WASHINGTON – As D.C. United traveled back across the country, home to the Nation’s Capital following their 1-0 win against Real Salt Lake in the U.S. Open Cup, defender James Riley had time to reflect on the victory. And to check his Twitter feed and text messages.
There he noticed an outpouring of comments regarding United’s big upset. But the messages also brought to light the fact that for the fifth time in his nine-year MLS career, Riley was a U.S. Open Cup champion.
“The flight was a good chance to reflect on those accomplishments and not to just pat myself on the back but to just keep pushing forward,” Riley said following a training session near RFK Stadium. “To win five, I think I’ll have time after my career’s done to sit back and reflect on it. But right now it’s motivation. Once you get one you want to continue to go and push. That’s the standard you try to set for yourself and give to others around you.”
While this is Riley’s first season with United, he previously spent three years in Seattle where he won three consecutive Open Cup titles with the Sounders (2009-11). Before that he won one with the New England Revolution in 2007 and also went to three consecutive MLS Cup matches with the Revolution, giving him eight finals matches in nine years in the league.
“Fortunately I was able to be on some great teams,” Riley said. “And I think [United] has some great potential to be a top contender next year. This team I think has great pedigree, great potential. But we just don’t want to rely on potential. We want to make those actual results.”
This year, the veteran outside back has appeared in 20 matches (18 starts) and has played 1,670 minutes. Despite D.C.’s overall struggles (3-22-6), the Open Cup win brought a great deal of happiness to a locker room that desperately needed it.
“To lift the trophy there at RSL with this team against such a dominant foe is a fantastic feeling given the work that the guys have put in all year,” Riley said. “That sets the standard of preparation for every game that we have in the league. That’s how you get at that level. We know the preparation that we put into that game, imagine if we put that type of preparation into every game?”