Really cool of Comcast to showcase DC United Championship Week in primetime all this week. I missed the 1996 MLS Cup yesterday because I got caught up in the hockey match, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching the 1997 match tonight.
It's hard to compare these classic teams with the teams of today when you're trying to do it just by memory. But watching the '97 team play again, even when compared with the current DC United team that is seemingly returning to form the past two matches, they're still light years away from matching the 1997 Championship team, a team that was maybe the best ever in MLS history. It's pretty cool too when you think about it that Jaime Moreno is the only guy who played in that game and is still playing in MLS. Although his English definitely wasn't as good then.
So there I was watching this classic match, thinking about what I miss the most about the way United was playing... Was it the chemistry and teamwork of Marco Etcheverry and Jaime Moreno up front, along with Raul Diaz Arce and Tony Sanneh? The sheer energy and work-rate of Ritchie Williams? The leadership of John Harkes? The fantastic organization and sure-tackling of the awesome back line with Eddie Pope, Carlos Llamosa, Jeff Agoos, and David Vaudreuil? The consistent goalkeeping and distribution of Scott Garlick? Or even the coaching of future national team heads Bruce Arena and Bob Bradley? Or maybe the incompetent officiating of Brian Hall? (No wait... That's the one thing we do still have.)
For me, it's gotta be El Diablo. In his prime, Marco was the ultimate difference maker. For all his talents, I just don't see Marcelo Gallardo ever reaching the level as a playmaker that Etcheverry played at every game. And the same goes for Christian Gomez. In terms of his vision and drop-on-a-dime passes, neither can compare to Etcheverry.
Oh yeah... One more thing that I miss that I had totally forgot about. How about the prime seating directly behind the South end goal at RFK?