Another tattered season for DC United got worse Friday night with the announcement that Branko Boskovic has a torn ACL shortly before a sloppy, embarrassing 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Bobby Boswell's Dynamo.
As depressing as it has been to see United roughed up for 10 goals over the last three games, this terrible run of play (and luck) was not unexpected.
Oddly, the losses and lapses aren't preventing me from enjoying watching United's matches.
Earlier this week, Brian Quarstad posted an argument emphasizing the importance of supporting the NSC Minnesota Stars. It is a great piece. It also reminded me of how fortunate we are to have an MLS team in DC; whenever I walk into RFK, I get a chance to witness something that soccer fans in dozens of cities here and in Canada wish they had.
If there has been one lesson hammered home over the last year with the loss of local second and third division professional men's teams and the Washington Freedom it is that professional football in the DC area is in a precarious state. Still, without the threat of relegation, the consequences of poor play are largely financial and reputational, not existential. With expectations properly set, it becomes much easier to sit back and enjoy what the MLS has to offer this year: impressive new, young blood that is reshaping the league.
Two weeks ago, Agudelo's stunning goals showed a glimpse of the young striker's vast reservoir of ability. Friday night, Will Bruin's hat trick against DC -- while nowhere near as aesthetically pleasing -- confirmed the Hoosier's competence as an MLS striker.
And on Tuesday evening, our long trek to Boyds was rewarded with a coming attractions preview of the Revolution's two teenage phenoms, Michael Augustine and Diego Facundez.
It is not as if D.C. United offers nothing to enjoy this season. Ben Olsen will hopefully improve as a coach. Andy Najar will, at some point, get an opportunity to build on last year. Chris Pontius is developing into a solid MLS attacker at the same time as Charlie Davies continues to work himself back into playing shape. Perry Kitchen, Ethan White, and Bill Hamid should gel into an effective defensive unit. But, at least for me, I am far more interested in the MLS as a whole than I have been in prior years.
One example: A late night out (for us) last Saturday meant that we got home just in time to see the second half of the L.A. Galaxy - Portland Timbers match on television. Entertaining game in its own right, but for supporters of Maryland's soccer program, there are all kinds of happy feelings associated with seeing AJ Delagarza, Omar Gonzalez, Rodney Wallace, and Jeremy Hall on the field together in a professional soccer game. Gonzalez again showed how much of a threat he is becoming off of set pieces with a nice header straight to the keeper off a Beckham corner. For his part, Delagarza's good play earned him plaudits from multiple sources (including a favorable comparison to Cannavaro).
The Maryland angle may have led me to turn on the game, but the quality of the match itself kept me watching. It may just be because I appreciate the game more now, but I routinely find myself tuning into random MLS games and enjoying what unfolds.
Even if my team is struggling, I'm still privileged to be regularly treated to live football at the highest level in this country. Whether we will continue to have such opportunities will undoubtedly hinge upon the continued support of United's fans through the duration of these trying times.