As I mentioned in my match review story Wednesday night, every so often there is a great moment that becomes an instant classic.
It usually happens only once or twice a season. But when it happens, you know it.
Najar's goal was one of those moments. An instant classic. One that we'll remember for a long time. One that we'll tell our kids about 18 years from now when Andy Najar returns to DC United to finish his career after a long and successful stint in Europe.
What made Najar's goal so great? Not the degree of difficulty, although that was pretty high too. I think Chest captured it best when discussing the air of suspense created in the stadium leading up to the goal
On the loud side at least, there was a palpable excitement the moment Najar faced up against Beltran. Once it was clear he was going to attempt to dribble his way into the box, it was the same kind of electricity in the air that you’d get when Etcheverry stood over a free kick, or when Moreno would slow things down for just a moment at the top of the box a few years ago. The crowd seemed to know that something special was suddenly much more possible than it normally is, and that proved accurate.
This got me thinking about other memorable DC United moments. I can only really speak about 2007 through now since that's as long as I've been dedicated to covering the team's every move. But here are the moments I came up with off the top of my head.
Christian Gomez's handball in extra time against the Chicago Fire in the second leg of our playoff bout on November 2, 2007. Sure, there were other great moments in that match, but this one stands out the most to me. Because for an instant, it appeared as though United was going to send the match into overtime and maybe live to fight another day. But the referee absolutely made the right call, and United missed out on their chance to play in MLS Cup in RFK Stadium once again.
Just under one year later, in the second to last match of the season, United desperately needed a win over the New England Revolution to stay in the playoff hunt. Their chances seemed to be slipping away after going down 1-0, but two goals in 17 minutes by Francis Doe earned DC the victory. Doe's second goal was very impressive. Michael Parkhurst was all over him, and Doe could have easily gone down and received a penalty call, but he used his strength to stay up and finish it off himself. United finished one point out of the playoffs that year.
Just over one year later, in the final match of the season, United desperately needed a win over the Kansas City Wizards to earn their way into the playoffs. A tie wouldn't cut it, but that's the way the match was shaping out. The team's chances grew even more grim when Julius James injured his leg, and had to stay on the field since the team had already used all three substitutes. But it was the very same Julius James who scored the go-ahead goal, outjumping his markers for a header late in the match to put United up 2-1. Alas, a scramble in the box in stoppage time tied the game once again, and a Rodney Wallace shot in the dying seconds found the post rather than the net. United finished one point out of the playoffs that year.
And finally, that other #14 midfielder Ben Olsen. It's a moment you've seen me mention in this blog before, so I'll let the more eloquent Charlie Boehm do the talking here for this wonderful memory.
Fred won a free kick near the left side of the Revs box, allowing Moreno to curl an excellent set-piece delivery to the back post where Olsen, despite close marking from Thompson, got his head on the ball and watched in delight as it deflected off second-half sub Pat Phelan and over the goal line to level matters at 1-1. Olsen and Thompson had been jousting -- both physically and verbally -- all night and the United veteran could not resist a final bit of jawing in his younger rival's direction just before he was mobbed by his teammates.
Those are the moments that jump out at me. But surely there are others that will always stick with you. What are your favorite memorable DC United moments?