Tonight’s US Open Cup final showed yet again that DC United is quite simply a club in decline. An organization that once prided itself on winning MLSCups and succeeding abroad now pounds its chest about consolation trophies and about its increasingly distant successful past.
Tonight, United looked like a team that both was not as good as its opposition and one that simply is not listening to its coach anymore. Its mere appearance in this final comes only as a result of it playing minor league teams all the way up to this point and not even looking all that good while doing that. There was no merit in reaching this final, only in winning it.
United’s players make mental errors time and time again, whether it’s Janicki pulling a matador move in front of his own goal to Josh Wicks handing Seattle the Open Cup tonight with his stupid and vicious stomp on Freddy Montero. Highly-paid experienced players like Luciano Emilio and Fred have regressed and play like guys who want nothing more than to not get hurt, get done with the season and cash their check. Young players like Pontius, Wallac, Simms, and even Szetela languish under a coach who has never shown an ability to develop young talent. Sure, there are some true character guys out there, folks like Olsen, Namoff, and Quaranta. Our foreign “stars” are either past their prime or have never close to reaching it. They suck up our salary and strangle this club’s ability to grow, evolve, and adjust during a season. On top of that, our best players their efforts to lead blocked by the constant tinkering with their minutes, strange lineups, and unpredictable vacillations of a coach who is starting to see the water rise above his head.
The organization as a whole has become a shell of what once was the flagship club in Major League Soccer. Crowds have langished as underachievement on the field and the continued failure to find a proper home have strangled the life out of the club. United’s management has continuously failed to address on-the-field problems such as the squad’s age, lack of speed, and total lack of defensive consistency. The organization has refused to make changes in order to bring a sense of accountability to a playing squad and to a coaching staff making far too many mistakes. Rather than do the intelligent thing and rebuild, United has stuck its head in the sand and attempted to wring more years out of core talent that is past its prime and a supporting cast that is far too unproven.
We deserve to be a laughingstock tonight, everyone affiliated with United does. Tonight, and this season, all of us will pay for this club’s arrogance and incompetence. This includes its refusing to rebuild this team around the kind of young athletic talent that tends to succeed in this league, or refusing to evaluate the coaching staff’s ability to improve its players and its petty and wholly unnecessary shouting match with Seattle’s front office that turned this Open Cup final into both a must win match, and a referendum on this club’s ability to function on and off the field.
On both counts tonight – DC United failed. While the gate 17,000 here at RFK was a good crowd, there is no doubt Seattle would have drawn more – even at 1 in the afternoon. United had to bring out every trick in the promotional book just to get 17k here on a perfect Wednesday evening. There was a time when it wasn’t that hard.
People, even diehard supporters like me, have lost faith in this club’s ability to be what it once was – a leader. This club has lost me, not as a supporter, but as a believer. I hope this match proves as a chastening experience for folks up and down the organization. I hope that people like Kevin Payne realize that this team needs to be rebuilt on the field, in the coaches, and with regards to the stadium effort. United needs to be reborn as a quicker, leaner, less proud group that wants to be atop American soccer, rather than constantly shouting to folks how its already there.
The fact is, DC United doesn’t win trophies anymore. It certainly doesn’t win valuable ones. We did that once back some years ago. We can do it again.
We can’t do it without rebuilding – without a rebirth of this club I’ve seen since its start.
I used to know deep down that our organization could and would succeed at big tasks like that. Now, after watching an incompetent coach lead under talented players on it while the club flounders in its hunt for the stadium, I am not so sure.
I hope the club can prove me wrong. I hope next year we see a new DC United, with a new coach and a new mentality. I hope a see a club succeed with a new stadium to provide with a viable future here in the area.
I want to be proven wrong. I want my fears to be proven unfounded. It’s not that I don’t support United anymore. It’s that I no longer believe in DC United anymore.
I never thought I’d say those words.
It’s too bad.