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D.C. United

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D.C. United
A shield with stylized black eagle facing right with three red stars and two red strips across its chest, and the words "D.C. UNITED above."
Full name D.C. United
Nickname(s) DCU,[1] Black-and-Red[1][2][3]
Founded 1995
Stadium RFK Stadium
Washington, D.C.
Ground Capacity 45,596[nb 1]
President Tom Hunt
Head Coach Ben Olsen
League Major League Soccer
2015 Eastern Conference: 4th
Overall: 8th
Playoffs: Conference semi-finals
Website Club home page
Current season
Active teams of D.C. United
Football pictogram.svg Football pictogram.svg

D.C. United is an American professional soccer club based in Washington, D.C. The club competes in the Eastern Conference of Major League Soccer, the top level of professional American soccer. The franchise is one of the ten charter clubs of MLS, having competed in the league since its inception in 1996.

D.C. United is the most decorated club in MLS, having won thirteen international and domestic titles over the club's history. It was one of the most successful clubs in the early years of MLS, winning eight of its thirteen titles between 1996 and 1998 under head coach Bruce Arena. United holds the joint MLS record for most Supporters' Shields, has four MLS Cups, and been crowned U.S. Open Cup champions three times. It is also the first club to win both the MLS Supporters' Shield and MLS Cup consecutively.[5] On the international stage, D.C. United has competed in both the CONCACAF Champions League and its predecessor, the CONCACAF Champions' Cup. The club won the 1998 CONCACAF Champions' Cup, making them one of only two MLS teams to ever win a CONCACAF tournament.[6] Subsequently, United won the now-defunct Copa Interamericana in 1998 against Vasco da Gama of Brazil.[7] This is the only intercontinental title won by an MLS club.[citation needed]

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 plans to build a new soccer-specific stadium at Buzzard Point just a few blocks from Nationals Park by groundbreaking and starting construction on the new stadium 2015 with an opening date of 2018,[8] and with potential seating between 18,000 and 23,000.[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 2015 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 Manchester United or 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 MLS. 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.[5]

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.[5] United's attendance record at RFK Stadium is 54,282, in a match against the Tampa Bay Mutiny in 2001.[21][22]

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.[23] 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.[24]

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.[25] 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.[26]

D.C. United tallied a total of only 3 wins in the 2013 season, setting a record for fewest wins in league history.[27] Despite the team's poor showing in league play, D.C. United defeated Real Salt Lake in the U.S. Open Cup final.[28] This qualified the team to participate in the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League.[28] In 2014, D.C. United executed a historic turnaround by clinching first place in the Eastern Conference, which also earned the team its second consecutive Champions League berth.[29]

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.
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.
Logos used from 1996 to 1998, and 1999 to 2015.

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. United's shirt sponsor is Reston, Virginia defense company Leidos.[30] In 2011, the team introduced a predominantly red third kit with black accents to be worn four or more times in the season.[31] 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.

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.[32] The logo can also be adorned with four silver stars above it, representing the MLS Cups the team has won.

On December 10, 2015, D.C. United unveiled an updated logo designed by Peter Horridge, featuring a D.C. flag-inspired design across the eagle, an updated wordmark, and more dynamic wings.[33][34]

Kit evolution[edit]

  • Home
  • Away
  • Third/Special


Season Manufacturer Sponsor Ref.
1996–2001 Adidas MasterCard [35]
2002–2004 None
2005–2007 Sierra Mist
2008–2013 Volkswagen [36]
2014— Leidos [37]

Leidos was announced as the main jersey sponsor on February 24, 2014 for a mutli-year agreement,[38] replacing the previous sponsor Volkswagen Group of America. Other sponsors include Adidas, Chipotle Mexican Grill, GEICO, Verizon Wireless, and Papa John's Pizza.[39]


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. The D.C. United Training Complex is located north of the stadium, and is where the Reserve Division team plays.[40]

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.[41]

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,[42] and George Mason Stadium in Fairfax, Virginia in 2010.[43] 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.[44][45][46] Exhibition games,[47] as well as occasional regular season matches,[48] have also been played in nearby FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland; the latter have generally been played as part of doubleheaders featuring friendlies between national teams or foreign clubs.

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.[8][49] 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.[50] 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.[51][52] Following votes by the D.C. Council to approve the plan, it was signed into law on December 30, 2014.[53] Under the July 2013 deal, the District of Columbia was to have obtained a portion of the necessary Buzzard Point property from the developer that owned it, in exchange for cash and a government building. DC United would kick the $150 million needed to construct the stadium on the city-owned land, which it would rent for 20 to 35 years. The deal also gave DC United the right to build restaurants, bars, and even a hotel nearby.[54] Under the deal as revised by D.C. City Council in December 2014, the city would instead pay fair market value for the developer's land, and use eminent domain if a deal could not be reached.

