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D.C. United

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D.C. United
A shield with stylized black eagle facing left on a red field under the words "D.C. United". On the eagles chest is a red star with a soccer ball.
Full name D.C. United
Nickname(s) DCU,[1] Black-and-Red[2][3][4]
Founded 1995
Stadium RFK Stadium
Washington, D.C.
Ground Capacity 45,596[nb 1]
Owners Erick Thohir, Jason Levien, William H.C. Chang
Head Coach Ben Olsen
League Major League Soccer
2014 Eastern Conference: 1st
Overall: 3rd
Playoffs: Conference Semifinals
Website Club home page
Current season

D.C. United is an American professional soccer club based in Washington, D.C., which competes in Major League Soccer (MLS). It is one of the ten charter clubs of MLS, having competed in the league since its inception, in 1996.

D.C. United has won 13 international and domestic titles or honors over the club's history. D.C. United was one of the most successful clubs in the early years of MLS, winning 8 of its 13 titles between 1996 and 1998 under head coach Bruce Arena. United holds the joint MLS record for most Supporters' Shields, and has had success in the MLS Cup, winning each honor four times along with three U.S. Open Cup championships. United was also the first club to win both the MLS Cup and MLS Supporters' Shield consecutively.[6]

On the international stage, D.C. United has competed in both the CONCACAF Champions League and its predecessor, the CONCACAF Champions' Cup. The club participated in the 2005 and 2007 editions of the Copa Sudamericana. In 1998, the club won the CONCACAF Champions' Cup.[7] Subsequently, United won the now-defunct Copa Interamericana, a CONCACAF-CONMEBOL super cup, in 1998 against Vasco da Gama of Brazil.[8]

The team's home field is the 45,596-seat Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, owned by the District of Columbia and located on the Anacostia River. The team has proposed building a new 24,000-seat soccer-specific stadium at Buzzard Point just a few blocks from Nationals Park.[9] The team is owned by the consortium D.C. United Holdings. The team's head coach is former long-time starting midfielder Ben Olsen, who has coached the team since 2010.

Players such as Jaime Moreno, Marco Etcheverry, and Eddie Pope are among the team's most successful stars. D.C. United's fan base includes four supporters' clubs.[10] The club's official nickname is the "Black-and-Red" and home uniforms are black and white with accents of red. The team's name alludes to the "United" appellation commonly found in the names of soccer teams in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.[11]


For the current season see 2014 D.C. United season

Prior to the 1994 FIFA World Cup, the United States Soccer Federation fulfilled its promise to FIFA by aiding in the foundation of a new professional league. On June 15, 1994, Major League Soccer selected Washington, D.C. out of twenty-two applicants to host one of the first seven teams, with three more added before the league's launch.[12] Like many team names in MLS, the team's name was chosen as a reflection of the names of European clubs, such as Leeds United.

A team celebrates in the center of a soccer field while fans in stand on both sides cheer.
D.C. United won the 2004 Eastern Conference championship in what has been called one of the best games in MLS history.

On April 6, 1996, D.C. United played in the league's inaugural match against the San Jose Clash in Spartan Stadium in San Jose, California.[12] In the league's early years, D.C. was the most successful of all the teams. In their first year, coach Bruce Arena led the team to the first "double" in modern U.S. soccer history by beating the Los Angeles Galaxy in the first MLS Cup and the Rochester Raging Rhinos of the USL First Division in the 1996 U.S. Open Cup. D.C. repeated its MLS Cup victory in 1997 against the Colorado Rapids, in front of a home crowd at RFK Stadium. The team also experienced early success in CONCACAF competitions, winning both the Champions' Cup and the Interamerican Cup in 1998.[6]

In October 1998, Arena left the team to coach the U.S. men's national team. Arena's departure marked the beginning of a downturn in the team's fortunes.[13] While the club again won the MLS Cup in 1999 under coach Thomas Rongen, lackluster results in 2000 and 2001 led to Rongen's departure and his replacement by Ray Hudson in 2002. The team did not, however, fare much better under Hudson, and Piotr Nowak replaced him before the start of the 2004 season.[14] The club's first season under Nowak was marred by injuries in the early going, and some players were known to have complained about Nowak's methods.[15] Nevertheless a strong finish, assisted in large measure by the late-season acquisition of Argentine midfielder Christian Gómez, who helped to propel United into the playoffs as the second seed. There they advanced past the New England Revolution on penalty kicks in what has been called one of the best games in MLS history.[16][17][18][19][20] United then defeated the Kansas City Wizards to win their fourth MLS Cup.[6] United's attendance record at RFK Stadium is 54,282, in a match against the Tampa Bay Mutiny in 2001.[citation needed]

