- - Monday, September 30, 2013

For all the futility D.C. United have endured over the past seven months, the club still has a chance to lift the 13th major trophy of its 18-year existence.

While United have a league-worst 3-21-6 mark in MLS play, they managed to win four straight in the U.S. Open Cup en route to an appearance in Tuesday night’s title game at Real Salt Lake.

“To their credit, the guys have separated the season and the Open Cup and got themselves into a final,” coach Ben Olsen said. “There’s not many cups around and not many chances to play in finals. I don’t care what it is — this is a great opportunity.”

With United’s playoff hopes long gone, Olsen rested his starters and sent a reserve team for Saturday’s 4-1 league loss to Toronto FC. The goalkeeper for that match was Joe Willis, who has played every minute of the Open Cup for United but will give way to regular starter Bill Hamid on Tuesday.

“I view Bill as our best goalkeeper,” Olsen said. “I’ve got to go with who I believe gives us the best chance to win. Right now, Bill’s in form.”

United, four-time MLS Cup champions, have twice won the Open Cup, a sprawling single-elimination tournament featuring teams from several divisions of professional soccer. Their last Open Cup crown in 2008 was also the club’s most recent trophy of any kind.

“There’s real excitement around this game,” midfielder Chris Pontius said. “Everyone knows what it means to us and our season.”



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