In a recent post on MLSsoccer.com, editors chose D.C. United as a team primed for a deeper playoff run in 2013, saying that with the return of a healthy Dwayne De Rosario, United could be a, "real title contender."
Perhaps just as compelling as a healthy De Rosario is the wealth of young talent in the Black-and-Red core. With an average age of 25, United is among the most youthful squads in MLS. But in this case, youth does not equal inexperience. United's roster boasts the 2012 MLS All Star MVP, 2012 MLS Best XI selection and 2009 MLS Rookie of the Year Runner-Up Chris Pontius (25) and three other Rookie of the Year finalists in just as many seasons: Nick DeLeon (22), emerging center midfield star Perry Kitchen (20), and 2012 Olympian and homegrown standout Andy Najar (19), the 2010 Rookie of the Year. Additionally, starting goalkeeper Bill Hamid (22) - the first D.C. United Acadmey product to sign directly with the first team – led all MLS netminders in saves percentage (78.6%) and registered the third-best GAA (1.03) in 2012.
With its captain back to full form and a young roster, who turned more than a few heads in 2012, United is indeed set to contend for the Cup in 2013.
With the announcement of new ownership in July of this year, D.C. United made a pledge to become a more global brand. As the year wound down, that commitment was evident.
D.C. United had reached new heights on and off the field. The team boasted the best home record in the league, and a return to the playoffs for the first time in five years. Off the field, D.C. United touched the lives of thousands of children through their community outreach efforts and through various camp programs.
But D.C. United's reach went far beyond their community and home fan base. The club saw growth in worldwide interest of the team. Fans emerged from 47 of the 50 states and 15 different countries to purchase gear from the Team Store, including an order that was shipped to the North Pole. North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were the only states who did not receive shipments from D.C. United this year. Dwayne De Rosario jerseys were a hot item in Canada, but team merchandise was also shipped to a handful of European countries, China, Japan, and Australia.
With 2013 upon us, and a new season on the horizon, United reaches even further. Join us. Rise together.
From around the globe, D.C. United players reflect on 2012 and look forward to 2013.
Happy NY. Thanks to all of you who have supported & may 2013 be filled with health & strength...
— Dwayne De Rosario (@dwaynederosario) January 1, 2013
Haappy New Year to Everyone!! Let's try n make the world a better place, starting w ourselves!! #Peace&Love
— Brandon McDonald (@BMcDonald4) January 1, 2013
Happy 2013!!! God Bless Everyone...Feliz 2013!! Deus abençoe a todos ... Grande bjao@ Balneario Camboriu instagr.am/p/T6x6fQvsWy/
—M.Saragosa (@MarceloSaragosa) December 31, 2012
— Chris Pontius (@ChrisPontius13) December 31, 2012
Despite his teammates not naming him the "Best at FIFA" in this year's superlatives, Bill Hamid is one of D.C. United's FIFA enthusiasts. Recently he sat down with ESPN to talk about his playing style and how being a professional soccer player has helped him become better at the video game.
"You know at certain points when to cross when you see runners going. You know when to bring the keeper out when there’s a breakaway. Being a pro soccer player, you figure those things out easier," explained Hamid. Read the full article on ESPN now.
Yesterday, MLS and adidas unveiled the new official match ball for 2013. The adidas PRIME features a few updates from it's 2012 version, including a slightly new look and upgraded technology.
The updates make the PRIME more water resistant and increasingly more aerodynamic with a cutting-edge panel bonding technique. The ball features a matte finish with slight texture to help with ball control, while changes to the bladder help prevent air and shape loss across all weather conditions.
The PRIME keeps it's traditional MLS colors of green, blue and white, while it also still features the signature of League Commissioner Don Garber. The design change is in the shapes, which were changed to emulate the handles of the Philip F. Anschutz trophy.
D.C. United faces Houston on March 2, 2013 marking their first match with the new ball.
With the holidays upon us, D.C. United players share their travel and celebration plans with fans via Twitter.
Chris Pontius heads back home.
Last day in DC before I head back to Cali for the holidays. Busy busy busy
— Chris Pontius (@ChrisPontius13) December 20, 2012
Dwayne De Rosario is looking for the best place to celebrate the New Year. Any suggestions?
Best New Years party destination???
— Dwayne De Rosario (@dwaynederosario) December 19, 2012
Dejan Jakovic spends time with family.
It's always nice to be back home with the fam
— Dejan Jakovic (@DejanJakovic) December 20, 2012
Marcelo Saragosa finds time to enjoy a poolside vacation.
As part of a recent gotsoccer.com contest, Academy brothers Mike and Jack Daunt submitted videos of their tennis ball juggling skills. The brothers have been selected as finalists, and you can vote for them online.
Mike Daunt is part of the D.C. United Academy U-13 squad, while older brother Jack plays for the U-15s. The Academy is on a winter break and will return to action in January. Read all Academy and youth news.
Do you ever wonder what professional athletes do during the offseason? It's easy to keep up with D.C. United players through their Tweets.
For veteran captain Dwayne De Rosario, work never stops. DeRo plays an active role in his winter camp series:
Was real nice to see all the kids at my #derofutbol development & power training session today. Keep up the good work the future is bright!
— Dwayne De Rosario (@dwaynederosario) December 8, 2012
Cool runnings on earlier...now Home Alone is on. Becoming best friends with the couch today
— Chris Pontius (@ChrisPontius13) December 11, 2012
Dexter and Homeland were intense! Season Finales gonna be crazy!
— Perry Kitchen (@PerryKitchen23) December 10, 2012
Dejan Jakovic shares his passion for DC sports:
— Dejan Jakovic (@DejanJakovic) December 3, 2012
Wizards playing some good basketball right now vs the Heat
— Dejan Jakovic (@DejanJakovic) December 5, 2012
Brandon McDonald travels visit friends and family:
— Brandon McDonald (@BMcDonald4) December 10, 2012
— Brandon McDonald (@BMcDonald4) November 29, 2012
— Brandon McDonald (@BMcDonald4) November 26, 2012
Off to training
— Bill Hamid (@BillHamid28) December 13, 2012
MLS announced the 2013 MLS Combine Invite list today. The initial list is comprised of 54 of the top NCAA Division I players from the past season.
Former D.C. United Academy midfielder Uwem Etuk was selected to the list, after a successful collegiate career with West Virginia. Etuk saw time in 75 matches for the Mountaineers, notching eight goals and 18 assists.
In his time with the Academy, Etuk played alongside current United defender Ethan White. Today, White gave a shout out to his former teammate on Twitter: