Will D.C. United be the Wigan Athletic of MLS?

After its worst season ever in league play, D.C. United, like Wigan Athletic in May, still has a chance of salvaging its season. Photo: U.S. Open Cup

WASHINGTON, Sept. 25, 2013 — Will D.C. United be the Wigan Athletic of Major League Soccer?

After its worst season ever in league play, United, like Wigan, still has a chance of salvaging its season by taking home a major trophy.

SEE RELATED: Former D.C. United great Jaime Moreno to receive club’s highest honor

While United has struggled in league play and languished at the bottom of Eastern Conference, the team has been impressive in cup games. After beating four teams, United has booked a place in the historic 100th edition of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup against the high-flying, and heavily favored, Real Salt Lake, at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah on Oct. 1.

Can United now do what Wigan Athletic did in England?

Despite struggling at the bottom of the Premier League all through the 2012-2013 season, Wigan reached the F.A. Cup final for the first time and defeated big-spending Manchester City 1-0 at Wembley Stadium on May 13. Sadly, after a 4–1 defeat to Arsenal three days later, Wigan was relegated, ending an eight year spell in the Premier League. The team became the  first club to be relegated and win the FA Cup in the same season. Luckily for United (3-20-6, 15 pts.), no matter how badly it plays it cannot be relegated out of the top-tier like poor Wigan.

The win over Manchester City was impressive, because City ended the season in second place in the Premier League, 53 points and 14 wins ahead of Wigan.

Real Salt Lake (14-10-6, 48 points) are currently in second place in the Western Conference with 33 points and 11 more wins than United.

The game will mark only the second time United has played Real Salt Lake in the Cup. United beat the Utah team 2-1 in the round of 16 in 2010. The last time the two teams met in MLS play was on March 9, when United won its 2013 home opener with a 1-0 victory.

United has won the Open Cup twice in its 18-year history, downing second division teams the Rochester Raging Rhinos (3-0) in 1996, and the Charleston Battery (2-1) in 2008.

The D.C. outfit, reached this year’s final after beating the Richmond Kickers (4-2 on PKs after 0-0 tie), Philadelphia Union (3-1), New England Revolution (3-1) and the Chicago Fire (2-0).

United’s Dwayne De Rosario has notched five goals in the event.

The will be broadcast live on Gol TV at 9 p.m.

Here is a list of local Sports Bars in the Washington region showing the game:

D.C. United representatives will be on-site at Lucky Bar, with the 1996 and 2008 Open Cup trophies, and prizes will be given away, including an autographed United jersey signed by the entire 2013 team.

*Lucky Bar – 1221 Connecticut Ave., Washington, D.C. 20036

*Fado – 808 7th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

*The Pug – 1234 H Street NE, Washington, D.C. 20002

*Tunnicliff’s Tavern – 222 7th Street SE, Washington, D.C. 20003

*The Queen Vic – 1206 H Street NE, Washington, D.C. 20002

*Ventnor Sports Café – 2411 18th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20009

*Gus’ Bar and Grill – 2701 W. Broad St., Richmond, VA 23220

John Haydon wrote a weekly soccer column for The Washington Times for 20 years. He has covered two World Cups and written about Major League Soccer from the league’s inception in 1996.

Follow John on Twitter at @Johnahaydon or email jhaydon@washingtontimes.com

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John Haydon

John Haydon has covered soccer for The Washington Times for two decades. He has reported on international soccer events in Germany, South Korea and Spain. John hails from Birmingham, England and has lived in the Washington D.C. region for over twenty years.  

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