From 1999-2002 I attended many DC United games while living in Washington DC. The memories from then were great, Eddie Pope patrolling the back line, a pre injury Ben Olsen running the sideline with ease, a 16 year old Bobby Convey making his debut, and of course El Diablo Marco Etcheverry controlling the game. The 99 team won both the supporters shield and the mls cup.
The fan support then was mediocre at best for Seattle fans, but back then few if any clubs had more. You could buy tickets cheaply, and choose your seat.
I moved from DC back to Seattle in 2002, I missed MLS and became a sounders season ticket holder immediately. Last week I travelled back to DC , and was happy to attend the United game against the Montreal impact. After attending almost every sounder home game, several things caught my attention, both in atmosphere and the game.
1. The fan support was considerably better in dc than I had ever seen before. That being said, we still moved to open seats closer to the field, and no one seemed to care.
2.The nationals destroyed RFK, the space created for the infield and the dugout, removing seats at one end, moved fans farther from the field, and took a pretty good stadium for soccer and made it significantly worse.
3. The work to get families involved everywhere, including a couple of starting players signing autographs in the stands during halftime.
4.Competing supporters groups( Barra Brava and El Norte)with competing cheers at the same time. Which made it difficult to hear either.
5. Premium beer/ imported beer= Corona.
6. No scarves, to be fair it was close to 100 degrees with significant humidity.
The game itself was a little different too.
1. I was expecting a physical game, and was surprised it wasn't. Maybe it was the referee, it could have been part of each teams game plan, but the game seemed to be free flowing with few fouls. It almost seemed like an entirely different league.
2. DeRo is really good when he is given time and space. The referee protected him in a way I have never seen a sounders player protected. That gave him the time and the space to control the game.
3. Sanna is still Sanna.
I truly enjoyed the game despite the beer selection and the sweltering heat. It also made me appreciate the way MLS has grown. The crowd was bigger and more knowledgable, the game was better than in 2001.