06 June 2006

DCU Dogma: The First Commandment

DC Fans are a contentious lot, yet paradoxically there are some shared beliefs that a majority of fans clutch to their hearts with fervent passion. In this semi-recurring series, we will examine the orthodoxies and catechism of DC fans, and try to assess what truth is behind them. We'll start with something we can examine, and question, perhaps without much controversy now: The idea that Marco Etcheverry is the greatest DC United player ever.

Of all the stars in the DC United pantheon, one name stands alone: Marco Etcheverry. You can still see his image on banners displayed among the supporters at games today. The Etcheverry #10 jerseys are worn by young and old. As Dave Lifton wrote in celebrating Season 10: "There is no other way to put it: Marco Antonio Etcheverry is D.C. United."

Certainly there other demi-gods, arch-angels, cherubim and seraphim in the Great Chain of DC United Beings. John Harkes, Eddie Pope, Raul Diaz Arce, Christian Gomez, Roy Lassiter... each has their place among the catechism of the soccer saints. Still, Marco stands alone at the top.

The love that DC fans have for El Diablo is unmatched, and why not? I still remember some of the balls he played in the 2003 all-star game, which for me seemed like his last hurrah. Yet now we must ask: Is it time for him the share the lofty pedestal? Are we no longer One Team Under Marco? Jamie Moreno has played with DC for longer that Marco, owns the DC records for Minutes, Games, Goals, and game-winning goals. Marc Connoly recently articulated the case in support of Bruce Arena's view: that Moreno is the "best player in the history of this league." When the day comes that Moreno hangs 'em up, it is time to say that Moreno and Etcheverry will be the binary star-system that the rest of DC's universe will historically revolve around? I think so.

Etch always had Moreno for a partner during the great DC campaigns that they embarked upon, but Moreno has now worked with a second number ten in Gomez, and still clicked. To be unsubtle: Moreno won a championship without Marco, not the other way around. Moreno may end up as the MLS all-time leading goal scorer, and we all know that more than 98% of those goals came in a DC uniform. He had great, pivotal moments in DC's history: He earned the free kicks or set pieces on all of DC's goals in the 1996 Cup Title, his strike against New England in the 2004 Eastern Conference Championship is, to my mind, one of the most beautiful pure shots ever taken in the game. He gave us "You got burned Jonny Walker." Moreno's accomplishments span all of DC's history, his comeback was DC's comeback. If a player "is DC United" then surely Moreno reflects that just as much as Etcheverry.

This is not to take away from Marco. Marco was an exceptional player, deserving of the love he receives. He probably peaked higher than Moreno did. He was more comfortable in public situations early in DC United's life, more approachable than Moreno was. El Diablo was a known name when he came into the league, and therefore was most fitting of becoming an icon alongside John Harkes. Moreno should not replace Marco, merely join him as the. It is said of Etcheverry frequently that "he saw the game better than anyone." Very true. With Moreno, it should be said that he has "played the game better than anyone."


At 06 June, 2006 12:23, Blogger rwhgeek said...

Couldn't agree more with what you say. I was Jaimie doubter when we got him back and he has proven me wrong tenfold. He has earned the right to be on the pedastel right next to Marco.

You did not mention my all time favorite (I realize that he was no where near the greats mentioned but still my favorite)Richie Williams. I loved that little dude and on one of the highlight dvds you get to see him score on a header. That is a classic DCU moment.

At 06 June, 2006 17:19, Blogger David Lifton said...

I agree with everything, but I shoudl clarify something. My quote about Marco was meant to be taken as, "When Marco was great, United were great. When Marco was crap, United were crap." No one player in the league can be singularly associated with the quality of their team as Marco can. Cobi had off-years even when LA won. Kreis and Preki put up good numbers for bad teams.

And that goes almost to the game. I mean, his first goal for us was the game-winner of our first-ever win.

Kevin Payne has always said that in the early days, the team never felt they were going to lose with Marco on the field. Not to take anything away from Jaime, and certainly he commands and deserves the respect and love from his teammates, but I don't see that same aura about him that Marco had. Few athletes do. Jordan, Jeter, Gretzky. That's the level we're talking about with Marco.


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