1996: On April 6th, 31,683 fans poured into Spartan Stadium in San Jose to witness United taking on the Clash in the first-ever MLS match. The game would be kept scoreless until San Jose’s Eric Wynalda scored the first goal in MLS history and sent fans wild. The loss seemed to send United into a downward spiral as they were in last place at one point. But they eventually picked up the pace and made the playoffs with an even 16-16 record. United’s inaugural roster included superstars such as Marco Etcheverry, Jeff Agoos, Richie Williams, John Harkes, Jaime Moreno, Raúl Díaz Arce. It was coached by future US National team coach Bruce Arena. In the playoffs, United would be taken to the limit by the MetroStars before eliminating them in a third game. In the next round, the Black-and-Red would shock the best team in the league, the Tampa Bay Mutiny, as they earned the right to be the first Eastern Conference team to reach MLS Cup.
1996 MLS Cup: October 20th was a great day for US soccer as DC United took on the Los Angeles Galaxy in the first-ever MLS Cup at New England’s Foxboro Stadium. United would not only have to battle the Galaxy, but they would also have to defeat Mother Nature. Over much of the past week, the Boston area had been pounded with nonstop torrential downpours, and on game day, it would be just as bad. Despite the soaking conditions, the game would be a classic. LA went on top with a goal by Eduardo Hurtado in the 5th minute. In the second half, the Galaxy’s Chris Armas gave his squad insurance in the 56th minute, and LA appeared ready to take the first-ever Cup. Even with a 2-goal deficit and the blinding rainstorm, the Black-and-Red would not go away as Tony Sannah brought his team to within one goal in the 73rd minute. Then Shawn Medved evened the score in the 82nd. The match would go to golden goal overtime, and United stepped up. With the rain at its heaviest match MVP, Marco Etcheverry took a corner kick to his teammate, Eddie Pope, and he calmly headed the ball in the net, completing DC’s comeback and giving his team the first-ever MLS Cup championship.
1997: Coming off a historic championship season, United were looking to add another. This time, the Black-and-Red would have little trouble with the competition as they surged to the league’s best record at 21-11. United would breeze to a sweep of the New England Revolution in the first round of the playoffs. In the conference final, United would dispatch the Columbus Crew in three games to advance to their second MLS Cup.
1997 MLS Cup: For the 2nd straight year, Major League Soccer’s championship match would be played in a cold, rainy mess. But that did not intimidate DC United as they faced the upstart Colorado Rapids at their venue, RFK Stadium. Jaime Moreno would put DC on top in the 37th minute and send the fans wild. Tony Sannah would provide insurance in the 68th minute, and that would be all United would need. Despite a 75th minute goal by the Rapids’ Adrian Paz, the Black-and-Red would hang on to win their second MLS Cup, 2-1 in front of 57,431 of their vociferous fans. For his goal, Jaime Moreno was named MVP.
1998: In Major League Soccer’s 3rd season, DC. United remained the league’s premier team as they once again claimed the top spot in the East with a dazzling record of 24-8. In the playoffs, they easily swept the expansion Miami Fusion. In the next round, the Columbus Crew would give United all they could handle before the Black-and-Red prevailed and once again qualified for MLS Cup.
1998 MLS Cup: The previous two years, United played the championship match in precipitation, and they seemed to like it that way, but this time, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, they would have to adjust to playing the big game in nice weather as the match was played on a warm, sunny day. Going up against the Chicago Fire, United fell behind on a 29th-minute goal by Jerzy Podbrozny. Near the end of the first half, the Fire would go up 2-0 on a goal by Henry Gutierrez, and that was enough for the Fire. In front of 51,350 spectators, United would fall in the MLS Cup for the first time. Shortly afterward, coach Bruce Arena would resign and take the head coaching position of the US Men’s National Team.
1999: A loss in the championship game would send most teams into a slump the next year; most teams. Under new coach, Thomas Rongen, United would rebound and take the league by storm again to finish with a record of 23-9. Taking almost the same route to the Cup as the previous season, the Black-and-Red swept the Miami Fusion in the first round, and then beat the Columbus Crew in three games to remain the only Eastern Conference team to make MLS Cup.
