Less than a week from MLS First Kick, D.C. United's playerstook a well-deserved break on Monday to celebrate the beginning of their seasonand a milestone anniversary of one of the most important events on the club'syearly calendar. Hosted by Unitedfor D.C., the charitable arm of D.C. United, the 10th annual Kickoff Luncheon brought togetherplayers, fans and corporate sponsors ahead of the March 10 season openeragainst Kansas City.
"It's good to be here and recognize everything that D.C.United is about," forward Josh Wolff acknowledged after the event. "You get a nice representation of whatits about to be member of this family.As a player it's great to have this fan base and organization behindyou."
Central to Monday's theme was the club's long-standingmission statement: "Win championships and serve the community". Through its multiple programs, Unitedfor D.C. has helped thousands of Washington residents with a particular focuson the city's youth. The annualluncheon serves as the opening fundraiser for the foundation, allowing programslike United Reads and Kicks for Kids to continue their growth.
"[The event] really sets the tone for everything we want todo with the team and the foundation," said D.C. United Executive Vice PresidentStephen Zack, who also serves as President of United for D.C. "It goes along with our missionstatement. All the people thatcome here help us in raising funds so that we can continue running thoseprograms."
For the fans who attended, Monday's affair offered theunique opportunity to mingle with United's players in an off-the-field setting. Head coach Ben Olsen introduced eachplayer on the 2012 roster, giving D.C.'s faithful followers their first look at the newsquad.
"When we get together like this we are able to celebrate theteam and the season," noted Brian Geffert, both a board member of United forD.C. and a five-year D.C. United season ticket holder. "But more importantly, being able tocelebrate the good that the club does in the community and what this team representsover the last 17 years."