D.C. United Americas Top Major League Soccer Club
Soccer may be the most popular sport in the world, but it has yet to reach fervor status in the United States. While the majority of Americans prefer to spend their pastime watching sports like football, baseball, and basketball, there is a growing fan base in the country excited about supporting America's most successful club in Major League Soccer.
D.C. United was founded in 1995 after Washington, D.C. was selected out of 22 applicants by Major League Soccer to host one of the first seven teams. Prior to 1994, FIFA had wanted a new professional league and sought help from the United States Soccer Federation to establish one. Naming its team in the tradition of European clubs like Leeds United and Manchester United, D.C. United played its opening match on April 6, 1996 against the San Jose Clash in Spartan Stadium in San Jose, California.
Under the club's first coach, Bruce Arena, D.C. United became the most successful team in Major League Soccer. They made U.S. soccer history in 1996 when they beat the Los Angeles Galaxy to win the first MLS Cup, and against the Rochester Raging Rhinos to win the U.S. Open Cup. D.C. United was on a roll as they once again captured the MLS Cup in 1997 in a victory over the Colorado Rapids. In 1998 D.C. United became the first American club to win the CONCACAF Champion's Cup. Now known as the CONCACAF Champions League, this international club football championship is held annually for teams from the North American, Central American, and the Caribbean regions.
The team's winning streak waned when Coach Arena left the club to direct the U.S. men's national team. Although the team was able to win another MLS Cup in 1999 under Coach Thomas Rongen, the following years did not prove very productive with the club having disappointing results. By 2004 the team had a new coach named Piotr Nowak and was able to advance to the playoffs defeating the Kansas City Wizards to earn their fourth MLS Cup.
Sports history was made in 2003 when MLS signed a 14-year-old soccer prodigy named Freddy Adu. On January 16, 2004 D.C. United had a first pick in the MLS SuperDraft and officially selected Adu as a second-half substitute. Freddy Adu became the youngest player in any U.S. professional sport since 1887. D.C. United once again made history in 2005 by being the first United States based team to participate in Copa Sudamericana, the second most prestigious club competition in South American football.
The 2006 MLS All-Star Team which included eight D.C. United players and managed by Piotr Nowak defeated the English champs Chelsea. United competed well against international teams beating Scottish champ Celtic F.C. and drawing Real Madrid in Seattle. D.C. United also became the first club in league history to win the MLS Supporter's Shield back to back in 2006 and 2007. This is an annual award given to the Major League Soccer team with the best regular season record, as determined by the MLS points system. In 2008 D.C. United won the U.S. Open Cup.
Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium is the team's home field. It is located on the Anacostia River in the District of Columbia. The 45,596-seat stadium has one of the highest attendance averages in Major League Soccer. The club's home uniforms are black and white with accents of red, making their official nickname the "Black-and-Red." D.C. United has a strong fan base with three major supporters groups called La Barra Brava, the Screaming Eagles, and La Norte. These passionate and loyal fans will help to enhance the commercial success this burgeoning sport will need to endear itself to the rest of the nation.