One minute into the first half and the beer went flying in the RFK sky. Not mine of course. I had just purchased it seconds earlier; plus it was a Stella. Instead, I downed two gigantic gulps to reduce the volume to a level that wouldn’t spill over as I jumped in joyous unison with the crowd.
One minute into Jaime Moreno’s last appearance in a D.C. United uniform, and Red and the Black faithful celebrated in World Cup-title-esque frenzy as Santino Quaranta ripped a shot into the back of the net. Bud Light rained down as the drums of the Barra Brava orchestrated the synchronized jumps of los aficionados. Our favorite bleach-blonde policeman—a staple oddity on the sideline at every game—smiled briefly, then quickly returned to his skeptical visage.
One minute into the final game of the season and all of the heartbreak of being a D.C. United fan in 2010 was mended. The fusion of disbelief and excitement at that flawless first strike sealed my heart’s fractures of angst and annoyance at being a half-season ticket holder during United’s most abysmal season.
One minute after the game, we waved goodbye to Jaime and started on our ritual exodus to H St.’s Star & Shamrock. Latkes and turkey ruben egg rolls, washed down with a Genesis, were the secret recipe to cure my United-induced ails this year.
This season wasn’t pretty. I didn’t witness a single victory. And I didn’t muster up the energy and courage to participate in every halftime Barra-led mosh pit. I did, however, learn.
I learned that I can love losers, even passionately so. I nodded at my team before every match convinced, “this is the night we win.” We D.C. United fans could witness a tragic goal-ceding mistake, only to sing louder in earnest support. “If only you believed in yourself, United, as much as we did in you,” we lamented.
I learned that no team is perfect, no person is perfect. I learned that a triumphant history doesn’t shield one from the realities of the present. Despite its tradition of dominance, D.C. United simply didn’t have the players to compete this year. And that’s okay. Despite the retirement of Moreno, the league’s leading goal scorer, United will be okay.
Teams, and people, change. They have ups and downs, wins and losses, frustrations and joys. Yet for those who stand by and support, the simple excitement of being a part of that team or person’s experience is what creates a lasting relationship.
And for these lessons, I am grateful. And forever, a D.C. United supporter.