New York City Football Club are on the road this week as they take on D.C. United at Audi Field on Wednesday.
For this edition of 'The Away End' presented by Berkeley College & Rennert International, we spoke to Adam Taylor of D.C. United blog Black and Red United.
Hi Adam, thanks so much for joining us. How long have you been a D.C. United fan?
Thanks for having me! I've followed the team almost since I moved to D.C. for school back in 2006, and I've had season tickets in one form or another since 2009.
What have been your highlights during that time?
Trophies are always good, as you know, and things definitely started off very well, with the Supporters' Shield in '07 and the U.S. Open Cup in '08 before things got... a bit leaner. The 2013 season will forever live in infamy, setting a record for league futility and raising the Open Cup in the same year! Audi Field opening on my wedding anniversary is way up there on the list, along with my kids growing up at RFK and the new stadium -- which they call "Talon's House" after the world's best soccer mascot.
A couple other favorites I hope your readers will enjoy: watching United demolish the Red Bulls on a cold, rainy April day in 2012, keyed by a Chris Pontius hat trick that started by dispossessing Thierry Henry; and being one of 700 people to ride charter buses through a snowstorm to watch Don Garber & Co. try and fail to clear snow off the field at Red Bull Arena in the playoffs that season. (Unfortunately, I couldn't be there the next day to watch Nick DeLeon put United through to the next round deep into stoppage time, but it was still pretty good to watch on TV.)
A personal highlight was writing for Black and Red United on SB Nation for over a decade, and running the very nerdy and dumb Filibuster podcast from 2012 until last month, when some personal and professional life events among the three of us hosts led us to put the show on hiatus.
The 2022 season has seen a coaching change for D.C. as Hernán Losada departed. What have you made of the team's season so far?
In a word, it's been a bummer. Even with the collapse at the end of 2021, it felt like there would be a platform to build on for this year, and that just hasn't been the case. Losing Paul Arriola (forced the richest GAM trade in league history) and Kevin Paredes (sold to Wolfsburg for $7.35 million) has hurt this team in ways they just haven't been able to recover from.
Meanwhile, the injuries have continued to hit after what we think was a record-setting number of player-games missed last year. Mostly, though, we've seen this team put itself in positions to succeed and just lose focus for long enough to be punished. Countless missed chances in front of goal and too many defensive let downs and individual errors have this team well below their potential in the standings. Add in the Losada firing and subsequent details about the environment he created in the club, and it's been a rough early part of the year.
If you were to identify D.C.'s dangerman, who would that be?
There's only one answer to this, and his name is Taxi! Taxiarchis Fountas has made five appearances for United since joining from Rapid Vienna. In that time, the Black-and-Red have scored 7 goals. Taxi has five goals and two assists.
The math here is pretty simple! The Greek has popped up to score bangers and tap-ins, and has done work on the right side of the D.C. attack. If you haven't yet, go watch the clip of him stealing Christopher McVey's soul Saturday night. He is good and fun, and a needed boost to United's forward corps.
What do you think will be the deciding factor in the game on Wednesday?
Do I have to answer this one? No, it's just, I don't-- okay, fine. NYCFC's quality and depth. There. Are you happy? Honestly, y'all have a great team in solid form, and it's going to take a big, focused effort the likes of which we haven't seen from United yet in 2022 for los Capitalinos to hold serve at home Wednesday.
If D.C. can force mistakes from the Pigeons' backline without getting caught out in midfield, if they can minimize mistakes at the back, if they can feed Taxi in good positions, if they can actually finish their chances... we're in this thing with a shout!
For any fans of ours that may be in Washington D.C. in the near future for a game, are there any spots you'd suggest they check out?
Definitely hit up the Screaming Eagles tailgate at the Matthew Hanson Earth Conservation Center on Buzzard Point before the game. (Note: check to make sure they're running it for a weeknight game.) It's got two levels of decks right out on the Anacostia River, and the Eagles are always welcoming.
Slightly further upstream, there are tons of bars and such near Nationals Park in Navy Yard, including Atlas Brew Works' taproom, Dacha beer garden, and a couple places to get oysters. We also have "the Smithsonian" and "the White House" and "monuments." Those are pretty okay, too, I guess. Once you're in the stadium, eat like a local and order pupusas from one of the Factoria Maria stands.