D.C. United has a busy month. The club will jet across multiple time zones for two demanding Western Conference road matches, open international competition with a tricky Concacaf game, visit the
daunting confines of BMO Field for a crucial Eastern clash, and welcome one of the world's most illustrious clubs in a high-profile friendly. But first, United will continue its defense of the
U.S. Open Cup in a semifinal matchup with the USL-1's Rochester Rhinos at the Maryland SoccerPlex on Tuesday night. "It's semifinals, it's a championship we want to defend, and
it's not a game that we're taking lightly by any means," said D.C. defender Bryan Namoff
following United's 3-1 league win against Colorado on Saturday.
United and the Rhinos share a rich Open Cup history dating back to 1996, the inaugural year of Major League Soccer, when D.C. defeated Rochester 3-0 in the final at RFK Stadium. That kicked off a
sustained stretch of MLS dominance in the tournament and the Rhinos remain the only team to have disrupted the top-tier league's string of Open Cup titles, having snared the crown in a Cinderella
championship run 10 years ago. D.C. United began last year's cup-winning run with a 2-0 victory against Rochester at the SoccerPlex on July 1.
The Rhinos will relish the underdog
role. With a cup final berth on the line, however, United coach Tom Soehn
might take fewer risks with his lineup by calling on more established veterans than he did in the earlier
stages of the tournament. Veteran striker Jaime Moreno,
for example, expects to see some field in his return from a hamstring injury. "Oh, for sure. I'm expecting to
play," said Moreno on Saturday. "I don't know if I'll be starting but I definitely think I'm going to have some minutes."
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