2011 was truly a great year to be a D.C. United fan. Sure, they missed they playoffs again. But man, it was a fun ride. So many storylines, so much entertainment. And that's what sports are all about really. Win or lose, I got a lot of enjoyment out of D.C. United this year. Although I admit that I expect to enjoy it even more next year when they do more winning and less losing.
You don't have to look far on the internet to find Top X X's of 2011 lists. Everyone is doing it. We are too. We've talked about it already on Facebook. We've already complained when United missed the cut on the lists generated by the D.C. Sports Bog and SB Nation D.C. But now it's time for a list of our own.
To be honest, it was much easier to compile the best D.C. United moments of 2010 than it was in 2011. Because that year was so terribly disappointing, it was pretty easy to come up with the few solitary good moments that happened. Like Andy Najar single-handedly getting us into the U.S. Open Cup elimination rounds, or Jaime Moreno saying Goodbye for the last time. 2011 had it's share of ups and downs, but the ups were more numerous, and the downs we're already trying to forget.
So without further ado, I present to you the list of the Top 5 D.C. United Moments Of 2011. If I left anything out, or if you disagree with the order, let me know in the comments.5. DeRo Schools Dax
Just over a week after United traded Dax McCarty to the New York Red Bulls for soon-to-be MVP Dwayne De Rosario, DeRo would return to New Jersey to face his former team. And that week was all it would take for us to already figure out who the winner of the trade was.
United won 1-0, and De Rosario scored the lone goal. But it wasn't just that he scored that made this moment memorable. It was how he scored. He scored by having the awareness to dummy McCarty off the ball, then taking a return pass from Josh Wolff and finishing past the goalkeeper with McCarty still on his back. De Rosario didn't look back from there. It was one of four goals he would score against his former teams.
In which a clearly injured De Rosario put this team on his back and did everything within his power to keep our playoff hopes alive. I couldn't tell the story better than Brendanukkah did earlier this week, so I'll let him explain.
We were, ostensibly, fighting for our playoff lives, but the team had looked listless. Then De Ro, as became his custom, hit a great goal to tie things up. The supporters went nuts and the team sprung to life. United pressed for chance after chance. Portland had some great counters that Bill Hamid either expertly saved, or luckily hit off the bar. I mentioned to whoever was behind me that Ngwenya would end up winning it for us. That, obviously, didn’t happen, but oh how tantalizingly close. The passion and fight the team showed at the end made me proud of the boys, but I also wondered why it couldn’t have happened from the opening kick.
In which the player that Ben Olsen would have drafted first overall fell to him at No. 3. I don't think Olsen was exaggerating either. He didn't necessarily have the best season of any player from the 2011 draft class, but he was at least in the top three. And of all the players selected in January at the Baltimore Convention Center, he has the highest upside, and probably the best chance of someday playing in a World Cup. Omar Salgado? Nah. It's Perry Kitchen, y'all. And he's only going to get better.
Real Salt Lake was the unquestioned favorite in MLS going into this season. They had a chance to win four championships - something no team has done before. As it turned out, they didn't win any. They only really came close to winning one. And when they visited RFK Stadium on Sep. 24, they were thoroughly embarassed.
While their fans spent much of the year whining about calls that they deemed unfair, RSL got exactly what it deserved that night. De Rosario scored three of the prettiest goals you saw all year in the first half alone, and Najar added another to give United a 4-1 win. It was the best D.C. looked all year. Unfortunately, that would also be their last win of the season.
In the lede, I mentioned one of the reasons why we watch sports. For entertainment. Another reason is for moments like the one we saw on Mar. 19. Actually, the three that we saw that night.
The newly-acquired Wolff scoring the first goal of the season and then ingratiating himself to the Supporters' Groups by removing his shirt and jumping into the bouncing stands of RFK wasn't enough to make this night special. It was the return of Charlie Davies that made it really special. It wasn't even Davies' penalty kick goal after having the confidence to demand the ball from the captain shortly after stepping on the field either. It was Davies' second goal against the Columbus Crew that made that night really special.
He did it from the run of play, and he did it using his speed. That moment, he erased the questions that still lingered about whether he was here to play, or if he was just a marketing ploy. That moment, he changed the question from "Will Charlie Davies ever return?" to "When will Charlie Davies return to top form?" That moment was the greatest all year for this team.