When negotiations began in January 2015, D.C. Council chairman Phil Mendelson was downbeat about the talks, saying the two sides were "very far apart" on a price.[55] Mayor Muriel Bowser, Gray's successor, budgeted $106.3 million in fiscal 2016 to acquire the stadium site, add infrastructure (such as water, sewer, electrical, and natural gas lines), and remove toxic hazards at the site.[56]

Following reports that the club had spoken with city, county, and state officials in Virginia about abandoning the District of Columbia and constructing a stadium in Northern Virginia,[57] D.C. United and the city signed a final construction agreement on June 8. The agreement required that the facility seat a minimum of 17,000 people, and established the term of the lease at 30 years for a minimal $1 per year. The agreement also contained a clause governing land: If the cost of land acquisition rose above $150 million, D.C. United was required to reimburse the city 50 percent of the excess (although the club's commitment was capped at $10 million). The club was also barred from playing more than an occasional home game away from the Buzzard Point stadium (e.g., barred from relocating for the term of the lease).[58] Mayor Bowser then submitted the agreement, as well as land purchase agreements and a revised developer agreement, to the City Council for approval; the council approved the land purchase agreements on June 30, 2015.[59]

Under the terms of the June 8 agreement, D.C. United was required to submit a concept design for the stadium to the city by September 1, 2015. The District of Columbia faced a deadline for September 30, 2015, to use eminent domain to acquire the Akridge land, which forces the club to commit to building a stadium before the city finished purchasing land.[60] On September 30, the District of Columbia filed for eminent domain for the Akridge parcel.[61]

Club culture[edit]

Supporters and 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 FC Dallas

D.C. United has four major supporters groups; La Barra Brava, the Screaming Eagles, La Norte[62] and the District Ultras.[62] 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.[63] All four clubs host public tailgates before home matches, and are known for singing during games.[64] 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.[65]

DC United's mascot is Talon, an anthropomorphic bald eagle.[66]


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.[67][68] 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.[69]


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.[70] 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.[71]

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.[72] In April 2009, Victor MacFarlane sold his share of the team to his partner William Chang after two stadium proposals had fallen through.[73] In October 2009, Chang also bought out Davis and Laettner to fully control the team.[74] 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.[75]


In 2015, the club reached a new multi-year deal with Sinclair Broadcast Group to broadcast all 26 of the team's regionally-televised matches, beginning in the 2016 season. The matches will be split between its local cable network NewsChannel 8 and Washington's ABC affiliate WJLA-TV; the exact number of matches on each channel is yet to be determined, and will depend on WJLA's commitments to ABC network programming. It is not yet known if Sinclair will syndicate the team's telecasts to other stations it owns or operates within the team's footprint. Sinclair and the team will split the costs of the telecasts and production roles, while the team will handle advertising sales and provide on-air commentators.[76] United is the second MLS team to have entered into a broadcasting deal with Sinclair, joining Real Salt Lake (whose telecasts have been produced and syndicated through Sinclair's American Sports Network unit since the 2015 season).[77]

All matches (including those not televised) are broadcast via radio on WILC in Spanish, with Óscar Burgos on play-by-play and Joel Navas and Milton Renderos handling color.[78]

Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic had previously broadcast D.C. United matches from 1996 to 2015, dating back to its time as Home Team Sports. Under the terms of the most recent contract, signed during the 2013 season, CSN was obligated to show a minimum of 16 matches per season.[79] Some matches were relegated to the network's "CSN+" feed or not televised at all due to scheduling conflicts with the Washington Capitals, Wizards, and college football.[76] Dave Johnson handled play by play, and former United player Santino Quaranta handled color commentary.[80] Previously, former D.C. United John Harkes offered color commentary opposite Johnson.[81] Color commentary was also historically provided by Thomas Rongen, Gordon Bradley, Clint Peay, and Garth Lagerway.


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 July 16, 2015.[82]

Bill Hamid was D.C.'s first Academy signing and is the club's longest tenured player.
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
8 Midfielder Arnaud, DavyDavy Arnaud      United States
9 Forward Saborío, ÁlvaroÁlvaro Saborío      Costa Rica
10 Forward Espíndola, FabiánFabián Espíndola (DP)     Argentina
12 Midfielder Nyarko, PatrickPatrick Nyarko      Ghana
13 Forward Neagle, LamarLamar Neagle      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
20 Defender Robinson, JalenJalen Robinson (HGP)     United States
22 Defender Korb, ChrisChris Korb      United States
25 Midfielder Jeffrey, JaredJared Jeffrey      United States
27 Midfielder Martin, CollinCollin Martin (HGP)     United States
28 Goalkeeper Hamid, BillBill Hamid (HGP)     United States
30 Forward Doyle, ConorConor Doyle      United States
32 Defender Boswell, BobbyBobby Boswell (Captain)     United States
34 Defender Mishu, LukeLuke Mishu      United States
48 Goalkeeper Worra, TravisTravis Worra      United States
50 Goalkeeper Dykstra, AndrewAndrew Dykstra      United States
Midfielder Buescher, JulianJulian Buescher (GA)     Germany
Midfielder Sarvas, MarceloMarcelo Sarvas      Brazil

Team management[edit]

Ben Olsen took over head coaching duties in August 2010.
Front Office
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
Asst. Coach Amos Magee
Goalkeeping coach Zach Thornton

Last updated: May 21, 2015
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.




Minor Trophies[edit]


Player records[edit]

Statistics below show the all-time regular-season club leaders. Bold indicates active D.C. United 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 4, 2016[84]

  • All-Time regular season record: 264–249–115 (Through 2015 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
2015 Chris Rolfe  United States

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.[85]

  • 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.[4]


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