DC United Profile
|Major Honours||CONCACAF Champions League (1), MLS Cup (4), Supporters' Shield (4), US Open Cup (3)|
As one of the original members of the MLS, this is a club with history, a proud fanbase and a packed trophy cabinet. Here's the story behind Black and Reds.
DC United are one of the founding teams of Major League Soccer, and even played in the league's first-ever game on April 6, 1996.
United had a lot of success early on but have struggled in recent seasons as the MLS has expanded. In their history, they are tied for the most Supporters' Shields in the MLS, have the second-most MLS Cups at four, and have won the US Open Cup three times.
Their trophy cabinet also boasts a CONCACAF Champions Cup and the 1998 Copa Interamericana, the only intercontinental title ever won by an MLS squad.
When the MLS began, DC United played at Robert F Kennedy Memorial Stadium. That venue was owned by the District of Columbia. It had been the former home of the Washington NFL team and had a soccer capacity of 45,596.
United played at RFK for 21 seasons before moving into a soccer-specific stadium in 2018.
Audi Field has a capacity of 20,000 and is located within the city, just blocks from Nationals Park, home of MLB side the Washington Nationals.
DC United are owned by a consortium known as DC United Holdings. The consortium was created in 2007 to buy the team from Anschutz Entertainment Group for $33million, a then-record for an MLS franchise.
Former NBA players Brian Davis and Christian Laettner were originally involved. This made Davis, alongside Victor MacFarlane, the first African-American owners in MLS history.
United also had the first Asian-American owner in William HC Chang, who purchased 100% of the team in 2009 before selling a majority stake to Erick Thohir and Jason Levien in 2012. Levien and co-chairman Stephen Kaplan also own Wales-based EFL side Swansea City.
The Bruce Arena era
In their inaugural season, United hired Bruce Arena as manager. Arena had been head coach at the University of Virginia for 18 seasons, winning five national championships with 300 career wins.
United started their franchise with USA midfielder John Harkes, USA defender Jeff Agoos and Bolivian striker Marco Etcheverry.
They drafted defender Eddie Pope and current Red Bull Salzburg manager Jesse Marsch in the college draft, while picking up Raul Diaz Arce and Mario Gori in the general player draft and Supplemental Draft.
United started slowly, but Steve Rammel scored the first hat-trick in league history in a win over Columbus, and they won three in a row in June.
They beat first-place Tampa Bay Mutiny three times in August to clinch a play-off berth and ultimately finished 16-16 to earn second place in the East.
First play-off run
In the first-ever MLS Cup play-offs, DC beat New York/New Jersey MetroStars in the best-of-three first round. This came courtesy of a 1-0 second-leg win, with Etcheverry scoring the goal, and a 2-1 third-leg victory in which Diaz Arce scored a penalty in the last minute of regular time.
In the Eastern Conference finals against Tampa Bay Mutiny, United won the first leg 4-1 thanks to a hat-trick by Diaz Arce and them claimed the second leg 2-1 to advance to the showpiece.
United fell behind to Los Angeles Galaxy 2-0 in the MLS Cup final at Foxboro Stadium in Massachusetts.
Substitute Tony Sanneh scored in the 73rd minute and fellow sub Shawn Medved tied the game in the 81st minute. Pope won United the first-ever MLS Cup with a golden goal in the fourth minute of overtime. Etcheverry was named game MVP for his three assists.
Ten days later, United added another trophy as they beat the Rochester Raging Rhinos 3-0 to lift the US Open Cup.
In 1997, United placed six players on the All-Star team and had a 22-match unbeaten streak, which ended with a 6-1 loss to Kansas City Wizards on June 21.
They finished third in the CONCACAF Champions League and reached the finals of the US Open Cup, losing in a shootout to the Dallas Burn.
United won their first Supporters' Shield with 55 points and earned the top seed for the play-offs. Arena was named MLS Coach of the Year and Pope was awarded Defender of the Year.
In the play-offs, United beat New England with a pair of wins, and they also swept aside Columbus in the Conference finals 3-2 and 1-0.
Hosting the MLS Cup in front of more than 57,000 fans at RFK Stadium, United beat Colorado Rapids 2-1 to become repeat champions. Jaime Moreno and Sanneh scored the goals and Moreno was named MVP.
In August 1998, United became the first American team to win an international tournament as they beat Deportivo Toluca 1-0 in the CONCACAF Champions Cup at RFK Stadium.
They also beat Brazil's Vasco da Gama 2-1 over two legs to claim the Copa Interamericana.
United finished first in the East in the MLS, despite losing Pope and Agoos to the 1998 World Cup for six matches. In the play-offs, they beat Miami Fusion in the first round with two wins and had to go to the third leg to beat Columbus.
In the MLS Cup final at the Rose Bowl, United couldn't three-peat, losing 2-0 to the Chicago Fire.
Post Arena years
After the MLS Cup final, Arena left United to take over as the US men's national team coach. Thomas Rongen, who had MLS experience in Tampa Bay and New England, was hired to take over.
United took the 1999 Supporters' Shield with 57 points and beat Miami in the first play-off series with a two-leg sweep.
In the Conference finals, they went to three games against Columbus, winning the final leg 4-0.
For the third time in four years, United then lifted the MLS Cup as Moreno and Ben Owen scored in the first half to beat LA Galaxy 2-0. Ben Olsen, in his second year with the team, was named game MVP.
Rongen struggled over the next two seasons as United went from champions to 11th place in 2000, missing the play-offs for the first time. They finished 10th in 2001 and again missed out on the play-offs.