On November 18, 2003, MLS made sports history by signing Freddy Adu, a 14-year-old soccer prodigy and on January 16, 2004 he was officially selected by United with the first pick in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft. When Adu entered United's regular-season opener as a second-half substitute on April 3, 2004, he became the youngest player in any professional sport in the United States since 1887.[21] On December 11, 2006, D.C. United traded Adu and goalkeeper Nick Rimando to Real Salt Lake in exchange for a major allocation, goalkeeper Jay Nolly, and future considerations.[22]

In 2005, the club again made MLS history by becoming the first United States-based team to participate in Copa Sudamericana, entering in the Round of sixteen.[23] Since 2006, United has played well against international competition, beating Scottish champions Celtic F.C. and drawing Real Madrid in Seattle. In addition, the 2006 MLS All-Star Team, which included eight United players and was managed by United's manager Piotr Nowak, defeated English champions Chelsea.[14] In 2006 and 2007, United became the first club in league history to win the MLS Supporters' Shield consecutively.

Since winning back-to-back Shields in 2006 and 2007, the club failed to qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs five years in a row. During this stretch, United's lone major title came in 2008, when they won the U.S. Open Cup. In league play during the 2008 and 2009 campaigns, United faltered at the tail-end of each season, ultimately causing them to miss out on the playoffs. They had a poor 2010 MLS season, winning only six matches, drawing four and losing 20. In 2011, United again failed to qualify for the playoffs in the second to last week of the campaign. In 2012, United returned to the playoffs for the first time in five years, clinching a berth in the second-to-last week of the season.[24] D.C. United tallied a total of only 3 wins in the 2013 season, setting a record for fewest wins in league history.[25] Despite their poor form in league play during 2013, D.C. United defeated Real Salt Lake in the U.S. Open Cup final.[26] This qualified them to participate in the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League.[26]

Colors and badge[edit]

A shield with stylized black eagle facing right on a red field under the words "D.C. United". Below the eagle are three white stars with soccer balls.
Logo used from 1996 to 1998

The team's colors and original logo were announced on October 17, 1995 along with those of the other ten original teams during a presentation in New York City.[12] Black and white are D.C. United's primary colors, though the team's nickname is the "Black-and-Red." Red is used to accent the home jersey while white is the main color of the team's away kit. The three stripes along the shoulder – in white at home and black on the road – do not represent the three jurisdictions of the Washington Metropolitan Area (Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia); rather, they represent the fact that the team's kits are made by Adidas. The United's shirt sponsor is Reston, Virginia defense company Leidos.[27] In 2011, the team introduced a predominantly red third kit with black accents to be worn four or more times in the season.[28] The team has also previously used white away uniforms with red stripes. White and red are the colors of the flag of Washington, D.C., and the stripes are also reminiscent of those used on the flag. Goalkeepers usually distinguish themselves with a red or green colored shirt.

The team's original shield was implemented in 1996 consisting of the team's name, D.C. United, above a black bald eagle facing right on a red field, clawing three soccer balls overlaid on three white stars. The three stars and balls were intended to represent the region's three jurisdictions. The bird, associated with the federal government based in Washington, D.C., symbolizes many of the attributes of the team, including speed and power. The logo was redesigned before the 1998 season. The current design reoriented the eagle facing left, and removed the three stars below it, whose metaphor was retained by three raised wing feathers. At the center of the eagle is a single gold colored star and soccer ball, which represents the team's victory in Major League Soccer's inaugural cup in 1996.[29] The logo can also be adorned with four silver stars above it, representing the MLS Cups the team has won.

Kit evolution[edit]

  • Home
  • Away
  • Third/Special


Season Manufacturer Sponsor Ref.
1996–2001 Adidas MasterCard [30]
2002–2004 None
2005–2007 Sierra Mist
2008–2013 Volkswagen [31]
2014— Leidos [32]

Leidos was announced as the main jersey sponsor on Feb 24, 2014 for a mutli-year agreement,[33] replacing the previous sponsor Volkswagen Group of America. Other sponsors include Adidas, GEICO, Verizon Wireless, and Papa John's Pizza.[34]


RFK Stadium[edit]

 A large circular stadium with a curving overhang behind a mostly unused parking lot.
RFK Stadium has been home to D.C. United for the team's entire existence.

Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium (RFK) has been home to D.C. United since the club's founding in 1996. RFK was built in 1961 as a dual use baseball and American football stadium. Prior to 1996, it periodically hosted soccer matches, including the 1980 Soccer Bowl, the 1993 Supercoppa Italiana, and five matches during the 1994 FIFA World Cup. When the Washington Nationals baseball team shared the field from 2005 to 2007, there were criticisms regarding problems with the playing surface and even the dimensions of the field.[35] The D.C. United Training Complex is located north of the stadium, and is where the Reserve Division team plays.[36]

Several regional university stadiums have been used by the team for Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup matches, including Klöckner Stadium in Charlottesville, Virginia in 1996,[37] and George Mason Stadium in Fairfax, Virginia in 2010.[38] Similarly, the team has also used the Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown, Maryland for multiple early-round games in U.S. Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions' Cup since it opened in 2001.[39][40][41] Exhibition games have also been played in nearby FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.[42]

New DC United Stadium[edit]

Main article: D.C. United Stadium

In July 2006, D.C. United proposed building a new stadium along the Anacostia River near Anacostia Park, but disputes with the city government forced the team to consider other sites.[9][43] In February 2009, the team announced plans for a new stadium in nearby Prince George's County, Maryland close to FedEx Field. This proposal ran into similar trouble, however, when the County Council voted to send a letter to the Maryland General Assembly opposing the stadium plan.[44] In October 2009, the Baltimore Sun reported that Baltimore mayor Sheila Dixon has asked the Maryland Stadium Authority to explore the possibility of wooing D.C. United to Baltimore by building a soccer stadium that could serve as D.C. United's permanent home, as well as host other events. The Baltimore plan did not coalesce, however, and the team returned its focus to Washington D.C.

On July 25, 2013, a tentative deal was announced which will see a 20,000-25,000 seat stadium built at Buzzard Point costing $300 million.[45][46] On December 2, 2014, D.C. Council voted unanimously on the Buzzard Point plan with the new soccer-specific stadium for D.C. United, and then approved the stadium plan on December 17, fifteen days later. The plan was signed into law on December 30th.[47] The new 20,000-seat stadium is expected to open during the 2017 season.[48]

Club culture[edit]

Supporters & mascot[edit]

A black and white costumed bald eagle mascot with exaggerated features and an orange beak raising his wings. He wears a black soccer jersey with a white WV logo and the team's shield on it.
D.C. United's mascot, Talon, wearing a jersey with the Volkswagen logo on the front
Fans wearing black cheer with several large graphics in a stadium's bleachers.
Supporters display a tifo supporting head coach Ben Olsen (drawn to lampoon Rambo) during a regular season match against the FC Dallas

D.C. United has four major supporters groups; La Barra Brava, the Screaming Eagles, La Norte[49] and the District Ultras.[49] Each group has a designated section of the home stadium. La Barra Brava, Spanish for "The Brave Fans", was founded in 1995 by Latino fans in the Washington, D.C. area, mostly Bolivian immigrants in support of original United players Marco Etcheverry and Jaime Moreno. They seek to bring a South American style to home games.[50] All four clubs host public tailgates before home matches, and are known for singing during games.[51] La Norte, which takes its name from its location on the North side of the stadium, is noted for its streamers, large drum, and harassment of the opposition.[52]

DC United's mascot is Talon, an anthropomorphic bald eagle.[53]


D.C. United's primary rival is the New York Red Bulls. The two teams compete annually for the Atlantic Cup, a competition instituted by the two clubs. The cup is awarded to the team that gets the most points across the teams' meetings throughout the season. D.C. United also has a burgeoning rivalry with the Philadelphia Union as the two teams represent two cities separated by only 120 miles.[54][55] D.C. United is also unique among MLS teams for its rivalry with the Charleston Battery of the United Soccer Leagues, as they compete every time they face one another for the Coffee Pot Cup, a trophy established by the two sides' supporters.[56]


Main article: D.C. United Holdings

Billionaire investor George Soros was the primary financial backer and director of Washington Soccer L.P., the group that owned the operating rights to D.C. United when the league was founded in 1995.[57] Kevin Payne, former President of Soccer USA Partners and current CEO of D.C. United, was instrumental in organizing this ownership group. By 1998 the group was looking for new investors, and on February 15, 2001, it agreed to sell the team to Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), founded by Colorado billionaire Philip Anschutz, with AEG exercising its option to become the sole investor-operator on January 8, 2002.[12] AEG, who also own Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy and Houston Dynamo, ran the team until 2007.

