10 April 2010

A (re?)New(ed) Rivalry

When one sits down to reflect on the sporting past between two historical and geographical rivals, one finds himself without much to say. In the spring of 2008, the Flyers and D.C.'s Capitals contested one of the all-time great first round playoff series, culminating in a Game 7 victory on the road for the Orange and Black. Beyond that, I have vague recollections of decimating the Redskins over the past decade, but their history with the Eagles from the 90s is better left forgotten.

But in this very week, that is all changing. The Eagles have shipped their often fearful quarterback to their divisional rival, and the Union finally get their hands on the Damned United.

So, with D.C. United rolling into town, leaving their four MLS Cups in some sad trophy case in a crack den reserved for the District's elite, the Union will be staring down their arch-rival. While most of the vitriol and ridicule has been reserved for the New York Red Bulls, and rightfully so, we, the supporters must summon the appropriate bile and hatred for what would be considered, in Eagles terms, “the gold standard.”

I have been to RFK Stadium. I don't think anyone would say it's anything nicer than a landfill. Its cavernous sadness echoes through the empty seats, the bitter remains of an American football team moved on to more lucrative pastures. I'm actually shocked it hasn't been knocked down. Are these statements what the MLS would want associated with its most decorated franchise? There are hopeful whispers in the Beltway corridor of building a dedicated facility, but our own cathedral will be opened and rocking before anyone in D.C. rubs two pennies together (coins, not the endearing nickname).

The glimpses of yesterday's pep rally I've seen were quite impressive. The fervor about town is at a true fever pitch for the tirelessly patient citywide support. And speaking of endearing, captain Danny Califf's comments to the fans would suggest that the physical tactics displayed in the franchise opener were not an accident. He related that D.C. United players could expect to see him standing over them. If I were little (which I'm not) and an immigrant (also no), and wearing a D.C. kit tomorrow (hell no), I'd be quicker releasing the ball than usual.

At present, I am probably a bit too excited to express properly the magnitude of today's occasion. THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERI-CA notwithstanding, of course.

As for the matter of today's match, expectations can be expressed in one word: desperation. The Union's young guns will be flying around, seeking to impress what will be a rabid and deafening home crowd for the first time. Between them, the two teams possess zero points, three losses, and a -8 goal differential. Despite Peter Nowak's dedication to a physical game, he will surely be anxious to provide his new employers with a modest goal haul and a result worth remembrance.

I anticipate the Union enjoying breathlessly loyal support, from what will be a sea of soccer ecstasy. It will feel like what it must feel like when Sting orgasms. All the energy and devotion that has been gathering for decades, appropriately harnessed in the past half decade, will flood down the aisles and onto the hopefully flawless playing surface.

Expect to see today:

A world class facility. A world class city. A world class franchise.

And finally,

A world class sport.

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