D.C. United is an American professional soccer club based in Washington, D.C. The club competes as a member of the Eastern Conference in Major League Soccer (MLS), the top level of professional American soccer. The franchise began to play in 1996 as one of the ten charter clubs of the league. The club was one of the most successful clubs in the early years of MLS, winning eight of its thirteen titles between 1996 and 1998 under then-head coach Bruce Arena. United holds the joint MLS record for most Supporters’ Shields, has four MLS Cups, and been crowned U.S. Open Cup champions three times. It is also the first club to win both the MLS Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup consecutively.
On the international stage, D.C. United has competed in both the CONCACAF Champions League and its predecessor, the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup. The club won the 1998 CONCACAF Champions’ Cup, making them one of only two MLS teams to ever win a CONCACAF tournament. Subsequently, United won the now-defunct Copa Interamericana in 1998 against Vasco da Gama of Brazil. This is the only intercontinental title won by an MLS club.
The team’s home field from 1996 to 2017 was the 45,596-seat Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, owned by the District of Columbia. The team moved into the new Audi Field, a soccer-specific stadium with a capacity of 20,000 at Buzzard Point just a few blocks from Nationals Park in July 2018. The team is owned by the consortium D.C. United Holdings. The team’s head coach is Hernán Losada.
Jaime Moreno, Marco Etcheverry, Alecko Eskandarian and Eddie Pope are among the team’s most successful stars. D.C. United’s fan base includes four supporters’ clubs. The club’s official nickname is the “Black-and-Red” and home uniforms are black and white with accents of red. The team’s name alludes to the “United” appellation commonly found in the names of soccer teams in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.
D.C. United’s primary rival is the New York Red Bulls. The two teams compete annually for the Atlantic Cup, a competition instituted by the two clubs. The cup is awarded to the team that gets the most points across the teams’ meetings throughout the season. D.C. United also has a burgeoning rivalry with the Philadelphia Union as the two teams represent two cities separated by only 120 miles. D.C. United is also unique among MLS teams for its rivalry with the Charleston Battery of the United Soccer Leagues, as they compete every time they face one another for the Coffee Pot Cup, a trophy established by the two sides’ supporters.
When the league was founded in 1995, billionaire investor George Soros was the primary financial backer and director of Washington Soccer L.P., the group that owned the operating rights to D.C. United. Kevin Payne, former President of Soccer USA Partners and current CEO of D.C. United, was instrumental in organizing this ownership group. By 1998 the group was looking for new investors. On February 15, 2001, it agreed to sell the team to Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), founded by Colorado billionaire Philip Anschutz, with AEG exercising its option to become the sole investor-operator on January 8, 2002. AEG, who also own Major League Soccer‘s Los Angeles Galaxy and Houston Dynamo, ran the team until 2007.
In May 2007, United entered into an initial one-year strategic partnership with the Brazilian club Atlético Mineiro. The partnership’s goal is to enhance the sporting and commercial success of the respective clubs by sharing expertise and experience and creating new opportunities for the clubs in both areas.
On January 8, 2007, the operating rights to D.C. United were sold to D.C. United Holdings, a newly formed group venture that included real estate developer Victor MacFarlane, founder of MacFarlane Partners, and William H.C. Chang, chairman of Westlake International Group. Other investors included D.C. United president Kevin Payne and Blue Devil Development, headed by former Duke basketball players Brian Davis and Christian Laettner. In April 2009, Victor MacFarlane sold his share of the team to his partner William Chang after two stadium proposals had fallen through. In October 2009, Chang also bought out Davis and Laettner to fully control the team. Chang is also one of the primary investors of Major League Baseball‘s San Francisco Giants. In July 2012, Erick Thohir and Jason Levien, minority owners of the Philadelphia 76ers National Basketball Association franchise, joined Chang as partners. Thohir and Levin stated their primary goals are to make United a global brand and build a soccer-specific stadium for the club.
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