In what can only be described as a tragedy of epic proportions for MLS and the club, DC United today announced its intent to build a stadium in Prince George’s County Maryland. Give credit to PG’s county for stepping up but a big MLS Talk dart to the District of Columbia and DC Council for forcing this to happen.
DC United’s atmosphere through the thirteen years of Major League Soccer’s existence has been second to none. RFK Stadium has produced the sort of mixture of fans that other longtime MLS franchises can only dream of. Using the Orange and Blue lines on the Metro to access RFK, a multi ethnic crowd of suburbanites, urban dwellers, Salvadorians, Bolivians, Argentines, Kenyans, Ethiopians, Brazilians, etc, etc made their way to cheer for United in what is arguably the most cosmopolitan American city.
I understand that DC United has little choice in this matter. The City of Washington and the Distirct of Columbia (essentially the same entity) are to blame for this mess. Of the seven potential sites discussed Monday, five are close to a Metro Station. Regardless of accessibility to the new stadium, the flavor that has made DC United, the signature franchise of MLS and also the leagues historic Goliath will never be the same. United will be just like any other side, playing in the suburbs, squandering the unique mix of cultures and elements that only a cosmopolitan city center can bring.
DC United’s success in MLS’ first thirteen seasons has been the league’s success. Twelve trophies, including the inter-American Cup and the CONCACAF Champions Cup, notable friendly victories over the likes of Newcastle and Spurs (at White Hart Lane) and a respect level in Latin America unmatched by any other MLS team. Let us all hope that this isn’t the end of that exceptional tradition.