Players express appreciation

A little over a week after Hurricane Sandy imposed its will along the East Coast, inclement weather again found its way to influence an Eastern Conference Semifinal match-up between D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls. Tonight, United and the Red Bulls were set to settle the score in Leg 2 of the series, but after hours of shoveling snow and assessing field conditions, the League decided to postpone the game until tomorrow at 7:30 p.m.

Seven hundred Black-and-Red fans piled in 11 buses, funded in partnership between Major League Soccer, D.C. United and New York Red Bulls, to make the trek up to Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ only to have to turn right back around. After the decision was made, Head Coach Ben Olsen expressed his disappointment for his players and United’s faithful.

“I’m upset,” Olsen said. “I’m upset because I have some guys that I knew by the look in their eyes that they were ready to go today.”

“I feel terrible for [the fans] – they gotta go back tonight and tomorrow, they took off work. I feel terrible for them and I thank them for coming out. They always got our back. Hopefully, some of them can call off another day of work – we’ll see if those bosses in D.C., cut them some slack and stay one more night.”

As a show of appreciation, United players, coaching staff and general partner Will Chang made their way up to the stands to thank the traveling fans personally. Midfielder Chris Pontius was one of many players to take photos with United’s contingent, and even came face-to-face with a large cardboard cutout of his likeness.

“I was following Will Chang and we were trying to figure out a away to get up there to them,” Pontius described. “I mean, to bring 600 people up to a game, an away game, to have it shut down like that, it’s incredible and they deserved us coming up there and thanking them like that.”

From the locker room, defender Dejan Jakovic underscored Pontius’ sentiment and tweeted: