The traditional definition of “giving” is the transfer of something without the expectation of receiving something in return. For those who actually perform this act, the word means considerably more than a simple twelve word description. I am only seven months green to the District of Columbia and these streets are far too unfamiliar to call home, but, volunteering to help those in need is something that will always make me feel more connected to my community.
As 250 children from local D.C. schools quietly entered the Caucus room in the Cannon Building of the US Capitol, their faces became so animated and eyes so wide, I couldn't stop my heart from melting. The walls were lined with Christmas decor, the tables were draped with snowflakes and Santa's helpers were stationed at every turn with a smile. The historical landmark was truly transformed into a magical wonderland far different from its everyday landscape.
The three hours were jam packed with different activities to keep every age group entertained. My co-workers and I danced the wobble, passed out food and helped assemble presents for Santa and Mrs. Clause to deliver to everyone in attendance. A puppeteer and clown were also on hand for extra charm.
Tuesday was about the 250 children in that room. The 250 children that might have taken home their only Christmas presents yesterday. The 250 children that arrived without warm winter coats. The 250 children that most of all, needed a little extra love and hope. It was their day and if I helped make it, I guess I am a little closer to home than I thought.
Day five. It doesn’t sound like very many days, but they sure do add up when you play, watch, coach and write about six different soccer games. Games fluctuate with a flick of a ball or a shot on goal and emotions dip and rise with goals, cards, fouls, wins and losses. Dramatic victories, unbelievable saves, and clutch performances from players made for an exciting and intense Winter Showcase.
The D.C. United U-16s were undefeated going into their last Showcase game against the San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday, Dec. 15 at 9 a.m. United pushed the tempo and had San Jose on their heels almost the entire first half. There was a lot of possession for United, but few chances on goal. The San Jose backline was able to contain the United forwards and keep the Black-and-Red attack at bay. The first half ended in a scoreless draw. The second half was a physical battle for both teams. San Jose countered against the United attack in the 65th minute and had a point blank shot on goal that was blocked by defender Kyle Brathwaite. The physicality of the match caught up with San Jose when their goalkeeper took out D.C. United forward Gerson Umana in the 70th minute. Umana converted the penalty for United, which put them up 1-0 with 10 minutes to go. United defended well for the last 13 minutes and won the game 1-0.
The D.C. U-16s went undefeated during the Winter Showcase and gained nine points that will be added to their first half of the season total. They beat two fellow MLS academy teams, scored nine goals and had two players, Donovan Pines and Jonathan Sousa, play all 80 minutes of all three games. The U-16s will have a few weeks off and then begin training for next half of the season in January.
The Winter Showcase ended successfully for the Black-and-Red. The U-16s went 3-0 and the U-18s went 1-1-1 against top ranked teams. College coaches numbered in the double digits at every single D.C. United game, along with several U.S. Soccer technical advisors. Florida treated D.C. United well. Everyone returns home today a little tanner, a little more tired and little more proud to wear the D.C. United badge. Vamos United!
The final and most challenging game day for the U-18s was finally here. The players groggily awoke for their final game against top ranked Real Salt Lake AZ. The 11:15 game was upon everyone before they knew it. The sun was out and blistering hot for a team that had just left 20 degree weather and snow a few days ago. The wind helped a bit, but there wasn’t a cloud in the sky as United looked to upset the defending Developmental Academy champions.
The game started out at a very fast pace with both teams looking to attack and score. The first twenty minutes were rough for United as they looked to counter and disrupt their opponents rhythm, but Real Salt Lake scored in the 12th minute off a set piece from 30 yards out. United had several scoring opportunities in the first half, including two that went off the post and a no-call in the penalty area. United found themselves one goal down at halftime with 45 minutes to find a way to put the ball in the back of the net. Bashir Hooper was subbed in at halftime and proved to be one of the defining factors in the outcome of the game. Michael Monahan beat two Salt Lake defenders and crossed the ball to Hooper, who slotted the ball home in the 68th minute to tie the score at 1-1. The intensity of the game immediately picked up as Salt Lake pushed forward for the winning goal. Goalkeeper Jimmy Knoebel had two clutch saves in the last five minutes to deny Real Salt Lake their winning goal. The Black-and-Red worked hard as a unit to defend the flurry of attacks. When the final whistle blew, United was able to hold on to a gritty and well-deserved 1-1 tie against the number one Developmental Academy team in the nation.
The U-18s walked off the field to round of applause from the D.C. United U-16s, and high-fived and patted each other on the back. The excited mood was contagious as everyone packed their gear up and headed to the bus. Jimmy Filerman, Christian Kershaw, Jimmy Knoebel and Hiram Munoz-Cantu played all 90 minutes of all three games at the Winter Showcase. Over 30+ college coaches showed up to every single D.C. United U-18 game and asked multiple questions about many of the players. The U-18s ended the Showcase with a 1-1-1 record and will have a few weeks to rest until they begin training again in January.
