The sign that hangs above the field-accesstunnel outside D.C. United's locker room says it all:
Take Back RFK
After a two-year stretch that has seen justseven league wins in front of the Black-and-Red's home fans, a determinedUnited side returns to the venerable stadium following a two-week roadtrip. Friday's match with Dallaswill be D.C.'s first at home since a heartbreaking defeat to Kansas City onopening night; a memory United's players are keen to replace."It's important for us to defend RFK andshow our home fans what we are about," Robbie Russell said from inside thehistoric facility on Wednesday. "The fans here are great and whenever they are here cheering us onit makes all the difference for us because it gets us in that homemind-frame."
Inside United's locker room, there's an acuteawareness that it was a lack of home form that undid the club's playoff chancesa year ago. In the thick of thepostseason chase, D.C. won just once during its final five matches at RFK andmissed out on a shot at MLS Cup as a result. Though the page has long been turned on the end 2011, theBlack-and-Red's captain acknowledges that there were lessons to be learned fromthat difficult stretch.
"I think last year I saw a little bit oftentativeness when we were playing at home," Dwayne De Rosario admitted onThursday. "I don't know if itwas because guys were a little timid with the passion of the fans, but we asplayers need to embrace it and feed off that energy because they are our 12thman."
"When we talked team goals for this year,the first thing is we need to win at home," added midfielder StephenKing. "Our fans deserveit. They've been there since thebeginning. Our fans set the barwhen the league first began and they deserve for us to go out there and performwell at home."
Friday night's match against FC Dallas is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m.kickoff at RFK Stadium. Tickets available online or at the stadium.