Since this is the second time in about a week that D.C. United are playing the New York Red Bulls, I figured that another Behind Enemy Lines would be a little redundant. Instead, I asked the members of the Black and Red United staff to share their favorite moments in the Atlantic Cup. Leave yours in the comments!
The Sandy Switch. The first attempt. With snow. And "shovels." And incompetence. The 700 who made the trip up only to be told, "Let's try again tomorrow." The fans not wanting to stop the party and the team joining them. I watched the first attempt from Laughing Man Tavern and when they announced the postponement of the game, I yelled some expletives and then went, "They're not stopping me. I'm going." 300 strong went up and saw it all. The Hamid red card. The penalty. THE GEIGER. The retake...save by Joe Willis! "You can't hold us back!" And then, close to stoppage time, rookie Nick DeLeon took the past from Robbie Russell and put it into the back of the net, sending 300 people into absolute delirium. I'll never forget it, and in my relatively short time here in DC, it's far and away my favorite game as a fan of the Black & Red.
Let's take a ride in the Wayback machine to October 2nd, 1996, because D.C. United has been breaking Metro-hearts since the very start of MLS. In the league's inaugural season, during the two teams' first-ever playoff series, way back when series were decided by games won as opposed to aggregate score, the Black-and-Red defeated New York/New Jersey in an RFK game 3 thriller. Having lost the first game in NJ on penalties (6-5) following a 2-2 draw, United evened the series with a 1-0 win in game 2. In the deciding game 3, D.C. took the lead in the 2nd half on a Steve Rammel goal in the 67'. The Red Stars/Metro Bulls then miraculously tied the game in the 86'. Not to worry, however, because United had a prolific goal scorer named Raul Diaz Arce who managed to score a PK winner in the 89', sending D.C. through to the Eastern Conference finals against the league's best team, the Tampa Bay Mutiny, and ultimately to MLS Cup where United defeated the LA Galaxy to start their cup-winning reign of glory.
I love rain games, especially when I can make it over to the supporters' sections from my (now) usual spot on the quiet side. And I love beating the Metros. My favorite Atlantic Cup memory comes from the confluence of all these things. It was unbelievably cold and rainy in late April when the Red Bulls came to RFK in 2012, but things were looking up for United, the Black-and-Red riding a five-match unbeaten streak after starting the season off with a pair of losses. We knew it would be a fun day for the good guys when, in the 8th minute, Chris Pontius dispossessed Thierry Henry on the edge of the center circle and carried the ball almost into the box before blasting a shot past Larry Bird lookalike Ryan Meara. Two more goals for Pontius and a deflected finish from Nick DeLeon, and all of a sudden United had hung four on their oldest rivals. Nobody in the stands felt the rain or the cold, even after Henry's free kick beat Joe Willis. I took a buddy with me to the game, his first ever United match; he grew up around the DMV but said that game was the most fun he'd had (legally) in DC, ever.
It was April of 2009, and United traveled to Giants Stadium to face the Red Bulls in league play. I had to take a cab to the match from Manhattan. Rodney Wallace put D.C. up 1-0 midway through the first half, but Juan Pablo Angel and Dane Richards scored two second half goals in quick succession to give the bunch of bull a 2-1 lead. It looked dire, and then Luciano Emilio, 90th minute, BOOM. 2-2. And then there was the miscommunication in the area, Boyzzz Khumalo beat Jon Conway to the ball, and slid it to Chris Pontius, 91st minute, BANG. 3-2. Victory. DCU with the smash and grab, and the Red Bulls were put back in their place.
And since no one has mentioned it yet, I will just leave this here. What is your favorite Atlantic Cup moment?