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D.C. United Returns to U.S. Open Cup Final, Set to Face Seattle Sounders on Sept. 2

CHICAGO (July 22, 2009) — Playing in a rainy Maryland Soccerplex Tuesday night, reigning U.S. Open Cup champion D.C. United defeated the remaining USL-1 side in the Rochester Rhinos 2-1 to earn a return trip to the final. In a meeting of two MLS clubs, the expansion Seattle Sounders will travel cross-country to visit D.C. at RFK Stadium with the chance to win a trophy in the team’s first year as an MLS franchise on the line on September 2. Live coverage of the game will be broadcast by Fox Soccer Channel starting at 7:30 pm ET.
In Maryland, D.C. United punched its ticket to the final despite a tough match against the Rochester USL-1 club. A scoreless game until the 41st minute, United veteran Jaime Moreno put the “Black and Red” ahead by converting a penalty kick drawn by Devon McTavish, whose flicked ball hit the arm of a Rochester defender. Rhinos’ goalkeeper Tim Melia guessed wrong, and D.C. United went into halftime with a 1-0 lead.
Starting the second half aggressively, Rochester earned several free kicks in D.C.’s half, but goalkeeper Milos Kocic and the rest of the United defense did well to keep the goalmouth clear and hold the lead until the 68th minute. A ball sent from the right side resulted in several deflections in the box, until Rochester forward Tai Atieno pounced on the loose ball and tied the game at one.

Continuing to attack, Rochester possessed in D.C.’s end, but couldn’t find the net again. Eventually it was a defensive mistake by Rhinos' center back and captain Kenny Burtz in the 82nd minute that gave United the winning goal. Misjudging a bounce on a long ball from the D.C. defense, the error allowed second-half D.C. substitute Chris Pontius to race by him for the breakaway. Despite Melia’s initial save, the rebound was followed up by Boyzzz Khumalo and placed easily into the empty net. With the win, D.C. United earns its second chance to defend a U.S. Open Cup title, falling in 1997 to the Dallas Burn in penalties a year after beating Rochester to claim its first Cup. Unlike 1997, they’ll have the advantage of hosting the final at RFK Stadium, the same venue where they claimed last year’s championship.

Opposing United’s championship pedigree will be 2009 MLS newcomer Seattle, after the Washington club defeated the visiting Houston Dynamo 2-1 in overtime at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Wash. Houston took an early lead from a Ade Akinbiyi strike in the 32nd minute, but ended up shocked by two goals within seven minutes late in the game as Seattle stole a spot in the final.

Despite Houston holding onto the lead for 57 minutes, Seattle drew even in the 89th minute with a goal by Nate Jaqua that would send the match into overtime. Houston then gave up the second goal of the night to Stephen King in the 96th minute. Seattle closed out the game, successfully fending off several Houston attacks, even as the Sounders went down to ten men after Jhon Hurtado was sent off in the 110th minute for his second yellow card of the match.

The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the U.S. Soccer Federation’s national championship, is an annual competition open to all amateur and professional soccer teams affiliated with U.S. Soccer. It is the oldest national annual tournament for team sports in U.S. history and among the oldest soccer tournaments of its type in the world. In 1999, the competition was renamed to honor long-time soccer pioneer Lamar Hunt.

Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Semifinal Results

Date Match Time     Venue
July 21 Rochester Rhinos (USL-1) at D.C. United (MLS) 1-2 Maryland Soccerplex; Boyds, Md.
July 21 Houston Dynamo (MLS) at Seattle Sounders (MLS) 1-2 (OT) Starfire Sports Complex; Tukwila, Wash.


Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final

Date Match Time TV      Venue

Sept. 2

Seattle Sounders (MLS) at D.C. United (MLS) 7:30 p.m. ET FSC RFK Stadium; Washington, D.C.