1999 MLS Cup: Similar to the championship game in 1996, New England’s Foxboro Stadium was the site as United faced off against the Los Angeles Galaxy, this time, under clear blue skies, and not in a rainstorm. United took the lead on a goal by Jaime Moreno in the 19th minute and match MVP Ben Olsen put in another during stoppage time. That was all United would need as they hung on for their third MLS Cup in four seasons.
2000: Everyone seemed confident United would continue to be the team to beat, but this year, they had trouble from start to finish as they finished the season with a disappointing record of 8-18-6, missing the playoffs for the first time in club history.
2001: In what would be Thomas Rongen’s final season as United head coach, his team continued to struggle, again missing the playoffs in the abbreviated season because of 9/11 with a record of 8-16-2. After the season, Rongen was let go, and Ray Hudson, coach of the disbanded Miami Fusion, took over.
2002: Under Ray Hudson, DC would slightly improve, but would go through another tough season as they, once again, sat in last place in the East with a record of 9-14-5.
2003: On paper, the Black-and-Red would not be much better than the previous two seasons, but weak competition in the bottom half of the East was enough to catapult United into the final playoffs pot, ending their playoff drought. In the aggregate goal series, though, United would get shutout by the Chicago Fire. After the season, Ray Hudson would be released and replaced by Peter Nowak. But the story of the off-season put United on the front page of many newspapers as they signed 14-year old superstar Freddy Adu, who would immediately become the center of the US soccer world as he would star in a commercial with soccer legend Pelé.
2004: The Freddy Adu era got off to a great start as DC United beat the defending MLS Cup champions San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 in the season opener. The first half of the season was not without its tense moments as Adu slammed new coach Peter Nowak in June for only playing him an average of 23 minutes a game. In the second half of the season, the club would put it behind them and finished the season winning six of their last seven games to finish with a record of 11-10-9 and return to the playoffs. In an aggregate goal series, the United would have no trouble at all with the MetroStars, shutting them out 4-0. In the conference finals, DC was up 3-2 with less than five minutes to play against the New England Revolution, but the Revs’ Pat Noonan tied the game, and regulation ended in a tie. In golden goal overtime, neither side could put the ball in the net, forcing the first penalty kick shootout in MLS Playoff history. The shootout would go back and forth until ‘keeper Nick Rimando stopped Clint Dempsey’s shot to secure DC United’s spot in MLS Cup for an unprecedented 5th time.
2004 MLS Cup: Back in MLS Cup for the first time in five years, the United would go up against the Kansas City Wizards at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. Things would not look good early on as in the 6th minute, the Wizards’ Jose Burciaga scored a goal from almost 30 yards out. However, it would only wake the Black-and-Red up as Alecko Eskandarian scored two goals in the 19th and 23rd minutes, one of which he received the benefit of the doubt for handling the ball. It would get better for DC when the Wizards committed an own goal in the 26th minute. In the 58th minute, though, United were threatened to go down hard as Dema Kovalenko was given a red card for a handball in the penalty area. It was the first expulsion ever in the nine-year history of the MLS Cup. KC’s Josh Wolff would covert the ensuing penalty kick to make it 3-2, and United were hard-pressed to live up to the challenge of playing with ten men for the remainder of the game. They were out-shot and committed the most fouls, but withstood the Wizards’ attack as time ran out. DC United would bring back the glory of their early years, clinching their fourth MLS Championship, by far the most successful team in Major League Soccer History. Eskandarian would be named MVP for his two goals.
2005: The defense of their fourth championship would be easier said than done for the Black-and-Red as the Washington Nationals moved into RFK Stadium. The field would be overhauled and made to accommodate baseball. All season, United would complain about the new setup. Attempting to get used to it, DC would win its first three games before enduring a six-game winless streak to finish out April. Freddy Adu would briefly be in the starting lineup but was quickly demoted again to a reserve. After a mediocre first half of the summer, six wins in August and a strong last two months earned United second place in the East with an impressive record of 16-10-6. In the playoffs, though, the Black-and-Red’s season would quickly get flushed down the toilet, getting shut out 4-0 on aggregate to the Chicago Fire.
2006: The Black-and-Red would come flying out of the gate, using a 14-game unbeaten streak to catapult themselves back to the class of the league. Troy Perkins would be stellar in goal, and Christian Gomez reestablished himself as a player to be reckoned with. But after a great start, the Black-and-Red faltered down the stretch as they seemed to run out of gas. Despite winning only two games in September, United held onto first place in MLS with a record of 15-7-10. The New York Red Bulls would be United’s first opponent in the playoffs. Following a tough challenge in the second game, they would dispatch the Bulls, 2-1 in the series. In the East Final, though, the New England Revolution and Taylor Twellman put an end to their season at home, 1-0. Citing him as a distraction, United shipped Freddy Adu to Salt Lake in the offseason.
2007: The Black-and-Red would get off to a tough start, losing their first three games. But once they acquired Luciano Emilio and Brazilian World Cup playmaker Fred, United would jell, surging past the competition, especially in the last half of the year and clinch the best record in MLS at 16-7-7. But the playoffs would see a quick and premature end of the season for the Black-and-Red, losing to the Chicago Fire 3-2 on aggregate. Rubbing salt in the wound was that Christian Gomez had a goal in the waning minutes disallowed for offside.
2008: It is an overall disappointing season for DC United, who no longer has to contend with sharing RFK Stadium with a baseball team, as they finish in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, failing to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2002 with an 11-15-4 record. However, they were able to win the US Open Cup to provide a silver lining to an otherwise bleak season.
2009: As stadium troubles continued the plague the front office, the Black-and-Red would have a difficult time on the playing field as they were bit by the tie bug, alternating wins and losses with ties all year and finished out of the playoffs with 9-8-13 record. The many ties would cost them a playoff berth as they were tied with Real Salt Lake and Colorado Rapids with 40 points, but a -1 goal differential cost them.
2010: United started terribly, losing their first five matches and struggled with scoring and defense all year long. At the end of the season, they sat in dead last in MLS with a terrible 6-20-4 record, nine points worse than expansion Philadelphia Union.
2011: Perhaps still shaken from a horrific season before, the Black-and-Red stumbled in the first weeks of the season with a 2-4-1 start. From then on, it was mostly ties for the club during the summer, and a streak of four losses in a row in September led United to a 9-11-8 record, out of the playoffs for a club-record fourth year in a row.
2012: After opening the season with two straight loses, the Black-and-Red would bounce back and would contend with Sporting Kansas City for the top spot in the East and with a rash of rookies leading the way, DC claimed a second-place record of 17-10-7, clinching a playoffs spot for the first time in five years. Without captain Dwayne De Rosario, out with an MCL strain, United went up against the New York Red Bulls in the semifinal round. The first leg was a bizarre 1-1 draw, which had an own goal by both teams, a potential game-winning penalty kick by Chris Pontius saved and a red card to Andy Najar for throwing the ball at the referee. The second leg delayed a day due to a heavy snowstorm in the New Jersey area, saw United go through to the East final by an 88th-minute goal by rookie Nick DeLeon. Earlier in the game, goalkeeper Bill Hamid was sent off for a challenge, and his substitute Joe Willis saved a retaken penalty kick to make the tight finish possible. This series seemed to drain the Black-and-Red as they were easily beaten in the East final by the Houston Dynamo 4-2 on aggregate.
2013: March 9th against Real Salt Lake, June 22nd against the San Jose Earthquakes and August 3rd against the Montreal Impact were the only three wins the Black-and-Red would collect all season as they were hit hard by the injury bug and tied an MLS record for fewest wins in a season, finishing with a terrible 3-24-7 record. Despite this, United did manage to win the US Open Cup over Real Salt Lake.
