This past week spelled disaster for my daughter's two favorite DC United players. Just as soon as we paid for our season tickets in full, Fred, United's first-round draft pick, and allocation money was shipped to Philly so that we could re-acquire Troy Perkins.
I have no problem with getting Perkins back, but I am saddened to see Josh Wicks lose his job and Fred forced to leave the DC area. This will be a very different United squad on the pitch, with Emilio gone, Cristian Gomez likely also elsewhere, and Onalfo at the helm.
But the team will also be quite different off the pitch. Reading internet chatter celebrating Fred's departure has pissed me off. Fred's one of the nicest people that will ever put a United shirt on. Despite a tough season because of personal tragedy last year, Fred never stopped trying to build the team. He became an integral part of the Brazilian community in the DC area (or so I am told by Brazilian friends) and he was fun to watch on the field. But, most importantly, for us, he always got a huge smile out of our daughter. She is about the same age as Fred's daughter. I cannot imagine enduring what he and Deborah have faced with their child. And, yet, he's always been at RFK with a smile on his face, a deeply-held faith in his heart, and a commitment to be the best soccer player he can be.
I am puzzled by the bad feelings Fred engendered with a down year. I chalk it up, mostly, to the mentality of Redskins' fans creeping into United's supporters. For whatever reason, screaming about results has come to overshadow the fact that soccer is an entertainment and a distraction which we share as a community. And, so, because a significant minority of my fellow supporters are idiots, the fact that Josh Wicks got sent off for stepping on Montero eclipses the fact that he busted his ass for the team and, in one of the coolest things we saw last year, accompanied Rodney Wallace and Marc Burch to the University of Maryland. Wicks stood out in front of the gate separating fans from the players' benches, greeted fans, chatted with kids, and signed autographs. My daughter stood back in awe while Josh patiently took time with other kids. And when she finally decided to walk up to him, her grin was almost as electric as Wicks' smile. But none of that matters to some, as we are all supposed to be only about results... winning a second-tier league and a meaningless title. Color me unimpressed. I'd rather watch entertaining football played by men who give a sh*t about the people who take the time to go and see them.
Good luck Fred, we'll miss you.