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Lebodome: D.C. United, the Most Passionate Fans in the District

by Borderstan.com — May 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm 1,056 3 Comments

"Dc United" "Soccer"

D.C. United fans. (Scott Leibowitz)

From Scott Leibowitz. Find Scott on Twitter @Lebodome. Email him at scott[AT]borderstan.com.

If there is one thing I enjoy, it’s being proved wrong (just not all the time). For the most part, I have generally found DC sports fans to be fairly fair-weathered when it comes to general game-day enthusiasm and excitement for their teams. (This may sound overly harsh, but it’s not meant to be). Yes, the Capitals playoff atmosphere for the triple overtime game I attended two weeks ago was amazing, but playoffs are a special occasion. On Wednesday, I attended the D.C. United vs Colorado Rapids professional soccer game at RFK stadium and I was quite impressed.

Now, to be fair, I went to the game with fairly low expectations. Major League Soccer (MLS) is still a growing league and has not taken off as they thought it might when it started. Sure, interest is high during World Cup years, but I would guess most average sports fans couldn’t name five teams in the league. I had only been to one previous MLS game and that was to see NY/NJ Red Bulls play the LA Galaxy in what was David Beckham’s first MLS game in NYC. Giant Stadium packed 66,000 people and it was an exciting game atmosphere (Beckham had 2 and 1 assist, just awesome).

Back to D.C. United. Located at RFK Stadium (which is a bit old), there was a great tailgate atmosphere upon arrival (yes, I’m sure Redskins have this too). Thanks to my girlfriend’s fantastic people skills, we actually had box VIP tickets for the game which made a big difference. As for my first United game, here’s what I thought:

Passion, Passion, and Constant Cheering. The section right next to midfield is filled with the loudest and craziest fans I have seen in D.C. It’s like they took a page right out of England’s soccer hooliganism playbook and though their numbers were small, they NEVER stopped singing/cheering during all 90 minutes of play. It was a multicultural crowd singing in Spanish and English assisted by a team of stadium staff assigned to getting the crowd going. It made a nice soundtrack to watching (they even have their own song to the tune of Yankee-Doodle).

21st Century Concessions. If you have ever sat in expensive/box/floor seats anywhere, you may have experienced waiter service. RFK has a great system which everyone can use, an online menu with free delivery. Within five minutes I was eating nachos and popcorn and I never left my seat. More stadiums need this.

Stadium is too Big. Seeing the entire upper deck empty was a bit depressing. My suggestion: Demolish RFK, put a new stadium for Redskins there, build United their own mini stadium either next to it, or somewhere else in the city. Easier said than done I know.

Because I have serious loyalties to my home teams in the four major sports, I am leaning to becoming a D.C. United fan. If anything, their jerseys with their logo (Screaming Eagle, badass) is pretty cool. Overall, a team worth checking out and I will attend again.

 

Scratching My Head on This One

Caps make great playoff run, coach quits… hmm.

Links! Links! Ice Cold Links!

  • The Nats are good. Maybe we could start thinking post-season. Hope this isn’t a jinx.
  • Tim Tebow probably has great lawyers
  • College. Football. Playoffs. YES
  • Congrats to Borderstan reader/resident John Harms for winning Caps-Rangers series contest!

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Comments (3)

  1. Great piece. Glad you enjoyed yourself. It’s always cool to see United through a first-timer’s eyes.

    Vamos United!

  2. A small correction: there is no “team of stadium staff assigned to get the crowd going.” The supporters do what they do on their own. The folks that you may have seen down below the supporters groups exhorting the fans/leading chants/etc. are members of those supporters groups. The Screaming Eagles, whom you mention, are one of the groups: the others are the Barra Brava, La Norte, and the District Ultras. They all have slightly different ways they approach the before-match tailgate and how they do their support during the match; If you think you might be interested in joining one of them, I’d go to a match fairly early and wander by each of their tailgates to check them out and get a feel for what’s for you. Glad you had fun at the match.

  3. Glad you enjoyed DC United, we all agree RFK is years past sell by date and been trying for a decade to get a stadium.

    I just wanted to touch on one point. There is no stadium staff paid to get supporters going. Those are fellow fans of those groups, it is all authentic and comes from District Ultras, Barra Brava, Screaming Eagles and La Norte.

    Hope give United another chance, maybe stand with the supporters to see what it is like in the thick of the action. Just remember to join in!

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