DC United: Something Smells at RFK Stadium
Injuries, fixture congestion, Superliga, US Open Cup. The excuses these days are frequent and quite frankly amusing coming from DC United supporters. The excuses are from my vantage point completely unbecoming of a set of fans who have experienced more success than any other in the short history of MLS and an organization whose very success is quite possibly the only reason MLS is still in business.
As a supporter of MLS for years you could count on DC United to give an inspired and professional performance in every outing against an international side. It is of course DC United who have scored the three biggest accomplishments to date in MLS history: winning the CONCACAF Champions Cup against a Mexican side, Toluca in 1998 (when LA won the Champions Cup in 2000 they managed to avoid all Mexican and Costa Rican teams in the competition) the Inter-American Cup against Vasco De Gama in 1998 and of course the friendly win a few years later in North London against Totenham Hotspur.
Through the years DC United has traditionally had superior scouting and player chemistry than other MLS sides. Kevin Payne until this year has had the magic touch regarding player choices. Part of the reason USL-1 is so strong as we are once again learning in this CONCACAF Champions League is that so many MLS teams make mistakes with talented players. This is why Montreal and Puerto Rico have so many skilled familiar names in their side, players cast off from MLS clubs for various reasons. But now Payne and Manager Tom Soehn (pictured above courtesy of the Washington Post) have committed one player error after another. It is not fixture congestion that forced DC to dump Bobby Boswell, Christian Gomez and Brian Carroll. It is not fixture congestion that prompted DC to sign Franco Neill, Jose Caravalho and Gonzalo Peralta. Injuries are part of football and the team that has been the hardest by injuries and suspensions the last few seasons in MLS are Chivas USA and Houston: Yet those two sides keep on truckin.
The Montreal Impact to their credit looked very very good going forward last night in a hostile Honduran environment. They are in the middle of playing six games in eleven days all Champions League or USL-1 playoff games so for DC fans to complain about fixture congestion is silly: they have half the burden the Impact do, with at least twice the payroll. Houston somehow who has had so many injuries the last two years continues to excel in all competitions. Montreal has as mentioned above played an incredible amount of games in a condensed period. The PR Islanders played 18 games in 50 days culminating last Wednesday against Santos. And yet Colin Clarke has repeatedly said the USL playoffs are his priority, so much so that Clarke shuffled his lineup last night in Guatemala against Municipal but yet still escape with a draw.
DC had NEVER lost to a Mexican team at RFK prior to this year’s Superliga. Now they’ve lost three times in a little over two months. Somehow DC managed to balance the CONCACAF Champions Cup, 3 games in 10 days with the MLS Playoffs in 1998. DC played 5 games in 12 days in that strecth and won them all. Perhaps all the fixtures caught up with United when they shockingly lost the MLS Cup final to Chicago, but still they did not whine and make excuses.The new DC fans who whine about this stuff either don’t know the history of their team or simply like to make excuses. Really their behavior is unbecoming of being a supporter of what I always considered the single elite club in US Soccer. Some like myself have over indulged DC United and its supporters through the years calling the red and black, the signature club in the United States and perhaps building up expectations that led to arrogance and even a sense of entitlement among United supporters.
I urge all United supporters to stop making excuses and hold your club and players accountable. DC United has traditionally had higher standards than the rest of MLS but now in days of despair it seems United supporters have dumped the higher standards and are applying excuse after excuse to the continued failures of America’s proudest football club.