First MLS champion, new Pele, Pro League touches and final dance of a Ballon d’Or: five things to know about Christian Benteke’s new club DC United


After ten years spent in England between Aston Villa, Liverpool and Crystal Palace, Christian Benteke crossed the Atlantic to put on the shirt of DC United, the club of the capital of the United States. But what should we know about the new Big Ben team?

Second most successful franchise in MLS

For those who have been following the North American competition for a few years, DC United is not really one of the reference teams, capable of playing the leading roles.

Yet the Washington franchise won the MLS 4 times (including the very first edition of the competition) and is the second most successful in history behind Los Angeles Galaxy (5 titles). DC United’s last title, however, dates back to 2004, after three first titles acquired in 1996, 97 and 99. It was during the first four seasons of the MLS. Suffice to say that the wait for victories is beginning to become interminable for supporters of the Men in Blackas they are nicknamed.

DC United in 1997 during one of their 3 MLS Cup victories.  He would also win the championship the same year.
DC United in 1997 during one of their 3 MLS Cup victories. He would also win the championship the same year.© iStock

You may know, the MLS includes a classic phase where the franchises are, as in NBAdivided into two conferences, east and west, depending on the geographical location of the cities hosting the clubs.

The team having taken the most points during this phase of the championship, which precedes the Play offs knockout, is awarded the MLS Supporter’s Shield. A title that DC United has also won 4 times, just like LA Galaxy. Proof that the Play offs often upset the values ​​established in the classic phase, DC United was able to win the final title only twice (1997 and 1999) after winning the Supporter’s Shield. In 2006 and 2007, the Washington team had not been to the end.

DC United also has three United States Cups to its credit as well as a CONCACAF Champions League (the UEFA North American version roughly). On August 16, 1998, the Washington club won 1-0 at its facilities at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium against the Mexican club Toluca.

A Bolivian top scorer in history

Whether wayne rooney, now a coach, wore the colors of the Washington franchise as a player for two years, he scored « only » 25 goals in 52 appearances in the black and red jacket. He is far behind the club’s absolute icon, a player little known to European football fans: Jaime Moreno.

Now 48, this Bolivian striker has had two spells in the American capital. Between 1996 and 2002 and at the end of his career from 2004 until 2010. In 12 years at DC United, Moreno necessarily had time to accumulate matches and investigate the pawns. In total, the one who wore the captain’s armband made 421 appearances, scored 161 goals, won two championships and was even voted best player in the final in 1997.

Despite 12 years at DC United and a status as the franchise's top scorer and most-worn player, Jaime Moreno's departure came through the back door, even though fans were keen to show him their love in his last game.
Despite 12 years at DC United and a status as the franchise’s top scorer and most-worn player, Jaime Moreno’s departure came through the back door, even though fans were keen to show him their love in his last game.© iStock

But Jaime Moreno’s career is not limited to his feats in North American competition. After having started his career at Blooming in his native country and having been selected for the 1994 World Cup, in the United States precisely, he left for Santa Fé in Colombia where he will not stay very long since the Premier League gives him sweet eyes.

He thus became the first Bolivian in the English league by signing for Middlesborough in 1994. He only scored one goal there (against Barnsley) in 20 appearances before joining DC United for the first time. Boro will bring him back a second time (on loan) during the 1997-98 season without more success (7 matches, 1 goal).

Bolivian international 75 times, he scored only 9 times for his country, but offered himself a Copa América final in 1997. Holder for 75 minutes, Moreno could not prevent the Bolivian defeat (3-1) against the Brazil’s Ronaldoscorer that night in the same way asedmundo and Ze Roberto.

Leaving at the top of a group comprising Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela, Los Altiplanicos will then offer themselves the scalp of Colombia in the quarterfinals and Mexico in the semis, Moreno scoring the third goal against El Tri.

On the other hand, Moreno’s farewell to the club of his heart will be less glorious. He leaves DC United, last in the standings at the time, by the back door seeing his contract not renewed. The other clubs of MLS could not recruit him either despite the system of Re-entry draft. He will therefore put away the crampons at 36 years old.

Some probably remember the new Pelé sauce USA, Freddy Adu. Born in Ghana, he grew up in the United States and will choose to defend the colors of his adopted country.

In November 2003, when he was only 14 years old, he joined DC United. His accession to the status of professional player is therefore in the United States while he benefited throughout his youth from the interest of major European teams, including Inter Milan.

