WASHINGTON – United have a long, shiny history in the US Open Cup. They've won the competition twice, in 1996 and 2008, plus reached the 2009 final and the semifinals in 2010.
The chance to add to that history continues on Wednesday, when they welcome the Philadelphia Union to the Maryland Soccerplex for a play-in game. With some player injuries to manage, coach Ben Olsen indicated that he’ll likely field a blend of starters and reserves.
“We’ve got a mix of players who are ready to go and we’ll figure out what we have available and go from there,” he told reporters Tuesday.
Having already started a number of reserves in a 4-1 rout to Colorado on Sunday because of injuries, Olsen has another opportunity to give guys some valuable playing time. Midfielders Stephen King, Brandon Barklage and defender Ethan White are all candidates, as is goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
Olsen wouldn’t tip his hand when asked if Hamid would get the nod in goal.
“It might be a good chance for him to play,” said Olsen.
The 20-year-old Hamid has been rehabilitating from offseason shoulder surgery. His recovery has taken a longer than expected, but he has played in two reserve matches to help get his fitness and sharpness back.
“I’ve made a lot of progress,” Hamid said. “Obviously, I was little rusty because I really haven’t done anything in six or seven months, but over the past couple weeks, I’ve gained [my sharpness] back, day-by-day.
“For a while, I’ve felt like I was ready to get back on the field, but I felt like it was good for me to see the speed again and to be on the sideline and see how things are shaping up, see how we’re playing and see how other teams are attacking us and how I should organize to defend against that.”
Both D.C. and Philadelphia will manage Wednesday’s match with one eye on the weekend. Both sides have tough league matches, with United hosting the LA Galaxy at RFK Stadium and Philly welcoming the New York Red Bulls to PPL Park.
“[Wednesday's match] is going to be another challenge for us,” United defender Dejan Jakovic said. “Philly’s done well this year. They have two wins – their only loss [was] to LA. We’re going to have to come out strong and play like we did against Columbus at home.”