When Offseason Turns to Preseason: A Supporter's Perspective

USA TODAY Sports

D.C. United supporter Donald Wine II, who maintains the blog, Life in 1-1-8, highlights the supporters' anticipation for the start of the 2014 season.

Editor's Note: A couple weeks ago, Adam mentioned in our open call for writers that we here at Black and Red United already had a couple of writers lined up to join our staff in 2014. Here's the first of them. Please join us in welcoming the first of the several exciting new voices you'll be seeing this year, Donald Wine II, who will be covering the local supporters' culture for us.

Here we are… two weeks from the start of the 2014 MLS season, and we’ve entered that point of the year where a supporter's anticipation and optimism for the season that is on the horizon reaches its highest level.  We've entered the official preseason, the point where the team is entering its final stages of preparation, the coaching staff is evaluating players closely to know who's going to take them the 34+ rounds of the MLS portion of the season, not to mention all the other competitions that will require a team at its best.  But, It’s been a wild, busy and long offseason for D.C. United and the supporters have had a lot to discuss and debate over the past few months.

Since The Worst Season In MLS History But We Still Won A Trophy So Here's What You Can Do With Your Opinion (also referred to as The New Season Which Shall Not Be Named) ended, we’ve seen a lot.  First, the 2014 schedule was released probably 2 months earlier than the 2013 schedule was unveiled, prompting us all to start circling dates of the home matches and highlighting possible road trips we wanted to take all around North America.  The Thanksgiving holiday was replete not just with food, but with preliminary vacation day requests to bosses all around the region.  This year, DCU supporters have to pay extra attention to detail with plotting their 2014 calendars.  With the 2014 FIFA World Cup in June and July and the schedule for the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League as well as the 2014 US Open Cup (hey, we have a title to defend!) still yet to be released, I’m pretty sure we all could write a dissertation on the art of scheduling.  It’s only February and I have weekends already planned out in October.  Those people that know me know that is an incredible victory for the scheduling gods!

We’ve seen the team take a trip to Indonesia to play friendly matches against two of Jakarta's biggest teams.  We’ve said goodbye to several friendly faces and welcomed several new ones.  We've had tons of stadium news...some good, some discouraging.  We took two buses of supporters to Philadelphia to welcome our newest fresh faces to the family at the MLS Superdraft.  And even then, the season seemed too far away.  Preseason training began in late January and even with a trip to Bradenton, Florida for three preseason friendly matches, the calendar seemed like we had some time.

Then, in my mind, the calendar switched from offseason to preseason. Last weekend, the team welcomed season ticket holders to Pinstripes in Georgetown for an event titled "A Day To Unite," where we were able to rub shoulders with the players as well as see the 2014 primary jersey for the first time.  That’s when I get excited as a fan.  I have quite the jersey collection in my closet (note: this is just the tip of my Mt. Everest collection of jerseys), and with DC United participating in Jersey Week for the first time (even a couple weeks early) gets you excited to see the players wearing the new shirt and yearning for the day where you can see them playing on the field to just come now.  "A Day To Unite" truly was one of the more fantastic events put on by the team for its fans that I’ve had a chance to attend in my nearly 7 years living here.  It served its purpose for people to start really getting excited about the season coming up.

Now, on the heels of our first win of the preseason, over the Houston Dynamo in the first match of the Carolina Challenge Cup yesterday, this is where the preseason really hits high gear, and the countdown to 7:00pm on March 8th truly begins.  It’s the first road trip on the schedule for a lot of fans, and the chance to win (rather, retain) our first trophy of the season with the Coffee Pot Cup match that will be played this Wednesday against the Charleston Battery.

At this point, I can hear the sounds of Lot 8 starting to grow ever so slightly: the mashup of hip hop mixed with Latin music mixed with rock, the constant murmur of several hundred conversations, and the constant claps of bro-hugs and high fives.  Add the smells of the grills cooking burgers, chicken and chorizo, the sea of people standing around and enjoying each other’s company, and the taste of your favorite beverage and what do you have?  You have a family reunion with several thousand family members that you can’t wait to attend.  And then, you look to the north and see that massive home we call RFK, ready to swell with the passionate-yet-also-optimistic noise of DC United supporters ready for the season to begin with 3 points against the Columbus Crew.  If that doesn’t get you pumped up, I don’t know what will!

So, let the countdown begin, DCU supporters.  Start making your plans, washing your favorite shirt or jersey so that it’s nice and clean.  Get that fantasy team locked in.  Make sure you check your mailboxes for the tickets that are coming in the mail soon (hopefully, right DCU?).  Start plotting your go-to route to the stadium or check Metro to see how much it will be delayed.  March 8th is almost upon us…get hyped!

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