THE REDSKINS are still a shaky prospect for the playoffs after six years of not being there; the Caps are skating around the break-even point in wins and losses, and the Wizards are looking up from the bottom again. But in one sport at least, Washington has a team of which it can be said: "Break 'em up--they're too good. Unfair. Give somebody else a chance."
Thanks, D.C. United. By winning its third Major League Soccer championship in the four seasons that the league has been in business (and almost winning the fourth), D.C. United has established itself as the dominant American club in the world's premier team sport. Soccer is, of course, still progressing by fits and starts in this country; this year has been somewhat on the fits side as attendance and TV ratings declined. But when it gets on network TV, as it did Sunday, with a title on the line and 45,000 loud people in the stands, you can see its potential.
Unfortunately, United will be broken up soon, in a manner of speaking. Each year they have to give up a good player or two to stay under the league's salary cap, which is well under what one middling infielder makes in baseball. Indeed, it's hard to believe that a soccer superstar such as D.C.'s Marco Etcheverry makes only the league maximum of $250,000. Comparing one of his electrifying performances with the lackadaisical efforts of NBA starters making 10 times as much puts the lie to the maxim that you get what you pay for.
D.C. United doesn't fill RFK Stadium, although the place often sounds that way. The multinational fan base is loyal and active on a scale that can make Redskins followers look positively apathetic. United fans tend to stand throughout the game, keeping up a steady din all the while. You might want to join in it today if you get a chance. The parade begins at 3rd and Pennsylvania NW at 11 a.m. and moves west on the avenue.