Opening day recaps
After a disappointing end to the 2009 season, a coaching change, key personnel changes, and a major labor dispute, D.C. United is at last ready to begin a new era under Head Coach Curt Onalfo. What will opening day 2010 hold? We'll have to wait and see, but, while were waiting, we can look back at all of the opening matches of the season dating back to the first match in franchise history back in April, 1996.
1996 - In the inaugural game of Major League Soccer, D.C. United began a new era of American soccer with a 1-0 defeat on the road to the San Jose Clash. Eric Wynalda scored the first goal in MLS history, which was also the game-winner.
1997 - D.C. United began defense of their inaugural MLS Cup Championship against the team they had defeated in the previous cup final, LA Galaxy. It was an uneventful 0-0 tie, after which D.C. prevailed in a shootout.
1998 - United opened the season on the road against the expansion club Miami Fusion. The two-time defending MLS Cup Champions won 2-0, spoiling opening night for the Fusion.
1999 - After losing in the 1998 MLS Cup Championship, D.C. began the 1999 season with a chip on their shoulder. The club went to Tampa Bay and pounded the Mutiny 5-2.
2000 - For the third time in four seasons, D.C. United began the season as the defending MLS Cup Champions. This year, however, the opening day roster was very different from the one that lifted the cup the year before. D.C. suffered one of the worst losses in franchise history, falling 4-0 at home to the L.A. Galaxy.
2001 - Facing the Kansas City Wizards at home, D.C. United used a second half comeback to earn the opening day win. Rookie Mark Lisi came off the bench to score the game-winning goal in his debut.
2002 - On the road against the L.A. Galaxy and playing down a man, D.C. United took the lead late in the match, thanks to a goal from Ali Curtis. Los Angeles tied the game in the final moments and scored a golden goal to nullify Uniteds valiant effort.
2003 - United traveled to Kansas City on opening day, playing for the first time without Eddie Pope or Jaime Moreno. D.C. led the game in the second half, but allowed a late equalizer and a golden goal to fall 3-2.
2004 - This season opener will be historically remembered for two reasons; the debut of Freddy Adu, and the glorious return of Jaime Moreno. Moreno scored a goal only nine minutes after returning to United, and Freddy Adu entered the match to thousands of flash bulbs in the second half. Careful observers will also note that this match was the beginning of an excellent 2004 campaign for Alecko Eskandarian. Esky scored the game-winning goal of the season opener, beginning his remarkable season which culminated as the MLS Cup MVP.
2005 - D.C. United welcomed one of the two new expansion teams to begin the 2005 season, as the defending champs took the field against Chivas USA. The raucous Home Depot Center fell quiet after Josh Gros scored the games opening goal and they were silent when Christian Gomez doubled the lead in the second half of D.C.'s 2-0 win.
2006 - The New York Red Bulls came to RFK Stadium to open the season and took a 2-0 lead into halftime. After an injury-plagued 2005, Alecko Eskandarian scored for D.C. for the first time in over a year to cut the lead in half. Facundo Erpen added a long-distance shot to complete the comeback and secure a 2-2 draw.
2007 - He had already scored for D.C. United in CONCACAF Champions Cup play, but the newly acquired Luciano Emilio also scored in his MLS debut. Unfortunately, his goal was not enough, as D.C. fell on the road to the Colorado Rapids 2-1.
2008 - In the midst of international competition once again, D.C. United stumbled out of the gates to start the MLS season. The Kansas City Wizards, coached by Curt Onalfo, handed a distracted United side a 2-0 defeat.
2009 - On a beautiful day in Los Angeles, D.C. United opened a two-goal lead on the Galaxy, including a Golazo from rookie Chris Pontius. Unfortunately, a mysterious handball call awarded the Galaxy an unjust penalty kick to start their comeback. Landon Donovan added his second goal to equalize and hand United a disappointing tie.