“Door to door,” he said, “I’ve done it in about two minutes.”
Simms sometimes walks the route — the length of six soccer fields — and when the weather is dodgy, his Acura takes barely a sip of fuel to carry him.
By choosing to live in Hill East, a neighborhood south of East Capitol Street nestled between Lincoln Park, the stadium campus and the Anacostia River, Simms is like the lucky kid who lives next to school and wakes a half-hour before first period.
In the United locker room, where teammates gather after driving from Alexandria, Germantown and Reston, Simms listens to the traffic horror stories and smiles.
“It’s nice to hear about them,” he said, “and not experience them.”
Several players, as well as Coach Ben Olsen, live in the city, but perhaps no one has embraced the “D.C.” in D.C. United as fully as Simms. Instead of renting in trendy Penn Quarter or buying in the suburbs, Simms and girlfriend Katri Hunter purchased an 86-year-old brick row house in an emerging residential quarter.
Few, if any, athletes employed by teams based at RFK over the past several decades (Redskins, Nationals, United) have settled so close to headquarters. “It’s like working from home,” Simms’s mother, Brenda, joked this week while visiting from North Carolina.
Simms and Hunter, who have been together for five years, have become familiar faces since moving into the neighborhood in November 2009. With Calvin, their 3-year-old Boston terrier, helping to break the ice, they’ve made friends on their narrow street lined with flower-covered stoops. It’s a middle-class stretch with professionals living alongside retirees and a panorama of backgrounds.
Simms, 28, didn’t attract any attention when he settled: He’s of average build (5 feet 10 and 168 pounds) and is a black man in a predominantly black part of the city where soccer isn’t as popular as in other sections of the metro area. To his new neighbors, he gave no hint of his semi-celebrity.
Dee Smith, a lifelong resident of Washington who lives nearby, said she met the couple a week or so after they arrived.
“We were just neighborly. I didn’t know what he did,” she said. “Then one day, I was driving past the stadium and looked up at the banners [of individual players] and said to myself, ‘Hey, that looks like my neighbor!’ So I got it out of him. To us, he was Clyde the neighbor, not Clyde the soccer player.”
Clyde the soccer player also fits into his surroundings without fanfare. Despite boasting the longest continuous service on United’s roster (seven seasons), he has always operated in the shadows — a quiet, industrious defensive midfielder with three goals and seven assists in 165 regular season appearances. He is likely to start again Saturday night against the visiting Philadelphia Union, MLS’s Eastern Conference leader.