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DC United, a team based in Washington DC and founded in 1994, is one of the ten charter clubs of the MLS and has competed in the league since its inception in 1996. They are the most successful franchise in the history of the MLS as of now, having won the championship 4 times, and have 12 domestic and international trophies in their collection overall.
But they have made history not only by winning the MLS Cup, the Open Cup, and even the CONCACAF Champions Cup (first ever American team to do so), but also by signing Freddy Adu in 2003, a then 14-year old soccer wonderkid. When he made his debut in 2004, he became the youngest player in any professional sport in the USA since 1887.
The DCU fans have been lucky enough to have had some of the greatest players who have ever played in the MLS defend the team’s colors. Guys such as Jaime Moreno, Marco Etcheverry, Eddie Pope, Jeff Agoos and current manager Ben Olsen have done nothing but help popularize soccer throughout the States and make United’s supporters happy and proud.
Sadly though, 2007 was the last year when the team managed to qualify for the playoffs, a strange and disturbing statistic having in mind their great history.
Will they manage to turn things around this season though? Judging by their pre-season performance, it will be really hard. Two wins out of six games is not a good enough achievement, but who knows, once the official matches start it might be a whole different story.
Taking a look at the roster, there are some exciting players there, although the strength of the squad is still controversial.
Abdul Hamid will probably be the first choice goalkeeper, a decent 21-year old, who even made his debut for the national team back in January against Venezuela. He was close to a transfer in England, as he had a trail with West Bromwich Albion, but luckily for the Black-and-reds he’ll be staying with them for now.
There are no real superstars in defence, but some of the better players are Perry Kitchen, who is an excellent young footballer, new signing Robbie Russell, previously a Real Salt Lake defender, Canadian international Dejan Jakovic, Ethan White, who has been showing remarkable progress recently, and another new signing- Emiliano Dudar. The former BSC Young Boys central defender is famous for the freak accident with Francois Affolter, a teammate during his period in Switzerland, when the two collided and Dudar had to be placed in a medically induced coma.
The midfield is full of youngsters, but two of them stick out. 2010 MLS Rookie of the year Andy Najar is a very talented kid, aged just 18, but with almost 60 games for DCU under his belt. He was on trial with Tottenham last year, and the future looks really bright for the young Honduran. The other one is Danny Cruz, a winger, who is a new signing, having joined from the Houston Dynamo. Two of the more experienced players are Brazilian Marcelo Saragosa, who used to play for Sao Paulo in his home country and then the LA Galaxy, and former Red Star Belgrade and PSG attacking midfielder Branko Boskovic, who is a Montenegro international.
The forwards are quite impressive, five very strong strikers who can cause lots of trouble for opposition defenders. Veterans Dwayne De Rosario and Josh Wolff are there and are ready to prove that age is just a number, while Chris Pontius is well-known to United’s fans, as this will be his fourth season with the club. Maicon Santos is a new signing, and was signed as a free agent, but he’s experienced and knows American soccer well enough, having played for Chivas, Toronto FC and Dallas FC. The most exciting attacker though is Albanian newcomer Hamdi Salihi, who holds an impressive career record of 186 goals in 333 games so far.
It won’t be an easy task for manager Ben Olsen to guide his team through to the playoffs. The squad is young, and many of the players are more or less inexperienced, but that doesn’t necessarily mean failure. One thing is for sure though- it will be a long and tough season, and DC United probably won’t win their fifth MLS Cup this year.