Fred led D.C. United to the U.S. Open Cup title and a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League, scoring in the 50th minute help the Major League Soccer team beat the Charleston Battery 2-1 on Wednesday night.
“Getting a taste of running around with a trophy in front of our fans who deserve it more than anybody, it’s a great feeling,” United coach Tom Soehn said. “You remember that stuff. There’s a lot of things you forget in games, but situations and moments like that you remember. You want to taste that again. Hopefully they all got a great taste of it, but there’s other things on that horizon we still have to accomplish.”
United also won the championship in the team’s inaugural 1996 season. The Washington club also has won four MLS Cups.
The U.S. Open Cup has been contested for the past 95 years, making it the oldest annual team tournament in American sports. It is open to all amateur and professional teams affiliated with U.S. Soccer.
The win gave United a spot in next year’s CONCACAF Champions League. The team is in this year’s competition by way of winning the MLS Supporters Shield with the best regular-season MLS record last year.
“Obviously there’s some bigger fish out there that we still want to get,” Soehn said.
Charleston, a team from the second-tier United Soccer League’s First Division, was the first non-MLS team to play in the Cup final since 1999.
Since the formation of MLS in 1996, only three teams outside the top league have played in a U.S. Open Cup final. Only one won the title—the USL’s Rochester Rhinos beat the Colorado Rapids in 1999.
“It was an unbelievable effort by the guys,” Charleston coach Mike Anhaeuser said. “It was a battle to the end. I’m sure if you asked the D.C. United players they’d tell you the same thing. Our guys can’t hold their heads low. I’m disappointed, but we obviously played a great game.”
D.C. United opened the scoring on Luciano Emilio’s goal in the fourth minute, but Charleston answered just 6 minutes later. The score stayed tied until Fred’s goal.
It was the first appearance for Fred since injuring his left hamstring against New England on Aug. 20. He came on in the 40th minute to replace Joe Vide, who suffered his own hamstring strain. Fred made several attacking runs and didn’t seem to suffer any ill-effects from the injury.
His goal came on one such run down the right side, when he took a pass from Clyde Simms and had a one-on-one against goalkeeper Dusty Hudock. Fred converted to give United a decisive 2-1 lead.
“Fred is a big part of this team, and he showed it,” United captain Jaime Moreno said. “He’s a good player.”
Emilio opened the scoring in the fourth minute. Santino Quaranta was taken down with a tackle inside the penalty area and the ball squirted backward to Emilio just outside the box. Hudock leaped and barely got his hand on the ball, but it still ended up in the top of the net.
After the goal, Emilio—who left Saturday’s game against the Red Bulls with a groin strain—was replaced by Rod Dyachenko in the seventh minute.
Soehn said Emilio took himself out after re-aggravating the injury on the goal.
“I wasn’t intending on using a sub that early,” Soehn said.
The Battery had a quick answer for Emilio’s goal.
Chris Williams pulled down a long pass in the box and flicked the ball back to Ian Fuller, who sent a hard shot into the right side of the goal to tie the score 1-1.
“To come and lose, it’s not a good feeling,” Fulller said. “Yeah, it’s nice to make the final, but we felt like we could win. We still think we could win, if we played again.”
After the win, United’s players celebrated in front of the 8,212 fans, who serenaded the team with chants of “United” before the trophy presentation.
“We are happy,” Emilio said. “I think this is an important championship. For many players here, it’s the first championship with D.C. United. Confidence is now high.”
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