Ray Hudson took over for 2002 after the Miami Fusion disbanded. United finished last in the East in 2002 but made the play-offs in 2003, falling in the Eastern Conference semi-finals to Chicago 4-0. After the 2003 season, Hudson was fired and Etcheverry left, ending an era.
Polish Power - Nowak leads to title
Former Chicago Fire player Piotr Nowak took over for the 2004 season in his first coaching job. United also signed 14-year-old prodigy Freddy Adu, the youngest pro athlete to sign an American sports contract since 1887.
United struggled in the first half of the season and acquired Argentine midfielder Christian Gomez.
Things improved and they entered the play-offs as the second seed in the East and beat the MetroStars in both legs of the Eastern Conference semi-finals.
In the Conference final, they blew a lead three times and had to win the game on penalty kicks, Nick Rimando denying Clint Dempsey in the sixth round.
United fell behind to the Kansas City Wizards early in the MLS Cup final at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. Alecko Eskandarian tied the game in the 19th minute and put United ahead four minutes later.
An own goal gave United a 3-1 lead and they held on for a 3-2 win to become the first MLS team to win four league titles. The win made Adu the youngest American professional champion and Nowak the first to win an MLS Cup as both a player and a coach.
The late 2000s
In 2005, United lost to Chicago 4-0 in the first round of the play-offs after finishing second in the East. In 2006, they won the Supporters' Shield with 52 points but lost to New England 1-0 in the Eastern Conference finals.
Nowak left to be Arena's assistant at the US national team and United replaced him with Tom Soehn.
The 2007 regular season saw United go 16-7-7 as they won a fourth Supporters' Shield. The feat made them the first MLS team to win consecutive Supporters' Shields.
In the CONCACAF Champions Cup, they finished third and were invited to the Copa Sudamericana, which remains the last time an MLS team has played in a South American tournament.
They made it to the knockout round before falling to Guadalajara. In the first round of the MLS Cup play-offs, they lost to the Chicago Fire 3-2 on aggregate.
United finished sixth in the East in 2008 and missed the play-offs, with the highlight of the season being the US Open Cup.
They beat Chicago in the quarter-finals, New England in the semi-finals, and Charleston Battery 2-1 in the final to claim another trophy.
After missing the play-offs in 2009 and finishing runners-up in the US Open Cup, Soehn resigned and United hired Curt Onalfo from the Kansas City Wizards.
The Ben Olsen era
The 2010 season was the worst yet for United, with 20 losses and 17 games without a goal, both records. United scored just 21 goals, an MLS record, and Onalfo was fired on August 4.
Ben Olsen took over on an interim basis and he was named head coach before the start of the 2011 season.
United added Charlie Davies and Josh Wolff before the season and traded for Dwayne De Rosario. They finished sixth in the East but still missed the play-offs.
In 2012, they made the play-offs for the first time since 2007 with 58 points. They beat the New York Red Bulls 2-1 on aggregate in the Eastern Conference semis before falling to Houston Dynamo 4-2 in the Eastern Conference finals.
In 2013, they missed the play-offs, finishing 10th in the East with just 22 points. The highlight of the year came at the US Open Cup, where they beat Columbus, Orlando City, Chicago and Real Salt Lake to claim the title.
Late 2010s and the Wayne Rooney effect
United went from worst to first in the East in 2014 as Olsen was named Coach of the Year. They lost De Rosario but added Chris Rolfe and Eddie Johnson.
With 18 wins and 59 points, United were the top seed in the East's play-offs. However, in the first round, they lost to the New York Red Bulls 3-2 on aggregate.
They lost in the quarter-finals of the play-offs in 2015 and the first round in 2016 after finishing fourth in the East in both seasons. United missed the play-offs in 2017 with just nine wins.
United took the final play-off spot, but they lost to Columbus in a penalty shootout in the first round. Rooney scored 11 more MLS goals in 2019 before returning to England at the end of the season.
United finished fifth in the East and lost to Toronto 5-1 in the first play-off game.
United finished 13th in the East in 2020 and Olsen was fired on October 8, ending a 10-year run. Assistant coach Chad Ashton finished the season as interim coach.
Olsen won 131 games in total. When he won his 100th in 2019, he was the youngest MLS coach to reach the milestone, at the age of 41.
Rivalry with New York Red Bulls
United's main rivals are the New York Red Bulls. Sharing the I-95 interstate, the sides play the I-95 Derby for the Atlantic Cup, awarded to the team that gets the most points in their meetings each season.
The Cup came about in 2002, and the teams have played nearly 100 times overall. United lead the rivalry in the regular season (35-31), in the US Open Cup (2-1) and the MLS Cup play-offs (7-4).
United won six straight Atlantic Cups from 2004 to 2009, but Red Bulls have won four straight from 2017 to 2020.
DC United's top players
Bolivian native Jaime Moreno holds nearly all of United's offensive records.
He scored 131 goals with 102 assists in 329 games, all top marks. Moreno had 26 game winners and netted 42 penalty kicks.
In addition to Moreno, midfielders John Harkes, Marco Etcheverry and Richie Williams, defenders Jeff Agoos and Eddie Pope and forward Raul Diaz Arce are all inaugural United players who are in the team's Hall of Tradition.
Ben Olsen is the only player who did not feature in the 1996 team who is also in the Hall of Tradition. Olsen played with United from 1998 to 2009.
Signing Wayne Rooney from Everton has been the biggest international splash for United. They have also used the Designated Player Rule on Paul Arriola, Lucas Rodriguez, Rafael, Dwayne De Rosario, Eddie Johnson and Edison Flores.
Keeper Bill Hamid is a DC United Academy product and holds the team record for wins (50) and shutouts (38).
DC United News
- Jan 18, 2021