Sandy, UT (SportsNetwork.com) - There hasn't been much to smile about for D.C. United this season, but the club pulled off a stunning 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium on Tuesday to capture the 100th U.S. Open Cup.
Lewis Neal scored the lone goal late in the first half, while United had to survive a furious offensive surge from RSL in the second half to win its 13th major trophy, the most in MLS history.
Ben Olsen's team has been eliminated from postseason contention for weeks, but Tuesday's final was a chance to take something from an otherwise dismal campaign.
Early on United did well to absorb pressure from Salt Lake, which controlled possession for much of the opening half.
But the visitors took advantage of a rare opportunity just before halftime when John Thorrington did some good work in the build up to get the ball into the penalty area, where Neal found the far corner of the net with a left- footed shot.
As expected, Salt Lake came out strong after the break and Sebastian Velasquez saw his shot beat United goalkeeper Bill Hamid, only to crash against the crossbar.
Hamid came up huge in the final 10 minutes to preserve United's lead as he first produced a fine stop to deny Alvaro Saborio before turning away Ned Grabavoy in a one-on-one situation after a nice setup from Devon Sandoval.
In the dying moments RSL saw its final attempt saved by Hamid as the goalkeeper kept out an overhead kick from Sandoval.
United clinches its third U.S. Open Cup in team history and will now take part in next season's CONCACAF Champions League, while RSL's search for its second major trophy continues with the club having won the 2009 MLS Cup.