For Christmas, my family bought DC Spirit season tickets for me. I very specifically asked for this, before the DC team was the “Spirit,” before they even really had season tickets on sale. I wasn’t sure I actually would get this gift, and if it hadn’t been a gift, I likely would not have been able to buy the package myself (because, yo, still lacking employment), so it’s a big deal to me that they put this money down in my name.
Here is what we currently know about DC:
- Nickname: Spirit
- Colors: blue, white, red
- Stadium: Maryland Soccerplex
- Head Coach: Mike Jorden
- Assistant Coaches: Cindi Harkes (former UVA player), Mark Parsons, Lloyd Yaxely
- Continuing W-League presence…
- …and youth academy
- Ali Krieger left Germany because she really wants to play here
- (My guess is that Wambach won’t be back, and I can really get behind that!)
I’ve never been a STH before for any team in any sport. I am rather pleased that a DC soccer team has the honor of being first, regardless of how I rag on them. Possibly even regardless of how they eventually build their team. This wouldn’t be the first time that I give my (at this point, nominal) money to a team I don’t like in order to be at soccer games, watching the sport I love, sometimes to watch visiting teams that I love. But this would be the first time that a team would have that money even if I can’t get down to the stadium to put my butt in the seat.
I live about 100 miles from the nearest NWSL team – which, for me, is Sky Blue FC. I’ve been to SBFC games, and I’ve been to Rutgers games during the NCAA season. I like the stadium, free parking, generosity of strangers, and watching my visiting squads beat Jersey teams on their own turf. I dislike the drive, the traffic, the turn-arounds, the gas stations, the general Jersey-ness of it all. I like free wifi and free, archived streams of games, but I dislike Tar Heels and organizations that are really obviously uncommunicative and secretive. I also dislike the cheesy color combo and lousy logo that SBFC sport. Great if you’re into that, but I’m not. They still get my money… when I’m there, which has been at least a few times each year since WPS launched, and even after it folded.
The Maryland Soccerplex is about 155 miles from me. The first time I went to a game there was in the summer of 2008, when the Washington Freedom W-League team was playing against some random team from Long Island or New Jersey. Joan and I had a lot of fun, anyway. That was a very good weekend. The Soccerplex has since formed the core of my live soccer experience.
Even though the Washington Freedom WPS team wasn’t a favorite for either of us, we still went to the Plex for games on occasion. Friends of ours are/were STHs, and their drive was farther than ours from Silver Spring, I think. I’ve also made the trip to the Plex to watch college teams face off, not to mention Headers for Hope.
When that whole magicJack mess happened in the final year of WPS, I took it kind of personally, as a women’s soccer fan. That was shady business even before the details came out, and it killed a long-standing tradition both for myself and American soccer as a whole. I think it also had a negative impact on the landscape of the US game, but let’s gloss over that for now.
Having a team in MD/DC is a bigger deal for me than having one in Philly. (Let’s face it, that’s the only place PA would have a women’s pro team. Pathetic.) So while I acknowledge that there are a lot of flaws in NWSL and perhaps a lot of things any cynic could complain about already with DC (which we touch on in our upcoming podcast), I already consider this my “home” team. And I’m actually kind of proud of that.
Women’s pro soccer is coming back to DC despite all of the bullshit that went down in those last two years of WPS. DC United, which filled that W-League void, is part of this return. Supporting this organization is kind of… my only way of flipping off Borislow. I’ll take it! I’ll also take 6-hour round trips to Maryland to watch games. Maybe not every game, because that’s a huge cost and a lot of travel, but I’ll do what I can to make sure my tickets get used in the best way possible. Even if I get a job that takes me away from the area or takes my time away from soccer, even if it puts me in range of another team, I’m completely satisfied with being a STH with DC. For me, that’s saying a lot.
So, even if Joan and I continue being our pessimistic and critical selves, likely even in the direction of the one team we have mutual ties to, just know – fellow fans and and DC Spirit staff/players – that I am very happy to have women’s soccer “back” in DC, representing at the highest level. I even put my money where my mouth is, when I can.