The U-16s enjoyed their free day by watching the U-18s play and having a cheering match against the Real Salt Lake U-16 team. More beach volleyball, Ping-Pong, corn hole and FIFA were played as the U-16s enjoyed a day in the sun. The entire academy had dinner at Café Amici and walked around St. Armands Circle to end the day. The U-16s will look to end the Showcase with an undefeated record on Sunday, Dec. 15 against the San Jose Earthquakes at 9 a.m.
The team will return to Washington, D.C. on Sunday, Dec. 15 and immediately head back to school, homework and chilly northern weather. Goodbye sunny and warm Florida! See you next year!
Everyone was ready for a day to sleep in, except the coaches. Coaches Tom Torres and Nolan Sheldon and Academy Manager Steve Olivarez went to a meeting to listen to U.S. Men’s National Team Coach Jürgen Klinsmann. Meanwhile, the U-18s took the day off, and the U-16s didn’t have a game until 1 p.m. It was a cool morning and a lot of guys slept in or took walks on the beach. The U-16s departed for the field as the temperature began to rise.
Over 50+ college coaches were in attendance today when the D.C. United U-16s played their second game of the Winter Showcase against the Crew Soccer Academy. It was a hot day that proved to take down multiple players across the Premier Sports Complex. United used their reserves well and subbed efficiently to push a fast paced game. The Black-and-Red played to a scoreless draw in the first half that included a lot of D.C. United possession and a few quality chances on goal. DJ Reeves was subbed in to start the second half and made an immediate impact on the game. Reeves took on three Crew players to score a sensational a goal to put United up 1-0 in the 49th minute. Things began to heat up as the Crew pushed for the equalizer. Goalkeeper Tyler Beaudoin made two clutch saves to keep the lead for United going into the 80th minute. United countered quickly off of this Crew chance and Liam Hoen-Beck carried the ball the length of the field and crossed it to an awaiting Christophe Koffi, who slotted the ball into the back of the net. United lead 2-0, but the Crew pulled one back during stoppage time to make the final score 2-1. The D.C. United U-16s will play their third and final game of the Winter Showcase against the San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday, Dec.15 at 9 a.m.
D.C. United U-16 player Jose Carranza played 80 minutes in the U-15 Boys National Team game against the De Anza Force. The BNT was trailing the Force 1-0 going into the 80th minute when Carranza assisted to a teammate for the equalizer. Carranza has another game with the BNT against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday, Dec. 15 at 11 a.m.
The U-18s had the entire day off. They trained during the first half of the U-16s game and then sat and watch the U-16s for the second half. Once the U-18s returned to the hotel, there was a lot of beach volleyball along with a regen session in the ocean and pool. The U-18s will play their final game of the Showcase against Real Salt Lake AZ. Real Salt Lake is sitting atop the Western Conference and have a record of 6-1-2. This will be the most competitive and challenging game for the D.C. United U-18s.
Friday the Thirteenth proved to be a pretty lucky and successful day for D.C. United. A win against a fellow MLS club and beautiful weather for the beach makes for a pretty good day.
The day started before the sun came up for the U-18s. The day was dreary and overcast, but the U-18s ignored the weather and were prepared for the day's game.
The U-18s played against fellow MLS academy team, the New England Revolution, on Thursday, Dec. 12 at 9 a.m. The Black-and-Red started out strong and dominated possession in the first 30 minutes. The breakthrough for United came in the 36th minute off a Jorge Calix free kick. Calix served a curling ball in for Tim Oberg, who headed the ball into the net. One minute later, Calix scored a goal of his own on a breakaway to give United the 2-0 lead going into halftime. The Revs scored early in the second half, but Ronald Ventura put home another goal, assisted by Julian Cummings. The Revs made the score 3-2 in the dying minutes of the game, but United held on for the victory. The U-18s will have a well-deserved day off and will play their final game of the Showcase on Saturday, Dec. 14 at 11:15 a.m. against Real Salt Lake AZ.
The D.C. United U-16s played their first game of the Winter Showcase against the Indiana Fire on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. The first twenty minutes was very even sided, but Owen Marshall scored in the 21st minute to put United up 1-0. Christophe Koffi and Liam Hoen-Beck each added a goal before the half to give United a 3-0 lead. Marshall scored his second goal of the day early in the second half, while Antonio Bustamante tallied two more goals late in the half to give D.C. the 6-0 win. Both goalkeepers, Tyler Beaudoin and Zachary McMurrer, split halves and gave United the shutout victory. The U-16s will play again on Friday, Dec. 13 against the Crew Soccer Academy.
Two D.C. United U-16 players also participated in other select Developmental Academy games during the day. Jose Carranza played with the U-15 Boys National Team against Weston FC, and Trey Vinson played a full 80 minutes in the Academy Select Squad game. The U-16 team watched and cheered on their teammates in both games.
The night ended with a round of Chipotle, running from the family of raccoons that live in the underbrush around the hotel, FIFA tournaments and doing a regen session in the pool. The U-18s look forward to watching the U-16s tomorrow and enjoying the warm weather that we are having in Florida.
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.