WASHINGTON — As D.C. United’s players practiced on a newly-laid pitch at RFK Stadium, the news of Thursday’s announcement of a plan to put United in a new stadium starting in 2016 carried throughout the old building.
“I think this organization needs it,” said Homegrown center back Ethan White. “We have probably the best history in the league and I think it’s about time we [should] be rewarded for it. RFK’s been great for us, but I think it’s just time to move on. It gives us more of a motivation to do better things and represent our city even more.”
White, who attended Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School and the University of Maryland, grew up with RFK Stadium. So did fellow Homegrown center back Conor Shanosky, who was born in Sterling, Va.
“I’ve been coming to this building for a while, but it’s overdue," Shanosky said following Friday's training session. "The club needs it and the team needs it. It’s going to be great for all of D.C. and really create a big buzz around this club and this city.
“It’s cool. With the new stadiums around the league and the atmosphere and buzz they can bring because of stadium advancements and the sight lines, I think it gives fans a little bit more of an advantage as opposed to RFK, where it’s a little bit older and not as modern.”
With the stadium news providing a remarkably uplifting tone to an otherwise lost season, United will welcome the New England Revolution to RFK on Saturday (7 pm ET, MLS Live) with another chance to showcase their new, young talent. United enters the tilt having lost three of their previous four matches.
“Nothing necessarily changes on the soccer front for the next several years,” United coach Ben Olsen said after Thursday’s press conference with D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray. “It’s still building our group of young guys and me teaching and growing this core group that when we do hit a stadium, that we have a team that this city can be very proud of and we can be successful with.”
While roster changes in MLS are plentiful, White said the prospect of helping United open a new stadium serves as extra motivation for all current players for when the time comes.
“Everybody wants to be a part of the grand opening of a stadium, so hopefully some of us are still around,” he said. “I know it’s a league where a lot of players move around, but if you’re a part of it, that’s great.”