To state the obvious, 2013 has been an incredibly disappointing season for D.C. United and its fans. Coming off a very strong 2012, expectations were sky high for the Black and Red. In fact, our preseason crowd-sourced Eastern Conference prediction had United as the best team in the conference. And, while our Black & Red United community could be forgiven for being overly optimistic about our hometown team heading into the season, many non-biased MLS observers also predicted D.C. United to be a top contender again in 2013 for the MLS Cup.
But, an undercurrent of thought here on Black and Red United from writers and commenters alike, going back to the beginning of the season, has been that a stadium deal would be the most important achievement D.C. United could attain this year. Now that the new stadium announcement has been made, and as our team is mired in a race to set all-time MLS records we don't want to hold, do we still feel that way?
We've written before here on B&RU that the stadium announcement wouldn't be the end of the process, but only the end of the private phase of negotiations and the beginning of the public phase. Yet, even reading the extended timeline in the non-binding term sheet (final stadium completion no later than Jan. 1, 2017), and the myriad bureaucratic, political, and financial hurdles yet to be cleared, I find myself thinking that Jul. 25, 2013, is the most consequential day in D.C. United history since the 2004 MLS Cup victory, and among its most important ever. Yes, that wishful thinking could be horribly wrong. Sure, the entire deal could still fall through. Of course, only time will tell whether the Buzzard Point stadium comes to fruition or not.
But, for me, the stadium announcement has turned around the entire season. It appears the owners have done their homework, garnered support from the right officials (thank you Mayor Gray!), and have aligned the powers that be to really get the stadium done this time. While it won't add any points to United's 2013 standings, the announcement sets up a bizarre, yet somehow appealing, set of goals for the team during the remainder of the season: Win the US Open Cup, fight to avoid the all-time worst season record in MLS, and secure City Council approval of the stadium deal, all while prepping the young stable of promising D.C. United players for the 2014 season. That's something I can get behind for the rest of 2013, since I agree with beardyblue's prescient FanPost from earlier this week that the stadium deal is the necessary requirement for D.C. United to achieve sustained profitability and competitiveness (and dare we dream of returned greatness?).
What about for you?