D.C. United's Top 5 Accomplishments of 2012

Patrick McDermott

Let's take a look at D.C. United's top 5 accomplishments of 2012. On and off the field, this was truly a tremendous season, and one that will be remembered for years to come.

The 2012 D.C. United campaign may have ended one game too early, but it was truly a remarkable season for United's fans, the team, and the city. When we step back and look at the totality of the season, this year may go down as one of the most pivotal in D.C. United history as the club transitioned from an extended losing period into a future with so much promise. So, let's countdown the top 5 accomplishments of the season for the D.C. United club. This list isn't just about the play on the field, but certainly that's part of it. But let's take a broader look, and include all aspects of the D.C. United franchise. We want to see your list as well, so put them in the comments section below!

5. D.C. United Took Back RFK! One of Ben Olsen's principal goals entering the 2012 season was to turn RFK Stadium back into a fortress. D.C. United accumulated more points at RFK this season than any other team did at home. And, in Major League Soccer, the foundation of a successful season is piling up points at home. Just as importantly for D.C. United, after three years of less-than-stellar results at home (see table below), they have given the fans performances to match their Supporters' passion, and in doing so, returned RFK (warts and all) to one of the best game-day atmospheres in MLS.

Year

Home Record

2012

12-1-4

2011

4-5-8

2010

3-11-1

2009

7-3-5

2008

9-4-2

2007

10-2-3

2006

9-3-4

2005

9-5-2

2004

9-2-4

2003

6-3-6

2002

9-1-3

Those of us fortunate enough to have been at RFK on Oct. 20 when D.C. United clinched a playoff spot with their 3-2 win over the Columbus Crew saw the old ghosts awake, and we learned what the Supporters already knew. This is a soccer town, a D.C. United town, and it is back!

4. Continued Remarkable Development of Young Players. Does any team in the league have a better stable of young players than D.C. United? While we all wish D.C. United hadn't wandered in the non-playoff wasteland of MLS over the last four years, at least they used these years to set the team up for great success into the future using the high draft positions they had, and through their Academy player development. This is much more than can be said for other teams, even some with much higher budgets (I'm looking at you, Toronto FC). Lots of credit goes to Ben Olsen for bringing the best out of these young players, and it's exciting to think that most of the players listed below, all 25 years old or younger, haven't even reached their full potential yet:

- Andy Najar (19 years old): The second player ever signed from D.C. United's Academy directly to the first team, Najar went on to be named the 2010 MLS Rookie of the Year. He was on the Honduran Olympic team this year and has been called up to their full Men's National Team.

- Perry Kitchen (20 years old): D.C. United's 2011 first round draft pick (#3 overall pick). A member of the 2012 US Men's Olympic Qualifying Team, and almost certainly a player that will be on the US Men's National Team radar scope in the years ahead.

- Bill Hamid (21 years old): The first player ever signed from D.C. United's Academy directly to the first team. He became the youngest goalie ever to win a game in MLS. A member of the 2012 US Men's Olympic Qualifying Team, he's also been called up for US Men's National Team matches in the past, and almost certainly will be again in the future.

- Nick DeLeon (22 years old): D.C. United's 2012 first round draft pick (#7 overall pick). If the 2012 MLS Rookie of the Year vote occurred after the playoffs, is there any doubt he would win? I can't imagine how he won't be on the short list for the US Men's National Team in the years ahead if he keeps playing like he has down the stretch.

- Joe Willis (24 years old): D.C. United's 2011 third round draft pick (#50 overall pick). Who will ever forget his PK save against the New York Red Bulls in the second leg of this season's Eastern Conference Semifinals?

- Chris Pontius (25 years old): D.C. United's 2009 first round draft pick (#7 overall pick). D.C. United's captain after Dwayne De Rosario went down, Pontius was also named the 2012 MLS All-Star Game MVP. He turned down a call up to the US Men's National Team this fall, but everyone is expecting that he will get called up again for the January 2013 camp.

- Chris Korb (25 years old): D.C. United's 2011 second round draft pick (#31 overall pick). He put in a very solid season when pressed into a starting role as D.C. United's left back. He got better and better as the season wore on and put in some superb matches down the stretch. In at least two playoff games, he had various fans arguing he was the Man of the Match for D.C. United.

And, there are other players such as Conor Shanosky (20 years old) and Ethan White (21 years old) who may yet add to this impressive list of young players.

3. D.C. United is a Top 4 MLS Team Once Again. Whether you measure top teams in MLS by their regular season performance or by how they do in the playoffs, D.C. United proved they were one of the top 4 teams in MLS this season. In fact, D.C. United was the only team in 2012 to finish in the top 4 in both the regular season and the playoffs. And, we all know this team can still get significantly better in the years ahead.

Team

Total Points

Made the Playoffs

Made the Conference Finals

San Jose Earthquakes

66

x

Sporting Kansas City

63

x

D.C. United

58

x

x

New York Red Bulls

57

x

Real Salt Lake

57

x

Chicago Fire

57

x

Seattle Sounders

56

x

x

LA Galaxy

54

x

x

Houston Dynamo

53

x

x

Columbus Crew

52

Vancouver Whitecaps

43

x

2. D.C. United Has a New, Expanded Ownership Group. Perhaps no news was welcomed with more excitement this season than the announcement that Erick Thohir and Jason Levien had joined Will Chang in the D.C. United ownership group. Not only did this development give the team and its fans new hope that the long-sought-after, soccer-specific-stadium might finally happen, but it also gave the team the promise of new resources to use on player signings and development, all while keeping the very popular Will Chang affiliated with the team as a minority owner. The future will tell what the impact of this new ownership group will truly be, but D.C. United fans are almost all universally energized about the possibilities.

1. D.C. United's Future Expectations Once Again Match the Team's History. As D.C. United fans, we love to trumpet that our team is the most decorated in the history in MLS history. But, having not won a trophy since the 2008 US Open Cup, and with a stretch of poor seasons since 2007, that trumpet was starting to sound antique. Now, however, the expectations for D.C. United in 2013 and beyond are that they will contend for, and win, trophies starting next season. With an outstanding young coach who is a D.C. United man through and through, great young talent all over the field, new resources to use on player acquisition and development, and the expectation of a new stadium in the near future, this truly should be the dawn of a new winning era for the Black-and-Red. Just making the playoffs won't be enough in 2013; we expect to see D.C. United in the hunt for every trophy MLS teams are eligible to compete for next season.

Now that this remarkable season is over, what's your list of the top 5 D.C. United accomplishments of the 2012 season?

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