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2008 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final Preview

The Brooklyn Field Club won the first U.S. Open Cup in 1914, and now either D.C. United or the Charleston Battery will hoist the Cup Wednesday night after meeting in the Cup Finals at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C.

Well, actually neither team will lift the trophy? Why?

Because it won’t be there.

The Dewar Trophy, which goes to the Final’s winner, doesn’t make appearances at the actual Finals anymore because it is so fragile. The Dewar Trophy is the oldest piece of hardware in U.S. team sports history, and it now permanently sits at the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, New York.

Regardless of the fact no trophy will be lifted, either United or the Battery will emerge as the 95th Champion in Cup history. DC won the Cup once before (in 1996 during its inaugural season), but the Battery have never reached the Cup Final.

Both teams are already winners of sorts since they have secured $50,000.00 in prize money. However, there’s still $50K more ready to be handed out to the winner of the Final, and you better believe that money means more to Charleston than it does DC. Also at stake is a berth in the 2009 CONCACAF Champions League.

Most experts are not giving the Battery much of a chance in this game though, and there are several reasons why they should fail to be the first USL team to capture the Cup since the Rochester Rhinos in 1999. For one, DC has the competitive advantage in terms of its players’ skill and their experience in big matches. In addition, DC easily steamrolled its way into the finals by besting the Fire and the Revs, two of MLS’s best teams.

But one shouldn’t count the Battery out. The Battery also bested two of MLS’s best, the Dynamo and Dallas, on its way to the Finals, including a 3-1 road beatdown of DAL at Pizza Hut Park. Charleston boasts a 5-6-2 record all-time against MLS teams, which is pretty impressive considering their lack of MLS teams’ resources.

To beat DC, the Battery will need Dusty Hudock (formerly of MLS’s COL, CHI and MIA), Darren Spicer (formerly of CHV’s reserve squad), Randi Patterson (formerly of RBNY) and Ian Fuller (formerly of the Revs) to play the match of their lives. They will also hope the injury bug that has encompassed DCU will keep some of United’s most dangerous players, such as Luciano Emilio, out of the Final.

I am going to predict an upset for the Battery. The team seems to have so much more riding on the game than DC, and Hudock is a keeper who can keep the Battery in the game. I predict a 1-1 tie and a 4-3 PKs victory for Charleston.

Forty teams started the tourney, and only two remain. For my money, by the end of today, the USL will have another Cup Champion and MLS teams will have only their embarassment at being bested by a second tier team.