In May 2007, United entered into an initial one-year strategic partnership with Brazilian club Atlético Mineiro. The goal of the partnership is to enhance the sporting and commercial success of the respective clubs by sharing expertise and experience as well as creating new opportunities for the clubs in both areas.[58]

On January 8, 2007, the operating rights to D.C. United were sold to D.C. United Holdings, a newly formed group venture that included real estate developer Victor MacFarlane, founder of MacFarlane Partners, and William H.C. Chang, chairman of Westlake International Group. Other investors included D.C. United president Kevin Payne and Blue Devil Development, headed by former Duke basketball players Brian Davis and Christian Laettner.[59] In April 2009, Victor MacFarlane sold his share of the team to his partner William Chang after two stadium proposals had fallen through.[60] In October 2009, Chang also bought out Davis and Laettner to fully control the team.[61] Chang is also one of the primary investors of Major League Baseball's San Francisco Giants.[12] In July 2012, Erick Thohir and Jason Levien, minority owners of the Philadelphia 76ers National Basketball Association franchise, joined Chang as partners. Thohir and Levin stated their primary goals are to make United a global brand and build a soccer-specific stadium for the club.[62]


Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, formerly Home Team Sports, has telecast D.C. United matches since 1996, and currently has a deal to do so until 2016. Under the terms of the most recent contract signed during the 2013 season, CSN is obligated to show 16 matches per season and may elect to pick up more.[63] Dave Johnson handles play by play, and former United player John Harkes does color commentary.[64] Color commentary was historically provided by Thomas Rongen, Gordon Bradley, Clint Peay, and Garth Lagerway.

Select matches are instead televised nationally on ESPN2, NBC Sports Network, or in Spanish on Galavisión.[65]

All matches (including those not televised) are broadcast via radio on WILC in Spanish as well as on the Internet. Óscar Burgos does play-by-play while Joel Navas and Milton Renderos handle color analysis.[66]


For details on former players, see All-time D.C. United roster. For player records, including player awards, see List of D.C. United records and statistics.

Current roster[edit]

As of March 11, 2015.[67]

Chris Pontius was drafted in 2009 by D.C. United and has made over one hundred appearances for the club.
No. Position Player Nation
2 Defender Kemp, TaylorTaylor Kemp      United States
4 Midfielder Halsti, MarkusMarkus Halsti      Finland
5 Defender Franklin, SeanSean Franklin      United States
6 Defender Opare, KofiKofi Opare      Ghana
7 Forward Johnson, EddieEddie Johnson (DP)     United States
8 Midfielder Arnaud, DavyDavy Arnaud      United States
10 Forward Espíndola, FabiánFabián Espíndola (DP)     Argentina
11 Midfielder Silva, LuisLuis Silva      United States
12 Midfielder Farfan, MichaelMichael Farfan      United States
13 Forward Pontius, ChrisChris Pontius      United States
14 Midfielder DeLeon, NickNick DeLeon      United States
15 Defender Birnbaum, SteveSteve Birnbaum      United States
17 Forward Aguilar, MiguelMiguel Aguilar      Mexico
18 Forward Rolfe, ChrisChris Rolfe      United States
19 Forward Arrieta, JairoJairo Arrieta      Costa Rica
22 Defender Korb, ChrisChris Korb      United States
23 Midfielder Kitchen, PerryPerry Kitchen      United States
25 Midfielder Jeffrey, JaredJared Jeffrey      United States
28 Goalkeeper Hamid, BillBill Hamid (HGP)     United States
29 Forward Seaton, MichaelMichael Seaton (HGP)     Jamaica
30 Forward Doyle, ConorConor Doyle      United States
32 Defender Boswell, BobbyBobby Boswell (Captain)     United States
50 Goalkeeper Dykstra, AndrewAndrew Dykstra      United States

Out on loan[edit]

