Eh.. Sort of.
It’s time for the U.S. Open Cup Final… the NIT of American soccer… the Carling Cup of American soccer… the oldest continuously… yada yada yada.
It’s not the final everyone wanted to be in at the beginning of the year.
But DC’s there now and it’s the Charleston Battery of the USL D1 awaiting the Black and Red tonight at RFK. It’s a cliche, but the Cup is truly United’s to win tonight. Looking at the Battery’s roster, no one can deny that they are demonstrably less talented than United, but that considering DC’s schitzo form, Charleston could well do to United what Joe Public did to New England.
I do worry about this match. MLS is having one of its worst weeks in recent memory as New England and Chivas USA crashed out of Concacaf with nary a whimper. Now United looks to win its first silverware for four years and win yet another berth in the poisoned chalice that is the Concacaf Champions Cup. If this is truly doomed to be one of the worst weeks in recent MLS history, there would be few better ways to hammer that home than have one of the league’s flagship franchises fall to a minor league team in a cup final.
How can Charleston win this match? It’s actually not that hard. They can follow the old Chicago Fire Plan for Defeating DC – concisely described as follows:
- Pressure and foul United’s midfielders incessantly, forcing the referee to take control of the match
- Compactly sit in the center of the field and force DC to bombard you with crosses while keeping a close eye on Emilio, United’s lone aerial threat
- Give away tons of corner kicks and just remember not to leave Emilio unmarked… DC treats corner kicks like Newcastle fans treat books – with barely reserved disdain and scorn.
- Hack Gomez, now Moreno to the point where he wears down and stays too withdrawn, isolating the forwards
If Charleston is smart, they try and turn this into a hockey game. Surely the Battery staff knows that a United defensive breakdown is never that far away.
If DC is smart, they will attack like hell early on, get that early goal and force Charleston to actually play soccer rather than attempt a reenactment of the Somme.
I am very, very concerned about injuries tonight. If DC gets a 2 goal (and maybe even a one-goal lead), Moreno and Emilio have to get off the field immediately to avoid taking any excessive kicking.
One thing that the Battery does have going for it is that they have plenty of guys used to playing on an MLS stage. They’ve assembled a star-spangled roster of MLS washouts inclduing Lazo Alavanja, Stephen Armstrong, Randi Patterson, Marco Reda (a defender so bad, he couldn’t make Toronto’s roster), and Nelson Akwari.
Prediction – 2-0 United