When I think about the holiday season, I often reference the copious amounts of food, drink and outstanding company of my family and friends from years past. These are luxuries that I have grown accustomed to over my lifetime and have come to expect on an annual basis. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same fortune that many of us benefit from around the holidays. This fact is evident every time I volunteer to help those in need, especially during this time of year.
Along with several other D.C. United and United for D.C. staff members, we took a few hours out of our day to volunteer at one of the most hospitable places I have ever been, Miriam’s Kitchen.
In this week's edition of #TBT, we'd like to stroll down memory lane with D.C. United's Re-Entry draft selection Bobby Boswell. The defender, who spent the first three years of his MLS career with the Black-and-Red was once famous for more than his soccer skills.
At age 11, Boswell was on Nickelodeon GUTS! He may have cheated his way onto the show, and he may not have won in overall points, but the MegaCrag is all that matters anyways, right?
What a great day! So much DCU love.
Appreciate all those who have welcomed me to @dcunited. Looking ahead to great things for this team next season.
— Sean Franklin (@SFranklin5) December 12, 2013
Loving the moves by @dcunited. Arnaud, Franklin, and Boswell can absolutely improve this team and have an immediate impact
— Eric Joy (@ejoy88) December 12, 2013
— Matthew Eide (@mattheweide) December 12, 2013
— Brian B. (@Gonzo1999) December 12, 2013
— Im_PRETTY_AWESOME!!! (@mightysheetz) December 12, 2013
Arnaud, Franklin, and we're getting Boswell back? Looks like we're getting a 5th MLS cup next season!! @dcunited
— Bruno Fernandez (@Bruno_133) December 12, 2013
— Davin Lassiter (@MisterLassiter) December 12, 2013
— JFer (@Ferbear_) December 12, 2013
— Donald Wine II (@blazindw) December 12, 2013
Sean Franklin and Bobby Boswell...is this Christmas? #DCU
— Matt Sliko (@mattsliko) December 12, 2013
— jake didinsky (@jakedidinsky) December 12, 2013
— Freddy Alexander (@MarcheloUnoDos) December 12, 2013
And we leave you with what everyone is wondering...
— Edward Ted Meyer (@EdwardDMeyer) December 12, 2013
Each year, adidas releases a new official match ball for MLS, and this year, we're going Brazilian!
The Brazuca, the official match ball of the 2014 FIFA World Cup has been given a make-over for MLS play. I tend to like the color update, which are said to represent the heart, "as the ball is the heart of soccer and MLS." MLS match balls are typically green and blue, like the league logo. But this year, it's all about the Black-and-Red!
What do you think of the new design?
The first day of the Developmental Academy Winter Showcase started out early. Both teams woke up at 7:30 a.m. They ate breakfast, picked up their kits, had a pregame meeting, and then left for the Lakewood Ranch complex by 8:30 a.m. Twenty-two fields with hundreds of soccer players, coaches, fans, referees and staff stretched across the green fields. Players commented on how everything back home was covered in snow and then preceded to enjoy the warm, breezy weather.
PHOTOS: DA Winter Showcase - Day 1
The D.C. United U-18 team matched up against the Carolina Railhawks at 10 a.m. The Black-and-Red started out quick and dominated the game for the first 20 minutes, but the Railhalwks tallied on a counter attack in the 22nd minute to lead 1-0. Carolina scored again six minutes later in the 28th to lead 2-0 going into halftime. United had more attacking changes in the second half, but couldn’t covert. The game ended 3-0 after the Railhawks scored another goal during stoppage time. The U-18s will play again on Dec. 12 at 9 a.m. against the New England Revolution.
The D.C. United U-16 team had a day off after their hectic travel day. They trained and did a quick workout before the U-18s played, and then watched the game. They will play on Dec. 12 against the Indiana Fire at 2:30 p.m.
