D.C. United is a professional soccer club located in Washington, D.C. that participates in Major League Soccer, the United States' top-tier soccer league. Considered the most successful club in American soccer, the club has won the U.S. Open Cup twice and holds the record for most MLS Cups and MLS Supporters' Shields with four apiece. Furthermore, D.C. United is the only club to be awarded the MLS Supporters' Shield back-to-back (2006 and 2007) and the first club to win back-to-back MLS Cups (1996 and 1997). In 1998 D.C. United became the first American club to win the CONCACAF Champions' Cup and the Copa Interamericana, defeating Club Toluca of Mexico 1-0 and Vasco da Gama of Brazil on 2-1 aggregate.
The team's home field is the 56,692-seat Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, owned by the District of Columbia and located on East Capitol Street. However, the team has proposed building a 27,000-seat soccer-specific stadium near Poplar Point on the east side of the Anacostia River, directly across from Nationals Park. With negotiations with the D.C. government stalled, the team is considering nearby sites in Maryland.
D.C. United has one of the strongest fan bases in the league and country, with three supporters' clubs (La Barra Brava, the Screaming Eagles, and La Norte) and one of the highest attendance averages in Major League Soccer. The club's official nickname is the "Black-and-Red" and home uniforms are black and white with accents of red. The team's name derives from Washington, D.C. being the capital of the United States, and is also an allusion to "United" commonly being part of the names of soccer teams in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, for example Manchester United or Leeds United.
The club was one of the founding ten members of MLS in 1996, and in the league's early years was the most successful of all the teams. United won the first "double" in modern U.S. soccer history in 1996, beating the Los Angeles Galaxy to take the MLS Cup and the USL First Division club the Rochester Raging Rhinos to win the U.S. Open Cup. They have also been successful in CONCACAF competitions, winning the Champions' Cup and the Interamerican Cup in 1998.
Following his domestic successes the club's first coach Bruce Arena went on to direct the national team. Arena's departure from United would signal a significant downturn in the team's fortunes. While the club again won the MLS Cup in coach Thomas Rongen's first season of 1999, lackluster seasons in 2000 and 2001 led to Rongen's departure and replacement by Ray Hudson in 2002. The team did not fare much better under Hudson, now a color commentator for Gol TV, however, and Piotr Nowak replaced him before the start of the 2004 season. That season was marred by injuries in the early going, and some players were known to have complained about Nowak's methods. Nevertheless a strong finish (assisted in large measure by the late-season acquisition of Argentine midfielder Christian Gómez) propelled United into the playoffs as the second seed, where they advanced past the New England Revolution on penalty kicks in what has been called one of the best games in MLS history. United then defeated the Kansas City Wizards 3–2 to take their fourth MLS Cup.
D.C. United's primary rival is Red Bull New York, formerly known as the MetroStars. The two teams compete annually for the Atlantic Cup, a competition instituted by the two teams' management that goes to the team that gets the most points across the teams' three meetings throughout the year. DC United also has a unique (among MLS teams anyway) rivalry with the Charleston Battery of the United Soccer Leagues, as they compete every time they face one another for the Coffee Pot Cup, a trophy established by the two sides' supporters.
Famous players for United have included the US internationals Roy Lassiter, Eddie Pope, Jeff Agoos, John Harkes, Tony Sanneh, Ben Olsen, Carlos Llamosa, Bobby Convey and Santino Quaranta. Foreign stars have included Marco Etcheverry, Raul Diaz Arce, Jaime Moreno, Christian Gomez, Ryan Nelsen, and Hristo Stoichkov.
On November 18, 2003, MLS made sports history by signing Freddy Adu, a 14-year-old soccer prodigy and on January 16, 2004 he was officially selected by United with the first pick in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft. When Adu entered United's regular-season opener as a second-half substitute on April 3, 2004, he became the youngest player in any professional sport in the United States since 1887. On December 11 2006, D.C. United traded Adu and goalkeeper Nick Rimando to Real Salt Lake in exchange for a major allocation, goalkeeper Jay Nolly, and future considerations.
In 2005, the club made MLS history by becoming the first (and, to date, only) US-based team to participate in Copa Sudamericana, entering in the Round of 16.
In 2006, United played well against international competition, beating Scottish champions Celtic F.C. 4-0 at RFK Stadium and tying Real Madrid 1-1 in Seattle. In addition, the MLS All-Star Team, which included 9 United players and was managed by United's manager Piotr Nowak, defeated English champions Chelsea 1-0. United, by virtue of winning the 2006 MLS Supporters Shield, was one of two MLS teams to participate in the 2007 CONCACAF Champions Cup in which they reached the semi-finals, losing to CD Guadalajara on aggregate 3-2. United lost to LA Galaxy 2-0 in the semifinals of the newly-created SuperLiga with 4 teams from the Primera División and 4 from the MLS.
On January 8, 2007, the operating rights to D.C. United were sold by Anschutz Entertainment Group to D.C. United Holdings, a newly-formed group venture that includes real estate developer Victor MacFarlane, William H.C. Chang (chairman of Westlake International Group), Blue Devil Development (headed by former Duke basketball players Brian Davis and Christian Laettner), and D.C. United president Kevin Payne. D.C. United Holdings is also in talks with Discovery Communications founder John Hendricks in what is a "majority-minority" ownership group. The sale price was reported to be $33 million, an MLS record fee for operating rights to a club.
In May 2007, United entered into an initial one-year strategic partnership with Brazilian club Atlético Mineiro. The goal of the partnership is to enhance the sporting and commercial success of the respective clubs by sharing expertise and experience as well as creating new opportunities for the clubs in both areas.
All matches are broadcast via radio on WTOP-AM in English and WACA-AM in Spanish. Tony Limarzi does English play-by-play, Herbert Baires does play-by-play in Spanish, Danilo Noel Diron is the Spanish color commentator, and Wilson Romero is the sideline reporter in Spanish.
Players in bold are active D.C. United players
Last Updated August 23, 2008
|Year||Reg. Season||MLS Playoffs||U.S. Open Cup||CONCACAF|
|1996||2nd, East||Champions||Champions||Did not Enter||Started in 2007||Started in 2002|
|1997||1st, East*||Champions||Final||Third Place|
|1998||1st, East||Final||Did not enter||Champions|
|1999||1st, East*||Champions||Round of 16||Third Place|
|2000||4th, East||Did not qualify||Quarterfinals||Fourth Place|
|2001||4th, East||Did not qualify||Semifinals||Not Held †|
|2002||5th, East||Did not qualify||Did not enter||Round of 16||Did not qualify|
|2003||4th, East||Quarterfinals||Semifinals||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2004||2nd, East||Champions||Round of 16||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2005||2nd, East||Quarterfinals||Quarterfinals||Semifinals||Round of 16|
|2006||1st, East*||Semifinals||Semifinals||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2007||1st, East*||Quarterfinals||Round of 16||Third Place||Semifinals||Round of 16|
|2008||TBD, East||TBD||Champions||Semifinals||Group Stage||Did not qualify|
* Won MLS Supporters' Shield
† Finished runner-up in the CONCACAF Giants Cup that was held in 2001 instead of the CONCACAF Champions' Cup