Thursday, March 6, 2014

Black & Red Open 2014 Season Saturday vs. Columbus

US National Team star Eddie Johnson joins DC United

With 2013's disastrous season behind them, DC United looks to return to MLS prominence (if not domination) beginning this Saturday, as the "Black & Red" host the Columbus Crew in the season opener for both teams. Tickets range from $25-65: To purchase online, click here.

Despite capturing the U.S. Open Cup (their first title since 2008) DC United suffered through a 3-24-7 regular season and dead-last finish in the MLS. With a new stadium on the horizon, the four-time MLS Cup winners can ill afford to have another poor finish.

Ben Olsen is back for his fourth season as head coach; and he'll need a repeat of 2012's success, if he wants to come back for a fifth campaign. Thanks to some crafty off-season moves by United GM Dave Kasper, a return to the playoffs may not be out of the question. Despite bidding adieu to former MLS MVPs Dwayne De Rosario (2011) and Carlos Ruiz (2002,) DC United signed a slew of talent to add some much-needed scoring and veteran help on the backline.

Scoring is key to a reversal of fortunes... especially after scoring a league-low 22 goals last season. Sadly, their defense didn't fare much better, coughing up 59 goals to the opposition (second worst in the league, behind Chivas USA's 69.) Kasper brought in veteran striker Eddie Johnson, who scored 14 goals back in 2012 with the Seattle Sounders; and forward Fabián Espíndola (9 goals for the New York Red Bulls last year.) Johnson and Espíndola should fit in nicely with DC's impressive midfielder trio of Nick DeLeonChris Pontius and Luis Silva (acquired from Toronto mid-season last year.)

On the defensive end, DC reunited with Bobby Boswell, selecting him in Stage One of the 2013 MLS Re-Entry Draft: Boswell helped lead the Houston Dynamo to two consecutive MLS Cup Finals, and won the MLS Defender of the Year Award back in 2006. They also acquired 31-year-old defender Jeff Parke from Philadelphia; and signed 2008 MLS Rookie of the Year Sean Franklin away from the LA Galaxy. Toss in wily veteran Davy Arnaud (via trade with Montreal) and goalkeeper Bill Hamid has lots to be thankful for.

It's hard to tell how long it will take for all these new faces to fit in; but DC United wants to avoid another slow start like last year (1-11-3.) It's obvious they mean business, trading for Johnson and likely signing him to a Designated Player contract worth an annual salary north of $500,000. Me? I'm just happy to have an excuse to visit my beloved RFK Stadium a few more times...

If you're not able to make it to RFK this Saturday, point your mouse towards to stream the game LIVE.

Click here to see this year's full schedule.