Alright, look: this is a real-life thing that I’m about to tell you. Ben Olsen, head coach of D.C. United, found himself being interviewed at the airport by TMZ. TMZ, the website that usually focuses only on the world’s most famous folks. Yes, they’ve branched into sports, but like...Tom Brady sports. When it comes to soccer, they’re talking about Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi. Not non-Zlatan MLS, and especially not an MLS club that has been, uh, not that fashionable for a while.
Take a second to think of all the times you’ve said to yourself, or to others, or online, that no one pays attention to D.C. United. We’ve all done it, and by and large our gripes have been accurate. The perceived slights have often just been slights, period. National broadcasters having no real idea about the team’s recent lineups or tactics? The local paper of record’s approach to counting championships? Your co-worker asking if Freddy Adu is still on the team? We’ve all been through it. United fans may come across as aggrieved on a regular basis, but it’s not baseless.
Those times are ending, though, and they’re ending fast. We live in a world now where the site that mostly focuses on the many Kardashians and other mega-stars like them now also has time for United. The Wayne Rooney rumors are close to boiling over, and it already feels like we’ve been hurled by a catapult from our comfortable, if unwanted, status as a forgotten MLS team to a team everyone is talking about. It’s weird, it’s abrupt, but rest assured: it is happening.
Here’s Olsen summing the whole thing up for us in his inimitable style. It’s surprising! This is probably the strangest time to be involved with United — as a fan, as a player, as a coach, as a front office staffer, as anything — in at least a decade, or possibly ever.
So take a second to look around and remember how things were in early May, before United is on national TV more times in three months than they’ve been in about three years. Before the rumors involved Big Name stars known worldwide, and before anyone on the team had to consider the prospect of encountering paparazzi at the airport.
Try to remember this moment in time, because things are about to get weird for us, and they’re going to get weird fast.