2014: Needless to say, not much was expected from the Black-and-Red following an atrocious campaign. Two losses to start the season had their fans bracing for an encore. But led by Fabian Espindola’s team-leading 11 goals and improved chemistry, United rebounded in a big way, going 11-3-4 in the middle portion of the season and going unbeaten in their final six games to finish on top of the East at 17-7-9. The 43-point turnaround was the largest single-season improvement in MLS history. Unfortunately for Black-and-Red supporters, Bradley Wright-Phillips and the New York Red Bulls were not impressed as they ended United’s season in the playoffs 3-2 on aggregate.
2015: Following an impressive turnaround season, United looked to avenge playoff disappointment and provide an encore. A 6-1-3 beginning gave some optimism that the success could be sustained, and during much of the summer, the Black-and-Red led the East. A notable moment occurred in early August at Montreal when Chris Rolfe scored on the team’s only shot on goal the entire game, and it turned out to be the winner in a 1-0 result. But after that, the team won only two games against six losses and one draw to slide down to fourth place at 15-13-6. Against the New England Revolution at home, United conceded a first-half goal from Juan Agudelo before Chris Pontius evened the score at halftime. Chris Rolfe would score with seven minutes remaining, and the team survived a missed handball call off Sean Franklin in stoppage time to advance. The New York Red Bulls put an end to United season in the semifinals, shutting them out 2-0 on aggregate.
2016: Unlike the last couple of seasons, United started slow, winning only once in their first seven matches, as new additions to the roster did not make an immediate impact. Bill Hamid injured his knee during CONCACAF Champions League play, and he would be sidelined for a while. Through a difficult spring, the Black-and-Red strung together a terrific 6-2-6 stretch at the end of the season, which included a four-game winning streak, to finish in fourth place with a record of 11-10-13. United’s season would end with an uninspired thud in the knockout round, losing 4-2 to the Montreal Impact as they only managed two consolation goals in stoppage time.
2017: At long last, DC United were to have a soccer stadium of their own, moving to Audi Field in Buzzards Bay, Washington, and out of archaic RFK Stadium. But that move would come the next summer, and the Black-and-Red would have a terrible swansong for their original home, going through a twelve match winless streak in the summer and having trouble scoring throughout the season to finish the East basement at 9-20-5.
2018: A new home was finally ready for DC United to play in after 22 seasons at cavernous RFK Stadium. But before they were able to begin this new chapter, the Black-and-Red needed to play all but two of their first fifteen matches on the road while playing two games in Germantown and Annapolis, Maryland. On July 14th, Audi Field was officially opened for business, and United turned back the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-1, helped by two goals from Paul Arriola. After continuing to struggle after that, the team would lose only twice after July 28th and would storm into playoff positioning. Propelling the club to a high profile was the acquisition of Everton captain Wayne Rooney at the end of June. Rooney would score ten goals in his short time in MLS, to go with eight goals each by Luciano Acosta and Darren Mattocks to help the Black-and-Red to a fourth-place finish at 14-11-9. But their stay in the playoffs would be brief, losing to the Columbus Crew 3-2 in penalty kicks after a 2-2 draw.
2019: In both the first full season at Audi Field and the final year for Wayne Rooney, DC provided a hopeful start to the year with four wins in their first seven matches. The steady play would continue into the summer as DC would regularly pick up points through the spring and summer and would withstand a three-game losing streak in late August with a season-ending five-match unbeaten run to end up in fifth in the East at 13-11-10. Rooney, in his swansong season in America, led the club with 11 goals. In Toronto for their First Round playoff match, the Black-and-Red would fall behind on a 35th-minute goal from Marky Delgado and held on for much of the game. But the visitors would show a flair for the dramatic with a tying goal from Lucas Rodriguez to extend the game. It would go way downhill from there as Toronto scored four goals in extra time to end United’s season 5-1.
©MMXX Tank Productions. Stats researched by Stephen Mulvoy, all information, and team names are property of Major League Soccer. This site is not affiliated with D.C. United or the MLS. This site is maintained for research purposes only. All logos used on this page were from Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page.
Page created on July 14, 2004. Last updated on July 25, 2020, at 11:50 pm ET.