It is the integration in Bradenton in 2002 which gives him the opportunity to reveal his qualities in the green rectangle. He particularly distinguished himself during international meetings of the American U17s. His goal against South Korea where he dribbled four opponents before beating the goalkeeper with finesse contributed to the big hype around his young person.

Freddy Adu is convinced that without an unfortunate loan to Monaco, he would have embraced the same career as Angel Di Maria.  The Ghanaian-born American played his first pro game for DC United when he was just 14 years old.
Freddy Adu is convinced that without an unfortunate loan to Monaco, he would have embraced the same career as Angel Di Maria. The Ghanaian-born American played his first pro game for DC United when he was just 14 years old.© iStock

On April 3, 2004, at the age of fourteen, he played his first professional encounter in MLS against San Jose. He will wear the capital franchise shirt 102 times and score 12 times. In 2007, he joined Real Salt Lake City before trying his luck in Europe, at Benfica.

What follows will be a slow descent into hell. Failed loans then signings in increasingly obscure teams. He has now been without a club since February 2021 and a new flop in Sweden, at Österlen, a 3rd division club… At 33, it now seems the end for anyone who thought he could have had such a great career as… Angel Di Mariaif he had not gone on loan to Monaco when he was still wearing the Benfica shirt.

“It turned out to be the worst decision. I joined the club at the same time as Di María. The first year, I was better than him. I played better than him, but I decided to leave for Monaco on loan. And Di María stayed at Benfica. And guess what? He had the chance to play with a coach who came later and became a starter. A year or two later he went to Real Madrid,” told Adu to Blue Wire Podcast. We try to convince ourselves as best we can.

keys of Jupiler Pro League

Some heroes of our football weekends in the flat country have also passed through DC United during their careers. This is also the case of one who has left good memories for purple supporters: Andy Najar. The Honduran also defended the black and red colors of DC before joining Parc Astrid in 2013. Arrived in 2010 in Washington, he had played 87 matches and scored 10 goals. After his departure from Mallows in 2020, Najar had found the MLS at Los Angeles FC, the current club of Gareth Bale and Giorgio Chiellini. He returned to his first love in 2021.

There he found another old acquaintance from Anderlecht, Nicholas Frutoswho had left the deputy costume of Vincent Kompany at Parc Astrid to follow another former (ephemeral) mauve Hernan Losadaleft the bench of Beerschot to try the American dream in the capital.

Former Anderlecht resident Andy Najar will be one of Christian Benteke's teammates at DC United.
Former Anderlecht resident Andy Najar will be one of Christian Benteke’s teammates at DC United.© iStock

If since the Argentine technician has been thanked, his Heron of compatriot remained in place at Audi Field. Between scorers, Nicolas Frutos and Wayne Rooney should normally know how to explain where the path of the nets is to the attackers in their group.

Passed through Bertrix, Ostend and Beerschot in our Kingdom Frederic Brilliant crossed the Atlantic in 2016 to join New York City and form the central defensive axis with Maxime Chanotanother man of the JPL arrived from Kortrijk. The duo played with big names in world football at the time, Frank Lampard, David Villa and Andrea Pirlo. In December 2017, Brillant leaves the Big Apple for the capital and will frequent another football legend there: Wayne Rooney. The Frenchman has put away the cleats since then, last January, at the age of 37.

Saint-Trond also knows DC United well since its former American midfielder Chris Durkin came from there when he settled in Limburg in July 2020. He returned there last March.

A golden ball ended his career there

Co-top scorer of the World Cup in the United States with the Russian Oleg Salenko, Hristo Stoitchkov led his modest Bulgaria into the last four this 1994 edition.

The brilliant, but temperamental left-hander, passed by FC Barcelona (where he won the Champions League) and Parma has offered himself some exotic, and undoubtedly lucrative, challenges in the last five years of his career.

Aged 32 at the time, the golden ball 1994 went to Al Nassr (Saudi Arabia) then to Kashiwa Reysol (Japan) before settling in the land of Uncle Sam, where his career may have reached its peak during this beautiful summer of 1994.

First at Chicago Fire where he will still win a MLS Cup in 2000, before coming full circle in 2003 with one last dance at DC United. After 24 matches and six goals, the time had come, now 37, to put away the crampons for good.

The last dance of a Ballon d'Or at DC United.
The last dance of a Ballon d’Or at DC United.© iStock

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