KRIS LINDSAY - Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Real Salt Lake vs DC United
US Open Cup - Tuesday October 1, 2013
Rio Tinto Stadium
DC United earned a birth in the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League with a surprising 1-0 victory over the favored Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium.
A goal from Lewis Neal in the 44th minute shocked the near 18,000 in attendance at Rio Tinto stadium and boosted a DC United team that has spent much of the regular season at the bottom of the league.
Real Salt Lake dominated for much of the match, outshooting, out-possessing, and outplaying DC, but couldn't find the back of the net.
It wasn't without effort, however. In the 28th minute, Salt Lake midfielder Ned Grabavoy passed forward to Sebastian Velasquez. Velasquez took a step, and found a streaking Plata in the box, who blasted the ball high and over the cross bar.
The blunders and missed chances would make RSL pay, and it happened in the 44th minute. A ball in the box deflected off of a Salt Lake defender, and fell to the feet of Lewis Neal, who pushed the ball to the far corner of the goal, beating Nick Rimando in goal.
The goal came in the exact minute as an Humberto Suazo goal the last time that Real Salt Lake hosted a final on their home field, which they also ended up losing by a score of 1-0.
Real Salt Lake began to push men forward in the second half, subbing in three forwards in an attempt to get the ball past Hamid.
In stoppage time, off of a corner kick, Costa Rican striker Álvaro Saborío had his corner saved off the line by DC United keeper Bill Hamid. Substitute Devon Sandoval also had a shot saved by Hamid, with Sebastian Velasquez hitting the crossbar off of a left footed shot in the 59th minute.
When the final whistle blew, it was the underdog that came out on top, and the third consecutive time that Real Salt Lake had conceded a 1-0 loss in a cup final.
"This is a cruel game," said Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis. "It's something that I can't put my finger on. We can't seem to get over that last hurdle. We did everything necessary to get those goal scoring chances. Unfortunately, I've never stood here on the other side of the argument. I've stood here and said that I've been out played, out shot, out everything, but we have a trophy."
The goal scorer, Lewis Neal, who at one time was a trialist with Real Salt Lake, hadn't played much this season due to groin injuries. "It's a huge confidence builder. The season has been terrible, it's not been good enough from top to bottom, we've deservedly been bottom of the league. For some reason, this club has played well in these cup games. It hasn't been pretty, but winning the cup isn't about being pretty, it's about winning the game."
The loss is devastating for Real Salt Lake, who will likely need to win out to have a chance at the Supporters Shield. They will need some help from Seattle, who currently sit level with RSL, but hold two games in hand.
DC United with the victory will enter the group stages of the CONCACAF Champions League next season, and take home a $250,000 cash prize.
Salt Lake returns to the field next Saturday, when they will take on FC Dallas, also in search of a playoff spot.
United have a quick return home, where they will match up with the Chicago Fire on Friday night.