No. Position Player Nation
20 Defender Robinson, JalenJalen Robinson (HGP;on loan to Richmond Kickers)     United States
27 Midfielder Martin, CollinCollin Martin (HGP;on loan to Richmond Kickers)     United States
34 Defender Mishu, LukeLuke Mishu (on loan to Richmond Kickers)     United States
48 Goalkeeper Worra, TravisTravis Worra (on loan to Richmond Kickers)     United States

Team management[edit]

Ben Olsen took over head coaching duties in August 2010.
Front Office and Ownership
Chief Operating Officer Tom Hunt
Chief Revenue Officer Mike Schoenbrun
Senior Advisor for Stadium Development and Operations Troy Scott
General Manager Dave Kasper
Coaching staff
Head Coach Ben Olsen
Asst. Coach Chad Ashton

Last updated: March 4, 2014
Source: D.C. United Official Website

Head coaching history[edit]

Name Nat Tenure Honors
Bruce Arena  USA 1996–1998 1996 U.S. Open Cup
1996 MLS Cup
1997 MLS Cup
1997 MLS Supporters' Shield
1998 CONCACAF Champions' Cup
1998 Copa Interamericana
Thomas Rongen  NED 1999–2001 1999 MLS Cup
1999 MLS Supporters' Shield
Ray Hudson  ENG 2002–2003 None
Piotr Nowak  POL 2004–2006 2004 MLS Cup
2006 MLS Supporters' Shield
Tom Soehn  USA 2007–2009 2007 MLS Supporters' Shield
2008 U.S. Open Cup
Curt Onalfo  USA 2010 None
Ben Olsen  USA 2010–present 2013 U.S. Open Cup


A table holding seven golden trophies of various sizes. The table is cover by a cloth with the team's shield on it.
D.C. United trophy collection as of 2007.



  • MLS Eastern Conference
    • Winners (Playoff) (5): 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2004
    • Winners (Regular Season) (6): 1997, 1998, 1999, 2006, 2007, 2014


Minor Trophies[edit]


Team records[edit]

Statistics below are for all-time leaders. Statistics are for regular season only. Bold indicates active MLS players.

A Hispanic soccer player with shiny brown hair smiles and faces left. He is wearing a red jersey with white and black details and a VW logo.
Jaime Moreno holds most of D.C. United's offensive records.

Last Updated January 27, 2015[68]

  • All-Time regular season record: 249–236–109 (Through 2014 season)

Team MVP[edit]

Dates Name Nation
2004 Jaime Moreno  Bolivia
2005 Christian Gómez  Argentina
2006 Christian Gómez  Argentina
2007 Luciano Emilio  Brazil
2008 Jaime Moreno  Bolivia
2009 Clyde Simms  United States
2010 Andy Najar  Honduras
2011 Dwayne De Rosario  Canada
2012 Chris Pontius  United States
2013 Perry Kitchen  United States
2014 Fabián Espíndola  Argentina

Hall of Tradition[edit]

Seven large black shield-shaped banners are hung on a green wall, with white text for the name and number, or role that the individual played.
Banners for the "Hall of Tradition" members are displayed at RFK Stadium.

In 2003, D.C. United introduced the "Hall of Tradition" (formerly "Tradition of Excellence"), an honor bestowed upon players, coaches & front office staff deemed by United to have been crucial to the team's success.[69]

  • United States John Harkes(MF), (1996–98), (Inducted May 14, 2003)
  • Bolivia Marco Etcheverry, (MF), (1996–03), (Inducted October 20, 2007)
  • Betty D'Anjolell (Executive), (1995–98), (Inducted June 29, 2008)
  • United States Jeff Agoos(DF), (1996–00), (Inducted October 16, 2008)
  • El Salvador Raúl Díaz Arce (FW), (1996–97), (2000), (Inducted September 2, 2009)
  • Danilo Noel Dirón – (Broadcaster), (1997–08), (Inducted September 2, 2009)
  • United States Eddie Pope(DF), (1996–02), (Inducted July 18, 2010)
  • United States Richie Williams(MF), (1996–00, 2002), (Inducted October 15, 2011)
  • United States Ben Olsen(MF), (1998–09), (Inducted September 15, 2012)
  • Bolivia Jaime Moreno, (FW), (1996–02, 2004-10), (Inducted September 14, 2013)


  1. ^ 19,647 for MLS matches.[5]


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