U.S. Open Cup Final: A Tale of Two Stories for Real Salt Lake, D.C. United

By Phil Naegely
DC United
Paul Frederiksen-USA Today Sports

Coming into the U.S. Open Cup Final, D.C. United had won all of three MLS games and sits in the bottom of the league. In the Open Cup alone, United won more games than their entire MLS season. For Real Salt Lake, the 1-0 loss brings back painful USOC memories, but they need to focus on securing a MLS playoff spot. With the result, D.C. is ecstatic while RSL has some questions to answer.

With the Open Cup Championship, United wins $250,000 and a spot in the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League. The other two MLS spots come from who wins the MLS Cup and wins the Supporters Shield. While Canadian MLS teams can qualify to the Champions League by winning either the Supporters Shield or MLS Cup, they can make the Champions League in other ways.

For D.C., this win allows them to make big plans for the 2014 MLS season. Ben Olsen will be able to target and attempt to bring in some big name players, including new designated players. While their 2013 season was a mess, 2014 looks to start off with a bang. At this moment, D.C. will have the first pick in the 2014 MLS Draft and first in the allocation order.

For RSL, they need to forget this loss quickly and focus of finishing strong in the remaining games. If history repeats itself, they will struggle to win in the final games and could finishes outside the top five. In the case they finish outside the top five in the Western Conference, then they would fail to make the playoffs. At the same time, RSL has a chance to still finish atop the West as well as the league.

For now, D.C. will celebrate the win and their Champions League birth for next season.

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