I've been a fan of D.C. United since 1996.
My dad took me to my first professional match that year. I was 13. I remember very vividly taking the Metro to Stadium Armory, buying the cheapest tickets available, then finding better closer unoccupied seats to stand in front of. Seeing John Harkes running up and down the sideline was a thrill. It was the closest I'd ever been to one of my heros.
Memories like that don't fade. Thousands of us have similar stories.
What worries me now though is that there's a generation of children who won't be getting that same experience. Attendance is down 17%, meaning that fewer fathers are taking their sons and daughters to see D.C. United. And outside of Jaime Moreno, who is seeing significantly less playing time in his final season, who else on United's roster might you call a hero?
But will United's loyal fans lose interest? No. Not I, and not you either. If you were a fan through the team's historic run in the early years of the league, then you don't mind living through some bad times. And if you're new to the club, if you've only suffered through repeated losing seasons with little reward, then you'll appreciate United's rise back to greatness even more.
I pledge allegiance to the club.