I wasn't there in 1996. Few of us were.
I wish I'd been there in 1997. I wish I'd been at RFK Stadium to see D.C. United lift their second MLS Cup trophy in two years. Winning that trophy in front of the home fans must have felt great for those players. Surely it was a fantastic experience for those United fans that were in the stands as well. Its something we'd all like to experience.
I wasn't at the Home Depot Center in 2004 either. Wouldn't it have been great if all of us were? To see Alecko Eskandarian score his two goals, no matter how controversial. To see United hold on under pressure at the end.
Those fans who were able to attend any of United's three MLS Cup wins will tell you how great it felt. The next championship that United wins will feel even better.
It will feel better because the league is better. Because the league is bigger, and more internationally renowned.
It will feel better because of everything we've been through since 2004. The following years in which we had fantastic regular seasons and then bombed out of the playoffs. We thought things would get better, and they got worse. Way worse. This team has now missed the playoffs for four straight years. Well, until now. Making the playoffs this season will prove that 2010 was an anomaly. Winning the Cup will prove that it was all worth it.
I wasn't there in 1996, or 1997, or 2004. But you can bet I'll be there in 2012.
I'm writing to document to my community and to myself that I will be attending MLS Cup 2012 if United is playing. I want to experience what those fans experienced those three previous magical years. And this one will be even better.
As a fan of all the major sports teams in D.C., opportunities like this don't come often. And it might not come for United this year either. But don't you feel like its possible this year? Don't you feel like this team is different?
Those United teams of the past four years didn't have the ability to respond immediately when conceding a goal. This team does, and often has. Those United teams wouldn't have been able to recover from losing their best player. This one is doing it right now. Those United teams weren't able to string together a three-game winning streak at the end of the season when they needed it the most. This team just did. And they're about to do it again.
I'm taking the necessary precautions. I've told my wife that there's a possibility that I'll be flying across the country for a few days at the very end of November. That's a conversation that we didn't have last year, or the year before. I've set aside money for airfare and a hotel.
I'll hold up my end of the bargain if Ben Olsen and his Army hold up theirs.
History will be made on December 1st, and I'll be there to see it. And it will be a moment I'll remember my entire life. I wasn't there before, but I'll be there in 2012. Will you?