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Soccer and the Nation’s Capital

I travel to Washington several times a year on business. Since I work in political and governmental circles their is really no way to avoid coming to the nation’s capitol. This week I am in Washington again and for the first time I decided to pay attention to what sports team shirts I see locals wearing. (Because I don’t typically get time to walk the Mall or hit the typical tourist spots, the people I see on the Metro, walking K street or at Dupont Circle are almost always locals. )

In my informal highly unscientific look around town the past two days, soccer has far more devotees locally than any other sport. And what’s even better news is that you don’t see all of the European and Latin American jersey or shirts on people as you do in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or Miami. Between 5:30 last night and 7:00 pm I saw a total of 19 people wearing DC United shirts in addition to one person sporting a DC United scarf. By comparison I saw 7 Redskins shirts, four Nationals shirts or jackets and zero Wizards or Capitals merchandise. I also saw four people either with a US Soccer jersey or a jacket. While it was a gameday, I was nowhere near RFK Stadium and was in fact on the Red Line of the Metro not on the Orange or Blue line that goes to RFK.

I know this is likely an aberration of some sorts but it once again goes to my point about DC United and Washington in general. While some posters on this site show a childish envy of DC United, they are the only soccer club playing in MLS that has made major inroads in the local sporting culture. DC United gets daily coverage in the local print and TV media, has fans who are proud to wear the jersey and has marketed itself brilliantly. When DC United succeeds, US Soccer and MLS succeeds in penetrating the conscience of the sports media which is dominated by the Northeast, for better or for worse.

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About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
View all posts by Kartik Krishnaiyer →

3 Responses to Soccer and the Nation’s Capital

  1. Sams Army says:

    DC is a very international city which is why soccer is bigger there than anywhere is. It’s like London or Tokyo or Paris in its diversity.

  2. football detective says:

    It’s hardly the ex-pats that are sporting the gear – it’s white urban males.

    Here in the SF bay area, there is huge support for Liverpool in the Champions League from the Irish-Americans.

  3. Lewis says:

    DC has always been the best MLS market. It’s the only place where you can turn on the regional sports network and actually get in depth team coverage.

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