaranta returned as a second-half sub against New York after missing some time. United still will be without the services of playmaker Marcelo Gallardo, who has not seen the field since June 29, but coach Tom Soehn has worked new additions Ivan Guerrero and Joe Vide into the midfield rotation.
United won the Open Cup in 1996, the first time MLS clubs entered the event. The single-game knockout tournament began in 1914 and is fashioned after England’s famed F.A. Cup. Forty teams from five different divisions in America’s soccer pyramid compete in the final rounds.
United reached the semifinals with a 2-0 win over the Rochester Rhinos and a 2-1 extra-time win over the Chicago Fire. The Revolution recently won the SuperLiga and carries an MLS-best 10-5-3 record. They reached the semifinals with a 3-0 win over the Richmond Kickers and a penalty shootout win over Crystal Palace Baltimore following a 1-1 tie.
Note - United waived reserve midfielder Jeremy Barlow.