D.C. United U-16 player Jose Carranza is training with the U-15 Boys National Team during the Winter Showcase and will play his first game of the weekend on Dec. 12 at 1:30 p.m. against Weston FC. Trey Vinson will be playing in the Developmental Academy Select Squad game at 6 p.m. on the 12th as well. To read more about Carranza and Vinson, CLICK HERE.
Finally, game day has arrived. What started as a typical day with breakfast, team stretch and a pre-game meal turned into more than we could have imagined once we hit the road. Imagine a Mardi Gras parade mixed with a Lot 8 tailgate, and you have a slight idea of what we just encountered on the way to the stadium. Every moped, van, truck, bus or car we passed seemed to be decked out in blue Persib gear en route to the game. If the vehicle they were riding in was full, they rode on top of it. I can now say that I have seen more people riding on top of a van than in one.
If the enthusiasm for soccer wasn’t clear enough on our hour drive to the stadium, it was certainly on display when we pulled up to the packed stadium two and a half hours BEFORE the game. The team was welcomed to the stadium with a standing ovation from tens of thousands of supporters in a display of pure class from our hosts. With chants and songs ringing through the stadium, we headed to the locker room with clear blue skies and a dry pitch, and then it happened. Mother Nature let her presence be known. Fans on the other side of the stadium turned to nothing more than a wet sheet of grey. They could be heard, but not seen. Indonesia rain isn’t normal rain. It’s like standing under a mini waterfall that lasts for four hours.
With no end in sight, the game took place as the Black-and-Red started Andrew Dykstra, Chris Korb, Ethan White, Conor Shanosky, Taylor Kemp, Lewis Neal, Jared Jeffrey, Kyle Porter, Luis Silva, Conor Doyle and Michael Seaton as I tried to hear myself over the roar of the crowd and the rain. Calling the field kind of wet would be like calling Mt. Everest a kind of tall. As you can imagine, the game was sloppy. Balls getting stuck in puddles, players slipping with every step, chunks of grass flying when someone attempted to stop, basically, the whole nine yards. After some quick counter-attacks by Persib with dangerous looks at goal, United settled down and got into a rhythm. What started out as a team who hadn’t played together, much less seen each other, in weeks turned into a cohesive unit midway through the first half as they scored the game's first goal, thanks to a Michael Seaton header. Persib answered late in the first half to tie the game going into the break.
The second half saw fewer familiar faces as Dykstra, Shanosky, Jeffrey, Doyle, Kemp and Seaton were the only original United members left on the field. The rest of the positions were filled with Richmond Kickers players, and as the game ended, only three Black-and-Red players were left standing. In a back-and-forth second half, both teams created good scoring chances, but Persib capitalized on their's as they went on to win the game, 2-1.
“We had a great time,” said D.C. United Head Coach Ben Olsen. “Both teams played attacking and had a lot of chances to entertain the crowd. We’re obviously disappointed in the loss, but I think we played a good team today, and the two goals they scored shows they have some very talented players. The fans are unbelievable here.”
In fact, they were so unbelievable that we had to sit on the bus, in the stadium for 45 minutes after the game because the traffic was so bad. Yes, that unbelievable. Thanks to our police escort, we made our way through the supporters back to the hotel where guys ate and watched the world cup draw with that that “oh crap” expression once we saw the USMNT's group. Tomorrow, the team will travel to Malang, Indonesia, the site of its last game during this trip.
The matches have been set. Who will you be cheering for, and which groups do you think have the toughest road to the second round?
As D.C. United prepares for its first match in Indonesia (Friday, December 6, 6:30 a.m. ET), we look back at another offseason trip to an Asian nation. In 1997, as winners of the 1996 MLS Cup, the Black-and-Red was invited to the Sanwa Bank Cup. The Cup, which ran from 1994-1997 was a single-match in which the champions of the J League would go head-to-head with the champions of a foreign league.
United lost to Nagoya Grampus Eight with a final score of 1-3 on March 2, 1997, but the trip marked a historic visit to the J League by the first-ever MLS Cup Champion.