1997 Club by Club
Top of the table: The season-ending loss to the MetroStars meant United fell short of equaling Tampa Bay Mutiny's record haul of 58 points a season ago. United finished with 21 total wins, equaling the Kansas City Wizards' total and surpassing Mutiny's total of 20 a season ago. But four of the wins were by shootout, while Mutiny had only one a year ago. Wizards' '97 total of 21 wins this year included seven shootout victories.
In the Back of the Net: United's 70 goals this season were a Major Soccer League record, surpassing the 66 goals scored by Tampa Bay Mutiny a season ago. United averaged 2.19 goals per match this season.
Home Cooking: United ended the season before the East Capitol Street faithful on a bit of down note. United had not lost in regulation time through their first 14 league matches (their three league home losses were all by shootout), before dropping the final two Sept. 21 0-2 to Mutiny, and Sept. 281-3 to MetroStars.
Magic Triangle: in United's match August 27, the "Magic Triangle" was back together for the first time in a league match since July 27 — and they obviously enjoyed the reunion. For the first time ever, the trio of forwards Raul Diaz Arce and Jaime Moreno and midfielder Marco Etcheverry each scored in the same game. The Triangle accounted for 33 of United's 69 league goals, and the three scored points in the same game four times this season. But they've played in the same-league match just 12 times this season, and United is 7-5 in those matches. The trio was together for three of United five MLS Cup matches, United winning all three (one by shootout). When Diaz Arce missed three matches June 1-14 (injury, then national team duty), it marked the first time this season the entire trio was unavailable. Moreno and Etcheverry then missed all of United's matches from June 1 -July 6 as Bolivia played a pair of World Cup qualifiers while finishing as runner-up in Copa America.
The Streak Is Over: United's streak of 22 consecutive league matches without losing in regular time ended with the 6-1 loss to Wizards June 21. Before that loss, United was 18-4 over that stretch — with all four losses coming by shootout. Without the shootout, United would have been 16-0-6 over that period.
Late heroics: United showed the ability for last-minute goals. 15 of United's 63 regular season strikes came in the last quarter-hour, including seven dramatic game-winners and a pair of equally dramatic equalizers, as well as a Marco Etcheverry strike in the 84th minute to save United's blushes in the C0NCACAF Champions Cup. Summer Vacation?: With the club’s first-ever win against Kansas City, United finished a stretch of 13 games in 36 days, a spell unmatched in the brief existence of MLS. Despite the grueling pace, United ended the stretch atop the Eastern Conference, kept alive their defense of the U.S. Open Cup, and finished third in the CONCACAF Champions Cup. The Black-and-Red posted a 8-4-1 record in all competitions during the stretch.
"The players have been put through a situation which I've never heard of another soccer team being put through," said United president and general manager Kevin Payne. "I'm not aware that anybody of this caliber of play has had that many matches in that short a time, and I think its a tremendous testimony to the depth of our team and the courage of our team that we've been able to come out of this with the kind of record that we have.
In 32 league matches, United has used 32 different lineups. Add four U.S. Open Cup matches and three CONCACAF Champions Cup, and Arena hasn't put the same 11 names on the team sheet for any of the club's 39 competitive matches.DEPTH CHARGES: Before the season began, United coach Bruce Arena pointed to the depth of the club as the deciding factor in the team's success. With the loss of nine different players at times over the course of the season to national team duty (specifically World Cup qualifying) and the injuries that come with any season, Arena's selection worries have been compounded this season. But even by those terms, it's been a rare year:
- United has used 24 different starters this season, and 14 players have started 10 or more games.
- Four different goalkeepers have started matches, five different players have started at forward (Diaz Arce, Moreno, Steve Rammel, Sanneh and Roy Wegerle), and eight different players have started in United's back four (Jeff Agoos, Eddie Pope, Mario Gori, David Vaudreuil, Clint Peay, Carlos Llamosa, Arnold Cruz, Maessner).
- In all, United lost 29 man-games to national team duty. Jaime Moreno missed nine matches due to Bolivia commitments, while Marco Etcheverry missed eight. Raul Diaz Arce missed seven matches to Salvadoran national team callups.
- Perhaps the most telling proof of United's depth came in the penultimate match of the season, when the Black-and-Red hammered Tampa Bay Mutiny
- With nearly the entire first team on the pitch five days earlier, United had lost 2-1 at East Capitol Street. But with players like Jesse Marsch and Brian Kamler making their first starts of the season, and Kris Kelderman making his first start in nearly two months, plus combinations of players previously unused in league play, United pounded Tampa Bay 5-1. Marsch scored two goals, Kelderman added another, and Kamler scored his first career MLS goal.